So after trekking down the darkness filled tunnels of the Maze for a while, we came upon a split when we was suddenly jumped by a swarm of giant bats. And I mean these really big, nasty looking ones. They was covered head to toe with these red and blue sores that was oozing pus. But we stood our ground and fought them off. But here’s the strange part of it. Whenever we killed one of them things, the changed into these little demon things. Quasits is what Yanika called them.
After dealing with those things, Bull informed us that these tunnels, while old, showed signs of someone digging here recently. Which proved to us that we was on the right track. thus we moved on with a bit more hurry in our step as the effects of the Black Maze was already beginning to manifest itself. Fortunately we did not have far to go as a few minutes later we encountered a door. And not just any door mind you, but a door that, according to Gears, was only a couple years old. Now Bull was a bit twitchy as he claimed that he saw someone run away. But as he was the only one who saw something, we decided to dismiss it for now and focus primarily on the door. Sadly, as she attempted to open said door, Yanika took an arrow to the shoulder from a trap. And I got to say, it was fortunate that it was only in the shoulder. For I have know many an adventurer who had taken an arrow to the knee, only for it to ruin their career. I mean it is impossible not to know someone like that as they tend to be unable to shut up about it.
So with a bit more caution on our side, Gears and Yanika disarmed the remaining traps and we went inside. Now inside we found a room filled with medical supplies, a nice desk and a table covered with a cloth. And sadly underneath said cloth we found, one of the missing peoples we was sent out to find. It was even the last one who got taken. Now I’m not gonna describe what had been done to him, as I don’t upset your stomach too much. Let’s just say it was nasty. Thus we went further in and found a small dungeon holding the remaining eight peoples, still alive if not slightly banged up. Thus Yanika and me started setting folk free, when a really fun fight broke. I mean just remembering it still brings a smile to my face. So I’m gonna do my best to do it justice.
It starts off with a loud crashing sound as Gears gets hit straight in the kisser with a flying table. Upon which Bull, good guy that he is, charged forward towards him. only to have the desk fly into his face. Now with both of them lying flat on their asses, I charged into the doorway only to be confronted by a giant red frogman with nasty claws and teeth. This would be my first encounter with what is known as a Slaad. And let me just tell you that them things is nasty. See when they scratch you, they attempt to inject you with their eggs. Which would then hatch inside of you and eat you up from the inside before busting out of your chest. But worry not my friend, as the sheer density of my ironclad muscles made it impossible for that to happen. So there I was, standing in the doorframe, keeping the beastie at bay as we exchanged blows. Meanwhile the rest of my associates were taking pot shots at him by implementing the old archer-shuffle. What’s that look for? Don’t tell me that you have never heard of the all important technique of the archer shuffle? Well then allow me to educate you on this vital of techniques.
See the archer-shuffle is one of the most important for a person to know if they rely heavily on ranged attacks. Especially if they tend to travel with other folk who also rely heavily on these kinds of attacks. Take for instance the battle that we was facing. A vital chokepoint is being held by an iron wall of muscle and moxie, holding enemies at bay to prevent them from attacking the squishy ones at the back. Now in order for them to attack the beasties, they have to fire at them, without hitting their ally that is holding the beasties back. As you can imagine there are not that many places where they have a clear shot. This is where the archer shuffle comes into play. See one locates the ideal firing position, moves towards that position, fires and then moves away for the next person to do the same. Kind of like a dance with multiple people, all the while making sure not to trip over each other’s feet, in a limited space. Now to the untrained eye, this may seem rather ridiculous. And you would be right. But that does not take away from the importance of a good shuffle in regards to optimal positioning strategies. It just gets more convoluted the more people attack from a ranged position.
But yeah, in the end the beastie went down and we checked up on the prisoners. Apparently they had been kidnapped by a dude who goes around wearing a skull mask and a top hat. And who also has a limp on his right leg. That doesn’t really tell us much, but it was a start. As to why they were kidnapped in the first place, the answer to that was simple. Namely for cheap labor. See he had them digging round the Black Maze, looking for mithril veins. But here is the strange part, they weren’t mining them. All the was doing was clearing them in order to expose them onto the surface. Which don’t make much sense if you ask me. But then again mages and gearheads and the like usually don’t have too much in the common sense department. With a few notable exceptions mind you. Now you might be wondering how they was able to do that. What with the poison of the Maze and all. Well the answer is simple. See Skulls had them all drink potions that kept them safe from it. Sadly we did not find any of those lying around.
So we guided the prisoners back to where we came from, only to find that we had a visitor waiting for us in the old dancehall. It was in fact Skulls himself. Now he started doing as masterminds tend to. Namely talking about how great he is and how we had no chance of stopping him yadda yadda yadda. And while the rest of us was mesmerized by his rambling, I decided that a preemptive attack would give us an edge. Thus I threw a large boulder at him. Sadly he had magics that protected him. Thus he animated a statue, before using his magics in order to flee. And let me tell you I’m getting real tired of mages coming in, doing their thing and then run away with their magic. Now mind you the battle with the statue was heavy enough that fighting the mage at the same time might be even more perilous, but I feel that it would actually be a bit easier. See I’ve found that if you hit a mage hard enough, their magic tends to stop hurting. It’s like pressing an off button. All I would have had to do was hit him hard enough to make the statue stop. Sadly this was not possible as he had run away and we thus had to deal with the statue the hard way.
But after we did that, we caught our breath after an exhausting fight. During which Yanika and Gears shared their suspicions that they thought that Skulls was in fact the old man they had seen at the cemetery. And while I didn’t really believe that. Mostly because if it was the case, I worried that I would never hear the end of it. I did concede that it was most likely not Estar. Thus I did the only thing I could do at that point and went to see the guy. See a great man can acknowledge when he made a mistake. A strong man however chooses to act upon it to make it right. Thus I apologized to him and swore that I would speak to the guildmaster in an attempt to restore his reputation.