Tuesday, December 19, 2017
The Dragon's Maw (Part 5) - Chronicles of Braum Stormforge
Slowly. Cautiously. The pair glanced around the corner into the room.
The celestial monkey had the armoire's knocker in hand and was pulling hard on it to no avail. It let out a few little frustrated screeches before turning and glaring at the both of them as though they were pulling some sort of prank and it only just realized.
"It's locked." Braum commented thoughtfully, trying to ignore the horrid little simian.
"Didn't think of that one."
In the room, they both found themselves just staring at the large cabinet once again. Given the other traps they'd already found, they were pretty certain it was going to go off like a bomb. However they'd never considered that maybe the magic was holding the damndable thing closed.
After a moment of pondering, Braum was the one to take the lead this time.
"Take a look around. Whoever this belonged to had a way to open it."
Maybe it was some divine will. Maybe it was some sort of magic of the cabinet. Maybe it was just raw curiosity. No matter what it was, he felt determined to open the damn thing now. Earlier it was just a mild need to know what was inside. Now it was a mission.
They spent the next several scouring the room looking for anything that stood out or might aid them in popping the cork on the cabinet. After nearly turning over the desk and actually turning over the chest, Braum noticed that the very edge of the bed seemed slightly higher than the other. And, with nothing else to go on, flipped the mattress.
To his surprise, he found a journal and-
A symbol of Trudd.
He picked up the small, silver trinket. The masterfully carved symbol of a throne with a shield upon it's gleaming back was well worn and covered in five, large runes on either side. He felt his heart sink.
This had been the home of a priest of Trudd.
While it might have explained his desires to keep searching the place, it hardly forgave blowing up the man's chest or trying to crack open the armoire.
"Ooo~" Ember cooed. "Found something?"
"Maybe." Braum said half-heartedly, still examining the trinket.
The symbol was nearly identical to his own but the scrawl of Trudd's name along the sides of the throne were in old Dwarvish. It was a language that he didn't speak and-
And was on the armoire.
Staring at the little symbol in his hands and carefully examining the runes, his gaze drifted back and forth from it to the large cabinet on the far wall. All of the symbols, the runes that he didn't initially recognize, were in old Dwarvish. And while he couldn't speak or read them, he had an idea.
"Maybe." Braum repeated as he walked over and carefully cross examined the symbols.
Hand shaking, he reached out to touch the first one. The first rune of Trudd's name in old Dwarvish.
"Whoa, whoa. What're you doing?" Ember remarked.
"Yea. Just in case. I'm going to be outside." the summoner said, already high-tailing out of the room, his monkey right behind him.
Braum waited just long enough for Ember to leave the room. His fingers touched the glowing symbol gently and, to his surprise, the rune lit up a different color. It didn't explode or burn him or even set off an alarm. Just turned a different color.
Emboldened, he did the next one.
One by one. Five runes. Braum touched each one and each time felt a wash of relief when he didn't die. After the fifth one, there was an audible click and the door popped open.
The old wood creaked as he opened it. Unfortunately, what he found inside was neither exciting nor surprising.
The robes of the priest of Trudd hung neatly and cleanly in a row, albeit some were covered in a soft sheen of dust and cobwebs. There was a small broom and dust pan off to one side and a pair of well oiled, leather boots beneath the robes. But, aside from that, the armoire was empty.
"Damn it." he cursed low under his breath.
"What've you got?" Ember asked from outside.
"Just a closet." Braum returned, unable to mask the disappointment in his voice.
"Color me surprised."
The summoner rejoined him, the monkey chittering softly as it sat on his shoulder, and shared the same look of disappointment that Braum was certain he wore as well.
Something inside had told him getting this thing open was important. So why was he supposed to care about some musty old priest robes; Trudd's or otherwise.
Ember dejectedly poked through the meager belongings, his annoyance plain on his face, when suddenly something at the back of the armoire caught his attention.
"Wait a minute..." he said, reaching deeper into the cabinet.
"What is it?"
"This wall isn't real. It's an illusion..." Ember began before being suddenly cut off.
A loud, horrible screech filled the hall outside. It might have been a roar short for the fact it came from a creature too small to produce such a fearsome cry. The cry was met and echoed by hundreds of others that called out in unison accompanied with the banging of shields, the thudding of boots, and the clanging of weapons far-too-nearby.
Glancing outside, it was plain to see what caused it.
A horde. No. An army of kobolds was advancing on them from the city. Literally hundreds if not thousands of small, dragon-like men brandishing bronze and steel armor and weapons were whooping and hollering and charging their direction from the unexplored city beyond.
And the men were trapped in a room barely bigger than a broom closet.
"Shit!" Braum bellowed, slamming the door not moments before the first wave of the fearsome dragonesque humanoids ran headlong into its simple wood.
"Where the hell did they come from?" Ember demanded.
Braum didn't answer. He had already drawn his massive tower shield Khadgar, using it to brace the door, and his lead-lined warhammer Magna waiting for the fight to come. The door was bowing and cracking beneath the force of an army and splinters and shards rained from its quickly collapsing doorframe despite his efforts and soon it would only be him and Ember against a thousand.
But the fight didn't come.
Instead, he suddenly felt Ember grab him from behind, tugging hard as the summoner pointed towards the armoire.
"Here! Get in here!" he ordered Braum.
The paladin spared one more glance at the collapsing door, at the vicious, snarling faces that could be seen through the cracks and holes in the splintering wood, before turning and following the mage into the armoire.
They dove through the old, musty robes and through the illusionary wall into the darkness beyond. Just as the door finally gave way, Braum reached back through the false back and slammed the magically locking armoire shut from the inside; sealing the kobolds out. Or, perhaps, sealing themselves in.