And So the Bells Did Ring O'er That Damned Crown. (Game thread) { Chapter One: The Chamber of Fear }

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After staring at the healer for a good second or two Kalic spoke.

"I'm fine with anything as long as its away from the city. Are you sure you're alright Rema? You aren't gonna hear voices during a heavy situation are you?"

While his voices gave off genuine concern there was a selfish reason behind the question, if their leader and healer started freaking out during a battle then the chances of Kalics survival dropped dramatically. Plus if the others thought she was insane, they might not be as willing to follow her.

"I would prefer the chamber to the stairs," Anguis admitted, the darkness of the dungeon was much easier on him than the sunlight on the side of the mountain. Even in the years he had lived in the wilderness he had prefered to spend the days in what caves and dungeons he could find, venturing out at night to seek food or other necessities.

Rema's outburst concerned him very little, it did not matter whether she was sane as long as she could lead him to the crown.

"Through the chamber?" Lars tone was flat, his eyebrows raised. "Is the crown to be found among the dead?" He nodded thoughtfully; in a way, it made sense. "If you're certain you know where you're going Samsaran, I'll follow you." The butcher said, scratching his head irritably. "But I hope you know where you're taking us. The King's Chamber ain't no fairytale playground..." He glanced around at the soldiers who still looked a little nervous. "...And the guards mentioned someone headin' down there..."

Lars trailed off and spread his arms wide, a grin forced onto his face. "But I'm sure you know best. The King's Chamber sounds wonderful." The grin never faltered, but it also never touched his good eye, which sparked irritation.

As the group approached the King's Chamber, a sense of overwhelming dread encompassed the surroundings. No animals would live near the entrance positioned as stairs. One could see the first ten or so stairs leading down, but past that no light had ever lived long enough to illuminate the halls for more than a minute. Even the plants were shying away from it, pointing away even if it meant not getting as much sun.

It seemed amazing that anyone would go into such a hole to escape. The feeling of paranoia that encompassed the blackness truly was horrifying. One of two torches was left near the stairs, someone having taken the first. The torch was unlit but had all the nessecary preparations for being lit and was the only comfort in a sea of fear.

"Better make sure we can see something" said Kalic as he reached for the torch. Normally it would take a wave of the hand to ignite but Kalic was out of practice, after a brief incantation the touch sparked to life, illuminating their surroundings. Handing it to Rema he began a second spell, one for magelight, a small orb to follow the party.

As the spell formed he decided to make idle conversation

"So according to the books these levels shouldn't be too much troucle, how far down do you think we'll be going?"

Rema handed off the torch to Lars, and cast her own Magelight spell. "I'm uncertain, but with something as valuable and sought-after as the Crown, I think we can safely assume it will be very... very deep down."

She seems to have recovered completely from her strange behavior before, but she kept one hand near her sword at all times.

As the party entered the black hole, there was a distinct feeling that they had just crossed a threshold, and that they were slowly drifting. The feeling soon faded however as the stairs ended and they found themselves in a large hallway branching out in left and right turns every which way. They could not see the end of it but it appeared to be going for a long ways forward. The shuffling of feet could be heard in the distance to the left a bit.

From lore, Kalic knew that this was the King's Burial chamber and when it was discovered, it had been lined with jewels and gold. All of that had been quickly stripped off and the whole chamber was a bleak reminder of times none could remember.

Lars peered at the shadows cast by his torch's dim light, his free arm gripping the handle of a knife for a quick and easy draw should the need arise. "It sure is dark down here..." Lars waved the torch to the left, his eye searching the darkness for movements he knew he'd heard.

"Which way?" He asked, lossening the knife in its scabbard.

Anguis positioned himself at the back of the group, while most felt uneasy in the dungeon he felt right at home in the dark. It dissapointed him to know that the corpses in the chamber were too old to be much use, either as undead or as sources of vermin, although the rats in the chamber could be used if he needed to repair his body.

As he walked he was careful not to strike the ground too hard with his staff when he used it to support his weight, the noise might alert the mage who had presumably fled down here.

Elbaron cautiously surveyed his surroundings. Dark shadows flitted about as the torches moved, obscuring entire areas of the dungeon.

"This place is perfect for an ambush. We must move carefully" said Elbaron, readying himself. If there were any threats, he would not be caught unguarded.

"I imagine we might run into whoever came down here first," the healer whispered. "We should try to remain as silent as possible. Maybe he will let us pass... but I doubt it."

Rema pulled the map from her bag and opened it up, hoping it would give some clue as to what's ahead. If nothing else, it kept up the illusion that she knew where she was going.

As the footsteps got closer and closer the group could identify that they were actually coming from multiple sources, a small group was traveling and entered the hall in front of the party. The only thing Rema and friends could make out was that they had a torch.

An arrow sprung loose and nearly hit Lars in the head, flying just over him and colliding with the rock wall, sending a few bits loose. A voice came from the flames, it was deep and resembled that of a mythic paladin. "Who goes there? I apologies for my friend, he is jumpy. The Chamber has taken a bit of a toll on us all I'm afraid. Come closer so we can speak. I assume the guards have sent another party to aid us in apprehending the one responsible for the murders on the steps?"

Cautiously Kalic stopped his incantation, when he arrow had flowed he'd begun a basic bolt spell but apparently it wasn't need, nevertheless his hand remained on his dagger.

"We aren't the guards" He said calmly, trying to keep his voice steady, for all he knew a second arrow was inbound. "But I assume you are?"

The voice from the flames spoke again, his voice booming across the halls.

"We work with the guards to keep the city safe. Generally going and traveling places they are not allowed to go. If you are not with the guards, what brings you down here?"

As the arrow whizzed by Lars' head, Rema had already reflexively drawn her thin curved sword and held it in front of her with one hand and a ball of electrical energy with the other, but when she heard the friendly (or at least non-hostile) voices, she put them both back.

"We're treasure hunting," she replied simply. "We might also deal with the intruder while we're down here, however."

Lars barely had time to flinch as the arrow skimmed over his head, clattering harmlessly into the wall. A growl began to climb from Lars' throat as he drew a throwing knife from his belt and crouched a low.

"We're treasure hunting," Rema replied to the voice. "We might also deal with the intruder while we're down here, however."

"I may also have to deal with your archer if he looses again!" Lars called.

Keeping an eye on the dim light ahead, Lars moved to where the arrow had landed. He held the torch close in order to inspect it.

Lithfin was nervous. He wasn't at first, but the fact that someone had just shot an arrow at them scared him. He held his big sledge in his hands, not really knowing why. He used it to knock down poles, the thought of using it as a weapon had never crossed his mind, not even in this situation. But he had a firm grip on it, like the times at home when he was just waiting for one of the adults to tell him that he could start knocking down the poles.

Lithfin sniffed the air, trying to get the scent of the people hiding in the shadows. But it was no use, there were so many different scents in the air that he couldn't possibly tell what they were coming from.

Lithfin looked at Lars as he was inspecting the arrow. Lars was angry. Lithfin decided to stay quiet so he wouldn't get mad at him.

"We're treasure hunting," she replied simply. "We might also deal with the intruder while we're down here, however."

"Ah, well you picked a poor place for that! Don't you know that the whole chamber has been long looted? If you wanna help catch him then feel free to join us, gods know we could use the help navigating this damned maze."

"I may also have to deal with your archer if he looses again!"

The voice coming from the fire changed "Oi, 'e said we're s'ry mate."

Upon further inspection of the arrow, the shaft was made of wood, presumably pine. The tip was metal but Lars could tell it had been dipped in a potent poison. One used by trappers and hunters to bring down big game. Whoever the archer was, he appeared to be either a hunter or a really meticulous peasant.

Lars picked sheathed the knife and picked up the arrow, making sure the tip was safely pointing down. "Look at this," he whispered to Rema, holding the torch closer. "This doesn't look like the standard arrows used by Morarth soldiers..."

He sniffed tentatively at the tip, grimacing at the bitter stench it emitted. "Poison," he continued in a low whisper. "...A very powerful one; it's from the Magma plant, I think. Something I used to use to bring down bears that would attack the farm I worked on." He shook his head, glancing at each member. "This is an awful lot of the stuff though..."

Lars dropped the arrow in disdain and looked towards the distance torchlight ahead. "This is some interestin' poison the Morarth guards are using nowadays!"

"This is some interestin' poison the Morarth guards are using nowadays!"

The flames had an enormous but welcoming laughter come from it. "We aren't the guards! We work with them, kind of for hire you see? We hang out near the guard's quarter, they tell us to do something that they can't be bothered with, we go do it and get paid. You guys seem to be on the level, why don't we come closer and have a face to face discussion? Always better to have more people in a case like this."

Another voice came from the flames.

"Dem Bandi's though' so too mate. 'Fore they got stuck that is."

"Paladinsss, wonderful," Anguis muttered to himself, "must they ruin even the most livable dark hole?"

"This is some interestin' poison the Morarth guards are using nowadays!"

Anguis considered what Lars said about the poison, while it would harm him very little, as poison tended to have difficulty spreading itself through his body, it was unusual to see paladins using the stuff, most viewed poison use as wrong.

"You guys seem to be on the level, why don't we come closer and have a face to face discussion? Always better to have more people in a case like this."

Rema turned back to the rest of the group. "What do you think? I doubt it, but it might be a trap. I can shield us as we approach, if need be."

"Mercenaries..." Elbaron turned to Rema "can only be trusted as far as your wallet goes"

Elbaron was on edge. Why was a Paladin working for the guards?

"We must hear them out at least" Elbaron whispered "They may have valuable information"

Still, certain thoughts hung at the back of his mind. Why was the arrow poisoned? What purpose does a Paladin have down here? He moved to the front of the group, readying himself to defend.

"Be wary." Kalic said in a hushed tone "If that one is trained as a Mythic he'll be a problem. Avoid getting close and don't let him get to his shield. If they can hold against an elven army we wont be much issue."

He moved forward to join Elbaron, and slipped a hand to his dagger. To the mercs he would seem a normal Bard, hopefully a menacing one.

Rema seemed distracted for a moment--just a moment--before speaking again. "I don't know if we should trust them. What is stopping the guards from coming into the tunnels themselves? And if it truly is that dangerous, why send an adventuring party after him? Why not let the tunnels take care of it? It doesn't add up..."

Lars unsheathed his cleaver again. "Let them come to us," he said to the group. "If they mean us harm, I don't wanna be drawn into a trap. If they try anything... We can make sure we're ready." He spun the cleaver expertly. "We can make sure they regret crossing us."

A look of angry determination spread across the butcher's face. Inside, he was relishing the thought of a violent confrontation. It had been a while and the earlier alcohol had fired him up.

Lithfin didn't like the idea of fighting. He had never been in a fight before, not a real one anyway. The only times had been during training, and even then he hadn't been that good. To him it had been a game, and he knew that a real fight was something completely different.

"But have to do best." he suddenly said as he stepped up right next to Lars. "Meet mom and dad. Need crown."

Anguis willed a sphere of force into existence, ready to loose it at the "paladins" should they attack. A large part of him wanted to strike first and destroy them, but he restrained himself. A clump of wasps and bloated flesh eating flies migrated to his arm, ready to sting and bite if he released them.

"Larsss is right," he said, "If they attack they will regret it, then they will regret nothing ever again."

The flame was quiet for a moment, the voice came back, "We are going to come to you now."

The fire came closer and closer, each step having a series of metal and leather clanging and squishing against the stone floors. Each moment felt like an eternity as the party waited to see if they would be friend or foe. As they approached even closer, the illumination from the fire revealed there to be five of them, though obscured by shadows still. One of the shadows spoke up. "Why are you all being so quiet? Are you planning something?"

"Take no steps further!" Elbaron barked "and identify yourself!"

He tightened his grip on his glaive, waiting for the shadowy figures to make a move.

The flame stopped and chatted among itself. Whispers could be heard and it finally came out and said "I thought we told you? We work with the guards when they can't be arsed to go chase people. Some call us mercs but we work pretty exclusively with the kingdom."

Rema's hand rests on her sword's hilt again. "Just how dangerous are these tunnels? If I may ask."

Her other hand, she hides behind her as it begins glowing light blue and lights swirl around it.

"Just how dangerous are these tunnels? If I may ask."

"Unknown. Where we are is pretty safe, unless you attack us. But with that mage running around who knows what could happen?"

Deciding to get to the point Kalic spoke.

"Well since we're travelling through and you're hunting the mage, we could walk with each other awhile. As long s everyone keeps this swords to the belt we shouldn't have any trouble.

When the figures stepped into the light of the party, they appeared to be friendly. Lars recognized them as the group rushing out of the gates and validated their story to the group. It seemed that everything would go well for a time, after all they had both the torches and there were only so many hiding places for a wizard right? Also, the group of five was more than willing to part with food items, which the party had unfortunately forgotten to pack (Seriously guys, when I give you the opportunity to shop, do it. I am only going to give you a freebie once).

The party traveled in silence for a bit before the Paladin looking figure spoke again. "I do understand your lack of trust, this place has an effect on people. I know because I went here before, it is why I chose to be a paladin. Sometimes, you step too far into the darkness, coming back is hard."

There were two hooded figures in the group, one carrying nothing, the other with a bow on his back and obviously the poor languaged hunter. He spoke again to the group. "O' an' by the by, oi didn't mean t' hert ya. Warnin' shot's all dat wos."

"Yes well, another one of those and I will be sure to aim my warning throw extra low." Lars said with a grimmace and scowl. Each set of stairs the group descended seemed to lead to nothing but more dark and no noise. "The wizard has to be fast." The paladin said groaning. Many had lost track of time at this point and without the sun guiding any of them, Rema spoke up. "We need to stop for the night. We have to have been walking well into the night at this point. The wizard has to sleep too right?" The others silently agreed and chose a vacant looking room.

It was then that the theif of their group began his normal trap check, using the torch to analyze every corner, when he found a loose brick. He kicked at it and soon the rest of the bricks were easily removed, revealing a glinting golden room for what had to be another king. In the center of the room, laid a large coffin, made of pure emerald. There were chalices, mugs, scepters, all encrusted in gold, diamonds, saphires and everything one could imagine. "You fella's gotta see th's un." Said the theif in awe.

The first one to walk in was the Drow, who had been silently following the rest of the group, seemingly in it for her own reasons. Fearlessly she picked up the scepter over the centerpiece of the room. Soon the other party followed in and everyone except the party was marveling at the sight. Then, a rumbling noise surrounded the room. Five golems made entirely of gold formed off the walls, one blocking the enterance and the other four surrounding the six inside the room. The paladin's light could be seen through the cracks in the golem's body. He yelled to attack. Clanging and clacking could be heard as he yelled to the group outside to help him.

At the same time, Rema noticed a ring with a chain around it, connecting into the wall. It was covered in rust, but sturdy enough condition to still work, for whatever its purpose was.

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