The weather has been so hot here in the urban desert of the Warren, Michigan, that the tin shed in which I rest and sleep and plan and plot has reached a startling one hundred and forty degress of the Dr. Fahrenheit scale, which I believe is forty one of the Celsioid scale, and minus-three on the scale of dashing Lord Kelvin.
I no longer am able to sleep in comfort inside my shed-ful abode. Nor, truly, have I been able to sleep in comfort at all during these long months that I have been imprisoned in my auto-velocitational mecha-suit. To sleep standing upwards is fit only for the horse and the security guard, not for the human and certainly not for the Architeuthis Uber Alles. Also, the water in my mecha-suit has grown thick with bacterial growth and tastes of broccoli—it cannot be healthful for me. Soon, oh too soon, I must have needs to find a source of the saltiest water to replenish my anti-bathysphere's atmosphere.
It is so unreasonably warm up here in this odd surface world that if I stand for long under the beating sun my suit becomes uncomfortably warm and I often scorch those who I touch. Were I on a battlefield surrounded by foes this would be genius, but instead I am here at my new home surrounded by friends and family, and so it is indeed tragedy. The local boys have rigged poles and tarps for me to lay under, a multi-colored tent that is full of stains and smudges that mine perfect eyes cannot help but make constellations of. Look, there is the smudge that I call the coral atoll. And there, there is the engine of a Honda Civic impaled by a titanium-encased tentacle. These are maddening days for me, under this heat, but my brothers-with-arms have come to keep my company under my cooling tent by talking with me, and by playing of the Ex-Box and the Play-Stationery. And finally, when the sun begins to slink guiltily behind the concrete horizon these man-boys who are now my greatest friends crack open their draughts of the Mountain's Dew and tear open their Cool Ranch Chips of Potato and produce from backpacks and bookbags the tomes and papers that form the infrastructure of our game of Dungeons-But -Not-Dragons.
And so it goes: It is my greatest pleasure and honor to have this opportunity to relate to you the final story of my band of brothers and our heroic war upon the orcs of Agrathor, as played out in our game of Dungeons Full Of Dragons.
To recap quickly the persona dramatica involved:
Where once I was the Giant Squid, deposed President of the United States and scourge of the internets and their churning informational and pornographickal waters, in terms Dungeonish-&-Endragonated, I have become Timmy Wu, mace-wielding, bipedal, mammalian, fur-bearing Priest of the Deep Ones Who Live Below And Look Upon Your Entrails With Hunger And Amusement.
Joining me on my quest were:
Gee Em: We left off with all of you down in the mines of Agathor. You found an intersection with four tunnels, and have managed to clear three of them of trouble. One was full of human slaves being forced to cook for the orcs. Another had a team of Umber Hulks being forced to mine deeper under the town by a Mind Flayer. And the third tunnel had been barracks for the orcs. You tricked the Orcish garrison into attacking the Umber Hulks, while you all hid in the fourth hallway, which is magickally dark and full of traps and pits.
Gandalf: Yeah, and now I'm grabbing all of the good shit out of the armory before anyone else gets to it.
Slaymaster: Fuck you, Gandalf, I was there first.
Timmy Wu: WE ARE ALL BROTHERS HERE, ARE WE NOT? WE SHOULD EXAMINE THE "LOOT" AND SEE WHO IT IS MOST FITTING FOR. TO MAKE AN EXAMPLE: I DO NOT FIGHT WITH EDGED WEAPONS AS MY GODS WHO DWELL BELOW CONSIDER ALL BLOOD TO BE THEIRS. IF I SHOULD SPILL ANY IT WOULD BE A GREAT AFFRONT TO THEM AND THEY SHOULD RISE UP AND DEVOUR MY PALE, HAIRY, EXPRESSIONLESS HUMAN SKIN FROM MY TISSUE WHILE I SLEPT.
Slaymaster: He has a point. We all of us specialize in very different weapons and skills.
Gandalf: It's why we're such badass Orc-fuckers.
Timmy Wu: IN THE CASE OF MONETARY REWARD, WE CAN EASILY DIVIDE IT FOUR WAYS AMONGST ALL OF US. AND IN THE CASE OF UNIQUELY POWERFUL ITEMS OR GEMS OF IMMESTIMABLE VALUE WE CAN DUEL TO THE DEATH OR FORM A TONTINE.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: Or perhaps, friend Wu, we could simply roll dice or play a game of chance to see who gets that item? You weren't here for our previous adventures, but historically it's true that whenever we have encountered powerful treasures we would tend to fight over it until all save one were dead, and that last survivor never could escape the dungeon alive without our help.
Gandalf: Yeah, I remember that. Fucking trogolodytes.
Slaymaster: Man those trogs ate your goddamn skull. Serves you right for pushing me off that cliff.
Gandalf: Dude, you were the one that poisoned our cleric—Orluin—while he slept!
Timmy Wu: IF THERE IS NO TREASURE HERE, THEN ALL OF THIS IS A WASTED CONVERSTAION. LET US SEE WHAT THE ORCS HAVE LEFT BEHIND AND THEN WE CAN KILL EACH OTHER WITH VIGOR.
Gandalf: Yeah, that's a . . . that's a pretty good plan.
Slaymaster: Donny, what's in the barracks, and are any of the dead orcs equipped with anything glowing or unusual?
GeeEm: C'mon man, when we're playing the game and I'm wearing the hat you need to call me G.M., okay?
Slaymaster: Okay. Now, Mr. GM, please tell us what is in the motherfucking barracks.
Timmy Wu: THAT IS AN ODD USE FOR BARRACKS. TYPICALLY IT IS WHERE AN ARMY OR MILITIA BEDS DOWN FOR THE NIGHT. IT IS UNUSUAL TO FORNICATE WITH MOTHERS IN THEM, IS IT NOT?
GeeEm: Nevermind. The orc corpses hold lots of axes, daggers and swords, but nothing very special. Their armor has been torn to bits by the claws of the Umber Hulks. The barracks seem strange at first, and you can't put your finger on what's odd about them. But then you realize that they are very clean—too clean. It's clear this is a strict military operation, with rigid discipline.
Gandalf: Is there any loot?
GeeEm: Every bunk has a small chest at the foot of it, and the upper bunks have the chest roped onto their ends. The chests all hold changes of clothes and a few gold each, as well as letters, books and lots of personal trinkets.
Slaymaster: Crap. It's another goddamn flea market. Nothing but memorabolia, old books and junk.
GeeEm: Except against the very back wall is a large black chest. It looks well oiled and well maintained. There is a sign in Orcish bolted onto the front of it.
Timmy Wu: DO ANY OF US SPEAK THE BLACK TONGUE OF THE ORCS?
Gandalf: Orluin might, as he is a big fan of Orcish tongues.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: Huh?
Gandalf: Because you're an orc-o-sexual.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: Dude, you can read Orcish with your language spell.
Gandalf: Shit! You're totally right. I forgot about that. I'll cast it on myself.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: Now who amongst our band of brothers is an orc lover?
Gandalf: What's it say?
GeeEm: The words swim before your eyes and then spell out, "To be used in case of emergency."
Slaymaster: That sounds . . . ambiguous. But fuck it, I'll hack the lock off with one of the Orcish axes that are around—don't want to chip mine after all—and open the chest.
GeeEm: You easily lop off the lock with the axe and it falls with a clatter to the ground, and you toss open the lid.
Gandalf: I hate when he talks like that. Whenever he mentions noise I have this feeling we're about to be seriously fucked. By a dragon.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: I'll hide in the shadows.
Timmy Wu: WHILE I AM EXCITED TO MEET ONE OF THESE DUNGEON-DWELLING DRAGONS, IT DOES SEEM LIKE IT WOULD BE A VERY SMALL CREATURE INDEED TO FIND INSIDE A CHEST, DOES IT NOT? BUT PLEASE DONNY THE GM WHO IS ALSO KNOWN AS THE GAMESMASTER, TELL US WHAT LIES WITHIN! MY SUN-PUNISHED SKIN IS LEAPING OFF OF MY FLESH IN ANTICIPATION.
GeeEm: Inside the chest are three daggers in fancy, velvet and leather casings and what looks like a crystal ball swaddled in pillows. There is writing down the blades of the daggers, by the way. And the writing is Orcish.
Gandalf: Ooh! My spell is still in effect! What do they say? I want to read them all silently to myself and then keep the one with the dopest name.
Slaymaster: I'm going to watch Gandalf's lips move as he reads and take the one that seems coolest.
Timmy Wu: SINCE I AM FORBIDDEN BY GODS FROM FIGHTING WITH EDGED WEAPONS, I SHALL REACH INTO THIS DWARF-CLEAVED CHEST AND WITHDRAW THE BALL OF CRYSTAL WITH MY TEN PREHENSILE FINGER-THUMBS.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: I'm hiding in the shadows, but I wish to be prepared to grab one of the daggers.
GeeEm: Okay, the three magic daggers are named—according to the script on them—"Man Drinker," "Elf Chewer," and "Dwarf Ripper." And Mr. Squid—err, Timmy—when you pick up the crystal ball your perception of the world changes somewhat. The world seems to dim slightly and when you look at your companions you can see a bright spehere of light glowing inside each of their heads. Their is a force in the crystal ball that compels you to reach out and grasp these mind-lights you see in your fellows. What do you do?
Timmy Wu: THIS IS MOST INTRIGUING. FOR NOW I SHALL RESIST TEMPTATION AND PLACE THE BALL IN MY TROUSER POCKET.
Slaymaster: So these seem to be weapons designed to hurt the allied races. What should we do?
Gandalf: Fuck that, I want that crystal ball.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: We should each take a dagger not meant for our race, clearly. I can take "Man Drinker."
Slaymaster: And I'll take "Elf Chewer."
GeeEm: Which leaves "Dwarf Ripper" for Gandalf. Cool.
Gandalf: Hey Timmy, wanna trade? I could get some fine bitches with that crystal ball. That is some serious psychic bling, you know what I'm sayin?
Timmy Wu: NO. I DO NOT FOLLOW YOUR TRAIN OF REASONING DOWN THE TRACK OF LOGIC. I HAVE NO DESIRE TO OWN THE "RIPPER OF DWARVES," YOUNG WIZARD. BUT THIS BALL OF MINE PRODUCES MANY POWERFUL AND DELIGHTFUL THOUGHTS IN MY MASSIVE HEAD SAC.
Slaymaster: So . . . the ball makes your sack feel good?
Timmy Wu: INDEED. MY SACK FEELS MOST FULL NOW.
GeeEm: Anyways. What now?
Orluin O'Duighnasse: We should explore the final, trap-laden hallway. Perhaps in its inky depths I might find the cure for my lady love?
Slaymaster: Or at the very least we can kill more things, get some xp and some treasure.
Gandalf: And I suppose if we save the town there might be a few lusty busty farmgirls who'd be all thankful to the wizard that killed the orcs. Peasant threesome! That's what I'm talkin' about.
Timmy Wu: WHAT IS THIS XP YOU MENTION?
Slaymaster: It's a score you get for every creature you kill or for every deed you do. It's like an abstract representation of how much you are learning and growing as an individual. When you have enough of it you go up a level, metaphorically, and become more powerful and can learn new skills.
Timmy Wu: THIS IS AN INTRIGUING CONCEPT. THE MORE PEOPLE I KILL, THE BETTER A PRIEST I BECOME?
GeeEm: Err, yeah. When you put it that way it seems a little crazy. But it works. The idea isn't so much on the number of people you kill, but rather that you learn about yourself and the world during battle. You become more wise and more powerful.
Slaymaster: We'll proceed to the darkened hallway.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: I will lead the way, since I am able to easily detect traps and can see somewhat in the dark.
GeeEm: Okay, you lead the party through the trapped hallway up to as far as you have ever gone before, which is a large pit with a single rickety plank of wood across it. What do you do?
Orluin O'Duighnasse: Can I see the bottom of the pit? Are there any traps around the lip of the pit or on the walls or ceiling?
GeeEm: The pit is fairly shallow—maybe ten feet deep. But at the bottom is what appears to be a few corpses being devoured by a thick Green Slime. You see no traps at the lip of the pit, but there are a few pressure sensitive plates on the walls.
Timmy Wu: WHAT IS THE GREEN SLIME? IS IT THE RESIDUE THAT GROWS WHERE HUMANS BATHE? IS IT THE BACTERIALLY-RICH MOLD THAT GROWS UPON YOUR TEETHES AS YOU SLEEP? IS IT THE REASON ONE MAY NOT HANDLE A TURTLE AND THEN TOUCH OF ONE'S OPTICALLY PERFECT EYE?
Slaymaster: What the—is that how you really see us? Y'know, you have your own BACTERIALLY-RICH MOLD going on in that walking aquarium of yours.
Gandalf: Yeah dude, your suit smells ripe, like fuckin' Metro Beach when the e.coli counts are too high to swim.
Timmy Wu: MY BROTHERS, I APOLOGIZE. THE SMELL, TO ME, IS ALSO VERY UNPLEASING. THE WATER HAS A STENCH THAT COLORS MY EVERY THOUGHT AND MAKES ME MUCH LIKE HAZEL WHEN SHE HAS TOO MUCH OF THE COFFEE-BEVERAGE AND TOO LITTLE SLEEP. I AM THE CRANKY.
Slaymaster: It's cool, bro. No worries.
Gandalf: Green Slime, which we were discussing here, is a lot like an intelligent ooze that secreates a nasty acid. It's tough to fight and can easily eat a hand or foot if you get too close to it.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: And since we have seen one of these squid-headed Illithid in this foul dungeon, we can assuredly count on seeing more anon. Surely they are the masterminds here. And surely they are those who lie in the darkness ahead, beyond all of these traps and pits. And since they can float gently above the ground and avoid all of these terrible traps, I'm forced to surmise that this tiny plank across this monster-filled pit is but another trap. Whoever steps on it with their full weight will plunge down into the slime and be lost to us forever.
Gandalf: Well yeah. That's obvious.
Slaymaster: We could try and jump across the pit. Or throw each other across.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: We could hammer a spike into the ground here, leap across and hammer one there and tie a rope between the two . . . but I have no hammer or spikes.
Slaymaster: Hmm. What about a catapult or slingshot?
Gandalf: No materials. What about a kite?
Orluin O'Duighnasse: Not enough space. Plus, it's a kite! And you'd have to run down the trapped hallway.
Timmy Wu: WHY DO WE NOT THROW THE CORPSES OF THE ORCSES AND UMBER-HULK-SMASHES UPON THE TRAPS, TO CLEAR THE WAY FOR US. AND ALSO WE COULD FILL THE SLIME PIT WITH THE CORPSES AS WELL. THERE WERE THREE DOZEN SLAIN. SURELY THAT COULD FILL THE PIT ENOUGH FOR US TO PERAMBULATE ACROSS ON OUR HINDMOST LIMBS?
Slaymaster: It's gross and fucked up, but I bet it'll work. That Green Slime couldn't eat through this many bodies very quickly.
Gandlaf: It's like Orc-corpse Tetris.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: Agreed, we shall do this thing. It is only a fitting end for their terrible corpses.
GeeEm: You throw the corpses two by two down the hall way, setting off a variety of spikes, swinging stones, poison darts and magickal attacks. Then you easily fill the slime pit with the bodies. You can hear the Green Slime hungrily hissing and dissolving all of the flesh that it has come in contact with.
Timmy Wu: I WISH TO SAVE A FEW OF THE HULKS' HEADS TO ROLL DOWN THE REMAINING HALLWAY, IN ORDER TO BOTH SET OFF MORE TRAPS AND TO INSTILL FEAR IN OUR ENEMIES. I SEE HERE ON MY SHEET OF CHARACTERIZATION THAT I HAVE FIVE FLASKS OF OIL. I WISH TO DOUSE ALL OF THE HEADS IN OIL AND TO STUFF THEIR MOUTHS FULL OF THE BOTTLES. THEN I SHALL ROLL THEM DOWN THE HALLWAY AND LIGHT THE OIL TRAIL THAT DRIPS FROM THEM. I WISH TO ALSO BE CAREFUL AS TO NOT IMMOLATE MY OWN TERRIBLY DRY PERSONAGE.
GeeEm: Okay, you roll the oil soaked heads down the hallway, which slopes gently downwards and around a sharp corner to your left. You then light the oil trail and watch as flames shoot across the ground illuminating more traps that have just been set off. The flames follow the heads around the corner, and the fire trails light your way like runway lights, or those aisle lights in a movie theater.
Slaymaster: We'll cautiously follow the flames down the hallway, with Orluin in front to detect traps.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: Agreed. I also will hide in the shadows.
GeeEm: The hallway extands on and down for a long ways. Maybe a solid mile. It is rough hewn and has many boarded-up passages that clearly used to lead to other parts of the mine. They look to be wholly undisturbed. Through a far wall is an even, err, rougher hewn passage that looks to have been carved like the other passage—by the Umber Hulks.
Gandalf: We should crack open one of these abandoned mine shafts and go exploring. we could split up and each take one.
Slaymaster: Stay on target, man.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: We'll proceed further.
GeeEm: The tunnel winds and dips and rises. You've come as far as the heads will roll, by the way, since from here on out it's slightly uphill. But haven't seen traps in a mile or so.
Slaymaster: Wait. I'm a dwarf.
Gandalf: No shit.
Timmy Wu: THIS, FRIEND IVAN, IS KNOWN TO ALL WHO GAZE UPON YOUR STATURE.
Slaymaster: No. I mean—I have Dwarven abilities. I have a perfect sense of where I am underground. Never get lost, perfect mental map and all that. So, Mr. G.M., where are we?
GeeEm: You're under the town now. Very close to the Inn, by your estimate.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: We'll proceed further.
Timmy Wu: I WISH TO GRASP MY CRYSTAL BALL IN ITS SACK AND WATCH FOR THE FLICKER OF OTHER MINDS APPROACHING.
GeeEm: Okay. Again you can feel that the ball wants to reach out and grab the lights of your friends. But anyways, you continue further and around a tight bend you seen a large, locked oaken door in the hallway. The walls around the door are human-made, with brick and stone and mortar. The door is clearly leading into a basement or cellar or dungeon. You can hear voices raised and shouting on the other side. Also, Mr. Wu, you can see three lights through the wall: one dim, and two very, very bright.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: I wish to silently approach the door and listen intently.
Timmy Wu: I WILL REACH OUT WITH THIS BALL OF CRYSTAL AND GRASP ONE OF THE BRIGHT LIGHTS WITHIN THE ROOM.
Slaymaster: I ready my axe.
Gandalf: I'm out of spells, so I'll just back my ass up and get ready to throw a dagger.
GeeEm: Okay. Through the door Orluin hears arguing. One of the voices is human and vaguely familiar. The other voices are muffled and hissy and very deep. The gist of the argument is clear: the human had hired the others to terrorize the town to drive up business, but now he wants them to leave. The monster voices are mocking the human and threatening him. Then, Mr. Wu reaches out and extinguishes the mind of one of the Illithid, one of the terrible Mind Flayers. The crystal grows cold in your hands, Mr. Squid, and you can sense that it will take a very long time for it to recharge.
Gandalf: Badass. The brain-eating squid-man just got his brain eaten by a squid pretending to be a man.
Slaymaster: I want to kick the door in and leap at the other Flayer with my axe ready.
Gandalf: I'll get ready to throw a dagger.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: I'll nock an arrow and as soon as the door opens I wish to loose it at the Illithid.
Timmy Wu: WHEN THE DOOR IS OPENED I WISH TO HURL MY MACE AT THIS DEVILISHLY HANDSOME OVERLORD, AND THEN IF THERE IS TIME I WISH TO CAST ONE OF THESE "CAUSE LIGHT WOUNDS" SPELLS UPON HIS TENDER MATING-TENTACLE.
GeeEm: Okay, the door falls inward with a bang and you all leap into the room, ready to attack. You see the tavern-owner from before here and the Mind Flayer has his tentacles burrowing into the man's skull. He is eating his brain, to be sure.
At this point, Dear Readers, many heroic dice were rolled. Gandalf's dagger, which would have been deadly to those of Dwarven heritage, narrowly missed the Dwarf, but also missed the brave and noble Illithid. It landed with a squelchy thud in the neck of the tavern keeper. Slaymaster's axe, however, flew strong and true and bit deep into the handsome and expressive skin of the squid-headed humanoid. Orluin's arrow, too, flew straight and pierced he who is surely an advanced species in the soft underbelly. My mace flew long and clattered against the wall, but my spell was strong and my passion fierce and it wrent the very tentacles from this Adonis-of-the-Deep's face, leaving him bloodied and dying. Our dice were many, and our luck rang true.
Slaymaster; So, we won? We actually survived an adventure.
Gandalf: Holy fuck. This is, like, the very first time.
Orluin O'Duighnasse: The tavern keeper. He was behind it all? He hired the orcs to terrorize the town so that everyone would come and spend money in his establishment?
GeeEm: Pretty much. But the orcs he hired weren't just a lone band, but rather a military group under the command of these three Illithid. They took the deal, but then refused to leave and started killing people and decided to add this small village to their considerable holdings. Well done, guys. You've completed this adventure.
Timmy wu: IT WAS QUITE ENJOYABLE, FRIEND DONNY. I SHOULD LIKE TO PLAY THIS AGAIN SOMETIME..
Slaymaster: Fuck yeah. You're one of the boys now, Squiddy.
Timmy Wu: BUT NEXT TIME . . . NEXT TIME I WISH TO BE THE STORYTELLER. THE GAMESMASTER. THE GEE EM.
And that, Dear Readers, is the full and complete story of my introduction to this world of the D and the D. Soon I shall begin my own story that these poor, unfortunate souls shall attempt to live through. But until then.
The Giant Squid
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