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

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Charles not focusing upon anything other than his movements and the beetles missed the unfortunate event of the girl get consumed by them or perhaps he ignored it for the time being. It wasn't as if he could do anything about it. So many beetles. He heard the other man speak and broke his quiet chanting to respond with a "For as long as they can't tell the difference between it and theirs." And to the second question he stated quickly "Safer than here," unsure as to how safe it would be if not for the beetles moving upon them.

Charles without thought returned to his praying as he saw the Goliath moving towards the beetles. Still trying to wave off the beetles with his torch Charles continued to move into the room with the stone blocks.

The beetle swarm continued its assault, now fully focused on the giant stone monster in their midst. It only took them a few seconds to realize the stone man didn't really qualify as food. In fact, after a few attacks the swarm seemed to avoid him whenever possible as though the swarms instinctual intellect told them to be wary of the stone foe. Unfortunately, while Thalith was all but immune to the beetles (save the occasional acid blast), his attacks were also little more than inconvenience to the swarm. Sure his attacks could kill a few, but he could hardly stem the tide of beetles.

Due to Wilmet's flames, the beetle swarm continued to avoid those at the top of the stairs. However, Godric and Charles soon found their defense was shrinking. The beetles were less afraid of the limited torch light protecting two juicy meals. A few of the beetles managed to bite the pair before they were pressed back into the chamber. They were only a pace inside before the swarm backed off; skittering almost angrily at the doorway. For whatever reason, the swarm left them alone.

Though bitten a couple of times by the scarabs, Godric and Charles had managed to avoid being eaten alive. For unknown reasons they did not pursue them through the doorway, and although he was pleased not to have met a grisly fate Godric could not relax just yet. The swarm kept away yet maintained a presence like a chained guard dog snapping at a nearby intruder.

"Although I'm glad not to have been devoured by those awful things, I'm worried what in here would keep those things from passing through the doorway." He said, partially to Charles and partially to himself. Studying the doorway for warding sigils, he hoped that was the reason for keeping the scarabs at bay. The alternative could be much more dangerous.

Clodagh grunted and pinched herself in order to stay awake. It wasn't that exploring the tombs were boring or anything, far from it. It's just... well who knows how long the party had been in this tomb? She was probably waking up after a crap night's sleep this time yesterday. The whole miasma event wasn't appreciated, nor was Rigid As A Plank Andria, but she pressed on, beleaguered.

She was also fully intending to help with that well situation. She felt a spark going up her back at the thought of zapping whatever was down there... but it sounded like work, and Clodagh wasn't going to just reveal her powers--"under no circumstances" she heard her brother's voice exclaim-- especially when more capable people were leading the party (and also getting into danger doing so).

In retrospect Clodagh probably should have been more assertive. She didn't really know Andria, but not even looking, just being in the vicinity of her death made this whole experience feel very very real all of a sudden, moreso now than ever. She ran for the nearest wall, splashing herself with the film of water underfoot, and clambered onto a column about half the height of her and looked around. A fire shot up and the swarm scattered. Clodagh realised that in order to stay alive she should stick to Charles, and that's exactly what she was attempting.

From the crumbled pillar she had perched herself on the rest of the group was out of sight, but she could see that swarm wasn't paying her any mind. It was busy attacking Charles and Godric, but as the two of them entered some sort of nearby passage it stopped and the swarm dissipated and went their separate ways. She was going to make a noise to get Charles' attention, but figured the glowing swarm would notice. It was frustrating. There she was. If they popped their head out of the doorway and looked straight to their right she'd be right there, but they won't, and Clodagh couldn't blame them. Who knows where the others are, but the bugs were nowhere near Clodagh anymore, so that was good.

Charles quietly began examining the chamber he was in, noticing that the scarabs weren't following. So they were either trained or there was an enchantment. Or there was something else in here. That needed to be his second concern. He looked down at himself and noticed the beetles had tried to get him, had gotten him a bit. He felt fine though, he had been in worse, he'd be fine. Second concern. He looked at Godric and asked "Did they get you? Any burning?" Second concern. He saw the fire and the Goliath from the doorway, what about everyone else?

Anything within the chamber would already know they were there with the fighting and if they were all that was left there wasn't much of a way back towards the entrance. He spoke over the noise of everything out towards the beetles and everyone else "Is everyone still alive?" Second concern.

Not waiting for a response, "Watch the door." Charles started walking further into the chamber, watching for anything even resembling an abnormality. Watching the floors and the stones and the statue, and when there wasn't anything else the ceiling. One would be surprised how many things you could find on a ceiling in a tomb.

Raising his hands above his head again and bringing them down on the annoying things making him itch Thalith roared his anger and displeasure as he smashes another half dozen. Jumping up and landing right in front of the doorway he backhands the small group that had started piling up in front of it. Turning back into the room and bringing both hands down cracking the floor the large goliath can feel the rage draining away. Straightening and shaking his hands free of the goop and bug pieces now covering them he starts to leave towards the rest of the group that had retreated when he sees that someone had not gotten into the next room. Looking around and frowning the large rockman walks over towards one of the stubby broken pillars and looks at the girl sitting on it almost head height with him.

"Want some help?"

"Want some help?"
Clodagh spun around and saw the large Golem looking right at her.
"U-um yes. Thank you." she mumbled, clambering down and fast pacing it towards the nearby doorway. Inside she saw Godric and Charles doing whatever they were doing, and she saw a stunning lack of bugs, which was great.

She turned around and wanted to asks the rock-person a lot of things. Like what his name was, what he ate... what he did with the waste-- but that could all wait. She just cleared her throat and asked "Where are the others?"

All things said and done, the battle was going poorly for the beetles. The only food that wasn't dangerous or out of their reach was apparently as appetizing as the the stone they skittered around on. Seeing this as no easy meal, the swarm began to disperse into the room opposite where Charles and company had entered or back into the well until the more tasty morsels returned.

Meanwhile, Godric searched the doorway for signs of magic but his search was in vain. If there was some magic keeping them back, it wasn't around the doorway. For Charles' part, the room seemed to be exactly as he saw it. There were a number of stone blocks - each at knee height and a little over 6 feet long and 4 feet wide. The room was dominated by the vaguely inhuman statue at the far end; it's stern gaze apparently looking out over the entire room. A small alter sat before it suggesting it had religious significance, but no other details seemed obvious.

Wilmet wiped the sweat from his brow as the swarm dispersed, by his reckoning there might still be enough beetles to prove a threat later but for now they'd been driven off. Good thing too as his preparations of burning hands were exhausted for the time being.

"Is everyone alright?" he asked, glancing down at the fallen he added "Everyone still standing that is."

It was a shame to lose companions like this, and he commended their souls for their bravery, but they had little time to dwell on such things at present. Adventuring was a dangerous business after all, there would be time enough for mourning once they had made their way out of the dungeon.

"Is everyone alright? Everyone still standing that is."

James looked at the other, then at the beetles, and then motioned towards the room that seemed to repel them. "No use mourning over the foolish. Get going already, they're just waiting for us to be an easier target." Doing his best to make sure Wilmet went along, he ran over to the safe place. James then looked at the others in the room, groaning over the fact that the Goliath was just taking... so much room. He scowled.

Why couldn't it just have died already?

And now that the thing had saved the remaining girl, it seemed it might have won her favour, which could mean making the other realize how dangerous and stupid the thing was would prove difficult. He looked at Godric, making sure the knight was okay -he also looked at the man whose name he didn't know yet, he too could be useful and should be protected- and folded his arms.

"Anyhow, is there a way out of here?" He glanced before him, where he saw a quite large statue, an inhuman one with a threatening gaze. There was an altar in front of it, and it reminded him of something he had read before. He muttered it under his breath.

"Let those who would pass, show humility before Zosiel."

Did we ever do anything with that text? Is it even significant?

It could be worth a shot. "So, is this related to the other statues? Is this Zosiel? Or is it just a statue with some sort of switch on it?" He kept muttering to himself, making his way towards it to examine it further, being careful not to trigger anything, speaking so quietly it probably sounded like gibberish to anyone else. However, he needed to say it aloud, if only to himself. He needed to hear his own voice, and make sure he was okay.

"Does it have any writing on it? Is it the thing keeping the beetles from entering? Why? Is it a trap? Is it safety? Does it have any significance, or have we wandered into the wrong room? Is that my fault? If we've walked the wrong place, and she died, did I murder her? Does that matter? She was a weak-link, unable to act, she shouldn't have come if she was this unprepared... and I didn't kill her. I warned them, I said there was something bad here. I thought it was in the water, but at least I tried... No, no, this isn't helping, I don't care about someone like that. I need to look for bad stuff, because I don't think the others are capable of doing it."

As James began to search the statue, the fatigue he felt from the expedition suddenly dawned on him. And why wouldn't he feel tired. It HAD been one deadly challenge after another; something people were not built for. More and more, those stone blocks seemed almost inviting to his increasingly tired mind. For a moment, he even thought the statue had glowed and turned it's head to look at him in his delirium. Glancing back at the rest of the group, some of them seemed to have a similar mindset. Godric and Clodagh were similarly glancing at the stone tables as if judging the amount of comfort they offered.

The rest of the group were clearly not working as hard as the three of them since they looked ready for another battle. Heck, some of them were even drawing weapons and spells like there was some kind of threat. Sure the statue was now in the middle of the room, hoisting a glaive high above it's head, but that was just the sleep deprivation playing tricks on the mind. Really, sleep was just the best option.

Turning to look through the doorway after the girl he had asked a question of Thalith blinks as a stone statue starts to move. Blinking several more times as he takes in the fact a STATUE was moving he suddenly realizes that its holding a glaive and seems to know how to use it. Jerking forward towards the man who had been feeling off to him this whole time like he hates him or some such nonsense he grabs the back of his shirt and tosses him backwards into the wall there as he pulls his greataxe out. Roaring at the statue and bringing the axe overhead Thalith lets himself drop into the rage inside his heart for the second time and brings his axe down towards the statue in front of him using his entire might.

Sleep, sleep is what I need. Thought Godric, feeling his eyelids start to droop. His armour felt heavy, his legs tired. He pretended to inspect a stone table just so he could check how comfortable it might be to sleep on. Such was his tiredness that his head was starting to drop too. In his weary stupor Godric could almost swear a statue had moved into the centre of the room and adopted an aggressive stance.

No, this is... wrong. That statue was different, dangerous. Every fibre of his being wanted to sleep, to slow down and rest. Yet a quiet voice at the back of Godric's mind was shouting at him to resist, to draw his sword and defend himself. Something here wants me to sleep, to make me vulnerable. I cannot sleep.

Drawing his sword and attempting to stand up, Godric found his reactions to be lethargic. He would struggle to defend himself if he couldn't make himself more alert. Pounding his chest with a fist and crying, "COME ON!" Godric was able to rouse himself somewhat, it still wasn't enough to make him as alert as he should be. Raising his sword for battle, he was Thalith strike the statue.

Still muttering scripture, Charles eyes went wide as he saw the statue begin to move. This is what the beetles were avoiding. Mildly fascinated he watched as it drew a weapon and old trained reflexes began to kick in as the thing, whatever it was approached the others. He took a step back away from it, dropped his torch, and readied his shield.

Something looked like it was wrong with the others. The goliath was moving though and Godric was shouting.

Charles charged at the creature as cautiously as one could while charging. As he moved his blade developed little white flames, and when he reached the creature he brought it down on the thing as hard as he could. It would be Ezra's enemy. He knew little of it but he was sure of that. He didn't know what it was but she would protect him from it.

James felt himself grow sleepy, and though there was an inkling of something in the back of his mind, something he was supposed to do, it didn't really stop him from yawning. He saw the statue, but he felt indifferent to what it was doing, only a mild curiosity stayed as sleepiness covered him like a blanket and made his shoulders feel heavy and warm. With a yawn, he started walking away, hoping to find a nice corner to curl up in and go to sleep, somewhere he'd not get hurt.

I wonder why the others aren't sleeping...and what's with the statue?

Regardless, he felt that it did not concern him. Suddenly, something dragged James by his outer coat and tossed him into the wall, his head and shoulders and everything hurting. There was a sound of glass breaking, and though he was unsure of which of the containers it was, it would appear that whatever it was wasn't fluid. Drowsily going through his pockets, he found the small, thin vial that had been filled with a herb needed for a strengthening potion was broken, and he sighed, the herb didn't react well with air, it had a habit of quickly decomposing. Opening another vial, one with a liquid made for the same purpose, he put the herbs into it and shook it.

How long was it? A couple of minutes, right?

There was probably a better time for it, but James felt sleepy. He'd put this together, drink it, and hope it was enough to keep him awake long enough to find whoever -he had a suspicion of who it was- and smack the back of his head. He still had a bit of an issue trying to find out exactly why the statue had seemed off... still affected enough by the affliction inflicted upon him to not put the moving statue with a weapon, and the yelling of the others, together.

Oh dear, this wasn't good. The statue appeared to have a curse or magical trap of some sort on it, as evidenced by the sudden exhaustion that seemed to have fallen over a few of the group. It also bore a far more obvious enchantment causing it to become animate and hostile. Its a good thing we brought an angry rock of our own, he thought as Thalith charged the thing.

His arcane combat magics were largely exhausted, but then he doubted the magical fire he could conjure would be too damaging to this anyways. Far better to call on the divine, and lift my companions beleaguered spirits. He wrapped one hand around his holy symbol and raised it over his head, uttering prayers aloud. He felt the familiar divine energy flow forth towards his allies.

Hopefully this will break the spell that has fallen over them, I'd rather not lose any more of our number.

As Thalith began to beat away at the statue, it quickly became clear to all but the sleepy and Thalith that the statue had the power and durability advantage over the stone barbarian. Thalith was no slouch, but he was still a living creature; he knew fatigue and pain where the statue could continue until it's body was worn away. In his rage, Thalith managed to avoid the worst of what the statue could bring to bare, but he still took a nasty blow to his side that managed to crack his stone skin. In return for the blow, he only managed to make minor wounds to the statue.

Fortunately, the endurance of Thalith was not the only advantage of the group. Though Charles did not have the physical power to strike the statue in the same way Thalith could, his magic made the difference. As the divine power crashed into the statue, the statue slowed briefly, the animating energies apparently disrupted by the power of Ezra.

As for Wilmet, his magic spread out over the group, reinvigorating them. While James, Godric, and Clodagh still felt the physical effects of the magically-induced fatigue, their minds were cleared. Freed from the mental restraints, Godric found himself able to continue.

James of course found himself in mild pain from his haphazard toss, but at least his mind was clear. As the alchemical mixture began to take effect, James found his muscles growing tense; almost to the point of pain. By the time his mind cleared, the mixture was nearly at full effect. As it was, he could throw one heck of a punch.

As for which of the two giant stone men duking it out in the center of the room he felt the most angry at...

Jumping back and holding his side for a second Thalith roars out and takes his axe in both hands, his eyes filled with rage and even though his side must hurt he ignores it and jumps forward using his impressive muscles. Bringing his axe around in as sharp and small circle as he can he slams it into whatever this things arm, his body tired and hurt but not feeling a bit because of the rage gripping him. The pause that happens giving him enough of an opening to bring his axe down on its arm again and feel the stone cracking under it, some tiny part of himself hoping that it had broken as he slams his body into it trying to force it back as another roar comes from his chest, reverberating through the air and making anyone close want to step back because of the sheer fury of the sound.

Clodagh felt sluggish physically, but for the first time on this entire adventure didn't feel tired mentally. It felt great not feeling that constant pounding sensation on her forehead-- which is to say she was happy not feeling anything. She couldn't enjoy this for long though, as Thalith and the enemy obelisk decided to do battle, Clodagh decided to duck for cover.

Not like electricity would be effective on a pile of rocks anyway.

Ezra judged it. It was to die. Charles back stepped away as the Goliath raged at the statue, trying to avoid being hit by the axe and the Goliath itself. Looking at it, he raised his shield and readied himself to strike again. His chanting became louder as he focused on the statue. It would die.

James never sipped on a potion. He didn't carefully taste it to see if he could feel some of its effects, or see if something was amiss. He downed the thing, because, honestly, if he started thinking more about it, touching it would become far more difficult. He didn't exactly want to think about the risks. However, he was an excellent alchemist, and this potion, like most others, was perfect. Even so, he felt strength running through his body, but his mind was not any clearer than it had been a little while ago.

Too bad it wasn't the "clear my mind" ingredients that got smashed towards the wall.

Not that those existed, James didn't really know how to make a potion like that but still. It wasn't until the wizard did something, muttering prayers, that James' head cleared up. And fuck if he got a shock when it did, getting startled by the fucking stone statue in the middle of the room, fighting the others.

"Oh damn. Fuck!" He felt a jolt run through his body as he realised that he hadn't just been sleepy. "What the bloody hell happened?!" he asked himself, rubbing his temple. It still hurt, but whatever anger he'd held towards the Goliath had been replaced by the feeling of both being a complete moron and the strength still running through his body. "Right, didn't show it respect, right?" He bit his lip. That wasn't his fault, he didn't know how to show respect.

Well, what now?

Clearly, you couldn't just hit a statue anywhere. It probably didn't care if he somehow got the head off or something either, would just keep on moving. And, he wouldn't admit it, but he owed the others the help, most of all the goddamn Goliath, which had either taken the chance to hit him for its own satisfactions, or... it had saved his life.

That's a predicament to be sure. I might owe him an apology. Ugh, what a drag.

James had his pride, though, he wasn't going to just apologise out of nowhere. Besides, whether it was the potion or the headache, he still was pretty pissed at being thrown towards the wall.

So, if the Goliath saved me... the statue. The fucking "Hey please show respect because I'm such a bloody important" statue.

He readied his daggers and ran ahead, hitting not at its neck or back, but attempting to run the blades into the arm wielding the weapon, hoping to break it off by jamming it into the weakest point of the arm. It did, however, require him to run in front of him, taking a bit of refuge underneath those very arms, hoping he'd be quick enough to dodge if it ever brought its weapon down.

As Thalith struck the statue once more, with James striking the weakened arm, their victory seemed assured. In a desperate attempt to maintain its control, the statue used the last of the strength in its nearly broken arm to parry one of Thalith's heavy blows. Between James' enhanced blow to the statues inner elbow and the massive leverage of Thalith's own blow, the arm crumbled away. The blow was stopped, but the arm was gone.

However, the statue was nothing if not persistent. Even as its primary weapon clattered to the ground, he swung his remaining arm up and into Thalith's face with all the strength the statue could bare. Thalith could hear the sound of stone shattering as the statue's fist connected, though whether it was the sound of the statue's hand breaking, his own face, or both he did not know; for Thalith hit the ground with a second massive crack - this time the floor.

Barely standing, the statue pivoted to James intent on ending the much-more-fragile man then and there. It might have succeeded had it not been for Charles. With the full power of Ezra called to his aid, the priest let free a blast of divine power. And with that, whatever force animated the statue was broken. Held together with little more than its magic at this point, the statue crumbled further until little more than an accidental bust remained.

James shuddered as he thought of what could have happened, even if he was angry about it. Part of him wanted to curl up and cry. However, he pushed himself out of it, and tried to focus on the slightly less pathetic feeling. That changed things up. He only got a few seconds of calm before his mouth went before his mind. He pointed at the Goliath. "Okay, I'm pissed about the fact that you decided that throwing me into the wall was the best way to protect me, but I'm even more angry about the fact that I apparently owe you now. Or actually, forget that, because I'm fairly sure I helped you out a great deal by offing that thing's arm. So we're bloody even, or whatever. You-" he pointed his finger at Charles.

"I owe you too, but I'm not good at saying thank you, so just assume I've already done it. I mean, I've acknowledged it out loud, so what more could you possibly want?" He huffed, and then he hissed a bit. "What I'm the most angry about, however, is that I didn't show the statue respect." He rubbed the back of his head, it still hurt a lot. "I'm so bloody stupid, I knew this was what it was referring to, a statue in the middle of nowhere where the murder-flies didn't want to enter, I knew it was this statue. I mean, the room before was filled with statues, and the words, and the setting, and the..." he trailed off, there was too many things he felt had given it away.

It was my fault.

"Anyhow, the point is, I messed up, badly. I'm not going to apologise, I'm no good with that either, but just so that you people know, I totally did a bad thing. I've been annoyed over block-head just triggering every single trap, but this time it was me. Even if I knew what needed to be done! I just wanted to take a closer look at it, and I thought I could show it respect, but I just didn't know how quickly it would react and I didn't know how to show respect I mean, what do you do, bow? Tell it its hair look pretty? Did it even have hair? I don't bloody fucking know, I don't know how to show respect to actual people!" He crossed his arms, frustrated, stressed, angry with himself, most of all. A bit scared from earlier, heart certainly hadn't calmed down, nor had head.

"And now I'm stressed, and I'm ranting, and... I'm saying everything aloud. Dammit! I just... need a moment to calm down. You guys figure out what to do, because I'm sure as hell not." He withdrew from the group a little, hiding himself somewhat in the large blue coat with all the pockets.

Charles sighed as the battle ended. As James started talking, Charles picked up his torch again and approached the rubble and stuck his hand into it, starting to search it for anything interesting. Even if all he found was rubble he intended to take a chunk of it with him. Some part of his mind was telling him that part of the cairn's guardian on him could be useful down here.

Noticing James shrink away from the group, he assumed to be alone after his outburst, Charles asked simply to the group "Is anyone hurt?" Which was followed shortly by in an attempt to take charge, "We need someone watching the door, someone searching the walls, and another searching the slabs. If the beetles spill in or we don't find an exit we'll have bigger problems than the statue on our hands."

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