This is part of the ongoing narrative of our D&D campaign, which is graciously being run by Proud Lion, a fantastic comic shop in Cheltenham. Their RPG Encounters nights are a lot of fun, and give me some entertaining material to work with.
[Before reading, please be aware that there may be spoilers ahead for the D&D campaign books. Equally, our stories are fluid, so things may not follow the books too directly]
As the group teetered on the edge of a small drop, Knott caught up after having completed his latest entries in his “Tome of Battle”, and walked straight into the back of the bunched up adventurers. Most of the dungeoneers kept their balance, but Burian toppled slowly over, falling with a flump into the rift.
“Ow! Well, um, the floor is where it should be,” the druid intoned in a strangely-distorted voice, “but ah think ah’m a little stuck.”
The unlucky dwarf had fallen face-first into the drop, and now lay squashed into the ground. His nose seemed similarly squeezed, and as the group looked around, they realised his belly had become stuck in a hole in the floor, as had his nose.
Jester knelt down, easily keeping his balance on the ledge as the rest of the group settled down a bit. The rogue could spy a number of holes into the earth, some around two foot in diameter, some much smaller. These holes looked very deep, but he was confident they didn’t contain any hidden surprises, as he relayed to the team with his customary line, “seems legit guys. No traps.”
The corridor emerged onto what seemed to be the thickest point of the rift, with the other side of the corridor shifted by ancient tectonic movement. The rift stretched off to the south-west and north-east, narrowing before sight was lost completely. Luna dropped down to the rift-floor, figuring that “if the fat dwarf didn’t make it fall…”
Picking a small stone from the floor, the elven ranger lent down next to one of the small holes and dropped the stone down it. She listened for several minutes, but she never heard the rock hit the bottom. Now a little wary of the holes, she picked her way around the stuffed-in dwarf.
The other elf in the group, with a warrior mindset more up-close and personal than the ranger, set off down the south-west path of the rift. Knott was determined to get some practical experience in his exploration of this citadel, so loosened his sheath and delved into the dark. He was joined by his steadfast companion, the paladin Levan, who followed quickly to keep the elf in his limited human sight.
Feeling sorry for the squished dwarf, Drenk tenderly picked Burian out the wide hole, and embraced him, like a mother might their wounded child. Deep embarrassment resounded within the druid, that he was being treated this way. A couple sniggers from those of elven descent stabbed home, and he threw off the half-orc’s cuddle and headed off after the heavy hitters. Drenk, pitying the dwarf even further now, tagged along, while Enna came with, muttering “where they go, I expect pain of some sort will follow.”
Left to their own devices, Jester and Luna chose to go another way, bickering quietly about their burgeoning rivalry. They clambered up to the other part of the corridor, and seeing only a long path, started to travel down it.
Jester led the way, Luna wisely keeping a few paces back, in case the rogue triggered anything dangerous, and judged his actions in silence. The path wound around a little, more organically than the tunnels before it, and debris from the tectonic movement lay strewn across the floor. Eventually, the path ended in a stone door, similar to those above, with more inlaid carvings.
The dragons in this stonework somehow stood out less than previous doors, their details seeming to blend into the stone as if they had lost their importance. Jester examined the door carefully, and could easily tell that there was no lock on this door, but it seemed very stuck. No sounds could be heard from the room the other side of the door, so he grabbed his crowbar from his pack and heaved mightily at the door…
Meanwhile, Knott was leading the way down the rift, eventually coming to a cavern littered with holes. This room seemed to be the conclusion of the rift, and as he carefully walked around the holes, he noticed one was lit with a dim, fiery glow…
Jester cracked the door open with a grunt, and looked through the gap to see what must have once been an opulent chamber. The walls were covered with large mosaics, unfortunately faded to smears where the tiles hadn’t just fallen away. Tiles lay all over the flagstones of the room, mostly shattered in large shards.
In the centre of the room was situated a small pedestal, ornate but old, with an iron dragon placed at the head of the sculpture. This dragon held an iron tray in its claws, suspiciously empty of any tray-held objects.
Realising that this room, like many of the others he had nonchalantly opened, could have some form of challenging test, the rogue wisely decided to test the floor for traps first. He scooped up a couple of the closest tiles, and threw them across the room, failing to set off any traps.
“Hmm, seems legit,” the rogue reassured himself, but Luna destroyed his confidence with a single line, “you just go in first, I’ll wait by the door. In case.”
Realising he could never back down in front of his rival, he puffed his chest up and stepped through the door. One step…two steps…and he let out a sigh of relief that nothing had activated to kill him.
Now he was in the room, it didn’t seem as if there was any more to the room than the pedestal, so he slowly approached it, gathering some tiles as he went. Remembering back to his favourite magical play in the town he grew up, he was struck with inspiration that he could do as Professor Jones did in Raiders of the Lost Arcanoplex. Guestimating the weight and width of the iron tray, he rolled up his sleeves and sorted through tiles, as Luna watched in disbelief at the door.
Finally, he found some tiles he thought would work, and stood directly in front of the sculpture. The dragon’s eyes seemed to glare down upon him as he readied himself, releasing a big breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. Centring himself, Jester brought the tiles to the tray, then in a movement that even Luna’s peerless eyes couldn’t keep track of, the dragon was suddenly holding the tiles, and the Jester had the tray.
“Awesome,” Jester said, spinning the iron tray in his hands, “I’ve always wanted to do that. Suppose we better get this checked out by those who actually know magic, eh?”