A ghoul was a serious threat at the best of times and this time was quite devoid of bestness. Not only did the young dwarf stupidly waste all her spells on fighting doors and walls and floors, she also stood at the edge of a pit without even a lunar step to soften her fall. Luckily, a dwarf wasn’t an easy thing to move. That’s why the human Dr. Gizani referred to dwarfs as “nature’s doorstops” and was no longer welcome in their communities.
Hilda raised her shield and dug into her position. Let’s see the ghoul try to catch me off balance now.
“Are you like a moon paladin or are you a paladin of some small planetoid?” the ghoul asked excitedly, not the least bit cowed by the concentration of steel and holiness before her. That caught Hilda off balance.
“Um, moon… I think?" She mumbled. "I kinda slept through orientation…”
The ghoul's jaw dropped, revealing a soot black maw and a tongue like a forked banana. “But it’s so interesting! The way we have two suns, so you can never tell--”
“What’s the point of this conversation?” Hilda impatiently interrupted the chatty monster.
“I…” the ghoul looked crestfallen. “I thought you’d be into astronomy because…” The ghoul sniffed and her voice became choked, “and nice.” She started to turn away.
Hilda lowered her shield a smidgen and carefully walked away from the edge of the cliff. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you--”
The ghoul whirled, grinning like she was about to chomp off someone's face with a single bite. “It’s okay, I can be awkward sometimes.” She spread her arms energetically and her small, pierced tits bounced and jingled. “A hug?”
“Um…” Hilda looked up and down the tall, naked creature. “No?”
“Sorry,” the ghoul said and sat on the edge of the bed. “This is my room, you know. These big rooms, um, chambers, have three encounters each and no loot. She wiggled her torso so all her chains clattered. “I took these off a half-orc fighter I chased away. Pretty, no?”
Hilda felt herself flush. Now that the situation no longer was a combat encounter, she started viewing the ghoul as a naked woman and, well, she really preferred naked men.
“I’m not going to attack you,” the ghoul went on. “I just ate, plus I kinda like you.”
“Um… thanks?” Hilda said, feeling very awkward maintaining a full battle stance against a lounging interlocutor.
“You can rest here if you want,” the ghoul patted the bed beside her. “We’ll have cheese and wine and talk about things. It will be fun! You know,” she added conspiratorially, “they say the real reward of a dungeon crawl is the friends you make along the way.”
Hilda remained standing. She wasn’t going to share a bed with a naked woman, especially one that could eat her. “I thought monsters never left their rooms in dungeons like these?”
“Well,” the ghoul was playing coquettishly with a tendril of dark hair, “we aren’t supposed to, but I keep the dungeon clean from corpses plus I think the DM kinda likes me.” she slapped herself on the butt and grinned. “In any case, this really is my room.” She raised a hand to make the sign of the horns and barked a short laugh. “Take a stool, Sir Knight. I bet you’ve been on your feet for hours.”
Hilda dragged a stool from the table and sat in front of the monster. Her eyes kept sliding down the ghoul’s body. It was kinda like guarding a grizzly crime scene: you didn’t want to look, but you still did.
Hilda lowered her shield and hammer. “You won’t be offended if I asked you to wear something?”
“I am wearing something!” the ghoul jiggled her body again, more like a dog shaking off water than a sexy dancer. All her little chains, rings and piercings rang like a handful of windchimes thrown in the trash.
“How do you leave the room?” Hilda asked. “The trap doesn’t appear to be magical…”
“Oh, I’m just too light to activate it,” the ghoul suddenly went pale and pressed a hand to her mouth, “I mean… I didn’t mean to... By the fires of hell, I’m so sorry--”
“It’s okay…” Hilda grunted. “I’m a big girl with a big hammer and a big armor.” Damn this ghoul. Hilda wasn’t fat. She was big-boned, really, even for a dwarf. “What’s in the other rooms?” she asked.
The ghoul frowned. “I’m not supposed to talk about this. This is supposed to be a combat encounter, not a sexual-- I mean social encounter…” The ghoul blew raspberries. “Now if you had an ESP medallion…”
“Can you sell me one?” Hilda asked.
“I don’t have it. The giant spider on level--” the ghoul stopped mid sentence. “Oops. The DM is going to kill me now!” She spread herself on the bed and didn’t look scared at all. "Do you like jewelry? I once found—"
“In for a penny, in for a pound?” the dwarf asked hopefully. She then wondered what the hell was a penny or a pound.
“No!” The ghoul sat bolt upright and shook her head resolutely, her hair whipping her face from side to side. “Absolutely not! Anything but that!”
Hilda sighed and forced a smile. “I’ll bribe you!” She walked up to the ghoul, who was all but shaking with wide eyed anticipation, and handed her a colorful sheet of parchment.
The ghoul eagerly snatched the leaflet and started browsing, careful not to damage the thin sheet of paper with her fearsome claws. “What is it?”
“It’s my cult’s official brochure. It’s got some info about the stars and the moon…” Hilda shrugged off her backpack and started sifting through her inventory. She couldn’t give the ghoul the Book of Heavenly Deeds or she’d lose her spellcasting ability, but she did have an abridged version for converts somewhere… “there it is!”
Hilda handed the ghoul a booklet with an image of the bisolar system on the front and glowing reviews from other deities on the back. “You can have it, and more, if you draw me what treasure and monster are in each room. Deal?”
“Deal!” the ghoul squealed with glee. “Screw the DM! He hasn’t touched this dungeon in years! I bet he doesn’t even remember we exist!”
The two women shifted from the bed to the table. Hilda stood over the ghoul, while the monster eagerly drew a crude map of nearby rooms (not an easy task with claws like that!) and filled the rooms with text: giant spider: ESP medallion, hobgoblin: silver cup, evil cleric… Hilda leaned in to point at a spot on the map. “Is this a secret door or a--” the reminder of her sentence was reduced to muffled moaning as the ghoul grabbed the back of the dwarf’s head and forced a tongue like an oily black snake down the dwarf’s throat. It tasted like spoiled meat and old grease. With her other hand, the ghoul started exploring openings in the dwarf’s armor.
Feeling nauseated despite her immunities, the dwarf pushed the ghoul away and grabbed the parchment from the table. Holding her hammer over the bemused monster, the dwarf began retreating for the door, careful not to drop into either of the pits. Along the way, she picked up her backpack and shield.
“I’m so sorry!” the ghoul cried with swimming eyes. “I totally misread the signals you were sending!”
“It’s okay!” Hilda shouted as she stepped into the corridor. The ghoul was saying something, but Hilda was already too far away to make out the words. Hopefully, the ghoul, who was a second level monster, wouldn’t follow her into the first level of the dungeon. DMs really didn’t like that sort of thing.
So far, this dungeon was proving to be not at all what Hilda expected.
She had a map and a few hundred gold pieces, but right now, all she wanted was a bath and a ton of mouthwash. Shame the dungeon was surrounded by fetid swamps populated by cannibalistic lizardmen with bad breath…