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Zosia's Next Big Adventure

Two Oaks

Part V: Two Oaks (cont.)

Having watched the murder of the child and unsuccessfully chased the basterd who did the deed, Zosia returned to the house to free the hostage children, leaving Teles to wing off into the night in eagle form to see if he could find anything. Before she could do anything about the children, she heard an ominous murmuring from outside, and looked out to find a classic Village Mob forming, complete with pitchforks, scythes and torches.

The assembled villagers appeared curiously dispassionate and vacant for an enraged mob, and they moved clumsily — almost like zombies. A few of them threw ineffectual rocks at Zosia, who decided they were probably under some kind of evil necromantic domination or what-not. Electing not to make things any worse by killing a bunch of more-or-less innocent and largely defenceless yokels, she polymorphed herself into a great hawk, and also flew off. Finding a tree, she settled down to keep the village under surveillance, hopefully to see Mister Nasty return.

The villagers milled around aimlessly in the darkness for some time, when they suddenly seemed to come to their senses and all dashed off to barricade themselves in their homes. Shortly afterwards, Zosia observed a pair of villagers bring a horse and wagon out from the stables and whip it down the road to the south, as fast as it could go1.

The remainder of the night passed uneventfully, and the next morning dawned. From her treetop perch, Zosia watched the villagers emerge tentatively from their hovels and have what appeared to be a town meeting in the roadway. Tempers became somewhat heated, and she watched the innkeeper being manhandled and eventually knocked to the ground before the rest of the townsfolk went off to burn down his precious tavern. They surrounded the building and threw torches into the thatch, and spent the remainder of the morning bringing any available wood they could find to keep the blaze burning hot and long. The unfortunate innkeeper just sat in the road with his head in his hands.

Zosia decided to take advantage of their preoccupation to do some scouting unobserved, and found her way around to the small village graveyard. There were about a dozen graves all told, only one of them fresh — very fresh. Reasoning that if there happened to be a corpse down there turning into something nasty, it might emanate a magical aura, and so she cast a detection spell. Sure enough, the grave oozed an unpleasant necromantic mephitus, though not as powerfully as she might expect from a Master Vampire. She pondered how to keep whatever was down there, down there, and came up with a solution: she gathered the tombstones from the other graves and laid them out over the fresh one, and then cast Rock to Mud and Mud to Rock on them to create a solid stone seal. Satisfied with her work, she found herself a nice safe tree and went to sleep in it, to regenerate her Vital Bodily Fluids (and her mana pool and so forth).

Time passed, and Zosia woke up. No sign of Teles, so she decided to go out on her own to search the surrounding forest for any likely sites that might house the lair of a Big Bad Nasty Evil Guy. It didn't take much searching for her to realise that the village was sited in the middle of what had clearly been a sizeable elvish city at one time in the distant past. It was now entirely ruinous and thickly overgrown with jungle, but there were still walls and statuary to be discerned amongst the creepers. Intent on her search, she didn't notice the huge python maneuvering itself to a branch over her head, but at the last moment she felt the hairs on the back of her neck prickle, and she whipped out her sword in time to whack at it as it attempted to drop its coils around her. The poor thing thought it was going to get an easy meal, and instead it ended up as a pretty easy meal for Zosia — two blows and the thing was scuppered. She chopped up enough for dinner and went on her way.

After another couple of hours of searching, she found something promising: a doorway with steps leading down into darkness. It was now thoroughly overgrown with a huge old banyan tree, and the passageway was choked with roots and creepers, but she Polymorphed herself into a snake and slithered relatively easily down between the obstructions into the pitch black. Coming up against a dead end, she explored it by touch and found it to be a rotten old wooden door, which she smashed down with ease. Slithering forward into the inky blackness, she went straight over a sheer drop and fell on to a rock floor — not far enough to do her any damage in her present snakey form, but enough to be a little embarrassing, had there been anyone there to see.

She changed back into her own form again, and stopped to listen for any suspicious sound. For a moment she could hear nothing but her own heartbeat and breathing, but then there was something — a liquid, sucking sound, like a gumboot pulling out of thick mud. Her danger sense went crazy and she started frantically trying to light her lamp: difficult to do while simultaneously trying to draw a sword.

Huge slimy tumorous snot-monster

The sound grew louder and closer, and she colllected her thoughts enough to abandon the lamp and instead to cast a Dancing Lights spell just in time to reveal a huge slimy tumorous snot-monster looming over her! The hideous sight so shocked her that for a moment she was unable to react, and the creature smashed her into the wall with a disgusting foetid pseudopod. Fortunately the blow, mighty as it was, didn't quite stun her, and she immediately went on the defensive to avoid a repetiton. dancing around for all she was worth, Zosia tried twice to cast Cone of Cold spells which fizzled frustratingly, then the third — perfection! The thing recoiled from her, and she hit it with a Magic Missile. Getting low on magical energy, she started laying into it with her sword, carving off great gobbets of repulsive jelly-like flesh that oozed a nauseous diahorrhea-like ichor. In a last-ditch effort to subdue her, the thing raised itself up and fell full forward on to her; Zosia leaped for her life and just missed being caught by its plunging feculent mass.

Eventually the thing was reduced to a twitching, quivering blob. Zosia noticed that the pieces she had carved off appeared to be moving about independently, under their own steam, but decided she didn't have the mana left to deal with them reliably. She stood back and gave the general area one last Fireball, and then got the hell outta there.

She went back to her "sleep tree" and settled down to a sleep of exhaustion.

  1. Regrettably, she completely failed to notice the suspiciously coffin-shaped box in the bed of the wagon. Never mind, it was probably nothing, just a pair of farmers taking a long narrow crate of melons to market. In the middle of the night.(Back)