Memoirs of Father Shiron
Part 9 - First Blood
time of walking through the tunnel and various conversations between the
party members they came to a wider section. They had only gone a few
paces in when they noticed the odour.
"Crikey, it stinks in
here," observed Falamir wrinkling his nose.
"Makes me want to throw
up," commented Presto turning a paler shade of green.
The chamber, or whatever it was
as they couldn't see all of it, reeked of foul things, things dead and
rotting. Then they heard sounds of scuffling coming from beyond
their range of vision. Scuffling which sounded uncomfortably like it
was being made by something of above reasonable size, and if you've ever
been in a situation like that, you'll know that reasonable size is very
small. The scuffling noises were also accompanied by high pitched
squeals and squeaking sounds. This gave the distinct impression that
whatever was making the noises was a 'them' rather than an 'it'.
Erendil. "Get up here to the front quick." Presto
duly came and stood beside Erendil.
"What?" he asked.
Keeping his eyes ahead Erendil
half turned to Presto and said in a slightly conspiratorial manner,
"Apart from being handsome, intelligent, skillful and charming
amongst other things, what quality do we elves possess that humans
"We're good at sitting on
toadstools and wrapping Christmas presents," he said in all seriousness.
"Yes, true, but that's not
exactly what I had in mind. Try again and this time apply your mind
to our present unpleasant situation." Presto though for a
"We're, um, err, supple
and nimble and can climb trees really quickly to get away from nasty
things on the ground?" he said hopefully.
"Yes, yes, that as well
but there's one small problem. There aren't any trees here
Presto. I'll give you one more go." Presto was looking
rather uncomfortable at this guessing game with the very unsettling
scuffling and squealing sounds going on in the darkness. The process
of rational thought was becoming more difficult the longer the
unidentified noises carried on and he was convinced they were getting
both louder and closer.
"We can run away REALLY
fast and quietly if we have to?" he finally blurted out. "Oh I don't know Erendil,
I give up. I can't think properly 'cos I'm scare of what might be
making those noises and I don't much want to be standing around playing
silly guessing games while something big 'n' 'orrible is sizing me up for
"Oh do get to the point
Erendil," chided Feanar in a sharp voice. "This is no time
to be playing games."
answered Erendil. Turning back to Presto he said, "We've got
infravision Presto, remember? We can see in the dark up to 60
feet. Not as good as Dwarves though I hate to admit it but much
better than this lot. No offence lads."
"Just get on with
it," growled Dick in obvious growing annoyance.
Infravision. See in the dark. Sure." said
Presto. The working of cogs in his head would have been almost
audible if it wasn't for the scuffling and squealing sounds.
"Right. So use it to
try and see what's out there. You take left and I'll take
Erendil motioned the others to
follow as he and Presto set off slowly, their heads turning in a sweeping
motion as they
scanned the area. The rest strained their eyes
to see in the darkness, torches held out before them. The noises got
louder as they moved forward.
whispered Presto tugging at Erendil's arm and pointing in a 10 o'clock
direction. Erendil squinted to see.
"Ah!" he said.
"What is it?"
shrilled Falamir from the back.
"Shine your lovely torch
over there and see for yourself." he answered.
Both Falamir and Shiron turned
their battery torches in the direction of the sounds and jointly let out a
gasp. The cause of the scuffling and squealing was a seething furry
mass which was bigger than it had any right to be.
"Rats," said Presto.
Is that all?" exclaimed Dick in a scathing manner.
"But look at the size of
them!" squealed Falamir, sounding almost rat like himself.
Dick pushed his way through and
with flaming torch held in front, strode towards the boiling mass of
bodies with characteristic confidence. "Holy s...", was
all he could manage before he stopped dead in his tracks.
A mass of furry bodies was
seething all over something on the floor. Big furry bodies with big
teeth. These were no ordinary rats, they were giant, cat sized! The rats were busy devouring the rotting remains of some
unfortunate creature and had not noticed the party approach. Now the
light and heat from Dick's torch distracted them from their meal and made them
angry. Primitive minds made primitive thoughts. Food.
Eat. Survive. Threat. Attack. Kill.
Dick yelled in surprise and
instinctively threw his torch into the mass of bodies. The pack
erupted in all directions to escape the flames. Many of them caught
fire along with the remains of their meal and the smell of singing fur and
burning flesh assailed Dick's nose. Flaming rats scurried for safety
and disappeared into bolt holes that were dotted around the cavern. A
great many of them flew straight for him as he flung himself backwards,
desperately trying to loose his sword from it's scabbard in his retreat.
"At 'em lads",
answered Erendil as he drew his sword and ran in.
"These'll be worth a few
XPs," shouted Shiron to Falamir as he raised his mace and made for
the besieged Dick. The fighter's all drew their main weapons and
The rats were everywhere and
they attacked the party without fear or hesitation. Threat.
Attack. Kill. The party members formed a loose outwards facing
circle and battled fiercely against a furry tide of teeth and claws.
Swords hacked, chopped, sliced and cleaved. Dick quickly regained
his composure and wielded his sword with practiced precision and
power. A rat at his feet had it's head halved before it knew what
hit it and another was caught in mid leap with a sideways swipe that sliced
it cleanly in two. Any rat in his reach was soon dispatched.
The other swordsmen did their bit too. Erendil seemed to positively
relish in it. Swipe, slash, thrust, stab. Soon dismembered
rats littered the floor and pools of blood made dark stains spreading out
around them. Shiron wielded his mace in wide arcs, crushing,
bludgeoning and beating his foes down. He caught one with a sideways
motion, knocking it off it's feet. With amazing swiftness he brought
the mace down with crushing force before it could get out of the way and
shattered it's skull. But still they came on.
the room far, far way, several sets of polyhedral dice rolled across the table top,
time and time again.
Dead pack members were used as
stepping stones, aiding the pack even in death, allowing the rats to attack from a
higher vantage point. A rat ran up a pile of bodies and leapt at Falamir, catching him off guard. He stumbled and fell with the rat
on top of him. It's sharp teeth and powerful jaw clamped down on his
upper arm and he yelled in pain as his chain mail crushed his flesh.
In so close his sword was useless so he dropped it and tried to pull the
thing off. The rat sensed easier meat and letting go of Falamir's
arm, lunged at his exposed throat. Falamir reacted instinctively and
covered his throat with his left hand just in time. He cried with
pain as the rat's teeth sank deep into his wrist. Dark blood welled
out. The thing was so close he could smell it's fetid breath and
rank fur. He started to gag. Shiron heard his cries and turned
to help. His mace swung sideways and caught the rat on the
side. Stunned, it let go and hissed at him with pure hate. It
was just about to leap at Shiron when the mace came round again and caught
it full on the head with a resounding crunch. It flew several feet
away and lay still, the familiar dark stain spreading across the floor.
"Thanks Shiron, you saved
my bacon," said Falamir wincing.
answered Shiron. "You OK?"
"Nothing a bandage won't
fix," he said almost cheerfully. "I'll survive."
encouraged Shiron as he extended his hand and pulled him up. "Let's get some
"Two more coming in at 3
o'clock," shouted Presto. He met both of them with his long sword. One leapt and impaled itself on the tip. Presto
shook the dead creature off and actually managed to hit the other one at
the same time, wounding it and knocking it back. It ran at him again
with a blood curdling squeal but he was ready. His swipe separated it's
head from it's body and both fell to the floor with a squelch.
Feanar turned to spot a new
wave of attackers coming in. He raised his hands towards them and
spread his fingers in a fan like gesture. He closed his eyes briefly
and uttered an indecipherable phrase. He opened his eyes again and a
sheet of searing orange flame leapt from his fingers and erupted amongst
the charging creatures. Most were instantly immolated and the others
were left to scream as the flames consumed them. In their panic they
ran in all directions, catching the fur on fire of any others they brushed
against in their flight, adding to the confusion.
Erendil had killed a fair
number but now had a particularly large, vicious and cunning rat on him
and was hard pressed to deal with it. It always seemed to know when
and where he would strike and managed to avoid a fatal blow. Erendil
had lost grip of his sword and it had gone skittering and clanging off
across the floor. He was now down to his dagger to fend the thing
off. It had fought well and had bitten him several times but always
escaped away before he could get it. His hands, arms and lower legs bled from a series of
quick hit and run bites. However it was now badly injured and was
desperate to get him. The roar and flash of Feanar's Burning Hands
spell distracted Erendil for a split second. It was enough for the
creature to press a slim advantage. It gathered it's strength and leapt at
him. It couldn't reach his throat so it went for another prime
unprotected target, his inner thigh. The force of it's leap
knocked Erendil back and he screamed as the creature's long teeth pierced his leggings and sunk deep into the flesh. The powerful jaws
clamped down and he felt a sharp pain as skin, flesh, muscle and sinew
were severed. Blood welled out, lots of it. He was on the
floor, other rats were at face level now. The creature's jaw was
like a vice. It worked it to create a sawing effect, large, sharp
yellowed teeth cut deeper towards the main artery. Blood surged out. The rat almost seemed to be drowning but it kept the
sawing action going. Erendil frantically stabbed at it's back with
his dagger. Why wouldn't it die?
Getitoffme! Please someone. HELP!" he cried with genuine
desperation in his voice.
Dick turned and aimed a solid
kick at the creature. Erendil screamed as his leg took the force of
the kick through the rat's teeth. The wound tore and gaped.
Even more blood came welling out. The rat hung on. It was still
there. Dick's eyebrows raised in astonishment. A wry grin
touched his lips as he said, "Spread your legs for me big boy."
Erendil dragged his other leg
out of the way to give Dick the swinging room he needed.
Swooooosh! Dick's mighty sword arced down in a deft diagonal stroke
that shore the rat's head clean off and sparks flew from the floor so
close to Erendil's crotch that he fainted. As Erendil slumped
backwards into unconsciousness his leg was still in the rat's death
grip. The body had gone but the head was still there and the teeth
were still firmly buried in his leg. Blood flowed out to join the
ever growing pool around him.
"Shiron. Get over
here quick. This looks serious," shouted Dick and he bent
down and prised the rat's dead jaws apart. Shiron ran over.
"Shit! this looks
nasty. He's losing a lot of blood. We need to bandage the
wound quickly and stop the bleeding. Put pressure on it with your
hand." Shiron quickly got to work.
With the death squeal of the
big rat the remaining ones seemed to sense the battle was lost and
scurried away to their holes. Carnage was everywhere. Dead
rats, rat parts, rat entrails and rat blood covered the floor in a slick
black mess as far as the
torchlight could reach. The party gathered around Erendil who was still
unconscious. Shiron managed to stem the bleeding and applied a good
field dressing to the wound.
"Good work Shiron," said
Dick. "Erendil took a bad bite," he said looking up at the
others. "I had to prise the bloody thing off with my bare
hands, never seen anything like it. It's teeth were almost through
his leg. Better cure him quick Shiron. Apart from the wound
itself I wouldn't be surprised if he's got infected, these things must be
riddled with disease. That goes for all of us, anyone bitten will
need a cure, just in case."
"Sure thing," said
Shiron, bending over Erendil's leg and pulling a bottle and a book from
his pack. "Help each other out with bandaging wounds and I'll
get round to you later when I've dealt with this."
the book down on Erendil's good leg and flipped through it to the
appropriate page, the light of the torches illuminating the parchement. He
unscrewed the bottle and holding it in front of him, made the sign of
the holy blessing.
"Just like Feanar, I also need a material
component for my spells."
it?" asked Presto with interest. "Holy water?"
"Nothing as grand as
that," answered Shiron with a wry smile. "This is a cure
wounds spell not an exorcism."
"Holy TCP," answered
Shiron sprinkling it over the bandage covering Erendil's injury. He
read a passage from the open page and then touched the wound with his
hand, closed his eyes and made the holy blessing sign again. He
closed the book and stood up. With that Erendil came round to see
everyone crowded in around him. He looked down between his legs to
see if everything was still there and saw the bandage. He let out a
long grateful sigh.
"Back with us then
Erendil? Shiron patched you up good," said Dick slapping
him on the shoulder.
"The pain has almost gone. That's incredible Shiron, thank you very
"All in a days work for a
cleric," answered Shiron modestly. "And anyway you've got
Dick to thank for getting that monster off you." Erendil and
Dick exchanged a respectful glance.
"Thank you Dick.
he answered and gave him a nod.
"Let's get out of
here," said Presto. "I've had more than enough of this
"Hear hear," agreed a
couple of the others.
"I think we could all do
with some rest and recuperation after that, I know I could," said
Erendil as Dick helped him up. "Let's find somewhere close that
doesn't reek of death and decay."
"Still calling the shots
eh?" observed Dick wryly.
"You know me,"
answered Erendil with a weak grin.
Dick looked resigned.
"He's feeling much better."
limping Erendil helped by Dick the party made their way through the
carnage in the direction they had originally been heading. Passing through
an archway in the far wall they moved into a low passageway, the taller
members having to stoop down to avoid banging their heads. After
about 20 minutes the ceiling rose enabling them all to walk upright again
and the passageway opened up via a doorway into a smallish room with only one
other exit. The room was empty except for the broken remains of some
basic wooden furniture and fittings. Conveniently each wall held
a metal torch bracket. A quick inspection of the other exit revealed another
lockable wooden door leading out to a corridor with a number of other doors
opening off it on both sides.
"Old guard room
perhaps? This looks as good a place as any to stop and rest
up," offered Erendil. "And besides, I think I can
feel a time step approaching. It's a way off yet but if we just sit
here and wait for it we won't get caught out like last time."
"Yes, I think I can feel
one coming too," agreed Presto, his sharp elven senses picking
up the tell tale faint but distinctive vibrations.
The torch bearers placed their
flaming brands in the brackets and the party propped themselves up
against the walls. Shiron completed his clerical tasks by healing all
those who had received injuries, which was all of them. He then went
to check on Erendil. "That'll be tender for a few hours and
really needs proper rest to heal properly but should be good as new.
I suggest you get some sleep while you can."
"You've really proved
yourself today Shiron," said Erendil as Shiron checked his
bandage. "Turning undead, engaging in combat and healing injuries
with confidence. You have earned my sincere respect and I
imagine everyone else's as well."
Hope I get loads of XPs for it all!" he joked.
They were all beat so they took
time out and got some much needed rest. Some like Erendil slept.
Most took turns at a watch so nothing could sneak up on them
unawares. Feanar read his spell book which seemed to be rest enough
for him, Shiron prayed for a while as clerics must do to stay in their
deity's favour then got some
Several quiet hours passed
without incident and all felt refreshed and much better for it. They
all decided it was time for breakfast so they broke out their packed
lunches prepared by the chef at the 'Village Tavern'.
"This looks good,"
enthused Falamir as he tucked into a 'Double Decker' sandwich.
"Mr. Artois bottled some
of his home brew for us," said Dick with relish as he pulled out a
small brown glass bottle and deftly removed the cap with the point of his
dagger. "This is really good stuff. Advertised properly
and maybe put in some of them new tin cans it could sell really
well. I'll suggest it to him when we get back." Dick
emptied half the contents of the bottle down his throat in one long gulp.
"Take it easy with
that. We all need to stay sharp down here," cautioned Feanar.
"Dunna worry lad. It
takes a lot more than one little bottle to affect me," Dick
answered. And with that he finished it off and followed with a
The party ate their makeshift
breakfast in good cheer and had nearly finished when Presto looked up with
an odd expression on his face and said,
"Here it comes
Here endeth Part
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