Hogar’s Journal (Translated from Giant)
Year 781 of the founding of the City
11th Day of Meloramensis – Part III
Thunderspire Mountain – Hall of the Crimson Whip
We pushed through the door and into a brightly lit chamber suffused with a faint red glow. A sickly iron tang permeated the chamber and invaded our nostrils. Before us there was a series of platforms separated from each other by channels containing a thick red liquid, blood.
The smallest platform was that upon which we stood. Jutting immediately from the entrance, there was barely enough room for the six of us to stand upon it. To our right, on its own small platform stood a large and imposing statue of a minotaur. Facing it, perhaps fifty feet away from us on the other side of the room was its twin. Across the centre of the chamber was a large runway-like platform that neatly split the chamber into halves. In the two corners on the other side of the runway there were pedestals. One supported a blade the other a hilt.
“That must be the blade the statue referred to.” Glen said.
“I suppose we’d better go and get it then.” I replied.
Vic shifted to the edge of the platform. The blood lapped gently against the tiles threatening to splash his boots.
“I don’t think we really want to be wading through this stuff.” He said.
“Then let us try another way.” I answered whilst shrugging my pack from my shoulders. I unhooked a length of rope from its fastening and tied one end to an arrow. Raising my bow high I sent the arrow flying over the shoulder of the big statue on the other side of the room. Rook, sensing my intention fluttered over to the statue and took the arrow in his beak. He hopped and fluttered and flew his way around the statue dragging the rope behind him until it was secure, or secure enough at least. Behind me stood another statue of a minotaur, smaller than the two giants snarling at each other across the room but still a suitable anchoring point. I tied the other end of the rope to the statue and clambered onto it. “One at a time.” I said looking pointedly at Vic. “I don’t want one of you idiots sending me into the drink.”
“I’m not waiting for a turn on that death-trap.” Said Glen and without warning he sprinted at the edge of the platform and jumped towards the nearer of the two larger statues. He covered the distance with ease.
As I edged out over the pool of blood I glanced back only to see Rodney walking over the surface of the liquid! He overtook me effortlessly and stepped onto the central runway. I continued to clamber along. As I reached halfway Eligos leaned forward to peer into the crimson pool.
“There are shadows under the surface.” She said ominously.
I hadn’t noticed them before but now that Eligos had pointed them out I could just about make out slightly darker patches of red moving about under the surface. This revelation was accompanied by a sudden creaking noise. The rope started to vibrate madly. Glancing ahead I could see that the large statue was moving. It was also covered with large rusty-reddish stains that looked uncannily like old blood stains. The statues began to pivot at the waist. In their hands each of them held a thick length of chain that stretched almost to the centre of the room. As the minotaurs spun the chains clanked noisily as they were dragged along the runway until disappearing under the surface of the pools.
It was clear that when the statues spun with sufficient speed the chains would become deadly lariats which it would be difficult to avoid. In the meantime the rope suspending me over the nearer pool of blood was becoming more and more taut. I scrambled hand over hand as quickly as I could until I was able to drop safely onto the runway. As I did so Rook's rudimentary knot came undone and the rope dropped into the water.
The safe route into the centre of the room gone Minron attempted to follow Glen onto the pedestal of the nearest Statue. He was not quite able to match the dwarf's jump however and ended up just short of the platform. As he sunk into the crimson pool the minotaur managed to grab onto the edge of the platform and haul himself up to a solid footing.
Minron and Glen started swinging at the statue immediately in front of them. Un-slinging my bow I started shooting at the same statue. Our efforts were insufficient to interrupt the momentum of statues and before long the chains of both statues were whirling around the chamber in a deadly arc. I was fortunate to have landed on a spot just out of the reach of both lariats. The fluttery touch of displaced air was all that I experienced as the tips of the chains rushed past my chest. Glen Minron and Rook were not so lucky. The chain of the further statue just glanced off Rook as he attempted to fly back to me. Though not a full blooded blow it was enough to send the raven tumbling into the blood. Glen and Minron took stiff blows to the head and chest respectively. Though staggered by the force of the flailing chain the both managed to avoid falling from the platform.
Vic retreated back towards the door and out of the reach of the flails. As he moved he gestured at the depths of the blood pools.
“Whatever they are, they’re converging on us.” He cried.
“Enough of this.” Eligos muttered and without another word waded into the blood straight towards whatever stalked us under there. She continued to move forward until completely submerged. Minron Glen and I continued to plug away at the nearer statue with little effect. Seemingly from nowhere a bolt of magic streaked across the room and slammed into the contraption, shattering it into countless pieces. I turned to see the mage Rodney strolling nonchalantly away.
“I shall retrieve the blade and hilt.” He said before skipping away across the surface of the blood.
With one statue destroyed Glen, Minron and Vic moved to try and get close enough to the second to repeat the feat. Glen one again charged at the edge of the platform supporting him, this time attempting to reach the central runway. It was not quite so convincing a leap as the first time but he did make it with only the slightest splash of blood on his boots. As Glen concentrated on regaining his balance a stream of bubbles erupted from the pool in the vicinity of where Eligos has disappeared. We could see nothing but the movement of feint shadows beneath the surface to mark the Tiefling’s struggles.
Minron landed in our midst a second later. Vic attempted to follow but was well short of the required distance. It was only the quick reflexes of Minron which saved him from joining Eligos beneath the surface of the blood. The minotaur snatched at Vic’s collar and after being submerged for the merest fraction of a second the warlock was hauled onto the runway.
The surviving statue rotated again, lashing its chain across the room. This time we were all out of range. Glen took advantage of the opportunity to once again leap out over the pool of blood. Once again he covered the distance easily, landing gracefully at the feet of the statue and without pause proceeding to batter it with swing after swing of his ugrosh.
Suddenly the blood pools began to boil vigorously to the accompaniment of an unearthly roaring noise. Rodney had successfully made it to the first pedestal and retrieved the hilt before sprinting back to join the rest of us. It seems that moving the hilt had caused some sort of reaction. Suddenly Rook emerged from the boiling blood. Sodden and dishevelled his indignation radiated into my consciousness.
From the other side of the runway Eligos erupted to land on her hands and knees on the runway. She was in as sorry a state as I’ve seen her. Battered and bruised the blood of the pool mingled with her own as it streamed down her face to drip from her nose and out of the joints in her armour to collect in the cracks of the floor tiles. She was to gain no respite however as four blood-red demons sprang from the pool to swarm over the her. One clambered onto her back and sunk his vicious fangs into her exposed neck.
As we shifted to engage with this new threat the remaining statue once again rotated and flung it’s lariat across the room. Glen, standing as he was at the base of the statue managed to shrug off the attack and continue the steady work of chopping bits from it’s legs . The rest of us were still out of range but, heedless of who it attacked, the statue did succeed in pulverizing one of the demons. As the hapless demon was swept away by the lariat, Eligos rose to her feet with a Herculean effort. She rained down blows on two of the remaining three demons, drawing blood from each and knocking them both to the ground.
As the demons hit the ground a groaning noise sounded from the remaining statue. Quiet at first, it grew louder until reaching a crescendo as the once proud monument, cut off at the knee thanks to Glen’s efforts, toppled into the blood with a crash.
The distraction allowed Rodney to sprint past us all, over the surface of the blood and to the other pedestal that supported the blade. As the mage raised the blade from the pedestal all of the blood in the room rushed towards him buffeting our legs as it sloshed over the runway. Rodney continued to float on the surface but now had to crouch to avoid hitting his head on the ceiling.
The temporary inundation of blood seemed to revive the remaining three demons. They sprang to their feet and continued their assault on Eligos, quickly knocking the warden unconscious. They would have killed her but for my well placed arrow that prevented one of them from delivering the coup de grace. Rodney and Glen both ran back across the bottom of the now empty pool to aid us against the demons. As the rest of us drove the beasts back from Eligos Minron stepped in to heal the stricken warden.
Ferocious though they were it was a simple matter for Vic and I to pick off the remaining demons whilst the others engaged them up close. Shortly we had the room to ourselves and Rodney fell to examining the hilt and blade. The rest of us gathered belongings and tended to wounds. I noticed for the first time another exit on the same wall as the door through which we had entered but in the other corner. After examining the blade for a little while Rodney said.
“Ah! I think I understand it now.” He continued muttering something incomprehensible and then pushed the two parts together. A feint glow emanated from where they butted up against each other until, with a sudden movement they fused together to form a dagger. As the two pieces combined the deep and loud roar of a minotaur sounded through the walls. Simultaneously whatever spell was holding the blood in one corner of the room was broken and the foul liquid crashed down in a mighty wave to fill the room once more. Once calm had been restored Rodney raised the dagger up.
“It has some form of enchantment.” He said as he passed it to Vic.
“I’m sure I can make use of this.” Said Vic, as we made our way to the second door.