Krimm, a kobold who has lived his entire life underground, desperately wants to see the sun. After an unfortunate setback, he became captive to a race of brain-eating monsters. Managing to take one unawares, Krimm has used a wand of invisibility and hopes to leave the prison for good without being detected. Read on to see how our erstwhile canine humanoid fares.
Krimm padded softly down the corridor flexing his toes upward so that his toe claws wouldn’t make any noise click-clacking along the floor. He was invisible, but not inaudible. Krimm resisted the temptation to wipe the beads of sweat from his forehead. He took a few deep and silent breaths in the hope that it would make his hands stop shaking. He had wandered the illithid complex for the last five minutes looking for an exit. The good news is that it seemed that there were no more than the remaining three illithids in this area. The bad news was that the exit continued to elude him and the invisibility spell could wear off any moment.
Craning his neck around the junction point at hand he saw what appeared to be a magical laboratory of sorts. The three illithid were huddled over a single table working at something. After a few moments one of them picked up a platter of tentacles and other assorted illithid parts and moved it to another location blocked from Krimm’s view. The other illithids continued to dissect their fallen comrade. Krimm wondered if illithid had funerary rites and if this is what they entailed. “More likely,” he thought to himself, “they’ll just experiment on its body or use it for spell components.” With a shudder Krimm turned down the opposite corridor.
The tunnel presently doglegged to the left and ended with a finely crafted stone door. Krimm eyeballed the lever set on the right-hand wall. Clearly this was the opening mechanism. Would the illithid have some kind of magical alert system rigged to the door? Or would the sound of stone grinding on stone be enough to wake the dead let alone his captors? With a furtive look over his shoulder Krimm decided to take the chance. Wincing a little he gingerly pulled on the lever.
The door swung open quickly and silently. If the illithid had been alerted, Krimm had to move fast.
Krimm exploded in a sprint and emerged from the illithid complex into an enormous, excavated cavern. The ceiling above was beyond the limits of Krimm’s vision. All around Krimm were other stone buildings. He was in some kind of city, but there was no noise. Krimm’s heartbeat quickened. Was the whole city crawling with illithid? In a panic he continued running choosing routes among the stone houses and buildings at random. He turned left. Then right. Then right again. Then down under a bridge beside a stream and left out at the top and ran beside a building on his right at least 200 yards long. He leapt over random piles of rubble and presently began to run out of breath. Sidestepping a jumble of rusted metal on the ground and then hopping over a mound of fallen stones, Krimm sensed something wasn’t right, but he didn’t have time to think about it. He had to keep running. He turned right at the end of the building and crashed head-long into a something, or rather, someone at full speed.
Krimm’s body twisted sideways as he lost his balance and ended up flat on his back. Reorienting himself toward the figure he dug into his belt for the wand of invisibility.
“Whoa, there, friend. Easy,” said a familiar voice. Krimm felt a wave of calm come over him. Was it some kind of sorcery? He peered more closely at the figure before him.
He was no illithid, was that was for sure. But it wasn’t clear just exactly what he was. The man’s black robes covered everything and despite Krimm’s excellent vision in the dark, something was obscuring his ability to see the man’s face. The man stood upright, tall and well-postured, a finely-crafted wooden staff in his hand, clean and straight with no adornment except deep purple endcaps on both sides and a brilliant white finish on the wood itself. The man spoke.
“You managed to get out safely, just as I knew you would. Well done, Krimm.”
“How… how do you know me? Who are you?”
“Dear Krimm… I know many things, but the answer to your question is beyond comprehension. What I can tell you is this: you are quite safe for the moment. It is I who put the sigil on your hand.”
Krimm turned his hand over just in time to see the sigil fading. The man continued, “You are in the fallen city of Ulgmar Dun, at one time the capital of the deep dwarves. Some four centuries ago they were defeated by a Drow army from nearby Spinneriss.”
The man paused for a long time. Krimm, still on the ground, remained motionless even as he considered the man with no small amount of apprehension. The pause grew almost uncomfortably long before the man spoke again.
“Your path, Krimm, takes you one of two routes. You could attempt to cross the ravine of Derig Ur to the north, but I would not advise it. There is something foreign… ‘feeling’ its way into the ravine. The alternative is by no means safe, but it is safer. The Rockmages Guild…” The man gestured with his staff to a tower about a mile or two away spiring above the rest of the buildings.
Krimm licked the roof of his mouth and steeled his courage to speak. “Sir… excuse me, but… you appear out of thin air, tell me to head into a dangerous tower no doubt infested with magical traps, horrible experiments gone wrong, and waters knows what else, and… I should trust you? Why, exactly?”
The man stood up straighter, if that were possible. A deep shimmer of brilliant light glimmered around the edges of his robes. “Krimm of the Darkfoot Clan, you wish to see the sun, do you not?” said the man in a tone that clearly brooked no nonsense.
“Then I suggest you go to the Rockmages Guild or you never will. I certainly won’t stop you, but other circumstances shall… unless you go to the Rockmages Guild.”
Krimm swallowed hard and stood up.
The glimmer of light around the man’s robe faded. “But first…” he said, once more with a gentle tone.” The man rapped his staff on the wall next to him and a secret door slid open. The man gestured for Krimm to inspect the room’s contents.
A chest lay on the ground. It creaked and groaned as Krimm lifted its lid. With amazement he beheld the contents and removed them one by one. A set of studded leather armor from head to toe, looking as new as the day it was sewn together. Twin daggers as sharp as a bee’s sting, weighted perfectly, the handles capped with diamond-cut rubies. A thieves’ tools kit containing lock picks, caltrops, and even a couple of explosive potions for those doors that elude even the most skilled entry artists.
Krimm whirled around to thank the man, but he was gone.
“Get down!” shouted Durmfen. Zamza, Elorien, and Rikard ducked as the dwarf, stubby legs and all, somehow managed to hurtle himself over their crouched bodies. With a primal growl he released the divine energy coursing through his arms. Swirling maelstroms of white and yellow light streaked toward each of the three remaining Drow, freezing them in place where it struck them.
Zamza dared to peek up and saw that the combat had essentially ended. Elorien shouldered past her, pulled a dagger from its sheath on his forearm, and without pause or warning stuck it up the gut of one of the frozen Drow, twisted it for good measure, and kicked the Drow off the cliff to his right.
Zamza cursed. “Elorien! Calm down! They’re held! They’re defenseless!” Elorien whipped his head back, a grim and determined steel in his eyes barely concealed the rage beneath.
“Yes, and in three hours they’ll be right back on our tail. We kill them. Now.”
Rikard put a hand on his sister’s shoulder. “It’s not pretty, sis. But they started it. And they’d do all that or worse to Elorien if they managed to freeze him.” Elorien dispatched the other two simply by hurling them off the cliff.
Rikard turned to Durmfen. “Well… where were we?”
Durmfen snorted. “Indeed.” Durmfen walked up to the gigantic stone doors they had reached just before the Drow attacked. Carved with runes from top to bottom and reaching 50 feet tall and 200 feet across they were clearly never operated by manpower. Some kind of magic opened them, but so far it eluded them. “The gates of Ulgmar Dun,” rumbled Durmfen. “We must pass through the ancient capital of the deep dwarves in order to reach Spinneriss.”