22nd Day of Sarailah:
The flames died down to reveal a room with half a dozen goblins surrounding an empty dried up fountain. One big one dressed in chainmail ordered the others to attack, but it was Coarvyne that drew first blood by sending his flaming missiles into the first goblin to advance dropping it dead in his tracks.
Kragdor then charged in and with a few fell swings of his sword he slew the captain in chainmail that he had been seeking. Not wanting to miss out on the fun I stepped into the doorway and let loose a volley of magically conjured missiles straight into another goblin and with a victorious grin I watched him fall dead to the ground.
It had barely been a few heartbeats into the battle and already half the goblins were dead, including the captain that eluded us in the mines. It seemed too easy, and of course it was:
It was tall and rather lanky with jaundiced looking skin and jet black hair. It wore dark plate mail ornately decorated and not of this world – Githyanki. Though I had never seen one I had read stories of these raiders from the astral plane. Once former slaves they now thrive on war and plunder and hold a deep contempt for all other races.
It had been lurking, hiding behind some kind of spell of invisibility perhaps, and appeared only as it lashed out with its curved great sword at Kragdor. Then a second dressed in half plate appeared next to the first, but both had missed their mark and Kragdor remained untouched.
Erland gathered his second wind, and fully healed with some help from Fenella, charged in. With a few swift strokes Kragdor took out the three remaining goblins as Fenella used more healing on herself.
Then a third githyanki appeared to face Kragdor, and yet a fourth and then a fifth striking out at Erland; and as if things could not look even more grim an even more vile beast suddenly made its appearance.
It was a floating orb of flesh with a large fanged mouth and a giant eye above it. Four tentacles stuck out from its hovering body each supporting another eyestalk. It was a creature out of nightmare and one whose appearance did not bode well for us. A beholder!
A strange beam came from one of the eyes and struck Kragdor, causing the brave warrior to flee for the door as a sudden panic overtook him. Erland, now surrounded and overwhelmed by githyanki, faced blade after slashing blade until he fell to the floor in a bleeding bloody mess.
As the githyanki advanced towards Feritti, who stood just beyond the doorway, Kragdor managed to shake off his fear and charged back in, stepping over Erland’s body in the process. I shot one of the gith’s with a bolt of magic but the creature merely scoffed at my feeble magic.
Fenella exhausted the last of her healing magic on Erland, bringing him back to consciousness just as Coarvyne dragged him back into the hallway. This seemed to anger one of the githyanki who then blinked out of existence just as soon as he had appeared, only to re-appear and instant later, only this time he was in the hallway behind Coarvyne blocking off our escape.
A bolt of lightning blasted from Feritti’s fingers and slammed into the fanged mouth of the mini beholder causing one of its eyestalks to go limp. I followed with a bolt of my own but with a far lesser result.
Coarvyne rolled past the githyanki in the hallway and dove on his cougar mount, calling for everyone to make their retreat, but the gith had other plans. As Coarvyne tried to make good on his word a gith sword struck his cougar out from under him. An angry Coarvyne raised his bow and shot the gith in the face, dropping it dead.
Two githyanki remained after another had been taken out by Kragdor. The gith with the full plate turned to the floating eye and said, “You didn’t say it was going to be like this.” The two remaining githyanki then join yet another gith who had continued to remain invisible and then all three vanish from sight.
Erland, conscious once more, charged back into the room just as the beholder flies into the corner near the ceiling and out of reach.
As Coarvyne tends to his injured cat, Fenella stepped into the room and unleashes a ball of flame striking the beholder and severing one of its eyestalks. With an explosion of blood and gore it falls to the ground with a splat. The beholder itself drops to the floor with the sickening splat of an over-ripe gourd that had just been ran over by a wagon wheel sending a shower of bloody eye-ichor to drench the wall behind it.
Coarvyne then rushed to help Feritti whom I noticed was unconscious in the corner, victim of many slashes from a githyanki greatsword, as well as a final barrage of eye-beams from the now dead beholder.
It would be beneath my dignity to kick an enemy while he was down, so I waited until no one was looking before I approached the body of the vile githyanki who had mocked me and kicked him in the face. Hah! Who is laughing now you yellow-shinned freak!
After relieving our dearly departed hosts of their coins, gems, and gear – including a magical greatsword that causes psychic damage to enemies – we finally manage to turn our attention to the strange mosaics that decorated the far wall.
It was a strange depiction of mice and cheese that went along with the “Knock thrice, knock twice, knock mice” that had been scrawled on the wall in the map room. After many frustrating moments of trial and error that involved several hands knocking at the same time the mosaic tiles gave in with the satisfying sound of a secret door being opened. Or in this case a secret staircase that was revealed when the fountain in the center of the room split in half and sank into the floor to show the beginnings of a stairway leading down.
Just great! More tunnels and corridors! This one had better lead to a magical treasure hoard after what we had just been through or I would be writing a sternly worded letter of complaint to the evil henchmen recruiters guild and give them a piece of my mind!