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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 1 — Umber Hulks
Kytharrah bounded into the hall and turned his head quickly to look in both directions. In both directions, the minotaur saw a hulking, black and brown insectoid creature, as large as a gorilla, not skinny and lanky like the bouncers at the Port Hole but with thick, round, beetle-like exoskeletons. Further down the hall, the one creature had clearly just crashed through the brick wall and was shaking the dust and rubble from its body. Up the hall, from the way that they had earlier come, the second monster held a human in its grip. Before Kytharrah could make a move, he saw the gruesome sight of the human being ripped in half like a sack of thin cloth.

   The monster dropped the gory halves of what was once a person and clicked its enormous mandibles together. It seemed to have two sets of eyes, two large compound eyes like those flies that annoyed Kytharrah so much. These were mostly on the side of its head. In the center of the head was another pair of tiny black eyes.

   Kytharrah heard the one behind it lumbering toward him, but he was much faster. He lowered his head and horns and charged forward like a raging bull toward the one that had just killed the poor human. His horns gored into the thick exoskeleton of the monster, puncturing a deep hole. Green hemolymph began oozing out. The monster made an earthy growl, and its giant mandibles vibrated rapidly with a whirring sound, just missing the top of Kytharrah's head as he rose himself up to a defensive stance on his hooves.

   "Rightly terrifying!" said Martho. "Rightly terrifying. Get a hold of yourself, Martho! Plan something!"

   Leokas and Belvin poked their heads into the hall, seeing the massive, chittering, insectoid aberrations. They had two different sets of eyes. (This reminded Belvin of some spiders.) One pair was compound, the other was simple.

   Both elves stood at the doorway ready to defend.

   Back in the hall, Kytharrah felt a funny feeling in his head as the monster looked him in the eyes. (The two were almost exactly the same height.) It then slashed out at him with the claws at the end of its bulky, armored forearms. Kytharrah dodged the slash from its left arm, but the right claws took a tuft of fur from his arm.

   Kytharrah snorted and swung his axe. The monster rose its arm to defend, but the axe splintered its armor, and a sizeable chunk of chitin clattered to the floor. On the back swing, Kytharrah's axe dragged against the ceiling, giving his hulking opponent time to avoid the second blow. Then came another strike from the minotaur's horn, and now green ooze was spurting out of its other forearm.

   Back at the door, the second umber-colored monster came into view. It swung a bulky arm at Leokas, but he was protected by the corner of the door frame. Wood splintered as the monster struck it. Hakam saw a chaotic aura with his divinely affected vision. Sensing no caution from his phylactery, he shouted out, "Feel order's wrath, space monster!"

   Blue-violet beams of energy slashed in orthogonal directions across the bipedal insect, scorching its exoskeleton. It seemed to stand there wobbling, its mandibles twitching every few seconds.

   Leokas spun around and launched three arrows simultaneously from his bow at the creature's head. It instinctively rose its thick arms to defend itself. An arrow deflected harmlessly from the armor of each arm, but the third punctured the monster's skull, directly between its two black simple eyes, going deep into its head. It gurgled something that might have been a language and stumbled back against the wall, jerking as if it were being electrocuted, likely from having a shaft of wood embedded in its brain.

   Hakam took this opportunity to squeeze past the others into the hall and by the dying but still not dead hulk with the arrow in its head. He saw Kytharrah's opponent slash and snap at the minotaur. Kytharrah knocked away one claw but stumbled back from two other blows. Hakam saw red blood splatter on the floor.

   "Quick, help me move this desk in the back!" Martho yelled at Szordrin at the back of the room. "There is a sewer access point underneath. We can escape!" Szordrin obeyed and started shoving the desk.

   "You go!" shouted Leokas, as he grabbed another arrow from his quiver and spun back around to take partial cover from the door frame. "We shall stay and defend." Next to him, Solisar rushed up. A strange square-shaped blue field of force floated in front of him, looking like liquid sapphire.

   "Gainful ratty governor!" shouted Belvin, but he just stood there by the door.

   "What are you saying, friend?" Leokas said. Then he spun around again with his bow, taking aim at the dying monster in the hall to finish it off.

   Before he could take the shot, however, Belvin slashed at him with his scimitar. "The cherries are not finished yet!" he screamed in anger.

   Leokas dodged the unexpected attack and jumped back. "Belvin, it is I. What is wrong with you?"

   Out in the hall, Hakam was also shouting again. "Feel order's wrath!" Searing beams of violet appeared, caging in Kytharrah's foe. The now-sizzling beetle-like creature wobbled and turned sideways, its arms hanging limply to drag on the floor. Kytharrah's axe came down with full force, splitting the monster almost in two. Its back shell cracked and fell nearly off, and buckets-full of green fluid splashed unto the floor in a gory mess.

   Martho had the grate open and was crawling down a ladder. He shouted back at Leokas. "This will not be the only two! The neogi never have only two."

   Just then, the brain-impaled hulk stumbled through the doorway, zombie-like, and inadvertently kept Belvin from slashing at his friend again. From the back, Szordrin sent bursts of force over the shelves and across the room. There was an awful crunching sound, as the monster's chest cavity imploded. It fell forward to the ground and began to ooze insect blood.

   Belvin tried to move around the large body toward Leokas, a crazed look in his eyes. Solisar darted around behind Belvin, and the blue shield of force kept itself between the two of them. "Hakam! We have a problem with Belvin," he relayed to their cleric.

   Hakam stepped back and saw immediately that Belvin was under some magical compulsion. "Kytharrah," he called up the hall, calling him by his name for perhaps the first time, "come grab Belvin!" He held his holy symbol toward Belvin and ordered him to calm his anger, but there seemed to be no effect.

   The minotaur came bounding back, and Hakam stepped aside to make room for him. His long, hairy arms were around the wild elf in moments, and despite Belvin's thrashing, he was unable to get away.

   Solisar cautiously stepped into the hall. Seeing both creatures dead, he scanned the area for invisible creatures. He saw nothing, but his elven ears could hear more screams and commotion back in the direction of the open office space. He looked back at Belvin. There was an aura of magic around him. Solisar waved his hands and called on arcane power to free his friend of confusion.

   "Belvin, do you know where you are?" asked Leokas. "What is the name of your camel?"

   But Belvin continued to struggle against Kytharrah's grapple. "Let me free! Let me...!"

   Kytharrah squeezed more tightly, silencing him. Hakam began preaching to him about the sin of anger, and Sordrin tied a second time to dispel the magic. Finally, Belvin calmed, and Kytharrah let him speak. "Why are you holding me?"

   "Let him go," said Solisar. "He is freed, but others are in danger. I hear more of the monsters. Do not look into their eyes; avoid that at all costs!" He began to move down the hall, with his liquid force shield in front of him.

   Hakkam looked toward the back of the room. Martho and Szordrin were gone, but he saw Solisar already committed to helping any others. "This is not our business," said Hakam. "We have what we came for, and we did our part to protect Martho. Come, let us follow him and escape."

   Belvin, while no longer under any magical enchantment, was still too confused to have an opinion on the matter.

   Solisar paused. "Our ship is also in this direction, is it not?"

   "Our guide knows another way out," Hakam protested.

   While the others argued about the correct course of action, Kytharrah returned to where he slaughtered the one giant beetle-monster and gently picked up the two halves of the torn human, bringing them back to Hakam.

   "Fix, like little sister?" he asked, referring to how Hakam had once restored Cassiera to life after a bearded devil had gutted her.

   Leokas looked to the cleric, wondering how he would respond to this moral quandary. He knew that they now had the diamond dust and the divine power to bring the victim back, but it would take great time and resources.

   "The gods have a plan that is beyond mortal understanding," said Hakam. "I cannot interfere in matters of life and death, except where Anachtyr directs me. Besides, even I cannot bring someone back whose body has been so terribly mutilated."

   Leokas seemed satisfied with Hakam's answer.

   "Death is the way of nature," said Belvin, seeming to agree with Hakam on this rate occassion.

   "I am more concerned with helping those who may still be living," said Solisar, "who may not be living for much longer if we tarry here!"

   Hakam frowned at this statement, but Solisar placed his hand upon Leokas' shoulder.

   "Come, let us protect those in the other room."

   Leokas nodded and headed out the door with Solisar. Belvin, too, followed. Kytharrah gently set the broken body down and patted Hakam on the head. Hakam sighed, but he reached out and touched the minotaur, magically closing his bleeding wounds, before Kytharrah went after the elves.

   They carefully moved down the hall, as quickly as they could. It was impossible to avoid stepping in the pool of sticky green and red blood, which had mixed together into brown swirls. The sight and smell of the gore was enough to make them all retch.

   By now, much of the noise seemed farther away, but there were still clear sounds of moaning ahead and some chittering. Kytharrah moved into the lead, and Solisar made sure to keep checking behind them.

   Kytharrah's ears perked up as he heard the loud sound of chitinous steps approaching. He peeked around the corner and saw another monster coming. The minotaur lunged back, just in time to avoid the full force of the creature's swing around the corner. The claw still snagged him in the arm, cutting him.

   Kytharrah stepped out and began swinging and goring. Solisar let loose five magical force projectiles. Leokas moved to the wall and launched several arrows, amazingly aiming underneath Kytharrah's arms and striking true. The heavily wounded monster fought back, but it only could manage one more solid blow against Kytharrah, while chittering with its ferocious-looking mandibles. The claw attack cut a slit through Kytharrah's magic leather armor, but he seemed to be standing his ground.

   There was a cracking, rumbling sound behind them, and suddenly, a second monster burst through the wall, its mandibles vibrating back and forth so rapidly that they were a blur. Solisar spun around in reflex, and accidentally looked into the black eyes of the new opponent. He felt a strange feeling in his head, but his sapphire screen flashed before him, just as a clawed "hand" swung at him. The force field held back most of the force of the swing, but the edge of one claw gashed across Solisar's forehead, and the elf felt blood drip down into his right eye.

   Belvin gave a tribal holler, and a column of ice erupted from the floor to the ceiling, filling the whole hallway, knocking back the burrowing monstrosity from Solisar by about ten feet and barricading the hall. "Do not look at me, bug! Not again!"

   "Thank you, my friend!" said Solisar, turning to put distance between him and the ice column, for they could already hear the creature chiseling rapidly away at the ice with its vibrating mandibles.

   At the corner, Kytharrah smashed his foe with another solid blow, as Leokas drew another arrow. The monster stumbled back. Solisar rushed up, drew a wand from its sheath, and waved it. The thing's head imploded, and its lifeless shell of chitin clattered to the ground like a suit of armor. Solisar continued past around the corner and into the hallway. Leokas was just behind him, arrow nocked and ready to free.

   The hallway was clear until where it opened into the large workspace. All that they could see was a chaos of shattered furniture and at least one still body in the middle of the floor.

   Belvin appeared beside Leokas. "How long does your spell last?" the wood elf asked.

   "Until it melts, I suppose," said Belvin, "but it is going to gnaw its way through in about ten more seconds."

   Leokas stepped back into the corner, and pointed his arrow toward the ice. "Solonor have mercy on his insectoid soul," he prayed, "and guide my shot."

   Ice shards began falling from the column.

   "Help me!" came a weak voice from the hole in the wall where the one monster had tunneled through.

   "We have a survivor," said Belvin.

   Kytharrah rushed over to the hole and poked his head through. He recognized that this was once one of the wings of the large workspace that they had earlier passed through. There were overturned desks and splintered wooden dividers scattered about chaotically. He saw blood and bodies and body parts but no one living.

   "Minotaur, the ice!" Leokas warned. What remained of the summoned column looked like it was about to crumble apart allowing the digger on the other side through. They could see its hulking from through the thinning ice. Kytharrah took a defensive posture and gulped down one of those tasty drinks that made his cuts go away. Belvin squeezed past Kytharrah and through the hole in the wall.

   With a crack, the ice shattered and clattered to the floor. As soon as the monster appeared, magic missiles of force shot forth from Solisar's fingertips. Leokas released his arrow. Once again, the arrow punctured the monster's skull between the eyes. The creature danced about wildly. It managed to strike Kytharrah with one more desperate blow before the minotaur stuck it with a final swing and dropped it.

   In the room on the other side of the wall, Belvin searched among the carnage for the source of the cry for help. He located the worker hiding behind one of the sideways desks. He was an older gentleman, and his arm had been severed off at the elbow.

   Belvin crouched down and laid his hands on the man. The worker looked on in shock as the spurting blood stopped and skin formed rapidly around the stump. "You healed me!" he exclaimed. "I..., I have never felt better!"

   "I will get your arm," Belvin said.

   The man looked down at his healed stump and over at his severed forearm and just stared at Belvin confused, as the elf picked up the fallen body part.

   The man crawled through the wall into the hall. "Thank you! Thank you!" He was nearly crying. Belvin followed immediately behind him, carrying the bloody arm.

   "Are there others living?" they asked him.

   "I do not know," said the man.

   Belvin shook his head.

   "There are clearly more of the monsters," said Solisar. "They can tunnel through the walls, and we were almost surrounded. I hate to say it, but I do not think that there is much more that we can do. We should get back to the others and to the ship. All that remains here is devastation."

   "Kytharrah, carry him," said Belvin.

   Before the man could protest, Kytharrah scooped him up in both arms.

   They all hurried back down the hall to the receipt room.

   "Where are you taking me?" asked the man. "They caved in all the exits. There was nowhere for us to flee while they slaughtered us."

   "Go to friend," said Kytharrah.

   "We know an exit through the sewer system," explained Solisar.

   The man seemed content with this answer.

   They reached the ladder and one by one climbed down into what they hoped was safety.
Session: 106th Game Session - Wednesday, Sep 12 2018 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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