Coldeven 15: Our Lucky Day (Day 13)
For instance, I'm actually starting to really get the hang of triggering magic wands, so much so that we decided I should be the one to carry around the wand that shoots lightning bolts. Eaora can already do something very similar with her own powers, and so far I'm the only other person who can make the thing work. I can hardly wait to use it. With the spiked armor and chain I don't look anything like a spellcaster, so it ought, at the least, to be surprising to someone.
We then stumbled into the frozen lair of a creature so frightful that it could have killed us all a dozen times in a row before we entered this place and started honing our skills. It somewhat resembled a dragon, but it had many heads attached to its body with long sinuous necks. I probably shouldn't have been surprised by this (considering the ice riming everything in the room) but it was capable of firing frigid ice blasts from each of its gaping maws, rather than the fire I might have expected from a dragon-like creature.
We reacted with a level of skill, coordination and teamwork that I still find surprising, especially considering how different our styles are. Eaora hit the thing with a lighting bolt, and then the rest of us charged in, spreading out so that it couldn't get many of us in a single blast. Lo-Kag affixed it with his evil eye, and then he and K just sort of waded in, engaging the majority of the things heads with a direct assault. BB and I, meanwhile, dashed, dodged and tumbled past the lashing heads to get at the creature's exposed flanks. The creature was dead before it really knew what was happening, I think.
We all had minor wounds and some of our exposed skin was frostbitten, but it wasn't anything that Asilky (and Boril) couldn't handle. In fact, for the first time in a while, Asilky seemed fairly confident that the favor of Boril would still be available to aid us if we were to continue, so we decided to do so.
At which point we discovered that Lo-Kag was bent on increasing the size of our party by one wolf. In the cave of the hydra, we found a wounded wolf, which Lo-Kag immediately took a great liking to. He's been tending to it, and feeding it bits of food, and it's been following us around all day. When standing next to Lo-Kag, it looks much like a normal man and his large dog. The illusion is shattered when you get close and can see that this thing is bigger than any dog. He keeps going on about how good it's going to be in a fight, but the thing weighs more than I do, and I bet it eats more than I do too. I hope he's got it under control. I also imagine that it's going to die soon, as this is a fit place for no beast, and then we'll have a disconsolate giant on our hands. What a waste of time.
Of course, I'm still convinced that our luck can't hold forever. Sooner or later, one of us is going to die. Other than the obvious problems surrounding the loss of a trusted companion, this also leaves us staring straight at our primary problem. We've got no fallback position. Retreat, in this hellish place, is as bad as advancement, and if one of us dies, we've started down a slippery slope, with the team weakened, more strain will fall on the rest. I predict that after the first of us finally falls, the second will fall within days. I fear a chain of events that will leave us all dead within a week, to be honest.
Shortly after that, we encountered a group of minotaurs, apparently guarding a region of this place claimed by the Broken Axe Minotaur clan. Perhaps encouraged by our victory over the Hydra, we didn't spend a lot of time chatting with them, but rather launched right into battle. Even more remarkable is that when we opened the door, K didn't charge into their midst, rather, he let them come to us through the door, where their large size worked against them and we could focus our attention on them in smaller numbers.
I retract my earlier comment, apparently K's book of tactics is two pages long.
During the ensuing slaughter, one of the minotaurs decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and ran. We assumed he'd be bringing back help, so we sort of entrenched ourselves to deal with an onslaught of angry minotaurs. I guess we made a good first impression though, because when their leader, a 'taur by the name of Markuli, showed up, he wanted to negotiate, rather than fight. This is the kind of negotiation I can get behind.
We told him that really we wanted passage through his region, and Asilky mentioned that he needed some unguents for some ritual or other. Markuli told us that he'd kill us if we had to, but that he really wanted to keep his warriors around to fight the other nearby minotaur clan, the Red Horde. I see his point. When six unknown people kill eight of your folk without any of them dying, it's probably a good idea not to mess with them unless you absolutely have to. Eventually, we agreed to give him a crystal key we'd found in exchange for being guided through his lands to the territory of something called a "sphinx". He must really rule his people effectively, because he did in fact manage to take us through his people without incident. (Some of them looked really resentful of that fact, too.)
We were then, apparently, in the sphinx's territory. I asked my companions what a sphinx was, but they didn't really know. "Some sort of bird-like thing, possibly" was about as good as I got, and that was from Eaora, our supposed expert on such matters. If I'd have known then how annoying the thing was going to be, I'd have encouraged stealth, rather than curiousity.
I'm going to take a break, eat something and rest my writing hand. It's been a full day, and there's still more to tell. And if I fall behind on keeping this damn journal, I'm sure I'll never catch back up.