The Age of Worms Chapter 1: The Whispering Cairn (Game Thread, Closed, Started)

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Of course things got worse, as they so often tended to do, and a black squid-like creature dropped from the ceiling onto James' head. Wilmet racked his brains for a second before placing a name to the thing. Darkmantle. A worry that more could be lurking in the dark above glanced through his mind before swiftly being replaced by the fear that the now rampaging Thalith might step on him.

Fortunately the Thalith seemed in control of itself enough to focus its aggression on the creature and not on James himself, brutally stomping it into paste. Still with that threat removed if he didn't manage to control himself then the party would be faced with a much larger threat.

Carefully Wilmet prepared a sleep spell, difficult though it was while lying on the cold ground, ready to loose it if the Thalith wasn't able to reign himself in.

James bashed his head - and by extension the monster - into a wall to limited effect. The rubbery nature of the monster des tributes the blow effectively, rendering it meaningless. This rubbery nature however didn't protect it from the following stab wound. The creature had little defense from the daggers blade save the awkward angle of the attack. Still, the blade cut deep into one of its free tentacles. A spirt of jet-black ichor shot from the wound as did a screech did from its mouth around James's head. While the screech hurt his ears, it did offer an opportunity as the beast's hold on him loosened.

While James couldn't take advantage of this, he was not alone. Thalith - his rage finally bubbling over - ripped the creature from his ally's head, leaving James covered in digestive juices but free. Thalith squeezed down on the creature but found it slick and hard to get a grip on. Further, the creature was hardly without options for escape. With a screech, an unnatural darkness settled over the area, blinding all but those adept at seeing in the dark. James - being both present and capable of such feats - saw the creature slip from Thalith's hands and skitter off down the right passage.

Before the darkness settled however, Wilmet spotted something of note about the creature; it had a symbol burned into its side. It had been branded by some unknown being or beings. The symbol was a triangle divided into three equal parts, each part featuring an eye on a hand, a scythe crossed with a dagger, and a sword over a circle.

"What the hell was that thing?!" Exclaimed Godric, approaching the group and gripping his sword tightly with both hands and holding it out in front of him in an attempt to ward off further attack from the dark creature. It had fled before Thalith could turn it into mashed chunks, but was surely hiding before securing another opportunity to ambush the group. "Where are you?" He cried out to the group as the creature let out a screech and darkness fell over the area, blocking his vision.

Godric held his sword closer to himself, without being able to see it was irresponsible to be waving it around, but the creature may attack again and was sure to lurk nearby. "Everybody draw weapons!" He barked, "This foul creature will no doubt attempt to strike again, and cannot be far away!"

He hoped the others still moving clear of the gas chamber had caught up to them, or managed to get to safety without being caught in this foul distraction. Straining to hear for the slightest movement from the creature, Godric held himself completely still.

James rubbed his neck, breathing heavily and eyes wide as he stepped away from the giant and tried to gather himself. He looked at the creature that had tried to , it felt familiar to him, probably because Jonathan would have known what it was. Some sort of... creature. However, it was not that which scared him the most now. It had stressed him, he had felt panic grasp as his senses. However, it wasn't until now that he felt like curling up.

He was terrified of the goliath. And he couldn't seem to push that fear away. Even as he saw the darkness fall, and his instincts told him to attack the small, slippery creature, not let it get away, he hesitated. The knives he threw, 2 small -but extremely sharp- throwing knives, were aimed perfectly, and he was lucky not to have his hands shake, were more of an afterthought. A way for him to feel like he wasn't as pathetic and cowardly as he felt. It was an empty reassurance.

"Everybody draw weapons! This foul creature will no doubt attempt to strike again, and cannot be far away!"

One of the armoured guys said. If he had gotten a name, he couldn't conjure it up, though that could just be the fear. God, that goliath thing wasn't going to come closer, right? It'd just, kinda, stay angry over in its own corner, right?

"I-it went to the right," he said. "I threw some knives, but it's quick, so I don't... I don't know if they hit." He closed the larger of the coats tighter around himself, feeling some sort of safety from it. Safety from the big guy, and his anger. While he wasn't curled up, his body language was closed and his heart was beating.

"I'll... keep an eye on it, since I can see it. We should just move, the gas is... p-probably still a threat." He hated that he couldn't force the frightened stutter away. Not sufficiently enough to not seem fine, at least. However, he did as he said he would, keeping an eye out for whether his knives had hit, and, if not, the creature would try to attack them again.

Wilmet caught only a brief glance of a strange mark on the creature before it vanished into a cloud of magical darkness. The mark itself was not one he recognized, though it seemed made up of the holy symbols of various deities, Vecna, Erlin, and Sarameous to be specific. All gods or goddesses tied to death in some way, though Vecna's portfolio was secrets the god was a lich, Erlin was specifically the god of death and undeath, and Sarameous was a goddess of war and violence, as well as rule by strength. [i]Not the most pleasant trio all things considered. Odd that such a creature would bear that kind of a mark, something to think about.

Careful not to raise his head to far Wilmet crawled out of the gas room, before standing to join the others. He was lower to the ground than them and they were so far unaffected by the toxins out here so it seemed safe enough for now.

"Did we lose anyone?" he asked "we should proceed carefully, I have a suspicion something is going on here, that creature was marked with religious symbols and nothing too pleasant. It is hardly intelligent enough to threaten us much though, and if it comes back we will be ready for it, so I see no need to go rushing after it. That said James is right, we should make some effort to distance ourselves from the gas."

Raising his hands above his head and bringing them down on the ground in a double fisted slam Thalith roars his rage to the ceiling after the creature had gotten away. His rage growing inside him because of the escape the Goliath can feel himself wanting to cut his way through his enemy's with a desire that would make everyone around him an enemy. Tightening his fists he ignores the people coming out of the gas and glares at where the earth was cracked in his punching.

"I-it went to the right, I threw some knives, but it's quick, so I don't... I don't know if they hit."

Spinning around and glaring down at the small person who had been originally attacked by it Thalith can feel an insane smile stretching his face and he starts to laugh loudly, it echoing out of his chest. Pulling his Greataxe off his back he takes a step towards the little person who had backed away from him, looking past him into the hallway and starts walking with his axe ready. Moving towards the way his Enemy had gone mostly ignoring the people behind him now as his every sense stretches out searching for the escaped thing.

Making his way down the hallway Thalith can feel an oppressive cold making it hard to move, his breath fogging out white in front of him as he narrows his eyes, feeling it sapping his strength. A dozen feet down the hall he glares at the doorway ahead and shakes his head hard, turning back and stomping back towards the group more angry than before but his rage leaving him making him tired.

Clodagh kept moving along, breathing through her mouth as the gas began to dissipate. She heard yelling, and stabbing noises. James was yelling, and she closed her eyes and just kept edging along, keeping to the wall so as to not get the attention of whatever monster the others had to deal with.

Before she knew it the gas was all but gone, and she was able to stand up properly again, dust herself off, and put her socks back in their rightful place (making a mental note to unceremoniously burn them later). As Clodagh looked around, she squinted in the dark, and heard a jaunty sort of voice,
"Did we lose anyone?"
"Everybody draw weapons! This foul creature will no doubt attempt to strike again, and cannot be far away!"
Clodagh's ears glossed past the first question, almost subconsciously, but heard that second statement and dutifully obeyed, wondering what could possibly be their enemy. James looked awfully flustered, meanwhile the others were being highly vigilant. If it was something big the group would have seen it by now, but small?

"Oh...fuck." Clodagh double checked and found it wasn't there. She could have sworn she had brought a knife, but it either had been dropped earlier or she was misremembering, it was impressive though that while none of her clothes would rip away earlier, the single item that could have torn them away easily was now missing. "Sorry. I-I don't have a weapon." She said meekly.

"we should proceed carefully, I have a suspicion something is going on here, that creature was marked with religious symbols and nothing too pleasant. It is hardly intelligent enough to threaten us much though, and if it comes back we will be ready for it, so I see no need to go rushing after it. That said James is right, we should make some effort to distance ourselves from the gas."

James nodded, he thought what he had said made sense as well. He was about to move towards the other door, when he suddenly was rushed by the Goliath from behind, getting pushed into the wall as he barely stepped out of the way. Rather than yelling at the creature, being angry and cursing, the fear from before overtook him, and he found himself headed the other direction, shaking violently. He wanted away, he hoped the Goliath was walking right into another trap and got himself murdered, anything to keep it away from him.

"Sorry. I-I don't have a weapon."

That doesn't bloody matter now, does it?!

He thought in his mind. Sure, the girl was probably thinking about the common good, but either the big guy was going to crush the thing completely, or he would get its attention, neither was a reason to interfere. Still shaking, arms put around himself as he struggled to breathe completely, James simply opted to lead the way into the other doorway. With a quiet voice, he only said one word.

"Here." Then he walked quickly, almost ran, trying to keep an eye and ear out for any traps -especially now that his senses felt heightened from the fear- wanting nothing more than to curl up and be alone, or even better, be safe. He wished Jonathan was there, that the other could just take over his body and mind and control it, handle it for him like he had done with so many of his problems. However, he was all alone, left to fend for himself. And it terrified him.

I have to get that... that monster, out of the group.

Else he would be done for it, he was sure of it. In his mind, there was only three ways to do that; persuade the others of that the Goliath was crazy and couldn't be trusted -he had, after all, triggered every single trap so far-, force the Goliath to leave out of choice, or murdering the damn thing. Well, or wait for this to be over. Feeling his shoulder ache, James knew for sure that he didn't want the other to make it away unharmed, though a confrontation wasn't something he could even consider right now, as he kept heading into safety.

After he saw everyone pass Charles closed the passage to stop the gas flow and caught up with the others. He arrived in time to see something happening, the others talking, and then darkness infront of him.

He simply asked "What happened?" as he walked into the darkness and listened, moving towards the voice that said "Here."

James carefully made his way left and away from the oppressive darkness. As he - and those who followed him - made there way down the passage, the passage turned to the right; it's path clearly continuing around and eventually connecting back to the right passage. A door marked the meeting point of the formerly left and right passages.

Upon reaching the doorway, two things became immediately apparent. First, the room in question had been some kind of workshop. The rooms was littered with the remains of half-complete sculptures and ancient tools of the trade (now turned to rot). Second, they were clearly not the first to breach the chamber, for a dead body in relatively modern, bright-red armor lay on the floor, still clutching his or her rusting longsword.

To his back was a now ruined, simple fountain.

The anger inside him still roiling around at not being able to kill the enemy Thalith puts his great axe away on his back as he forces himself to calm down. The murderous rage that had stole over him was enough that he had wanted to kill everyone around not just those that threaten him and those with him. Looking around just after getting back to where the rest of the group had stopped just beyond the poison gas the large goliath turns and watches the one who ahd been being attacked walk down the opposite way from where the darkwhatever it had been had gone.

Turning and walking towards the small person Thalith takes a second to close his eyes, the anger inside him making it harder but he reaches out trying to see if anything out there was moving and making itself feel like a threat. Stepping up behind the small man the Goliath leans his head down and makes a noise of surprise when he sees that the small room ahead was a workshop. Walking past the man and into the room he looks around at the broken statues and rotting and rusty tools. Scratching his chin as he looks around. Saying low but it still easily reaching the doorway.

"I wonder what kind of people could create such amazing statues."

He got a brief while to calm down, and it helped his mind. Of course, it still wasn't enough to make him feel well.

"I wonder what kind of people could create such amazing statues."

Fuck off you destructive maniac.

James simply continued ahead towards the door in the far end of the corridor. ignoring the body and the room altogether, where the Goliath stood. He had no interest in dwelling, as far as he knew, the poison gas was still coming. Walking forwards didn't mean they were safe either, they just had to get out of there. completely. Besides, he would rather have the creature from before bite his head again than rely on the moron. With a sour expression, he hoped the others would follow him and not the giant, they were better off without the creature either way.

"Are you lot coming?!" he yelled out, as he kept walking, keeping an eye out for his surroundings. "I mean, if you truly want to die to poison, then be my guest, but I at least intend to get out of here." When he got to the door, he carefully examined it, if it felt safe, he would try pushing it open.

"I wonder what kind of people could create such amazing statues."

"I'm rather less concerned with the statuary and more with the corpse," Wilmet said, "or rather what killed it."

He moved closer to the body trying to see if the body had any wounds, it was of course possible that they had succumbed to poison whoever they were but assuming that wasn't the case then learning what had befallen them could help the party avoid the same fate. We know there are monsters in here, and something has reset the traps since this poor fool came here. That speaks to intelligence, or perhaps the traps magically reset...

In the meantime James was busy examining the door, clearly eager to press forwards, or perhaps eager was the wrong word. From how he was yelling Wilmet could only assume the lad was frightened, an understandable reaction given their circumstances.

Godric moved over to where Wilmet was examining the dead body.

"I'm rather less concerned with the statuary and more with the corpse, or rather what killed it."

"Red armour, at least this poor soul's enemies couldn't see them bleed. Any dents or piercings in that?" He enquired, wondering just how the poor adventurer had met an end. It might tell them about the nature of a trap in this room, or the strength of a wandering monster. Seeing Wilmet was already checking for such damage he decided not to interfere too much.

Further along the corridor Godric found James about to open the door they had found, speaking in a low voice so the others couldn't hear he tried to offer some advice, "Listen, you've got to slow things down here. I know you're eager to press on, and perhaps eager to be away from some of us, but you already rushed into one dangerous situation and you might end up rushing into another." Hoping some of this was getting through he tried to continue, "There's nothing wrong with taking it slow in a place like this, rushing ahead will get you in danger, rushing ahead without the group will get you killed."

Godric couldn't tell if James was scared or frustrated by recent events, or perhaps it was a little of both. But his attempts to push further into the Cairn while the group stopped to investigate the rooms were only going to lead him into trouble.

"Listen, you've got to slow things down here. I know you're eager to press on, and perhaps eager to be away from some of us, but you already rushed into one dangerous situation and you might end up rushing into another. There's nothing wrong with taking it slow in a place like this, rushing ahead will get you in danger, rushing ahead without the group will get you killed."

"That's bollocks an--" he hissed at the other, but then he stopped himself. As difficult and annoying and different as it was, he knew that his best bet in this was staying with the rest of the group. And, since the Goliath had made itself his enemy now, it meant that he had to ensure that he got along with the others. Even people who claimed outrageous things, like him rushing ahead, or putting himself in danger, as if he wasn't already the most careful person there.

James, just bloody do this and then you might get to see the Goliath thrown off a cliff or something. Worst case scenario, you'll still be on good terms with the others, or at least okay ones. Even if you don't get any money or anything like that, it could aid you back at the lake.

But oh, how he loathed the thought of it. How he loathed the thought of forcing himself to get along with simpletons and arrogant jerks. He bit down a little, and looked at the other. It was clear he couldn't lie either, as much as he wanted to just smile and get it over with so that he could back to avoiding people, he simply didn't know how to. So he was forced to rely on one of his feelings, try to appeal in a different manner. Which was better? Being aggressive, or being a coward?

Being honest, I suppose. Ugh. I wish I could just leave. But at least... he doesn't seem to want to hurt me.

That was worth something. It meant he could show a weaker side without being attacked. Hopefully even make some sort of appeal. He could get as worked up as he could, but the fear still sat in him. Fear of the traps, of the Goliath, of never being able to go home. Of being all alone in the world. And he channelled that fear, let it show, looking into the eyes of the knight.

"I know. I know, I shouldn't, I'm just... it's so scary, I can't help it. It's so scary and I try not to stop moving and there's still poison gas, and the Goliath and I'm so so so so scared. And I hate this, I just wanted to get home. Not to the stupid lake, my actual home, and..." he whispered towards the end, though the knight could still hear it, if he was still standing there.

"I don't want to be here, Mr. Knight, I don't bloody want to spend a second more than I have. I thought it'd be fine, I really did, but I had not... I had not thought it was as possible to be as simple-minded as the Goliath, and I honestly think its going to murder me, either by intent or mistake. Please, just help me calm down." His eyes were fixed at the other, almost eerily so, because he didn't know if he should look away or not. Finally, he looked at his feet, starting to realize what he had just admitted to.

Oh god. That was bloody horrible.

So much for trying to seem like a reasonable person.

As Wilmet looked over the body, the cause of death quickly became clear. The death was a result of some kind of creature; evident by the four long gashes and one short gash on the front of the armor. The body further showed signs of being picked clean of all "meat". Among these signs was that the skull of the creature had been torn from the body and cracked open on a nearby rock. Despite all of this, the armor was in repetitively good condition; the gashes not withstanding. All of the other equipment was beyond use or repair.

At the door, James could make out no signs of trapping though there were the sounds of movement beyond it. Specifically, it sounded like small waves breaking on a shore. Seemingly safe enough, the door was pushed open to reveal a strange but no unexpected sight. A short staircase descended down from the door to an intersection. While the left and right passages were hidden from view, the area beyond was unmistakable.

The area beyond the intersection consisted of a staircase leading into a large chamber carved out of the stone. The exact size of the chamber and the length of the stairs was indeterminate for the chamber was flooded up to the intersection with what appeared to be water. The water was unquiet and apparently stocked with fish.

In the center of the intersection was a well. It was perhaps two feet in diameter. The rotten remains of a bucket sat next to it. The only other noticeable feature of the area was that it smelled of rot, mold, and a strange, faint acrid sort of smell James could identify as an acidic compound.

"I don't want to be here, Mr. Knight, I don't bloody want to spend a second more than I have. I thought it'd be fine, I really did, but I had not... I had not thought it was as possible to be as simple-minded as the Goliath, and I honestly think its going to murder me, either by intent or mistake. Please, just help me calm down."

"The name's Godric, and you're doing better at this than you think." Said Godric (obviously) as James opened the door. The kid wasn't so bad, he just seemed unused to working with so large a group. Turning his head to look through the now open doorway Godric was surprised at what he heard, "Is that running water?"

Looking down the staircases he could see the well and flooded passageway, "Have we found the source of the lake here?" He asked because of the presence of the well, a flooded chamber in a place like this could mean any number of things, particularly since it seemed to have been inhabited by some civilisation long ago. It was always possible that their means of water storage and distribution had been damaged and flooded certain parts of the Cairn, but the well suggested there had been access to a naturally replenishing supply in this area.

With an odd smell hitting his nostrils, Godric gave the air a couple of sniffs. "I really hope that's not a gelatinous cube I can smell, if they even smell of anything..." Looking back at the rest of the group still examining the body he said, "Finish up there, let's delve further into this place."

"The name's Godric, and you're doing better at this than you think."

"No I'm not, it's scary how stupid---" he trailed off as the door seemed to open without no hesitation, no trap triggered or key required. Inside was a sight he hadn't expected, water, a well, a rotten smell filling the air. That, and some sort of acidic compound. And fish. And the water seemed far too... alive for somewhere like this. Just processing it made his head hurt, but that may very well be because of the thing that had almost eaten the top of his head.

"Is that running water?"

"It's dangerous," he muttered to himself. "If we're not careful, it'll kill us." It wasn't the acidic smell, or the rotten smell, but the water, and the fish. He didn't like water, he had little experience with it before coming to Diamond Lake, and even then he had avoided it for most of the time. James thought he could swim, from Jonathan's skills passed down to him, but he had never tried. Water was dangerous and unpredictable, it housed things one couldn't possibly deal with without the benefit of being on land.

"I really hope that's not a gelatinous cube I can smell, if they even smell of anything... Finish up there, let's delve further into this place."

"Don't. The water smells acidic, I don't trust those fish and I'm not entering the water without it being tested thoroughly," he stated, crossing his arms. "To test it, perhaps Wilmet can cast some electric spell on it. If it is strong enough, it should be able to sufficiently electrify anything in the relevant area, but if not--" He looked at the water again. Part of him wanted to throw something in it, break off a piece from one of the statues or something and just see if anything large and powerful grabbed it. Another part wanted to curl up and wait for someone else to test the water, out of harm's way. He looked at the knight. The knight, Godric was being useful, not that good at reassuring, but this person seemed calm and charitable.

If I want to get rid of the Goliath, I need useful people around. For as long as it takes.

Besides, he'd never been treated as nicely as this before, and though he'd never admit it to anyone, ever, and even though he didn't need anyone, that did count for something.

So far, I know I need to keep Wilmet around as well.

In a matter-of-factly tone laced with caution and fear, he continued;

"Don't go in it, Godric. Something will try to drown you, I'm sure of it."

"Don't go in it, Godric. Something will try to drown you, I'm sure of it."

"Don't worry, I wasn't intending to take a swim in that stuff." Godric gently tapped his chainmail, just enough to make a sound, "Besides, I'd probably sink like a stone." Giving a slight chuckle at the unfunny prospect of sinking to the depths of some godforsaken pond, Godric's hand went to the hilt of his sword. Knowing it was there gave him no small measure of comfort.

"When I said delve I didn't necessarily mean we'd dive to new depths through some unknown body of water. Only that we'll explore further into this place." The thought of something in the water made him shudder slightly. Adept as he was at combat, any underwater encounter would have him at a disadvantage against a foe that would surely have no worries about drowning. Even the mightiest warrior needed to breathe.

Thalith was done looking at the statues, their amazing details and their flaws both, were captivating but he knew he had to move on. He could feel a few of the other people he had come with ahead, next to what almost felt like a door when they had opened it. Barely glancing at the dead body and its armor as well as its rusty useless other items. Two people were close to it talking to each other about it but he ignored it, it was useless to him in everything.

Walking out of the door that had lead into where the statues and body was he looked over and saw one of the heavily armored people talking to the little person who had been attacked earlier, and he thought he had also saw something else but he didnt know. These short small people were so hard to read, their bodys and faces small and hard to understand as well as being so weak in body. Walking over towards them he gets close just in time to hear the smaller one say to the armored one something about not going into the water, how it would drown him.

Looking past them Thalith grunts from behind the smaller of the two and he points over them both out into the next room and rumbles.
"Smells like acid. In the well? or a trap? How do we test?"

Thalith frowns as he talks, feeling out with his other sense. Trying to figure out what he is feeling.

Charles followed as the others moved and still unsure what he had missed carried on, and looked at the body the gnome was examining. When he saw the skull he had a creeping suspicion about the Cairn, and why the man he had found earlier had moved the lantern as he had. If the body had flesh he could check for the pattern it left, even in rot, but without it all he had was a suspicion. The yellow... It was better to check them than risk being torn limb from limb.

He walked to the group around the water and started talking to them, wondering about the smell as he approached. "All of you have weapons? Something you can start a fire with? Have any of you fought the dead before?"

Killed by a monster and picked clean, an unsurprising death considering the location and one that didn't offer them any particular warnings. Ah well it was to be expected after so long he supposed, at least the man hadn't died to some cleverly concealed trap that they would need to search for. That of course left the groups attention focused on other matters, James seemed most concerned with the water which he claimed was acidic, and the fish which he seemed worried might devour them or some such. Thalith was predictably interested in the statues, which Wilmet had to admit were impressive examples of their culture.

"Don't go in it, Godric. Something will try to drown you, I'm sure of it."

"I might know a spell or two that could electrify the water, might do something about whatever's in it," Wilmet said "it would require me to touch it however, and if it is acidic as you say that could be rather unwise. So long as we don't go wading through it anything in there will have to crawl out to cause us trouble."

"All of you have weapons? Something you can start a fire with? Have any of you fought the dead before?"

Wilmet frowned at this, the undead could be expected in such a place though they took so many forms of such varying strength it was difficult to say they could be prepared to face them. Still he had trained in a temple and come to this place to assist the faithful, it was in many ways his duty to face such a threat should it arise.

"I can conjure flame if required," he said, withholding that he would be better able to conjure the illusion of flame than the real thing "why? Do you sense the undead lurking about?"

"Don't worry, I wasn't intending to take a swim in that stuff. Besides, I'd probably sink like a stone. When I said delve I didn't necessarily mean we'd dive to new depths through some unknown body of water. Only that we'll explore further into this place."

Then what do we do? Where are we supposed to go?

James tilted his head, unsure of how to reply. He didn't know where else they could go, unless there was a path behind the fungi from earlier. However, so far the crypt had been rather symmetrical in his opinion, and if that was the case, the next room would be empty at best. Then again, it could be a trick. Before he replied, the Goliath appeared again, and James very obviously stepped away from the thing -out of its path as well- scowling at the thing's back. He had no reason to talk to him. Besides, he felt a bit of relief as he noticed more people approached, he had gotten out of the way before being forced into a crowd, and that was always good, people being close made him both uncomfortable and very annoyed.

Even if being close to someone as calm as Godric had made him calm down considerable.

"I might know a spell or two that could electrify the water, might do something about whatever's in it. It would require me to touch it however, and if it is acidic as you say that could be rather unwise. So long as we don't go wading through it anything in there will have to crawl out to cause us trouble."

Hesitating with his reply, James muttered at first.

"That's the way we need to go, though. I mean, where else? Unless we're going to fly." He looked at the mage, then at the water, but before he could reply for real, Wilmet was already addressing someone else.

"I can conjure flame if required, why? Do you sense the undead lurking about?"

James looked at the one Wilmet had addressed, the middle-aged man whose name he currently did not know. Could he sense the undead?

It is possible... that's peculiar, though, for someone like that to join a quest for money. It's some sort of magic, religious, I think. Light.

"Can you sense the undead?" Even with Jonathan's knowledge, there was still so much he didn't know beyond a feeling in the back of his mind. "It's strange. How can you sense the presence the undead without seeing, hearing or smelling them? There's taste and touch too, but those don't apply here. Nevertheless, how?" James asked, the pale blue rings around his abnormally large pupils appearing somewhat unsettling in the dim light, especially as they fixed upon the man. "How does that work?" He gave the man a brief moment to reply, before looking back at Wilmet, regardless of if he got a reply or not.

"And Wilmet, I don't think that's the issue," he started, continuing their conversation from earlier as if there had been nothing between now and then, simply because he hadn't thought of the possibility for confusion. He wasn't confused, and that was the most important thing.

"It would take a lot of an acid for it to harm you by just touching it, and the smell isn't that strong. And there's fish there, had it been truly that dangerous, I can't see what kind of fish would live there. Unless they adjusted to it, or have some magical attributes, but even then I can't see it harming you. Although..." He fished out an empty vial from his pocket.

"I don't want to go close to the water, I'm worried something might grab me. But if you want to, you can use this," he fished an empty vial out of his pocket. "--To gather a sample, and I'll check it myself. It won't take long, and you won't have to touch the water, but it's not my fault if it goes the wrong way."

"I can conjure flame if required," he said, withholding that he would be better able to conjure the illusion of flame than the real thing "why? Do you sense the undead lurking about?"

"Can you sense the undead? It's strange. How can you sense the presence the undead without seeing, hearing or smelling them? There's taste and touch too, but those don't apply here. Nevertheless, how? How does that work?"

"It's not like that," Charles replied. "I was a hunter some years ago. I've seen signs in the Cairne, not many but enough to suspect their taint." He pointed his blade toward the nearby skeleton, "With the body and the yellow I thought it worth checking if you could fight before going deeper."

Charles sniffed and looked at the water, "I wouldn't trust anything living down here for as long as it's been but I have a faster way." He walked over to the skeleton and looking through it's things he picked up a strip of rotted leather before returning and presenting it to the others. "I'd rather not remove my gauntlets down here, so if one of you could smear some of your blood on this I'll drop it in and we'll know how."

"I'd rather not remove my gauntlets down here, so if one of you could smear some of your blood on this I'll drop it in and we'll know how."

Removing one of his gloves, Godric made a small cut to his left little finger, allowing a few droplets of blood to fall onto the rotting leather. "I hope this isn't going to summon something with a taste for my blood." He said in a voice tinged with discomfort. Small as it was the cut would bother him for a little while yet, though he took some satisfaction from knowing none of the other would have to shed blood just yet.

"Conduct your experiment, I'm eager to see the results." Said Godric, motioning Charles to place now bloodstained leather into the water.

OOC: Just moving to a new place so I won't have Internet for about a week or two. Post again as soon as I can.

"Conduct your experiment, I'm eager to see the results."

Charles nodded and slowly lowered his arm towards the pool before dropping the bloodied leather into the water and retracting his arm. He thought it close enough that anything within the pool that would react to him would react to it acid, fish, or otherwise. The slight smell of blood if he was right would also draw anything present out that was close enough.

He noticed a slight discomfort in the man, if there was no reaction to the leather it would be a simple matter to seal something so slight when he knew it was 'safe.'

As Charles and Godric approached the water, the acrid smell grew until it was nearly overwhelming. That is until they passed the well in the center of the room. After the well, the smell began to decrease ever so slightly. Once they reached the center of the new chamber (near the well), they could see the two chambers off to the left and right.

The left chamber seemed mostly untouched. It consisted of a dozen stone blocks that would have once hosted mattresses. The entire room was overlooked by a single large statue similar in appearance to the man on the sarcophagus above. The right chamber had clearly seen better days however as the whole room appeared to be covered in a sticky yellow substance. Several mounds in the room bore humanoid suggestions. Other, smaller mounds looked to be the remains of fish.

As Godric bloodied the piece of leather and Charles was about to toss the leather into the water, all could hear a new sound; a "clicking" sound. This was shortly followed by a skittering sound. Turning toward the well - for that was where the sounds emanated from - Charles and Godric were faced with what could only be described as a "geyser of beetles".

A geyser of glowing, yellow beetles. A geyser of glowing, yellow beetles who seemed very very hungry.

"It's not like that, I was a hunter some years ago. I've seen signs in the Cairne, not many but enough to suspect their taint. With the body and the yellow I thought it worth checking if you could fight before going deeper."

"Oh. Dull. Though at least it makes sense." He didn't ask about it further, instead resigned to watch as this one decided to do something about the issue at hand. With a glove and the request for some blood, the man conducted some sort of experiment, making the glove a bait for whatever out there that would be interested in attacking.

It should be sufficient.

Though he wasn't going to be the first one to follow the two into the water.

"Conduct your experiment, I'm eager to see the results."

James wasn't sure where he wanted to stand when they did it. On one hand, seeing the result of the experiment would be useful, on the other hand, he still felt like something was off. Very off.

They've gone into the water, and nothing has...

James cringed as he heard the clicking sound, it sounded like something bad, and immediately afterwards a lot of beetles started crawling up the well. Glowing yellow beetles, aggressive, from the looks of it.

There was a corpse... was that them?

He felt the urge to step back and run, but Godric was there, and he was useful. The other man too seemed like it would be a waste if he died.

I don't want to step closer. What would be good... fire, fire should work. I have that bottle of Alchemist's fire somewhere...

"Get out of the way!" he said, forcing himself past the others, though stepped clear of the water. He only needed to get close enough to throw the bottle. Feeling at the bottles in his pocket, he picked out the one who felt like it might be it, and checked the bottle against someone's torch to ensure the colour was correct. Then, he said; "I'm throwing it now, don't get close to the well!" With that, he threw it, aiming for the beetles, figuring that shattering it on the well would be sufficient to at least hit a portion of the beetles.

"I was a hunter some years ago. I've seen signs in the Cairne, not many but enough to suspect their taint."

Wilmet nodded in understanding, not magic simply perception. Good perception he'd grant, followed up with a good idea for testing the water. A glove was volunteered and the water was approached when, quite shockingly, voracious beetles erupted from the well, the smell of acid intensifying as they arrived.

Wilmet took an involuntary step backwards as the beetles arrived, startled by their sudden appearance and somewhat disturbed by the clicking noises. A voracious swarm like this could tear a man to shreds in minutes, and he was much smaller than a man. Still he steeled himself, mind pouring over his prepared spell searching for his memorized collection of arcana for just the signs, words, and energies he might need to face this foe.

"I'm throwing it now, don't get close to the well!"

Or throw a bottle of goop at it, that works too. Still he could appreciate the quick thinking and preparedness on James' part. Sad that it lacked the flash of real magic though.

Burning hands, if they aren't immune to the alchemist's fire it should work on them nicely. He spread his hands before him, the tips of his thumbs touching. The spell covered a small cone with flames, but was short enough (and his allies far enough away) that he had no risk of hitting them. Hopefully this finishes them, I don't much like the thought of being eaten.

Still there was nothing he could do about the range limits, he bit the inside of his lip for a moment then moved forward, just into the edge of range for the swarm and cast his spell. Incantation flowed from his lips and fire sprayed forth from the tips of his fingers at the swarm, adding to the fire already created by James' flask.

Scarabs? Charles eyes went wide as he realized what had happened down here and what he had just drawn out. He tossed the leather towards the chamber with the remains in it and quietly said "move" to himself more than anyone else. Fire in one hand and the other once again drawing his blade he began moving towards the room with the stone blocks. Instinctively he began muttering scripture and prayers to Ezra, asking for her protection and the strength to strike down his enemies as he tried to think of a way to fight the swarm.

Between James and Wilmet, a torrent of flame washed out over the insectoid mass. The fire proved effective against the beetles, but like a bucket of water against a raging fire there was simply not enough fire to hold back the entirety of the swarm. Still, the fear of fire is an instinctive one and the beetles were little but a mass of instinct. Recognizing the danger of those with fire, the swarm sought out easier prey. Charles' flaming hand kept he and Godric protected and Wilmet and James kept most of the others, but Andria was too far out front. She tried to move back behind Wilmet, but the beetles overtook her. With all the thousands of beetles focused on a single individual, it was barely a second before Andria's movement ceased.

Godric cursed under his breath. His sword would be of little use against the scarabs, and even his armour would only hold off the swarm for a few seconds before that mass of teeth tore him to shreds, just as the poor girl Andria had been. He felt bad for thinking this, but Godric had completely forgotten she was there.

"How long can you keep that up?" He asked Charles, whose use of fire was keeping the swarm well away from them both. It wouldn't matter too much, unless they could incinerate the entire swarm they would eventually be overrun. Godric stepped back with Charles, moving towards the room with the stone blocks, partially to get away from the swarm and partially to keep close to Charles. If they got separated it wouldn't be long before he was a pile of bones on the floor.

"This room we're backing into is safe, yes?"

Stepping up into the doorway Thalith kept to himself as people talked about the water and undead. So many things had been going on quickly but most of it was uninteresting to him so he ignored them. turning away from the doorway to look back where they had come from Thalith jumped a little and spun around as something made its way up the well, something weird.

As the beetles made their way up and out of the well, then took down one of their party and killed as well as ate her, Thalith could feel his rage bubbling up in his body. Starting to reach back for his axe and stopping because it would be no use he made fists and they cracked like breaking stones as he stepped forward, ignoring those ahead and around as they threw fire and got ready to run and fight.

Roaring out right behind the people who had been standing ahead of him Thalith threw himself forward and jumped, bringing his hands down in a double overhead slam onto the floor. the slam as well as the jumping landing made the ground shake as he slammed himself into where the beetles are.

James cringed as he watched the beetles eat a person, -though luckily not one of the ones he considered useful- only biting his tongue so that he was sure he would not say anything to make the creatures take note of him. Or scream. One or the other. A little tingling in the back of his mind told him that this was perfectly natural, that this was how these beetles acted. However that didn't stop him from shaking, wondering if he should take out his second alchemist's fire or depend on those capable of creating fire from magic.

It's too late for me to throw it now that they've spread this far, isn't it? The floor is filled with water.

He stepped a little closer to Wilmet, who seemed to be the safest person to be around right now. Carefully tugging at the short mage's hat, he spoke. "Uhm, don't stop, even if it kills you. They've... the water would make my fire go out, so I can't help, but they won't come for us if there's fire." He got slightly startled by that "guy"'s roar and indistinctly stepped aside as the Goliath leaped past him, though he was not very surprised to see the Goliath run head-first into danger. Again.

I suppose he would be safer... but they're acid beetles, right? They must have... well, acid. I suppose this is working out well, then. Perhaps they have abilities that will erode him. Perhaps they will kill each other. That would be perfect.

Then all the danger would go away. For now, at least.

"The Goliath won't get eaten, so just focus on the beetles that are away from him, he'll act as bait. Besides, we need to protect Godric and that other man, they're useful," James told the mage, it was true so technically no one could accuse him of trying to get his "team-mate" killed. Of course, the frightened yet triumphant smirk on his face might give away his true intentions.

"The Goliath won't get eaten, so just focus on the beetles that are away from him, he'll act as bait. Besides, we need to protect Godric and that other man, they're useful,"

Wilmet found James' enthusiasm about putting a party member in danger somewhat disturbing, but now was not the time to comment on it. Particularly not when he needed to keep his mind and words focused on the incantations and manipulations of arcana that sustained his magic. In truth he could only keep the spell going for a matter of seconds longer but there was no break in his incantation for him to relate such. Besides the Goliath was capable of great surges of movement and he did not wish to risk his flames falling on an ally.

Instead he nodded sharply to James' suggestion, and then jerked his head back as if to indicate they should keep moving away. His fires were certainly more intense than those of a torch but they would not last nearly as long without catching some other fuel alight. Perhaps an illusion... but I could only make an image of fire, not the heat so it might not fool the beetles.

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