Treasures of the Ziggurat
We were victorious in this third battle with the red skull goblin tribe but we knew we could not hold this chamber.
We gathered our spoils and saying words to the gods burnt our fallen and descended the long stair from the battle scene into the lower chambers. We knew the the goblins would not follow. They feared the lower depths and now, hopefully, they also feared us.
At the bottom of the stairs was a small chamber with a single exit. We used what wood and leather we had to block the exit and made camp. Up the stairwell we heard the gobins screeching but they did not descend. Through our barricade we heard the echoes of monsters in the darkness. We hoped they would leave us until we were rested. The upper chambers had tested out skill and strength of arms and with the gobins defeated a warm meal and a good night sleep would recharge us for the challenge ahead.
Third Monarch Day, Season of Wheat, in the fourth year of the Gold Condor. Day 14 of the expedition.
In the night there were a few attacks through the barricade but nothing significant. After we broke fast we made ready and left in search of honor and glory.
The smooth granite floors and polished walls ended and rough dirt and stone floors with rough walls began. The floor and walls were marked with crude drawings and talismans lined the path beyond our weak barricade. A natural stair led up into the darkness while the walls on either side were rough and wet. Lord Daerwunt bade us to ignore the stair and we moved on into the wild corridor. We got only a dozen paces when the air was filled with arrows and fire. We were set upon on both sides by lizardlings. These little reptile men slid down the walls and struck at us with crooked spears and sharp daggers and would rush back up the wall - climbing it only slightly slower than they ran along the floor. Meanwhile from above on both sides arrows, rocks, stones, and fire were cast down upon us.
A retreat was impossible as scores of the red lizard spawned monsters had descended the stair Daerwunt had bade us ignore and they held fast to that end of the corridor with fire and worse. Some amongst them chants and threw blue and green globes that turned the men to ash when it struck.
Daerwunt led a most ungracious flight with a third of the men lost in that ambush.
The rout was ended and order recovered when we found ourselves in a new room. Bright with torches and candles. Polished marble floors and ceilings with stone walls made of a odd red and green stone I am not familiar with. Lord Daerwunt made a role call and we numbered out loses at nine dead and four wounded.
Brother Caselleion moved among the men speaking encouraging words and bolstering lost courage as Daerwunt and I explored the area. It was not defensible the entry we used was one of three. A large hall over three spans across led to the north. Another smaller exit ran to the east.
The north corridor ended in double doors so we moved the remaining twenty seven on the expedition into the hall and opened the doors.
Alas our quest is fulfilled! beyond the doors lay the ziggurat we sought. Smooth and of the same red a green stone as in the previous room the ziggurat rose fifteen spans up from the floor and scarcely reached halfway up to the ceiling of this massive chamber. Further the room had but one exit - the stout double doors were closed, barred and barricaded. blocking out the devilish liazrdlings and thier arrows, fire, and magic ash globes.
The men started to search the massive room for a way into the ziggurat and to claim the treasures legend told us were held within. No entry could be found but Caselleion fell ill and was laid upon a cot against the north wall. almost immediately he began to shudder and sweat - calling out the names of the gods and acting like a mad man. Only when he was moved away did he return to a level of humanity. A search of the area that brought on his madness revealed and cleverly concealed door. Daerwunt and a few men (chosen by lots) went through the door and after tense minutes returned with news that the treasure had been found.
Camp was set up. Guards posted. And a celebration began.
Third Dragons Day, Season of Wheat, in the fourth year of the Gold Condor. Day 15 of the expedition.
Early in the morning the men of the last watch were found dead. No mark was found to indicate how they died. The doors held fast and no sign of a struggle could be found. Caselleion went mad after breakfast. He started to mutter and sweat and before anyone could stop him killed two men and had run to the top of the ziggurat. Three more men were hurt before he was killed.
Lord Daerwunt would not say anything about the guards nor about Caselleion. The remaining men started to worry that they would not leave the ziggurat alive - never mind the riches - plans to survive became the top priority. Daerwunt came out of the treasure room just before lunch and asked me to calm the men down so he could continue cataloging and packing the treasures. I went among the men and spoke with them.
I have no memory of what I said - time is foggy and thin. I... caught a glimpse of the treasure.
Walking among the men - but they are not men. They transform into tall and thin beasts with four long skeletal arms and a pair squat legs. Faces change - with no eyes and only a fire filled maw where nose and mouth should be. These monstrous appearances seemed natural and the pink faces pushing meat into mouths looked alien and ugly to me now.
One of the men asked me what was wrong. I concentrated to understand what he was saying - to comprehend who he was.
Percell was his name. Good man - solid family - he had fought well against the goblins... he was trying to get me to help him... save him... I could not understand what this puny life wanted from me...
With a thought I ripped his soul from his body and ate it.
I saw now all about me these little pink beasts. Hoping to rob from from me what we had placed here. They are weak and tasty. Sitting at the top of my ziggurat I feast.
I see one fleeing - the soul of this body I possess names him Daerwunt as he flees out the doors into the darkness.