The Threat From the Deep

Hot Damn, a Lady.

Dear water, fuck you.

I just vomited up some water. Okay, a lot of water. Evil motherfucking water. It was sentient down there! Even grabbed me. I feel violated. Okay, not really. But I do feel like shit. Remind me never to retire to a lake or some easily-floodable hole in the ground. And please kick me next time I try to do anything heroic or altruistic. Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted, folks, because I do not plan to put my nimble ass on the line ever again. I nearly got left behind! Oh god, motherfucking water everywhere. Ahem, excuse my language. Nearly drowning is a harrowing experience. In fact, everything has been such a blur. I’ve hardly had time to collect my thoughts.

In the morning we went down to the lower level. I’m not so sure that I would’ve gone down had I known what waited for us there. I mean, it didn’t start out so bad. We fought some souped-up expanding prisonmaster in the hall. I made some less-than-patient decisions and got whacked around more than I would’ve liked, but it was one guy and even the narrow hallway didn’t restrict us much. I was starting to enjoy myself, despite the stabbing. We found some battleaxe with a ram-shaped pommel on the prisonmaster’s body. Then, in one of the cells we found a particularly tough-looking dame who introduced herself as Brynhilde the bardbarian. I was as welcoming as could be expected, but I guess the allure of freedom somewhat eclipsed my charm. She seemed much more focused on getting revenge on her captors. She quite liked the axe we gave her. Why didn’t I get to give her the axe? It’s not like stumpy ol’ Mandibles has a chance of scoring with her. Oh well. It’s not like I’m hard to notice. Keeping a low profile might be a useful skill for someone who would rather not shout to the world that he has some demonic blood in him, but silence is an uncommon state for me. Luckily my smile and exquisite bone structure often prove distracting enough to mask any suspicion of my illusion. That’s right folks, just black hair, brown eyes and dark skin here. Nothing to see. Nothing to worry about, at least. I would hardly say that I’m ordinary. I have a multitude of skills, and let it suffice to say that not all of them are combat-oriented.

Oh, I’m talking about myself again. But hey, can you blame me? When surrounded by so many others that are the best at what they do, it’s easy to feel like you’re going unnoticed. I mean, I know Lucien cares. He frets, he defends me, he puts up with my bullshit. But it’s certainly not the admiration I’m used to. He’s tougher than I am, as much as I hate to admit it, and sometimes faster too. It’s hard to feel very talented in his small, unassuming shadow. It’s the kind of thing I would hate anyone else for, but it’s Lucien. He doesn’t have a smug bone in his body. And he struggles so much with the little, ordinary things in life. It seems petty to begrudge him any affinity he does possess. Even when it makes me look inept.

Dungeon stuff. Right. So we went into this garbage disposal room and encountered a truly hideous tentacly creature with a great big mouth that looked like something I might imagine up. Except even my imagination isn’t this twisted. A lesser man might have crapped himself at the sight of something so ugly and, ugh, smelly. I’ll have to scrub myself for hours to get clean enough just from being in the same room as that thing. It was mighty gross. It bled freaking yellow. And the walls were all slimy. Just ew. Do I sound like a little girl freaking out about this shit? You had to be there. It smelled so bad. I need to go boil myself.

It picked up Lucien and tried to squeeze the life outta him. By that time I was around the pit and behind the ugly smelly tentacly thing, and could only twist my spear into that vile creature’s flesh in protest. I know Lucien is normally the protective one, but I don’t like people fucking with my friends. Especially since I never seem to be able to hang on to any. Luckily the others were able to sever the tentacle before I either burst a blood vessel or abandoned my advantageous strategical position. He was free. But something wasn’t right. I braced my forward foot in front of me and threw my weight behind the spear as I let into it again. We had to finish this. Fast. I’m not sure why I felt such a hurry. Imagine my surprise when only moments later a ball of fire flew into its mouth and it exploded. Everywhere. Ew. It was not pretty. I tried to wipe it off and it just smeared. I need to go boil myself.

Lucien seemed to have contracted some sort of sickness from the filthy thing, but none of us were able to cure him or stop the progression of the disease. It didn’t seem to be progressing quickly, so I relaxed a little. He seemed fine to continue. In an empty room we found a troll gut rope that is enchanted to extend from 50ft to 350ft. Francis was overjoyed. There was also some bluish chainmail. Meh. That shit’s too heavy for me. I tend to survive by being a slippery sort. We went down some stairs and had to fight three other disturbing expanding man-creatures. They seemed to heal pretty quickly, it was hard to keep them down. Plus two of them got so big that they exploded into fire. I wonder if that helped sear some of the tentacle-monster-filth off my armour.

We had to navigate our way through a cavern where there had been a cave-in. Candlebar got a nasty maggot attached to his arm while he was searching in the shadows. Then we emerged into a room full of rubble, and I got distracted and fell into a pit trap. Or, well, almost did. I caught the lip and they pulled me out. I wasn’t even thinking about ladies this time! Well, maybe a little. I don’t mind following behind Brynhilde, if you know what I mean. We found some letters and a magic monocle. The chick got hit with a poison dart. I guess she won’t have the stamina for me tonight. Not that anyone’s likely to have a pleasant night after the horrors we’ve seen… and worn. I remain optimistic that our new lady friend will be more open to deepening our acquaintance when we are out of danger.

Then we came into a big room with no other exit, the last room of this creepy place. And only one dude in it! Awesome. He was a weird sort, caped and decidedly less pretty than some individuals you have come to know. He told us that it was his ugly motherfuckers that we’d killed, and that for honour’s sake he was giving us a chance to leave alive. Brynhilde grumbled. I said something clever. Lucien shot him. But still, it was one guy! I was starting to think we might be able to make it back to Clifftop in time for breakfast, giving me time to boil myself and talk to a healer about this awful sort of imploding feeling I’ve got inside. Something isn’t right. Then the guy with the cape called forth more of those awful bulging healy dudes, and we certainly had our hands full. I kept spearing the cape guy and avoiding most of his attacks (ha! bet you wish you could get your hands on this body, eh?), and Lucien and I teamed up on him for a while until Lucien went to help the others. I think I saw our friend the acid beetle doing a number on one of the juiced dudes near the back of the room. Finally, it seemed the tide of battle had turned in our favour. And that’s when the guy I was getting quite fond of skewering decided to leave us quite rudely. Not without triggering some sort of flooding mechanism in the pool at the back of the room, of course. Cowardly piece of shit!

Brynhilde was down. I was closest. To the rescue? You betcha. Here’s hoping she remembers this fondly. The water was rising. There was a cave-in blocking our exit, Cookiejar reported from up ahead. Momentary panic seized my chest, ribs compacting uncomfortably. A crash in the war room we had found the letters in drew my attention and I ran to it. Another cave-in had broken down a wall that led into the cavern section. I bellowed my finding, sick with relief. I couldn’t die yet. I hadn’t even tried to sleep with the innkeeper! Still, it was difficult climbing over the pile of rubble. The water was still rising, and fast. Bumpercar wasn’t able to move very quickly. We were the last ones who hadn’t climbed over the caved-in wall. Rather than leave him behind to navigate the large pile of uneven rock, I picked him up and carried him over, setting him down once we were over the difficult terrain. I felt an odd sense of accomplishment. At the very least that would buy me a few days of kneecap-chewing-free name-calling. And clearly he could see that I was more useful as I was and not newt-ified.

The water was rising. More, more and still more. My boots sloshed through the water, greatly slowed despite my efforts to catch up to the others. The water crept higher, and I fell still further behind. I lost my footing and choked on some water. I could feel fatigue tearing at my body. I could barely see anyone now, but I set my jaw and hauled myself up the steps to moderately drier ground. The sudden change, and my haste, knocked me down again. It was getting harder and harder to swim, the icy currents of that dark water battering me against walls and trying to pull me under. I was coughing and spluttering to free my lungs of water. I got the impression that maybe if I didn’t fight so hard it would be easier. Maybe if I rested a little I wouldn’t be so tired. The sense of urgency in me was dying. Where was Lucien? I couldn’t see anyone. They were leaving me behind. I was good and they were leaving me behind. Maybe just a quick rest. The water was rising. I had to catch up. I was vaguely aware of a rope around my shoulders. But my body felt so heavy, and everything was so far away…

The world exploded into light and air as I was hauled up through the large hole in the floor of the level above. My lungs screamed to life as I landed in a drenched heap, coughing and vomiting up water. I shakily got to my feet, weakened more than injured. I was relatively free of holes. A single watery tentacle reached up through the hole in the floor, reaching for Lucien. “Fuck no!” I shrieked with decidedly less composure than usual, my shortsword slicing through the appendage and reducing it to simple liquid. I scrambled for the exit, my legs finding some desperate strength in them. The water had reached this floor now, and there was a large wave of sorts crashing up ahead. An even larger one was beginning to amass itself where the hole in the floor had been. I bolted out the exit as fast as my weary legs could carry me, and stopped on the ledge with the others. My heart was pounding in my ears, each rapid breath feeling like it was being crushed down and out of me. I was alive. But “we”? I wasn’t sure how much of a “we” there was. “We” were just a motley band of strange folk, most of whom barely knew each other. And I was certainly not going to put other people before myself like that again.

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