Serial Saturday: The Tales Krimm, Part 5

Krimm, a kobold who has lived his entire life underground, desperately wants to see the sun. He got close once, but after an unfortunate setback he is once more deep underground. You can catch up on Krimm’s adventures in the links below or continue reading to see how our erstwhile canine humanoid fares.

Previously in The Tales Krimm: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

Krimm crept down the narrow alley. There was no sound, but if the city had illithid enclaves like the kind he had just escaped, even more dangerous things could be lurking in any corner. Looking up he saw the Rockmage Guild tower almost directly above him. After a mile-and-a-half of sneaking from building to building he was almost there.Warforged Captain-250x250

The alley emerged into an open area with the tower near the center. Krimm could see that the Rockmage Guild was surrounded by a long rectangular fence extending some distance away from the tower’s large front doors and an apparently equal distance away from the tower’s rear. Careful not to exercise too much haste, Krimm paused and watched the open yard in which the tower complex lay. Scanning the perimeter closely, Krimm finally decided that it was relatively safe. Drawing his two new daggers just in case, Krimm stepped out into the yard and began walking toward the tower complex. He reached the front gate without event.

The gate itself was no longer closed, but rested open, cracked about a foot and a half. Beyond the gate six pairs of statues lined a stone walkway leading to the Rockmage Guild tower. Each statue appeared to be a stylized Duergar, that is, a deep dwarf, made out of stone and metal and held an axe aloft in their hand.

Krimm searched for a loose stone on the ground, and upon finding it, lightly tossed it between the bars of the gate. The stone landed normally on the ground. Apparently there was no arc of electricity or blaze of fire that threatened those passing the plane of the fence. Still, exercising the utmost caution, Krimm managed to slowly squeeze himself through the foot-and-a-half space of the gate’s opening without touching the gate itself. Again, nothing happened and no significant sounds were heard.

Now within the complex, Krimm took a moment to try and pick up any scents he could find with his nose. Other than the city’s musty ambient odor there was just the hint of long-burnt wood coming from the tower. A sliver-like thread of something acrid snaked among the scents and Krimm tried to focus on it to identify it. Its source wasn’t apparent, it simply seemed to hang in the air above the pathway. It was also getting stronger.

Krimm hurriedly padded along the fence to his right and away from the pathway. Suddenly there was a loud clang and thunk over Krimm’s left shoulder as the ground shook. Krimm looked back just in time for the next clang-thunk as the ground trembled again. One by one the statues that lined the pathway were animating and jumping down from their pedestals. Brandishing their axes, the ones that were now in full motion marched with alarming haste toward Krimm’s position.

Giving up all pretense of stealth, Krimm ran pell-mell along the fence, turned where the fence made a 90-degree angle, and sprinted toward the rear area of the tower complex. Behind him he could hear faster and faster clang-thunk, clang-thunk, clang-thunk sounds.

Behind the tower were several squat buildings with elaborate stone carving on them. Krimm slowed a bit in confusion before realizing that these must be mausoleums of some sort, tombs of the dead Rockmages. Peering back over his shoulder he saw the statues closing in on him ever faster. He had to do something, and quickly.

Krimm broke for a plaque display set up near the center of the mausoleum area. Only a few feet away from the plaque was a mausoleum that appeared to have a glass dome on top. Picking up speed, Krimm leapt as he approached the plaque, landed on top of it and then immediately pushed off again with his legs and hurtled himself toward the roof of the glass-domed mausoleum. Krimm didn’t have quite enough height. Instead of landing on top of the dome he went crashing through it and fell hard onto the stone floor about eight feet down.

Wincing from the pain in his left side and shoulder, Krimm pushed himself up into a seated position. He could hear the clang-thunk sounds outside slowing down, yet circling the mausoleum with rhythmic determination. Krimm was roughly in the center of the mausoleum. At the rear was a stone statue of the dead inhabitant: a deep dwarf clad all in robes a crooked staff held back behind him as his forward hand was thrust forward, frozen in the act of casting a spell. Krimm recoiled, wondering if this statue would also come to life, but then noted that, unlike the others, it was made completely of stone instead of stone and steel combination. A stone sarcophagus lay in front of the statue so that the statue’s extended hand seemed to almost hover above it in blessing.

As Krimm contemplated the final resting place of this Rockmage, blue sparkles of light began oozing straight out of the side of sarcophagus. Krimm inched back in terror as the rate of the sparkles increased and with a swirl they began to coalesce. Krimm was completely trapped, with the clang-thunk’s continuing outside the mausoleum and some kind of eldritch force threatening him within.

Krimm’s mind raced as the sparkles finally took the form of a transluscent Duergar, the very deep dwarf depicted by the statue.

With a bemused look the dwarf ghost spoke. “Well… we don’t get many visitors these days.”

Elorien sighed with exasperation. “Face it, dwarf. We’ve been at this for hours and we’re no closer than when we first arrived. Any moment now a hook horror or a gibbering slime will ooze its way down from the ceiling and send us all to Shadow’s Deep. We don’t have a passphrase. We don’t have a magical spell to make these huge monstrosities open. We got nothing. We aren’t getting into Ulgmar Dun through the front gates.”

Durmfen grumbled something under his breath that Elorien decided he didn’t really want to hear.

“Fine then, have it your way,” the dwarf growled. “Get the rope. We descend into the ravine of Derig Ur. And just see if we don’t end up sent to Shadow’s Deep by something worse than a gibbering slime!”


4 thoughts on “Serial Saturday: The Tales Krimm, Part 5

  1. So, another ghostly encounter coming… I’m a little surprised you didn’t have anything develop on the city. It seems like you just skipped that part over — about a mile and a half of it! This does have the possibility of being a good character, though, with that opening line of ghostly dialogue.

  2. Hmmm… from the author’s perspective this is the first “ghostly” encounter. Perhaps the last encounter was not clear in that regard.

    As to skipping the city… I couldn’t think of a really compelling narrative for that trip in the time I allotted for myself to figure out the next plot point. I wish I could say that every Serial Saturday is an expertly crafted gem ideally constructed to perfectly fit the grand scheme of the ideal plot, but in reality it’s like a lot of things in my life: an item that must fit into a busy schedule.

    As an excuse, I point to Cugel’s adventures in Jack Vance’s Dying Earth books. Those were written as serials as well and Vance often lets some time intervene between one vignette in the adventure and another.

    1. In a serial like this it does make sense to move from “major plot point” to major plot point. And the other encounter wasn’t necessarily ghostly, though obviously otherworldly. I guess I just lump them together, though I shouldn’t…

      Serials are fun, ain’t they?

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