BQ-63: Doorway to Heck

Updated: Aug 13

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On the last episode of D&D... just read it!


Why do you think it’s being written? Read it!


Matt!


Sans exposition, Caeus reevaluates the Herd’s mission position. “This technician thinks it’s time to end the expedition.”


Minotaur tradition requires permission for intermission, but demolition of the superstition that the politicians requisitioned is in remission.


Everyone agrees to quit.


But first, there’s this plate armor they need to inspect.


Then they’ll leave.


They examine the armor and discover the suit welded together. Khornish cultists sabotaged the plate with their blood voodoo!


Unfortunately, fixing something like this would require tinkerer’s tools and several casts of mending. And no one in the Herd can do anything like that except Caeus.


Caeus holds up his magical tinkering wrench and repairs the armor with mending, restoring the tarnished metal and coaxing it into its proper form.


Tallest holds it up for size, but mending doesn't make it bigger. He drops the armor on the floor and leans against a wall.


Sfiros prays to Gond to identify the armor. Gond’s response, NOT CURSED, radiates in the air as bright neon script.


The armor fits Sfiros perfectly. The morbid Khorne symbology and design won’t offend Gond, of course, because Gond is above such pettiness. Surely he doesn’t mind his clerics spreading his teachings while wearing the chaos god of blood and war’s uniform. Right?


Matt!


What other bad guy shit are you gonna wear!?


“We have two people who make armor and we still resort to taking it off the wall of the sewer,” Tallest grumbles.


“Some of my best findings come from the sewer,” Caeus protests.


During Tallest’s tall rest (and everyone else’s short rest), Harken gently plays the bagpipes to ward off any straggling cultists and gives the Herd plenty of time to rest up before they quit.



With nap time over, the Herd is ready to go. They see one more room that they can explore.


Then they’ll leave.


“Do you want to go first with your new armor?” Tallest asks, eyeing Sfiros and his new plate.


“No, I want you to go first, so I don’t damage my new blood god gear!” Sfiros responds cheerfully.


Tallest goes first. There is a door. Tallest backs up and shouts for the toolist, “Tool guy! Open up! I don’t even want to touch it. I don’t do doors anymore. Corners, yes. Doors, no.”


Caeus, the investigator, steps up. He looks over the door, ponders a bit, then checks the hinges and the sides. He pulls out his magic wrench and waves it around tinkeringly. Nothing happens. He shrugs and jiggles the handle. The door is unlocked.


“I’m going through, then,” Tallest steps through the door as Caeus gives his seal of approval with a ‘thumbs up!’


This partially collapsed room has three wooden beams bracing its ceiling. Situated between the beams is a scorched wooden table with a human cadaver. A frighteningly thin woman in a blue and gold robe is studying the corpse, her face largely hidden beneath her cowl. Around her feet

creeps a swarm of skeletal rats!


The slender sorceress sees the Herd approaching and recognizes they are not part of her cult, despite the cleric’s armor. The wizened cultist points her finger and grabs her weapon, a skull flail etched with Tzeentchian symbology: eyes, carrion birds, and flames!


Harken shouts a vicious mockery at the rats, making them feel foolish and sad. “Oy fuckin’ rats,” he says to bardicly inspire Tallest.


Feeling very inspired, Tallest runs forward and slams the magician with his warhammer! Their eyes meet, and Tallest glares. “Action surge,” he snorts, and smacks her again!


The rats skitter around and bite Tallest on the shins. The witch brandishes her flail, slamming it three times before pointing it at a spot near Harken. The tiefling sees a small, red, flickering bead fly out of the mouth of the flail.


“... Counterspell?” Harken bluffs weakly.


The bead stops in front of Harken’s face, then erupts as a fireball engulfs the Herd! The explosion rips through their armor, testing their plot armor. Caeus and Tallest fall immediately. The rats crumble into ash. Sfiros dodges the flames, and Sleipnir and Harken manage to weather the inferno due to Sleipnir’s voodoo nonsense and Harken’s whole he-looks-like-the-goddamned-devil response to fire.



Sleipnir blasts a chill touch from his horns while Sfiros brings Caeus and Tallest up via one potion of healing and a healing word.


Harken is also there. He patches Tallest up with a cure wound.


Tallest stands up, towers over the summoner of 8d6 terrible numbers, raises his warhammer, and smashes her with a loud crunch!


“She’s a spellcaster! She has no armor!” says Sfiros, a spellcaster wearing full plate.


Tallest, bloodshot and belligerent, snorts the nasty ash and soot to fuel his second wind.


The pyromancer raises her flail, and three red beads spiral out of the skull, each firing a scorching ray!


“Why does she have so many spell slots?!” Sfiros asks.


The beads sizzle off the minotaurs' armor, but Harken’s plot armor is the worst in the Herd, and the ray explodes in his face.


Caeus snipes her with a firebolt and bravely hides in a corner.


Sleipnir mimics his big brother and snipes the rat lady with a chill touch. “Rumor has it, your time is up!”


His necrotic beam rots her arm off. Blood splatters out of her wound. The decay spreads faster than her fall, and she oozes into the ground as a nasty ass puddle of goo.


The entire room is smoldering from the furnace-hot onslaught. Sleipnir begins looting the dead old bitch’s corpse before the victory music starts. He steals her toasty robes that look great, and he stashes them for later.


Sfiros receives several NOT CURSED messages off the loot, and he admires the blue and gold color scheme.


Hrm, he’s really taking a liking to these chaos gods’ regalia!


Matt!


The cultist's spellcasting flail is not cursed, but a nearby spellbook with a black leather cover and an eyeball locking mechanism gives off a very suspicious BEEP! BEEP! CURSED! ALARM!


“Do not open that book!” Sfiros yells helpfully.


Caeus pulls out some rope and ties the locked spellbook shut, double-knotted just like his merit badge back home in Warcross.


“I don’t want it. Spellbooks are for nerds,” Sleipnir says.


“You’re a nerd,” Sfiros reminds him.


Caeus throws the cursed spellbook into his bag of holding.


An eye-shaped key finds itself in the Herd’s loot pile. They add it to the keychain.


They tall and short rest, while Harken serenades them with bagpipes. The odious melodious pipes fill Sfiros with grace, and he regains a divine spell.


Rested, burnt, exhausted, and richer, the Herd examines their situation.


It seems like a very good time to quit.


They all agree, The Herd has earned enough Cred and should claim their not-ransom from Clem Jhosso. Time to go.


But first, a closed door.


Then they’ll leave.


“Guys, there’s a door!” Sleipnir rumors.


“Sfiros, do you want to try?” Tallest asks.


Sfiros nervously steps up and jiggles the handle and opens the door.


“You guys are so good at opening doors,” Tallest says.


The next room is tiny and empty, save a small, flooded tunnel a harmless rat scurrying in the shadows.


Sleipnir kills the rat.


Tallest wades into the tunnel, shin-deep in water, his skeletal rat bites fresh and tender. With great tallness comes great shin wounds. A wooden door appears, but Tallest has learned nothing. Without checking the handle, he charges forward and smashes the door open.


Sleipnir slips in at the first sign of fresh loot, and finds a sarcophagus of black sludge where the treasure should be.


“Gond guy! Get a sample of goo!” Sleipnir drags Sfiros to the front of the adventure.


“It’s also evidence,” Caeus points out. “The deputy could collect evidence.”


“Exactly,” Sleipnir agrees. “That’s two people that should do that instead of me.”


“Uh, I don’t have a container for this?” Sfiros attempts to dodge.


“There’s an empty potion bottle you just used,” Sleipnir pushes back.


Sfiros uses a stick to scoop a sample of the goo into the empty potion bottle. As he pushes the goo into the bottle, a spectral battle axe manifests above him and slashes downward! Sfiros shrieks, but the axe bounces off his new armor!


Sleipnir blasts a chill touch at the axe and the beam flies through the spectral axe hitting the wall behind them. “It’s invincible!” Sleipnir concludes.


Caeus launches firebolt at the axe, and the spell flies through harmlessly. “Go with Gond!” Caeus retreats. Tallest agrees, and is too tired to move, so he doesn’t.


Sfiros whacks his hammer as strong as Gond, but he swipes through the spectral axe, too! The axe swings back, but again Gond protects Sfiros with the armor of Khorne.


Sleipnir takes a new approach and casts infestation on the black goo. Mites, fleas, centipedes, and beetles convulse in the goopy sarcophagus. Caeus shoots at the sarcophagus with a firebolt, misses, and runs away. Tallest runs past, but there’s a logjam of minotaurs in the hallway and no one can moove.


Sfiros starts glowing with holy energy and enrages the axe. It flies at him again, and again he swipes it away with the grace of Gond.


Sleipnir casts infestation on the sarcophagus again from down the hall. The goop inside gurgles stronger as the vermin puddles and pools inside, and a clawed, insectile hand reaches out of the swarming slop!


Tallest sees something he can hit and charges forward.


Sfiros senses imminent backup, and he slaps the spectral axe away. The cleric is too eager and too close. A beast of Nurgle claws its way from the sarcophagus, empowered and given life by Sleipnir’s infestation spell. The drooling, writhing critter stares down the holy cleric, now far from help or friends or Harken.


Maybe Sfiros has a chance!



Sfiros shits his chaos armor and lobs a sacred flame at the bug monster, engulfing it with radiant energy. The annoying little ghost axe smacks him with a back attack, and Sfiros takes massive damage.


“Hey friends, it’s time to help fight this thing now!” Sfiros shouts.


“Oy, you got it mate. Don’t worry about us,” Harken says from safety.


“I won’t cast infestation anymore!” Sleipnir offers. “Is it hostile toward me yet?” He casts chill touch at it just to make sure.


Caeus leaps back into battle and shoots a firebolt at the creature!


The humongous monstrosity of a goliath-insectoid-horror rises up and up and up. It takes a deep breath, hacks up a wet morsel from its gullet, then spews a line of acid down the hallway, partially digesting Sfiros as he topples to the ground in an unconscious heap.


“Why did you go in there?!” Sleipnir blames.


The Herd pelts the monster with blasts and firebolts and insults and tall. Caeus burns off one of its mouths. Tallest smacks the rest of the mouths.


The monster collapses harmlessly to the ground. And by ground, we mean the spot where Sfiros is lying down. It splatters into a slurry of rot and maggots, the insect corpses and rotted exoskeletons drenching Sfiros in a chum-fountain of guts.


Oh, and that spectral battle axe vanishes.


The minotaurs stab and poke at Sfiros’s body to heal him, but it’s no use. Sleipnir finds a potion he was saving and heals Sfiros of his acid bug burn bites.


“Why do I always hear voices?” Sfiros awakens. He recites a morbid prayer that he heard in his moment of unconsciousness, “In the embrace of great Nurgle, I am no longer afraid, for with his pestilential favor, I have become that what I once feared: Death.”


“See? That wasn’t so bad,” Sleipnir says, examining the carnage. “We got a goo sample! And we beat that axe that couldn’t be killed.”


“We need to get away from this place!” Caeus says. “I think we’ve done what we need to do in these sewers!”


The Herd has fought monsters and cultists, they’re exhausted, sore, and out of spells. They have their loot, and they’ve completed the job they were hired to do! It’s time to quit.


But first, Sfiros finds another door.


Then they’ll leave.


This door is unlocked, and Sfiros is brave and sticky with monster guts. He opens the door and barges in alone!


This dry, partially collapsed room contains a stone altar within humanoid skulls and bones. The altar is covered with dozens of blue, half-melted, unlit candles. Sfiros is frozen in fear as he examines the room. Nothing attacks him.


Sleipnir runs in and demands loot. Sfiros identifies the eerie, unlit candles. Gond helpfully sends back MAGICAL, BUT NOT CURSED.


Caeus casts a firebolt at the candles, and the words RISE UP AND BE COUNTED magically appear.


“Rise up and be counted?” As soon as Sfiros repeats the magic words, a rustling and shuffling noise emerges behind them. Humanoid bones assemble themselves into three animated skeletons!


Sleipnir casts friends at the skeletons, because skeletons. They ignore him, because skeletons.


They do not ignore Sfiros. Instead, they follow his every command!


“Am I a necromancer now? I don’t want to be a necromancer. I want to be a cleric of Gond!” the minotaur protests. He looks at the reanimated corpses and resigns himself to his fate. He commands them, “Raise your right hand.” Every skeleton obeys. “Repeat after me: ‘Though I am an undead skeleton.’”


The skeletons make noises in earnest effort.


“I swear to do only good in the name of Gond,” Sfiros says.


The skeletons repeat as best they can without organs.


Say the words,” Sfiros commands.


The skeletons repeat the noises more sincerely.


“Good. You’re now all clerics of Gond. For now,” Sfiros says. “If you know where a bad guy is, start walking towards them.”



The skeletons lead the way down a hall.


“Corpse magic!” Tallest cheers. “We got some bone shields!”


“That’s what we’ve always wanted!” Sleipnir says.


Sfiros Dimirgos, the devout cleric of Gond, is now wearing the plate armor of a Khorne warrior, sporting the hat of a goblin gang leader, and leading an undead army of hapless skeletons into the inner reaches of a sewer system. Going with Gond, indeed. Sounds kind of suspicious, doesn’t it?


Matt!


“I feel really bad about this, by the way,” Sfiros prays to Gond. “Oh wow they’re going really fast!”


He runs after the skeletons, following them through flooded hallways until they reach an unopened door.


“Is it locked?” Sfiros asks the skeleton.


“Eh?!” the skeleton noises. It jiggles the handle and opens the door.


The walls and floors of the next room are streaked with blood and remniscent of a torture chamber. Two bodies are shackled to the wall: a male human and a female tiefling. Both are covered in gashes, burns, and bruises. Neither is moving.


Caeus puts his hand on Harken’s shoulder and gingerly says, “I am sorry for your loss.”


“Well, that’s fucked up mate!” Harken throws Caeus’s hand aside.


“This isn’t someone you know?” Caeus points at the tiefling, genuinely confused.


“Just like you don’t know every cow from here to Baldur’s Gate, I don’t know every fucking tiefling.”


“What are you talking about?” Tallest asks, equally confused. “We’re all here.”


The Herd looks at each other and confirms they are all minotaurs and they all know each other.


“We’re so confused,” Sleipnir confirms.


“That’s why we all hang out,” Sfiros says. “We’re all minotaurs.”


Tallest and Sfiros remove the bodies. Tallest unceremoniously drops the human on the ground, but Sfiros gently sets down the tiefling and notices she is still alive! She’s stable, but they are out of potions and spells, and she’s just an NPC!


“Have the skeletons carry her! That’s how I would want to wake up if I’ve been tortured. Around a bunch of zombies,” Sleipnir shamelessly admits before bolting to another room. “Is that a door?!”


Caeus sighs. “I guess,” he says, wanting to quit.


“We’re almost at the end,” Tallest says. “We found the princess. The Beremons will pay handsomely for her.”


“You were about to leave this innocent person here!” Sleipnir accuses his brother.


“You know she’s innocent?” Sfiros demands, ever the devout minotaur wearing a bunch of bad guys’ shit, never to give anyone else the benefit of the doubt. “Why would she be here?”


You’re here,” Caeus points out.


“Jiggle the handle,” Sleipnir commands Sifos to command the skeletons.


The skeletons open the door, and a stench of death wafts out of a crypt. Six moaning zombies lunge at the Herd, but Tallest leads the skeletons to block the path. Bottlenecked in the crypt, the Herd slaughters the zombies while losing only one skeleton and no Harkens.


With the rooms explored, the doors opened, the enemies defeated, the treasure looted, the skeletons obtained, the bug-monster birth’d and death’d, the Herd decides it’s finally time to go back home.


Just as soon as they find out what's around this next corner.


Then they’ll leave.


Maybe there’s nothing really around the—


It’s a cultist oh no who would have thought!?


A cultist in red robes yells, “Intruders!” and runs away.


They mock and blast at the cultist, and Caeus runs in with a goring rush and hits the cultists with his horns. “Moo!” he moos.


The cultist makes it to the next door, and behind it is a slew of more cultists!



Tallest blocks the doorway again, and the rest of the Herd shoot from behind.


Tallest swings his hammer behind his shield, Caeus shoots a firebolt from his wrench, Sleipnir blasts a chill touch from his horns, Sfiros emits a sacred flame from his Holy Symbol of Gond, and Harken shouts a vicious mockery from his mouth. The cultists respond with arrows and swords and shit.


After two cultists fall, Sfiros shoves his way through the bottleneck and attacks with a word of radiance, dealing minimum damage to a single cultist.


The cultists descend upon the cleric of Gond and send him to the ground. Rejuvenated by the fresh wounds, the Khorne cultists rile into a frenze and overpower Tallest and Caeus as well, beating them unconscious as they tumble to the ground.


Sleipnir, Harken, and the skeletons close in and fend off the last of the cultists, striking them down until there are no more bad guys left! Tallest, Sfiros, and Caeus are unconscious and bleeding on the floor.


It’s time for death saves!


Tallest dreams of Inspiration, but also dreams of failure. He's teetering on the edge of the abyss!


Sfiros stabilizes with the grace of Gond. Harken and Sleipnir run up to Tallest’s lacerated shins and fix them with some medicine. They then secure Caeus, staunching his wounds and keeping the Herd in one piece. Surely these events won’t leave the duo traumatized.



With cultists annihilated around them, the room splattered with blood and gore, and three of their friends unconscious, Sleipnir and Harken stand alone and frightened with a single skeleton friend to keep them company. Regaining their strength will be a tough, uphill climb. But the Herd is strong and steadfast, so they vow to recover swiftly!


It's the perfect time to quit.


But first...


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