The dwarf poked Medvak with her elbow. He noticed with some satisfaction that the touch-averse dwarf was getting more and more handsy. She said on their first night together that she hated being touched by strangers. Medvak guessed this meant he was no longer a stranger. This thought had made him happy. Then he thought about what happened to poor Philly and suddenly the dwarf disgusted him. It wasn’t even what she did. He understood she had little choice in the matter. It was her callousness, her glibness. Like nothing had happened at all. After the argument with the sun-worshippers, Hilda all but hopped away, pulling Medvak after her by his belt. She didn’t ever spare the poor ghoul’s body a second glance.
While Medvak brooded, Hilda shook an ornate silver box she found covered in hobgoblin entrails. “1800 gold. Not bad!” The walls of the room were blackened and painted with streaks of red and pink. The furniture was reduced to cinders. The few hobgoblins who still had their heads on had milky eyes burned by the light of the sun invincible.
Medvak stared at the carnage with awe. “Holy fuck. How do you fight such power?”
“You don’t,” Hilda said. “They are the good guys.”
Medvak clenched his fist and gritted through his teeth. “Tell this to poor Philly.”
“You tell her,” Hilda said with steel in her voice. “Ever spend too much time in the sun? It burns.” Medvak said nothing so the dwarf went on. “‘Abashed the beholder floated and felt how awful goodness is.’” She sighed deeply. “I told you a million times, Medvak. Good isn’t nice.”
The doorbearian overturned the charred remains of a table with the tip of his boot. There was a slice of hobgoblin underneath holding a molten shield and a deformed sword. Medvak winced. “Is that a quote from your book?”
Hilda shoved the silver box into her backpack and headed for the exit. “No, it’s an elf poem. The scriptures don’t have many cool quotes.”
“Cool,” Medvak said flatly. “Let’s go to the armory. This room has a door in the back I’m interested in… If your buddies didn’t melt it yet.”
Hilda frowned. “These big rooms usually have several encounters and no treasure.”
“I know,” Medvak said, “but your good buddies passed through earlier. Just like you said: they are bashing and awful.”
“That’s not what--” Hilda sighed. “Fine, but we need to get back to the Guard Room first. It’s urgent.”
“What?” Medvak asked suspiciously, vowing to leave if the dwarf planned to rob the poor ghoul further after death, um, undeath, undeath death? Un un death? Whatever, he wasn’t a scholar. He was just a man with a heart.
“You’ll see,” the dwarf said slyly and nudged him with her elbow again. Medvak shrugged and shuffled after her.
“I’ve already advanced 53% toward my goal!” the dwarf said excitedly as the pair walked to the armory. “When I build my mansion, I’ll have an extra big guestroom fit for humans. If you come to visit, I’ll show you the prettiest dwarf temples and take you to my favorite food caves.” She sized him up and frowned. “You’ll have to duck or you’ll hit your big head on all the lintels… but come anyway. My cavern is very pretty, especially during the festival of the Spotless Moon. Later, we’ll go visit the stone giants that live in an adjacent cavern. You’ll like them: their women have boobs bigger than your head.”
“Your boobs are bigger than my head,” Medvak said.
“Don't.” Hilda said, suddenly very serious and a little sad.
“You know what. Don't.”
Medvak sighed. Just as he thought he was starting to get the hang of this strange little humanoid…
“Listen,” the dwarf said, “let’s beat the sun worshippers to the lower levels. Let’s kill a dragon!”
“We’re sixth level,” Medvak protested. “There’s no way we could kill a dragon. He’ll kill us with his breath attack on the first round of combat. Even if we make our Dexterity saving throws for half damage, you armored potato, we’d still be reduced to zero HP. Neither of us have any dodge abilities.”
Hilda frowned, “Okay, but what if we catch it sleeping and double crit it on the first round? I have a magic sword”
“Hilda!” Medvak growled. His opinion of the dwarf had improved tremendously in the past fifteen minutes but he still didn’t want to die by her side. He looked at his clanky companion with concern. “Is this magic sword making you go mad with power?”
“I don’t think so, it’s too low level to be this powerful and I have great wisdom saving throws.”
“Then where did this bad idea come from?”
“Hey,” Hilda raised her hands in the air in mock surrender, “I said I have great wisdom saving throws. Never said I had high wisdom.”
Medvak smiled. “My little--”
“Don’t.” The dwarf said curtly, all hints of playfulness gone from her face.
Medvak sighed. “Fine,” he said flatly. “Here’s the door to the armory. It’s big and very, um, armory. Seems your buddies didn’t touch it after all. They don’t strike me as the lockpicking types. How do you want to proceed?”
Hilda sniffed at the door, pressed her ear to the floor and even used detect alignment at the door, even though very few doors had strong moral or ethical positions.
Nothing. Complete silence.
“Listen,” she whispered. “The last big chamber I visited was full of traps. I’m going to open this door very carefully and we both test perception until we see all the traps, because if the room is quiet, it’s 100% sure to be trapped.”
Medvak shrugged. Hilda went on. “I have better armor class and saving throws and you have better perception, so I’m going to carefully open the door and you scan the room. Clear?”
Medvak nodded. “Don’t touch the door with your hands. Some doors are trapped. Use your sword. It’s the longest weapon we have.”
Hilda nodded and unsheathed her sword.
“Wait!” Medvak cried out. Hilda jumped half a meter into the air and glared at him. “What?”
“Here, use my ten foot pole. It’s safer.”
“You’re the expert…” The dwarf rolled her eyes but accepted the oversized poker.
Stilling herself, the dwarf gave the massive door a gentle prod with the tip of the pole. With a hideous rusty cringe, the door revolved vertically around a central axis and catapulted the dwarven warrior like she was a cockroach swept by a housewife and not a heavily armored, um, heavy, paladin of the moon. It all happened so quickly she didn't even have time to cry. All that remained of her was five feet of pole clattering on the floor.
Medvak blinked in astonishment, unable to process what he’d just witnessed. After a moment, he poked the door with his crooked greatsword, ready to jump back at the slightest cringe. It opened with a rusty screech, horizontally, just like a normal door would. The room behind was full of spears, shields, crossbows, helmets and even some mouldy cheese. It was conspicuously free of dwarfs.
Philly woke up with zero hit points. The first thing she saw was a dead rat. It had a little sign sticking from it. “Bon appetit.” The air smelled of burning books, a smell Philly knew all too well from her unhappy childhood. Used to be she loved the smell because it indicated she’d soon be getting free books. Today it told a different story: it was quite clear where the smell was coming from -- the dead rat was now the sum total of her earthly possessions, to be eaten in a moment to regain at least some hit points... but wait!
A filthy tunic that was too broad and too short for the lithe monster lay by her side. She had two things -- a snack and a bit of cloth that smelled nice. The ghoul looked around and found no doors or windows. Someone must have crammed her into a hidden treasure compartment after removing the treasure. Philly wondered if they touched her in naughty places as they shoved her about. She hoped they did.
The ghoul picked up the sweaty tunic and a little scroll rolled out. It was the brochure the dwarf gave her yesterday, stained and crumpled, but still readable. In addition to the promotional material, there was also a handwritten message on the back of the brochure. The ghoul picked it up and started reading. At first she was confused, then she was amused, then she started crying.
She pressed the scroll to her heart and grinned and sobbed at the empty room. Everything she ever owned was going up in smoke, but she didn’t mind. It was a fair trade. The ghoul danced around the tiny room, not caring at all for the aches screaming all across her body. Through the wall she heard a shriek followed by a loud thud, as if someone fell through several levels of the dungeon at once. Maybe someone tasty, maybe someone sexy.
Philly didn’t care. For the first time in her life, she truly had a knight in shining armor.
Just like in the stories!
Purse (750 gp)
Silver cup (750 gp)
+2 sword (2000 gp)
Ornate Box (1800 gp)