Hell Hound Surprise
I had wondered off from the main group as they made camp in a dead end hallway to rest for a bit. I was exploring with Nivek the Elf that was accompanying our group as we made our way through the Castle Amber. Nivek had only been with our group for a short while & I didn’t fully trust him yet. I knew he was a thief as he had attempted to pick many locks in the castle. I would usually kick in the door as he was trying to pick the lock, leaving him crouched on the floor & very angry. I was just having fun & I told him that every time, he just didn’t find it humorous as the rest of our group did. The one time I did let him pick it he tripped a trap & was hit with a poisonous needle. The Cleric got him fixed up all right but it really annoyed me. I mean why waste time fiddling with a lock, when you can just plow down the door? Besides I love breaking down doors, it’s all about power. I’m sure the wimpy little Elf couldn’t break down a door unless I flung him through it. But not me, I’m 385 pounds of Orc muscle. Doors don’t stand a chance with me coming at them. Yes I have occasionally & embarrassingly been stopped at some of the better reinforced ones, but this one didn’t look that strong.
Nivek gave me a glance, a very “annoyed waiting for me to knock down the door” glance. Feeling his frustration, I yielded to the sad little Elf. I took a step back, “This one is all yours” I said half hoping for another poison trap to spring on him, “All yours” The little Elvish fingers flew into action pulling small tools from a belt pouch. The tiny guy was grinning from ear to pointy ear as he furiously picked at the lock. I knew that in the back of his mind he could see me breaking through just to irritate him. As I watched him work I could tell he was truly enjoying himself, he was a true thief bordering on a Kender. Whenever we went into a shop in town he always ended up coming out with more than he went in with. Also I feel that I always had things missing while he was around. Suddenly, Ping! The door sprang open. I motioned to Nivek to open it & we saw ourselves facing 5 angry Hell Hounds. “Don’t panic, I’ve dealt with these before”, no sooner did those words leave my mouth than I landed on the floor face down with my weapon sliding across the room. Many things were going through my mind at this point; why am I on the floor, why did I just hear the door lock, maybe I can make friends with these dogs, where is my wonderful Vorpal Bastard sword, do I have any doggie treats in my pockets, never mind they are attacking my face! Two dogs were on my front as I got to my feet, the other three moved around to attack me from the rear. Mind you I am in full, magically enhanced, plate armor so they were mostly breaking off their teeth trying to gnaw on me. The one I was particularly concerned with had my head in his mouth. Why did I not wear my helm? I managed to get the dirk from my boot & ran him through the throat. This was an effective maneuver except that he puked blood all over my face, making extremely hard to see. I did manage to see my sword, as it has the strange effect of glowing when I am in combat. I threw off the other dog at my front & lunged for the glow, got it! I sometimes tend to go into a rage, I would call it Berserking if I had any Gnome blood in me, but I am 50/50 Human & Orc. Well the Orc was in charge now. I flung my blade from side to side cutting down the miserable beasts. They fought viciously & managed to pull off my left leg upper armor piece & take out a chunk of flesh. But they were doomed, for even though I could barely see it mattered not. In no time at all they were dead.
“What the Hell?” I lay on the floor gathering up my armor & trying to stop the bleeding in my leg. I wiped the blood from my eyes, the lower part of my face felt like it was about to fall completely off. I killed them all right but at a steep cost. I was hurt badly & needed the Cleric desperately. I tied off my leg & limped to the door. The room was painted with blood & the dogs lay twitching & whining in agony. I thought of ending their suffering but I had more pressing issues, like staying alive. The path back to the camp seemed like it went on forever. I wondered if I was even going the right direction. If I ran into a hostile creature in this condition I would be dead for sure. Finally I saw the light from the campfire, I was saved.
I awoke to the most beautiful sight, Jayne our Cleric. “How are you feeling?” her voice was comforting me. “Am I alive?” I replied. “Yes, but you got beat up pretty good, what…” “It was that thief!” I shouted. The rest of the group sprang to arms, but that coward was no where to be found. “I never trusted him!” bellowed Les, “Me neither”, “Damn Kender”, “Where is He?”, “Lets find that thieving Elf” The group was in an uproar & they weaponed up & took off after him. Jayne pleaded “don’t split up; wait until we can all go together”. But it was no use; they were furious & were not going to listen to reason, as usual. We were a very close knit group & have been questing with one another for a long time. We were good friends, hell we were family. Sometimes I don’t think I could have made it without these people by my side, I’m just glad my brother Rod was not here to see this. He would be so angry I fear he might mis-cast a spell & blast us all, just like when we were kids. Only now his powers are deadly, back then it just scared the crap out of us. I hope that… “SON OF A!” “Sorry” replied Jane “I should have warned you”. She was stitching up my leg with a needle that looked like it was made from a crocodile fang, it was huge. “Where did you get that awful needle” I asked through gritted teeth. “From a crocodile” she timidly said. That explains it then, I gritted my teeth while she finished. She told me a story as she worked.
We were sitting around telling stories & reminiscing about past battles. Biglow was cooking up some sort of stew with things he found along the way, no meat though. Remember when we entered the forest the guardian told us not to hurt the animals? Then you hit that squirrel… “Yes, don’t remind me of that. In fact never bring it up again; it’s a stupid mistake I want to forget”. She continued. Anyway; Les & Stonn were working on sharpening weapons when Nivek returned. “What you all doing” he said almost smirking. He definitely looked as if he was hiding something. “Where is Voltt?” Les demanded. “He is still exploring, I got tired & came back, He’ll be here soon”, we all didn’t trust him fully, but it was not unlike you to go off exploring on tour own, remember the time with the giant that hit you with a tree? “No, No, don’t ever bring that one up either. I have nightmares about it still.” OK, I won’t mention it. We all waited for a while & then you staggered into camp. As soon as I saw you I turned to the group & I swear that Elf vanished right before my eyes. I knew what had happened, but I had to take care of you. As soon as you saw me you fell to the floor & we ran over to help you. I cast a sleep spell on you so you wouldn’t feel the pain as I worked on you. It was bad; I began to work immediately. You had a huge chunk of flesh torn out of your leg Les & Stonn went to the room you were in & found it. Your face was mutilated, I didn’t know if I could put it back together. You were out for 3 days, but we got you patched up. You’re going to have some pretty good scars from this, but you will probably like them.
They never did find Nivek; we just can’t search for him now. We will look for him along the way & might get lucky, but we need to move on; we have stayed here too long & must be on our way. WE have to find a way out of the cursed castle.
And that is what we did.
“This castle is a nightmare” I said through gritted teeth. Not yet healed form my Hell Hound encounter, I sure did not want to meet up with the likes of a hideous monster such as Neh-Thalggu. I had heard about him in tales, but didn’t know of his true existence. Now he was just a memory, a splat on the floor of a haunted castle. I felt pretty good when he went down. Not physically, he kicked the living shit out of us, him & his crazy head full of tentacles. He kind of looks like a male Medusa. I was glad no one lost their soul to him, and though it was the Mage & Druid that brought him down I feel a part of the victory. OK, I really didn’t do any damage to him, I hit him but it didn’t seem to faze him. I had heard they he withstand physical damage, kind of made me feel inadequate. But I kept him distracted for a bit so the casters could burn him down. And they did! Tell the truth our Mage scares me a bit. He can wield some crazy magic, turning people into sheep then destroying them with massive fireballs that spew from his finger. I wonder if my brother Rod has learned such things?
We continued our journey through this insane castle, trying to find a way out. There must be something we are missing, because we have been here for days; I can’t recall how many have passed. The mist surrounding the castle seems impenetrable. I have been in a lot of weird places, but this one was starting to scare me. Not because of the never ending supply of ghosts, ghouls & other demented things roaming about these dank halls. I was fearful of being trapped in here forever. I say this because we were standing over the rotting corpses of a previous group of adventures. This upset me not only because that could be us, but also they smelled really bad. It was all I could do to fight off the urge to puke, and then I puked! All over… “My new boots!” shouted Les. “sorry about that”, too late for that as Les just punched me in the arm. It didn’t hurt much & I was glad he wasn’t a bear. We traded punches while he was in Bear form once & wow! He knocked me right on my ass. When he a bear he IS a bear! This couldn’t have been funnier as Biglow now being sickened by this sight puked all over Les’ other boot. I couldn’t contain myself & burst into laughter, my laughter quickly spread to the others & got even louder as Biglow landed on the floor; a victim of Les’ punch. Soon we were all laughing so hard we were crying. As I caught my breath I suddenly felt better. “That is just what this group needed”, I stated, “a short break from all this gloom & despair” “This has gone on for too long, we have trodden through this god forsaken castle trying to find a way out of the mist & I say we get on with it!” The group rumbled with their approval, “Here, Here” they chanted. We formed a circle and put our hands in the center. Les took command; “I don’t know who these people are, but I do know two things about them. One; they are dead. And Two; they were Tottering, Rump Fed, Hedge Pigs!” The group was confused but excited by his words. “They are nothing compared to us, we can take this castle down & find a way to escape it”, Les was now screaming “Are you with me?” “YES” we all cheered & threw our hands in the air. For the first time in days I actually felt like we would get out of this dreaded place. Then all of a sudden. WHOOOSH!
It was almost to fast to see as the arrow from Hanosh’s bow as it flew past my head. I turned to see what he had fired at, and to my surprise I viewed a magnificent sight. Down at the end of a darkened hallway, with an arrow; WHOOOSH!; make that two arrows firmly lodged in his right leg was the cowardly little Drow elf. He tried to limp away, but we overcame him quickly. Les got to him first I pinned him to the ground, his mighty tiger paw almost crushing the fragile little thief. “Well well, what do we have here” I gleefully exclaimed. He tried to speak but Les was crushing him, you could see where his razor sharp claws were starting to push through the leather plate on the elf’s chest. I patted Les on the shoulder, “Back off a bit, but if he even looks like he is going to cast, rip him to shreds” Les moved his paw, and as a gentle reminder to Nivek that he should be passive let out a ear splitting roar. The elf was shaking & so scared I thought he was going to pass out. He spoke to us in broken short sentences, desperately trying to catch his breath; “I’m sorry…” He gasped for air, “I panicked…”, “I didn’t know what I was doing” “Shut UP!” I demanded, “I am tired of you. I knew when you joined this group you would be trouble, we all decided to give you a chance, a Drow questing with us!” He calmed a bit & my tone softened. “We took you in because you said you were trying to be something more than your race was, you wanted to live in the world with the good people. You were tired of the evil society of the Drow Elf”, as I pointed to him, “Were those not your words?” “Y…Yes”, he timidly said.