Throwing caution and good sense to the wind, I made my way back to Desolis to have a little peek at what all the merchants and explorers were talking about. Previously, I had talked with several of the villagers and once I worked my way through the crazy, it became clear to me the people of Desolis are up to a wee bit of no good out there in the desert. Sure, at first glance they come across as harmless nomads, just setting up shop on the outskirts of a makeshift town. But if you talk to them, and start to get a bit of background on the situation, it seems pretty clear they are heading down into and waiting for people to come up from the Epitaph so they can pounce on whatever relics and arcane knowledge they can get their hands on.

In a daring midnight undertaking, I concealed myself in heavy armor and the Highwayman Mask so none shall be able to tell my identity and then under the guise of an archeologist and explorer who just happened to carry a flaming sword and donned a cloak, I slipped through the entry gate.

I’d been here before so I was eminently familiar with the route not to take. My goal was to sneak down to the lower levels and see what sort of books and tricks I may be able to lay my hands upon. Once inside the Epitaph, the armed prisoners paid me no heed except to say that certain death awaited  me at the bottom of the stairs and they had no inclination to come and rescue me should I find myself in mortal peril.

Certain death you say? Ah, that must be where the good stuff is kept. At the pre-arranged rendezvous point, I met up with Alley Oop who I was quite certain would keep me safe and pointing in the right direction.

We descended the stairs and soon discovered why this is called the ruins. The place was a shambles with rubbish and debris scattered in all directions. But it appeared we were on the right trail for soon we ended up in what looked to be an abandoned library. Our closer inspection was halted as colossal spiders repelled from the ceiling quickly gaining the upper hand on us. Alley was unfazed by the stealthy attack and quickly defended herself. Once on the ground and with nowhere to run, the spiders proved to be less formidable and were soon crushed under steel.

The library was a wreck, having been deserted long ago. But the books were of great interest although they didn’t contain the mystical texts I believed we were looking for. Undaunted, we soon found another chamber with more volumes of writing. The inscriptions were of a very old dialect and one I have seen before, but am not familiar enough with to translate. I shall study these further in the privacy of my own dwelling.

We pressed on and made a rather perplexing discovery. Bed chambers. Far below the surface of Desolis, carved into the rocks and stone were rather ornate bed chambers with equally impressive furnishings. These may have indeed been the private chambers of the Obsidians themselves. From the disordered nature of things, they left in a rather hurried manner.

Our investigation was interrupted as several pale-skinned creatures discovered our intrusion and set to put a stop to us. They had a familiar form, but the skin was glowing from some sort of markings that adorned their bodies. No time to take in the art, we had to silence this mob before they alerted the others. They carried no weapons so were no match for us. But the cloven-footed devil that seemed to be their leader carried a rather menacing polearm.

This strange figure had the same unusual markings and jellylike skin, and alas met the same end as the others. I admit, he put up a good fight, but fire and steel conquers all and Alley and I had brought both to the party.

We forged ahead to see what else we could discover in this labyrinth and soon came across some sort of fount. It was within a large chamber with a stone walkway leading out to it. Strangely, it was supported by more of the Obsidian shards. Considering the décor of the chamber, I expected to find some sort of Shaman or Necromancer parading about reciting incantations and foretelling our doom for interrupting him. No such luck. Like all the other rooms we had entered, this too was abandoned and it’s use remains a bit of a mystery. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was for no good.

Venturing further still, we came to a curious hallway with oddly shaped openings. A strange entrance to be sure. No doors, but you had to stoop to pass through. They seemed curiously awkward. And then the reality of the situation hit me.

In a large chamber stood what I can only assume is an Obsidian experiment gone wrong. A massive beast stood guarding what looked to be some sort of meeting hall. Alley and I thought we had secured a private vantage point to look around, but were sadly mistaken when the hulking beast set his gaze upon us and leapt with an agility that made my heart sink and my bowels weaken. His first play was to cut off our escape. We bounded for the rubble pile ahead of us with thoughts of gaining another exit. We found ourselves in the middle of the meeting hall with blocked passages all around. Before we could look for a suitable location for our retreat, the beast was coming right for us.

With a clap that echoed like thunder he tried to crush us to powder. It was a good thing he only managed to get me in the head so I didn’t sustain much injury. But the battle was on! Alley summoned the power of Puppy, her Obsidian Bear to add strength to our number. I asked that Barry lend a paw lest there be nothing left of me to cook him dinner.

Though we landed many savage blows, he seemed unaffected. In fact, although there was ringing in my ears, I’m quite sure he was laughing at us. This was most unusual as when Alley gets swinging, things start falling. We needed another tactic.

He might be nimble, but there is only one of him and four of us. We each took a different point on the compass and went in with everything we had. I drew the short sword and had to contend with stabbing him in the hindquarters. Why must these terrible creatures all wear kilts or loin cloths?

The swords blazed with fury. Fire seared the floor. Claws slashed and teeth tore. It seemed we were now gaining the upper hand.

We each in turn took many stinging blows, but we stood our ground and dug ourselves in. It may have been the end for us all, but we would hold on as long as we could.

And then with a howl of agony, the great creature fell to a lifeless heap on the floor. We had been victorious! And perhaps a little bit lucky.

As we composed ourselves, we took time to investigate the chamber and it did seem to be a meeting hall of the Obsidians. There were even great plaques hung upon on the wall with writings we will take back for further study.

It is quite obvious that many terrible things have been done here and horrific creatures have been brought into existence that never should have been. There is a great deal more to discover in these chambers and not all the people of Desolis are as innocent as they claim. They talk of learning from the Obsidians for purely historical reasons, but I’m not so sure it ends there. This is something a little off with these people. Might have to keep what we found down here a secret from them.

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Well now, not exactly the hall of records I was expecting. Anything good on those shelves?

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The bones certainly distract from this being a quite place of learning and I could do without those massive spider eggs.

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I’m not sure what we have going on here, but nevertheless, nice grouping!

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Sweet! Snacks!

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What a horrible, twisted, tangled mess! And if that cod piece moves, I think I’m going to vomit.

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Oh, nice table. I wonder if I can sneak that out of here. That would look splendid in my house.

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Wait a minute, what the devil is that thing?

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I’m pretty sure he saw us and now feels compelled to run around and crush us to dust. Why can’t these abandoned ruins actually be abandoned?

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My goodness you are a stinky devil, but your choice of decor isn’t half bad. Mind if I take one of these skins back with me? Oh wait, you’re dead. Of course you don’t mind.

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It’s not a bad chair. Quite ornately decorated. Fine workmanship. However, the rancid pile of bones at my feet and the dead guy spilled all over the floor make this whole setup a touch less than desirable. Always have to end up in a meeting hall with bones, don’t we?

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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