***Warning Parental Advisory -- slightly gruesome content***
The Treasure Chest
a Tale of DDO
The group moved ahead of Jekkoe for the third time.
The Barbarian Half-Orc, Gultagon the Stench, and his twin brother the Fighter, Gultagann One-Eye, stepped forward, completely ignoring his warnings of traps along the floor. He had taken care of two traps as soon as the group had slid down the slime-coated shute that spilled them into the Warrens beneath the lower sewers of Stormreach, he had taken care of a third trap before poison-tipped arrows had shot out across their path and wounded anyone, and now the two Half-Orcs ran ahead again.
Each time he had to pull them to a halt along the way.
Jekkoe said, "I see an indentation along the left up ahead there. You two should take heed and let me clear the way."
"I smell battle, little one," said Gultagon the Stench. "I am here for riches. I am born to kill!!! I will not wait. Come brother."
Little one. The title ate at Jekkoe.
Everyone was little next to the hulking brothers. The self-righteous Paladin Human, Sir Brennow was almost two feet shorter than the two, Sirreanna Starfire, the Drow Sorceress, even smaller, and the Dwarven Cleric, Brother Danoc, smaller yet, but Jekkoe, the only Halfing, got the title Little One.
"I'm warning you to let me lead," said Jekkoe.
"Pah!" the Fighter Gultagann said. "Halfings lead no one. They will not lead me."
Jekkoe folded his arms.
The sound of snarling made its way down the black walls of the tunnel to the group of adventurers. Something waited ahead. The two Half-Orcs perked up like hounds on the hunt.
"To battle!" cried Gultagon the Stench.
He ran ahead with his twin right behind.
The Cleric hesitated and looked from Jekkoe to the two warriors. The Sorceress stood back next to the Halfling Rogue and watched the two run ahead. The Paladin decided to follow, but at a distance; he had made it known he was better than the two Half-Orcs.
The tunnel was eight feet from floor to ceiling and equally wide. A black water dripped down from overhead and the worn stones set in the floor glistened in the torchlight. Far ahead Jekkoe could make out a larger chamber that the tunnel fed into.
Gultagon, Falchion held high as he roared in rage, sprinted down the path. Jekkoe watched as the Barbarian's foot stomped down on a stone counterweight set in the floor, the stone audibly grinding against its neighbor.
A blade grey as wet ash and ten feet across raked out from a hidden slit along the wall. It sliced the air as it moved --Swuuumpth -- and it cut Gultagon the Stench's legs off at the knee.
His forward momentum kept him going as his lower legs remained, one leg plopping over to the left, the other remaining upright like an empty boot waiting for the wearer to put it on, save it had a gory calve and knee joint poking out of the top quickly staining the boot crimson.
Gultagon screamed in pain and fell face-forward on the floor. He raised up and screamed again and then looked back at the group, pleading. His brother had stopped at the edge of the blade trap and danced in place like a child needing to go potty.
"Brother, brother," he called.
Gultagon raised higher and Jekkoe started to shout a warning to the Half-Orc, but too late.
The floor trap activated again.
The blade took off Gultagon's reaching right arm at the bicep and the same side of his head. Jekkoe could see the Barbarian's exposed teeth and the glistening sinew of his jaw as half his skull fell away with a meaty thump.
"BROTHER!!!" cried Gultagann from the edge of the trap.
"Gods above!" swore the Paladin.
"Save him. Someone save him," the Fighter pleaded. He looked back at all of them. "You, Dwarf, save him!!"
Danoc quietly replied, "I'm sorry, man. I don't know a spell so powerful as that."
"NOOOOOOO!!!" Gultagann cried and fell to his knees.
And then the hallway turned to chaos.
Lightning blasted off the black stone wall by Jekkoe's head. He ducked in time to feel the heat of a fireball explode across the other way. He looked and saw five men in robes at the other end of the floor trap. A dozen Imps flew past the Arcanes and made their way quickly toward them.
Danoc shouted, "Fight! Starfire, we need firewalls now!"
The black-skinned Drow muttered the spell and fire shout out from her dark hands like liquid in three rows, liquid that blazed. Danoc added his own spell, and blades appeared and spun round and round, living rapiers clattering and cutting the air in a circle. The Imps cried and sent spells of their own.
The Fighter, Gultagann, shouted in sorrowful rage and waded into battle. Jekkoe did not like the Half-Orc but the man's battle prowess could not be criticized. In one swing of his axe he killed three Imps. The man spun in place, threw a hand axe down the hall and killed one of the Wizards as well, and all in one turning movement.
Danoc yelled out a spell, beseeching his Dwarven Gods, and three Arcanes slammed face first onto the stone floor. The Paladin leaped the blade trap raking the floor and cleaved a Necromancer in two.
Magic Missiles erupted from Sirreanna Starfire's fingertips and blasted out in twelve directions. Mages and Necromancers alike screamed, writhed and died. Imps summoned by the newly dead flashed out of existance with groans and angry rants.
Jekkoe had not even managed to attack one of their attackers before the battle was done.
The hallway was once again empty.
The trap made a satisfying *clack* sound and the five companions moved forward.
Gultagann stooped down next to his brothers torso. He cried like a child and started to stand and try and collect the severed parts of his sibling until Danoc stopped him and ushered him away.
"Come away, child. There is nothing to be done for him now," said Danoc.
"You can bless him, Dwarf. Say a prayer to your Dwarven Gods for my brother," demanded Gultagann. The Half-Orc looked at his brothers remains in three places on the floor. He said, "He was the smartest man I know."
Jekkoe bit his lip and turned away, tried not to laugh. Behind him he could hear Danoc mumbling his prayer as Gultagann cried and cried and cried.
The five moved into the main chamber of the Warrens.
The room was palatial. The domed ceiling above a hundred feet high. Frescos of dragons and giants in battle adorned every wall, and the floor was of polished red and black tile. At the center of the room was a treasure chest as tall as Jekkoe.
A light from the very center of the dome overhead shined down on the chest and it glimmered in worked platinum and gold relief over a walnut wood.
Beautiful! thought Jekkoe.
"That makes my brothers death almost worth it," said Gultagann.
The five cautiously moved ahead. Jekkoe stepped into the lead and looked all around for traps.
He saw nothing at all.
Coming closer, the treasure chest seemed different than it had across the room. Jekkoe could not put his finger on it. He put up his hand for the others to hang back as he inspected it for traps.
The floor all around was clear: no strange floor stones, no wires. The upraised base: fine. The chest itseif Jekkoe studied and moved all aound it.
He stepped near and put out his hand.
He touched it.
The chest did not feel like wood and metal, like worked walnut and hammered gold.
It felt like skin.
"GET BACK!!!" yelled Jekkoe.
The treasure chest came alive.
The lid slammed open and instead of precious items on velvet it became row upon row of finger-long sharp teeth and a bloody, yawning maw of a gullet. Appendages on the left and the right grew out of the treasure chest in under a second, and one insane flailing arm slapped Gultagann across the wide chamber. The other grabbed Danoc and lifted him.
Jekkoe leaped back and sumersaulted twice to get clear.
"LOOK OUT! THE CHEST IS A MIMIC!" he screamed.
The fighter, shaking his head to clear it, jumped back to his feet and charged the Mimic. He cut the appendage off that held the Cleric.
Danoc dropped like a boulder to the floor. He let out a grunt.
The Mimic, treasure chest lid mouth snapping and growling, grew another appendage and then another and another. Four fleshy arms shot out and grabbed Gultagann and lifted him high. He wiggled in its grip and growled in defiance down at the Mimic. His axe fell and clattered on the floor.
The Paladin ran forward only to be smacked clear across the room. He slid one way and his Greatsword another, and when he stopped sliding over the floor was utterly still.
A tongue snaked out of the treasure chest mouth and licked all around with an audible slurp, and then the four appendages yanked the Half-Orcs head into its mouth.
Jekkoe shuddered at the crunching sound.
Gultagann's legs trembled and spasmed in the cluthes of the Mimic as he died. It pulled back the Fighter's headless body and readied its giant mouth for another bite. Jekkoe saw the body, blood bubbling out of the shreaded stump of throat like a macabre pudding.
Sirreanna Starfire shouted a spell and lightning hit the Mimic. It coiled and snaked all over its treasure chest body, and then the Drow cast the spell again.
The Mimic dropped the Half-Orc and shifted and turned toward the Drow Sorceress, but it was too late.
Jekkoe, wiping his mouth, stood frozen with fascination at the death throes of the Mimic.
It changed forms as it died.
It was first a large treasure chest and then a beautiful marble statue of a naked female and then a bookshelf adorned with dozens of valuable tomes and then back to the treasure chest and then into a suit of guilded golden armor and back to the chest, and finally its body bubbled and quaked and turned black and oozed out across the floor like tar.
Jekkoe sat down on the floor and tried to catch his breath.
Danoc held his face in his hands.
Sirreanna Starfire adjusted her robe, tucked white hair over an ear and looked very tired.
The Paladin sat up and rubbed his head, found his weapon and tried to stand.
The real treasure chest was hidden behind a secret door. It was set at the left side wall of one of three alcoves that branched off from the main chamber. Jekkoe found the catch and the wall moved back. He pushed and slid it leftward with the help of Danoc.
Two weapon racks and a treasure chest waited for the group.
The air was old and musky. The floor was coated in ancient dust.
Jekkoe found two traps in the room and disabled both before they moved inside.
Stepping forward, the Rogue lifted the lid of the treasure chest.
The four remaining adventurers let out excited oohs and ahhs at what they saw within; pretties on velvet.