PLADD

 

Field Trip to the Ancient Dwarven Prison Camp

Part X of the Terrence Saga

Chapter 5: Crab Cliffs

Posted by pladd on January 05, 2016

Chomsky pawed through the papers in Warden McSharpFingers’ filing cabinet. All of them were in excellent condition - magically preserved, the party presumed, by the goop Chad had mistaken for candy.

Gavin spoke up after a minute. “Find anything, Chomsky?”

Chomsky shook his head, flinging rats everywhere. “Troop movements, letters to home, letters to home about troop movements, favored torture methods..basically, if it’s not pointing us to vast riches, we can probably find it in this box. Oh wait, what’s this? A shipping manifest! How grand!”

Chad’s ears perked up. “Shipping manifest? On a scale of ‘money’ to ‘fucking money,’ how much money is the stuff on there worth?”

Chomsky scanned the report. “I can’t tell. They’re all marked in the currency of the old dwarven empire. Anyone here know shit about history?”

Nobody did. Chomsky sighed. “Well, the only thing of interest here is a note the warden made in the margin. The report says that a shipment of ‘advanced weapons’ was headed for a fort in the northern mountains, but had been delayed due to winter weather. The warden wrote, ‘As if those layabouts even NEED weapons like that.’”

“What’s the date on that manifest?” asked God.

“It’s…huh!” exclaimed Chomsky. “It’s dated just before the date on the warden’s unfinished letter! And look, attached to the back of the manifest is a diagram of some freaky-looking weaponry! There’s crystals embedded in hammers, swords, axes, and something that looks like that…that thing Plug gave us.” He paused and twisted his mouth in thought. “The ‘gum?’”

Chad spoke up. “Gun. He called it a gun.” Chad seemed to know a lot about guns.

With the records plundered, our plucky heroes exited the warden’s office, heading towards the iron portcullis that dominated the east end of the Processing room.

Next to the portcullis was an iron lever, rusted with age. Without taking even half a second to look around, the group decided that the lever must be pulled right goddamn now. NGE gave it a mighty tug.

Nothing happened. The lever didn’t budge.

Chad called out. “Pull it again! Harder!”

NGE obeyed. The lever stayed absolutely firmly in place.

“Pull it…again?”

As NGE braced herself, preparing to pull the lever in fucking half if need be, someone pointed out that there was a small keyhole in the wall next to the lever, and hey maybe they should use that key they got off the warden.

They turned the key, and something in the wall clicked, and NGE’s next pull on the lever was entirely successful. The portcullis ground open to reveal the Incarceration room.

It was a grim sight. Eight cells were set into the walls: three on the left wall, three on the right, and two at the far end of the room. Multiple skeletons littered each cell. The group momentarily panicked at the sight of skeletons, but recovered their calm when they realized that there was no way for the skeletons to escape. Every cell was closed off with tightly-packed iron bars. Even reaching an arm into a cell would be difficult.

In the center of the room was another, smaller room. This one had glass windows, and the party peered inside. Within the room were nine levers. Eight of them were labeled with the numbers one through eight. The ninth lever, in the center of the room, was labeled “Escape.”

The group took a quick look inside each cell, in case one of the poor doomed souls had had anything valuable on them when they died. And what luck! Within cell four was located a shiny, shiny amulet that looked to be of some value! But the bars were too close together to get it out. The only way in was to open the cell.

Our heroes courageously sequestered themselves within the glass-windowed room. It was a tight fit, especially with a thousand rats packed in there. NGE once more stood alone, in front of the cell. “You got this, NGE! Try not to get murdered!” yelled Chad as Gavin pulled the lever marked “four.”

Slowly the bars slid open. NGE cautiously made her way into the dark, dark cell. Spiders and vermin scurried away from her step. She bent down to retrieve the amulet, and…

Nothing. She picked it up, glancing around for any signs of danger.

Nothing. Hmm.

NGE brought the amulet back to one of the windows, and Chad turned on his Magic Eyes™.

Nothing. The amulet was entirely mundane, despite being shiny as balls.

NGE was about to return to the doorway of the small room when she pointed off to her left and spoke.

“Cell six. The wall is strange.”

She examined the wall as best she could from outside the cell, relaying back to Chad that it looked like someone had tunneled into the cell from outside, and then attempted to hide the evidence of the tunnel.

The group opened cell six, closed cell four, and tried not to vomit at the rat-stench filling the small room. NGE ventured into the cell and shoved rubble away from the wall, revealing a human-sized tunnel that stretched back into inky black darkness. Well, not to her. But if you were there, it would have been SUPER dark.

Somehow, nobody in the group was ready to leave the cramped, stuffy, rat-filled, lever-filled room. “You go on down the tunnel, NGE!” called Chad. “Let us know whatcha find! Tell me if there’s gold!”

NGE, presumably muttering to herself about lazy, cowardly adventurers, strode into the depths of the Cell Six Tunnel. Her night vision showed her a roughly-tunneled, twisting passageway. She followed it for only twenty or so feet before the narrow tunnel opened up into a larger cave.

Directly ahead of her was a path between two tall ledges, each about thirty feet high. The ceiling of the cave went up far beyond that. She was about to continue walking forward, when THWAP a long, green-glowing filament shot down from one ledge and stuck firmly to her leg! An unknown force began to drag her upwards– she struggled to free herself–

And then, quite suddenly, she found herself back on her home plane.

Back in the sweaty rat room, Chad looked around at his companions. “So, uh, yeah. Bad stuff that way, guys. Give me a sec.” He plopped himself down on the floor and made the L sign against his forehead again. The more adventurous of the rats promptly began to climb all over him.

Chomsky and Gavin exchanged looks.

“Close number six?”

“Fucking close number six.”

They pulled the appropriate lever, and the bars of cell six slid back into place. Moments later, NGE popped back into view, making the cramped-as-shit room even more cramped-as-shit. She succinctly relayed to the rest of the group what she had encountered.

The group unanimously decreed that that passageway could go eat several dicks, but it was Gavin that proposed their next step: “Why don’t we all just hang around in here, pull the lever marked ‘Escape,’ and see what happens?”

Everyone shrugged. What else could they possibly do?

Gavin pulled the lever. The resulting alarm was rather loud.

BREET BREET BREET BREET BREET BREET BREET BREET

Clouds of green vapor poured out of small holes in the jail walls, and the group heard doors all over the facility slam shut - including the door to the lever room.

Chadwick panicked. “Turn it off! Turn it off!”

Derfin agreed. “Charlie’s got his hands on mustard gas! Everyone, masks!”

Chomsky, however, was calm. “Hold on, mang.”

The gas began to fill the jail. “Turnitoff turnitoff turnitoff!”

“Jesus, dude, calm down.”

The gas filled every nook and cranny of the incarceration room, entirely obscuring the group’s view of the outside world.

“TURNITOFFTURNITOFFTURNITOFF!”

Chomsky finally explained. “Do you see any gas in here? No? Me neither. I think this place is pretty well sealed. We’re fine, we’ll wait for it to run out. Besides, the lever won’t move.”

It was true: the “Escape” lever was locked in place. The group sat around to see what would happen.

In the ensuing minutes, someone noticed a small handle set in the floor of the lever room. They brushed the area clear of rats to reveal a small trapdoor. Upon opening it, the group saw a large barrel-like apparatus connected to hoses, pipes, and other mechanisms.

Chomsky pointed at the contraption. “Maybe that’s where the gas is coming from? Can we turn that valve or something and shut it off?”

Gavin shrugged. “Anyone know anything about disabling devices? Of any kind?”

Silence.

“Then let’s not fuck with it. Look, the gas is already dispersing!”

It was true! The green fog was less opaque than it had been only moments before. The group stared out the windows as it receded.

Chad spoke up. “Boy, I sure hope those people we saved weren’t killed horribly by poison gas just now.”

Everyone nodded. They all hoped the same thing, because fuck they would feel bad.

After several minutes, the gas dissipated. The “Escape” lever clicked back into place, and the door to the lever room opened. Everyone filed out, smelling of sweat, fear, and, of course, fucking rats.

Gavin pointed out that the passageway in cell six had been open to the gas the entire time. The party was intrigued by the possibilities. Had the funky fumes felled their fierce, filament-firing foes?

Yes, it turns out. They opened cell six, and NGE crept into the passageway once more. This time, as she neared the two ledges, she could hear noises: skittering claws, screeches of pain and rage, the snapping sound of something being crushed. Then, quite suddenly, a large crablike creature fell from the heights and smashed into the ground in front of her, twitching and convulsing.

It was the size of a man, with insectoid legs, crablike claws, and a nightmarish mouth that glowed a faint green. One of its legs had been torn off, leaving an oozing stump.

NGE barely had time to take in the creature’s appearance before another green-glowing tendril whipped down from above. It missed her by several feet, and the creature that fired it began to reel it back in. This time, NGE was able to get a view of her opponent: a creature very similar to the one that lay dead at her feet.

Before it could attack again, NGE retreated back down the passageway, noting as she ran a place on the rocks where someone could possibly scale the ledges and attack the crab-thing on its own turf.

When NGE made her report to the group, Chomsky got a gleam in his eye. “Hold on, guys. I have an idea.” He pulled out one of the flasks of poison they had stolen from the slavers and grinned wickedly.

Back in the tunnel, Chomsky knelt on the floor, his mantle of rats lit up by glowing balls. He took the vial of poison and - carefully - rolled it towards the two ledges.

WHAP!

WHAP!

WHAP!

After a few misses (the creature, in NGE’s vision, was staggering a bit), the filament snagged the vial of poison. Triumphantly, the crab-thing reeled in its prize. The sound of crunching glass echoed through the chamber, and was quickly replaced by animal shrieks of pain and anger.

The group, knowing that they were awesome, exchanged high fives. God looked down upon them, and indeed his favor was upon them that day.

Unfortunately, the creature still wasn’t dead, and it had wizened up a bit: Chomsky’s next attempt to bait it with poison was met with skittering, chittering, and absolutely no green filaments. Clearly, a head-on fight was the only remaining solution.

The group bunched up in the tunnel, just outside the view of the creature’s ledge. NGE leapt for the climbable rocks she had seen earlier, dodging the erratic filaments from the wounded creature. She successfully climbed to the top of the far ledge and leapt over the gap to the crab’s ledge, closing the distance before it could react.

Down on the ground, Chadwick relayed a message to the rest of the group. “Ohhhh shit yes, bitches. Everyone, get ready to shoot. She’s gonna throw it.”

Thirty feet above the group, NGE grabbed the crab by its claws, hefted it with all her might, and flung the wounded, poisoned creature off the cliff. It shrieked and crashed to the ground. Its armored carapace cracked open, and our heroic adventurers helpfully filled the gap with all of the ranged weapons. The monstrous crab twitched, shuddered, and died.

And the rats, freed of their contract, swarmed off of Chomsky and onto the corpses of the two colossal crabs. Food. Food, at last.