All four of them looked down into the hole, wondering what could be down there. Each having their own thoughts, but all were thinking that part of the hammer could be down there. Elsie finally spoke up, “Do you think we should go down there?”
“Yes, of course,” Faye said without hesitation.
Ailbe pursed her lips to the side, still giving it thought. “I don’t think anything good can be down there, but I’m curious. So if we can all perform as a team, like the three of you did back there, with whatever created this hole, then I’m all for going in.”
“All right,” Elsie said. “Aelric, what are your thoughts?” All three heads turned to where Aelric had stood. He’d already started down into the hole. “Aelric, we were discussing this first.” They all rushed in after him.
As Aelric descended down into the hole, he noticed large amounts of slime secreted by some huge creature. Rushing after him, the other three didn’t pay as much attention.
The slope was steep and the four are slipped and slid on the slime. Elsie couldn’t avoid one patch, she fell into Aelric and they tumbled head over heels down the hole to the bottom, into a large earthen cavern.
Aelric immediately jumped to his feet and yelled at her, without even trying to dust himself off. “Why didn’t you bother watching your step? If you had then maybe you wouldn’t have slipped. Much less, toppled into me!” Elsie remained speechless. Her eyes wide with fear, staring past Aelric. He slowing turned and was surprised to see the shiny tip of a poisoned barb, on the tail end of a huge Sting Worm coming straight at them. The Sting Worm is about 5 metres long and has huge yellow segments, but all they cared about right now was protecting themselves from the barb. “MOVE,” he screamed, and they both dived out of the way in opposite directions.
Sting Worm's fighting ability:
On his feet in seconds with his glaive out, Aelric was ready to attack. He leapt onto the worm’s body, and when its tail came for him, he slashed. Its tail was much thicker than expected and only left a small gash. Faye rushed into the cavern. Seeing the barb about to attack Aelric again, she gripped both blades and ran to its body, attempting to cut into its body’s segments. Ailbe crept in after her, examining the scene and giving the worm a wide birth. She crept round its back and withdrew her sword, then plunged it into one of the segments higher up. Elsie had decided that she’s been observing for long enough, Faye and Ailbe’s plan seemed to be working, so she grasped her sword and ran at it from the other side. However, while the girls were slicing up the worm below, Aelric was climbing up to the worm’s head, if that’s what you’d call it. Almost there, he stabbed it with his blade and twisted. The worm thrashed violently, from side to side, and jumped off it and rolled to the ground. The worm crashed to the ground, dead.
The girls walked around the lifeless bulk of the worm to examine the contents of its lair. There are several skeletons, perhaps belonging to other unfortunate adventurers. By the side of one of them, Elsie found a leather backpack. She picked up the leather backpack and examined the contents inside. Inside she found 4 gold pieces and a small corked bottle containing a colourless liquid. Not knowing what it was, she wasn’t sure what to do with it. “Should we take this with us? You never know, it might come in handy later?”
“What is it?”, Faye asked as she and Ailbe made her way over.
Ailbe added, “If we don’t know what it does, then there’s not much point in taking it. Toss it back.”
Aelric got up and came over to get a better look. “No point just leaving it here, but we still should find out what it does. I’ll test that.” He took the bottle out of Elsie’s hands, uncorked it, and downed the liquid in one. He waited several seconds for a reaction, but nothing happened. Then as he looked at his glaive, a surge of confidence ran through his body. The potion was a temporary liquid skill (+1 skill). He shrugged. “I’m still alive.”
“You’re a troll,” Elsie snarled.
Aelric smirked back at her. “Just don’t fall on me on the way out.” They all scrambled up out of the earthen cave to the path and continued the journey northwards.
After a short-ish walk, the trees started to thin out and shafts of sunlight beam down through the gaps. As the path widened the group saw a large cave entrance set back from the path, on the right.
Skill: 12 (+1 skill - temporary)
Samantha and Julian
Julian looked back at the goblin. His curiosity got the better of him this time, and he wasn’t going to let Sam stop him. After all, it could be one of the goblins they seek. It did have something around its neck that may be part of the hammer. He stepped forward and spoke softly, "Hello, good sir! Are you alright? Are you looking for any company?”
The Goblin looked up and smiled. Then he started to metamorphose before Sam and Julian’s eyes. He became taller and turned green. A large spiny tail extended from his back, his arms thickened and his hands grew sharp claws. His face started to distort and became reptilian with red eyes, a wide mouth and dozens of razor-sharp teeth. He is not a Goblin, but a shapeshifter, and Julian knew they now MUST fight him.
Shapeshifter's fighting ability:
The creature stretched out its giant hand to grab Sam but she avoided it by retreating slightly. Readying her Bow as she did. What she wasn’t prepared for was the flick of the creature’s tail sending Julian hurtling through the air into her, knocking her over. “Ugh, get off me,” she told him, pushing him to the side.
“Ouch,” he whimpered slightly. “But thanks for the soft landing.” He was spritely, being a dwarf, and moved rather quickly. Which was good for him since Sam couldn’t reach him in time to thump him. He ran up to it and started running circles round its feet while Sam pulled an arrow from her quiver, but it was much quicker than expected. It sent Julian flying again, and backhanded Sam’s entire body. Though not a third time. She stood quickly and aimed. Firing her arrow, it lodged itself in the side of its neck. The creature roared. Not just from the arrow, but from Julian whacking away at his right leg with his hammer, clambering upward.
“Good work, Julian.” Sam notched another arrow and yelled at the creature. “Oi, Ugly!” It faced her briefly, which was long enough to release another arrow. The arrow went to the back of its throat, even though she was aiming between its eyes. It started to choke and gasp for air, before … GONE. The next thing Sam saw was Julian slumped on the “Goblin’s” log exhausted after the long battle. Sadly, the black rod was just part of the Shapeshifter’s illusion and it exists no more.
“Where did that thing go?”, Sam called out, making her way over slowly.
Julian shrugged. “I don’t know. One minute I was hanging from the back of his leg, the next I’m here. I’ve always thought this forest was weird.”
“Tell me about it.” Just behind the log, Sam noticed some violet mushrooms growing. “What do you think they are? They look tasty.”
Julian turned to have a look. “I don’t know, I wouldn’t risk it. I think we should just continue north.”
“I have an anti-poison potion, just in case.” Picking some and popping them in her mouth, she started to chew. On eating them, she felt great turmoil inside her body. She thought she might be turning into a shapeshifter, but at last, the turmoil died down and she had not become one.
It suddenly occurred to Julian what they were, as he stared at them. “I believe these are Mix-Up Mushrooms.” He was right. Sam’s skill and luck scores switched. Feeling a little odd, they set off north again, though it’s not long before they reach another junction.
Desiree and Roxanne
Both standing there, at the junction, as they stared down each direction in silence. Roxanne repeated, “West or East?”
Desiree put a hand on her chest and took a deep breath. “What do you think, Rox, should we split? Take a path each to cover more ground?”
“Yeah, Dee, we should split up.” she nodded. A little excited at the thought of being on her own.
Unlike Desiree, however, who was partially hoping that Roxanne would disagree with her idea, but also knew deep down that she wouldn’t. “Do you have a preference on which way?”
“Either way is fine. Maybe east? I don’t know.”
“Okay, you’ll go East and I’ll go West?!”
“Sure.” Then they wished each other luck and headed in their separate directions.
Going west along the rather plain and uninteresting path, it soon brought Desiree to another junction. Though this decision is easier than the last; ignoring the southern path and heading north. That’s what the map said, which she wished she had a hold of right now.
The path leads ever northwards, but at last, the trees are beginning to thin out and appear less menacing as daylight streams through between them. On the right side of the path, an old oak chair covered with moss can be seen. It doesn’t look that inviting, but Desiree still went in for a closer look. Nothing out of the ordinary, she thought. But I don’t know what would happen if I sit. No, I don’t think I’ll be sitting on that chair. It just seems so random for a chair to be there, it must be a trap. Besides, the quest is more important than sitting down right now. With that, she continued north.
The path eventually emerged from the trees on to a vast plain. Beyond, Desiree saw rising ground leading to the low hills. The waist-high grasses on either side of the path swayed gently in the warm breeze. All is peaceful and the dangers up ahead seem unimportant. She was enjoying her walk when suddenly the silence is broken by the sound of squealing and grunting to the right of the path. She saw a path being made through the grass by an unseen beast, which moved quickly toward her. A few yards ahead, she saw a large pig-like creature burst out onto the path and halt there. It had two long tusks protruding from a short stubby snout. Steam rose into the air from its sweaty body and its small eyes look at her before it put its head down to charge. Desiree readied her weapon to fight the wild boar.
Wild Boar's fighting ability:
Aim for the knees, she told herself. She swung for flail and smacked it into the boar’s front knee, causing it to buckle slightly. In the quickest moment, Desiree swung her flail back again, connecting with its rump and sending it flying a couple of metres. She raced over to where it was starting to stand up, and threw the spikes down into its head, killing the boar.
In the distance, she heard the sound of barking dogs. Perhaps it was being hunted, and being trapped, made its last stand against her. Through the nose of the boar, she saw a large gold ring. She decided to take it; slipping it into her backpack. It’s worth 10 Gold Pieces, plus one luck point. Desiree briefly thought about taking the boar for meat, but how would she carry such a big beast. Wishing that the others were here to help, she continued north. It isn’t long before she arrived at another junction. This one with three paths.
Skill: 9 (+1 for attack with helmet)
She headed East. The path continued east for some distance and then turned sharply north, narrowing slightly. The trees seemed to crowd in on the path even more than usual and the tingling down Roxanne’s spine told her that something was not right. She flicked her long, brunette braid back, off her shoulder, and held her sword steady in front of her. Suddenly a branch from one of the trees to her right whipped her, knocking her to the ground. (-1 Stamina point). She staggered to her feet to see that the tree had moved on to her path, blocking her way. The tree is quite old, with thick, cracked bark. Roxanne can just make out its hidden eyes and mouth in the middle of the trunk and remembered hearing about the Treeman, which she had been attacked by. She tried to aim her sword for its face but wasn’t able to run straight there, to get a clear shot, as it lumbered slowly toward her on large splayed roots.
Treeman's fighting ability:
The Treeman lashed out at her with two of its main branches, and she leapt out of way and at its sunken face. Roxanne left a gash in the trunk, but couldn’t remove her sword fast enough before being flung to the side by a massive branch. Wasting no time, she got up and swung her sword at the next branch that came at her, slicing it cleanly off. Then yet another branch came from behind, but she turned just in time to slice that one off too. Unfortunately, the share force of it knocked her down her on the dirt path, and another branch followed, hitting her arm and knocking her sword out of her hand. She dodged the next one, scrambling over roots to regain her sword, then ran over to plunge your sword into the trunk once again. The Treeman went still.
Roxanne wiped the thick, green sap from your sword and set off north again. Clambering over the dead Treeman’s roots, she was relieved to see that the trees were at last beginning to thin out and had become less threatening. Daylight had started to appear through the trees on either side of the path as the forest thins out more. The path soon leads out of the trees, on to a large plain with tall grasses. She saw rising ground that led to the low hills, but only metres away was another junction.