Chapter 19 - Die, You Damn Dirty Ape!

Viselys had resolutely decided to remain at the end of the hall while the others continued to the door at the far end. After a short time with nobody walking through the hallway, the cacophony from the ape statues ceases. Having opened the doors, all but Viselys were able to see what lay beyond. Ornrik could not see Urol clearly, and from this distance, he certainly could not examine his physical condition, but he could tell that the gnome was badly hurt and would not survive much more trauma. Adameus, for his part, noticed a female figure chained to the far wall to the right of the dais. He did not recognize her at first – he could barely identify the figure as a human female – but then he realized, “Hey, it’s Diamondback!” and he rushed into the room.

“Diamondback?!” Viselys exclaimed, rushing forward, “I’m going in!” As he passed between the statues, the howling began anew, but he was undeterred as he pushed passed his companions to enter the chamber.

Ornrik shook his head in frustration, “Wait, we should stay together and wait for Adameus to scout…” but it was clear that he was being ignored, not that he’d expected any less, and his futile tone seemed to say as much.

Actually, the dwarf’s words were not completely ignored. Saris saw the wisdom of keeping the group together, so he entered the chamber abreast with Viselys. Avner was acutely aware of the wisdom of safety in numbers, and did likewise.

Several things happened at once. The chain holding Urol above the flames began to descend rapidly. As Adameus was opening the locks on Diamondback's manacles, Viselys rushed to them while donning his gargoyle crown. Suddenly, three savage baboon-like creatures shimmered in around Avner and Saris – one of the three had clearly intended to engage Viselys before he bolted away.

Then the battle became very confused – at least for those on the ground. The baboon demons seemed able to teleport spontaneously at will. They were able to attack from one side then suddenly be on the other side. They could leap incredible distances to pounce with savage fury. And they were very, very strong!

As Viselys saw that Diamondback was free of her bonds, but barely coherent, another ape demon shimmered in behind him – this one larger than the other three – to wail on him in a savage sneak attack.

Meanwhile, Ornrik took to the air by means of a spell for flight. He did not know how to stop the chain’s descent, but he could hold Urol aloft so he would get no closer to the flames.

Saris was taking a pounding, but not as bad as he might have expected. These demons (the smaller three were female, he surmised) hit hard, but after his experience with the four-armed flesh golem, he knew he could take it.

Suddenly, one of the demons reached out, just touched Avner, and they both blinked away. Although the others were not particularly concerned about Avner’s wellbeing, this demonstration of the demons’ ability to abduct any one of them seemingly at will was cause for great concern. If they wanted to, they could teleport any of them to anywhere, and kill them all individually.

Ornrik had done some minor healing on Urol when the displacement of air above him caught his attention. An ape demon and Avner were falling towards him. As they slammed into him, he dropped Urol. The ape ‘poofed’ away again. Urol tried to grab hold of Avner – and Avner tried to grab Urol, but they didn’t connect and Avner fell into the fire pit below.

The largest of the demons said something in the direction of the clamor above, though only Ornrik could understand it due to a translation spell that was still in effect. What the demon had said was, “Clever thinking, my love. I will reward you later.” Its voice was like boulders grinding inside a huge drum; it was deep and guttural with a slight reverberation.

Everyone assumed that that was the end of Avner. What nobody could see through the flames was that he landed doing a near perfect tumble taking minimal damage from the fall. However, he was ablaze and burning badly. He leapt from the fire pit like a rocket and rolled around on the floor to extinguish the flames. He was badly burned, but he’d survive – assuming the demons didn’t move in for the kill now. Avner rolled/crawled towards the wall away from the activities of the room. Then he collapsed face down.

“Avner, stay there. Don’t try to move,” Ornrik called down as he again lifted Urol away from the flames. Avner appeared to all the world to be dead, but he lifted one hand in a partial wave by way of acknowledgement.

Ornrik handed Urol a wand that summoned beasts to aid in the battle. Urol began conjuring up celestial bears, one after the other. From this point on, the tides of battle began to turn.

When Ornrik saw that the celestial creatures were doing more damage than the fighters, he realized that the demons must be vulnerable to good. He cast a blessing on Saris’ sword and his theory proved sound, so he did the same for Viselys, who had switched to his vicious great sword. But the larger demon was powerful. It had dropped Adameus and turned to give Viselys his full attention. One of the females withdrew from Saris, jaunted over to Diamondback, and they both disappeared.

Having dropped one of the females, the other having disappeared, Saris moved to assist Viselys. The celestial bears moved around the fire pit giving it a wide birth. Saris, however, ran directly towards the flames, leaped through them, and tumbled into battle on the other side quite unscathed. Viselys, who had witnessed this display, might have been very impressed had he not been losing consciousness.

The voice of the large demon spoke to them in the common language, but this time they were not hearing with their ears. Rather, the voice was in their heads, “I’m so glad you waited until this morning to come looking for your friends. We had much fun last night. The female and I became particularly close. My wives did not mind.”

This taunt might have weakened the party’s morale except that, on some level, they all new that the demon was becoming desperate. His attempt to “get inside their heads” may have backfired.

When Viselys awoke, thanks to some remote healing from Ornrik, the demon tried his tactic again, saying “She screamed until she could make no more sound. I’m surprised she can walk at all today. It was a glorious night…” However, if the previous attempt backfired, this time the tactic proved a fatal error. In rage, Viselys rose and smote the beast with a lash of his sword that nearly cleaved it in two. He allowed the sword to swing wide and brought it around again to drive it into the demon’s cranium.


Meanwhile, Saris and the remaining celestial bears fought as a unit to bring down the remaining female demons.

With the battle over, they could lick their wounds, though Viselys was eager to find Diamondback … again. Just as they were about to formulate their next course of action, the sound of stone grinding made them turn their attention to the dais. There, the monstrous image of Demogorgon began to move. Both its heads turned to look at them and its tentacles began to writhe.

“No way!” Viselys said, “We can’t take that thing now. We’re too badly hurt.”

“That thing is the source of the evil. We won’t be able to escape this region until it’s been destroyed.” Ornrik noted.

“Then we will destroy it, just not right now!” Viselys said ushering everyone out of the chamber.

Continue to Chapter 20...

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