Chapter 9 - Into the Tamoachan Ruins With a Giddy Gnome

“Well, there’s nothing we can do about Lirith. I’m just glad she’s alright,” Viselys said, rolling the scroll back up and tucking it into his belt.

“I’m just concerned about what was in that package that Horst delivered,” Ornrik grumbled.

Although he had not part of the conversation and he couldn’t possibly have heard what the others had said, Urol approached and seemed to graft directly into the previous statements, “I’m just glad we are going to get a chance to see ruins of Tamoachan.”

Saris was, at first, annoyed that this annoying little man saw fit to intrude on a private conversation, but then what he’d said sunk in, “Wait. Come again? What’s this ‘we’?”

“Yes,” Urol smiled, “Lavina said it would be okay if I took a day or so to explore the famous ruins of Tamoachan and she thought it would be nice of me to invite you gentlemen along.”

Viselys held up his hand, “Not a day or so. Lavina said one day, and that’s it.”

Adameus looked up with a start, but then regained his composure and said nothing.

Saris spoke up, saying at least part of what Adameus was thinking, “Lavinia said? So she’s already told you about this, but nobody mentioned it to us. Figures.”

Viselys dismissed Urol, “We’ll be along shortly,” and then waited for the gnome to get the hint that he was expected to extract himself from the conversation. He then turned back to his friends, “Lavinia only just spoke to me about it. She wants to be sympathetic to his desire to explore, but she’s not willing to indulge him beyond one day. She asked that we accompany him to enforce that schedule and to keep him out of trouble.”

Saris’ continence changed from one of slight irritation to his common smugness, “Well, of course she knows that I’ll take care of everything.”

The trek to the ruins was not a long one, but it did afford the opportunity to find out more about what they were about to undertake. Urol wouldn’t stop talking about the Great Tamoachan Civilization, but Viselys had to interrupt him, “Urol, what about the here and now? What can we expect?”

“Oh, well you’ll probably have to keep an eye out for the basilisk but I figure that…”

The usually reserved and quite dwarf spoke up, “Woe, there, laddy,” and he literally put his hand on the gnome’s shoulder and stopped him in his tracks, causing the rest of the party to hold up. Turning the gnome around, Ornrik continued to speak, “Are you saying that you are aware of a basilisk and you didn’t bother to mention it before?!”

Adameus turned to Saris and whispered, “What in the Abyss is a ‘basilisk’?”

Saris shrugged, “Don’t know,” he whispered back, “but apparently it’s a bad thing.”

“Oh, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem for you guys. Besides, I have plenty of potions to turn you back if you should become petrified by it’s gaze.”

Adameus and Saris looked at each other with eyes wide.

Ornrik stepped forward, a bit menacingly, “How many potions?”

Urol said again, “Plenty!”

Even more sternly, Ornrik asked again, "How many?"

Urol pulled them out, "Two."

Ornrik shook his head and looked at the rest of the party. He described a basilisk and what they could expect.

Viselys didn’t even pause in thought, “Adameus, could you scout out ahead? Let’s hide the potions… here,” He found a place in the underbrush. “If the person holding the potion should be turned to stone, we’d be out of luck.”

Adameus used the forest edge for cover and moved more quietly than a whisper. He reached the base of a ziggurat, crumbled with age, that appeared to have four possible ingresses – whether by design or decay. Two were completely collapsed while the other two, though also in poor repair, appeared to be serviceable. What really got his attention, though, were four humanoid statues standing about the mouth of one of the entrances. They were unnaturally lifelike, and appeared completely out of place in this setting as they appeared to be brand new. Of course Adameus knew immediately that these were previous adventurers who had been petrified by the basilisk’s gaze as Ornrik had described. One looked to be a holy knight. Another was a rather striking woman carrying a bow. Third was an armored dwarf with an axe. The last looked to be an older, hooded man carrying a staff. Suddenly, to his left and a little behind, he heard rubble crumbling. Reflex made him turn, but he quickly caught himself as he saw the large reptilian creature with three sets of legs out of the corner of his eye.

“I’ve found it!” Adameus yelled as he ran indirectly away from the creature. He was making a wide arc around the “statues” in the hopes of coming up behind it, hopefully at just about the time his companions arrived to join the fray.

Somehow, nobody was surprised when Viselys charged directly up the beast. Unfortunately, this put the creature’s back against the wall, literally. Adameus couldn’t get behind it. In fact, Diamondback outpaced him. Eventually, Adameus was able to flank it with Saris at a diagonal to Viselys’ position. Ornrik went invisible and attempted to assist from that vantage.

Petrifaction proved not to be the only weapon in the basilisk’s arsenal. Apparently, its bite was very poisonous, as well. There was plenty of pain to go around, but ultimately the beast fell.

Ornrik decided to take advantage of his still intact invisibility to scout down one of the passageways. He wasn’t far from the entrance when he heard a babbling, gibbering of voices that threatened to drive him mad. He focused his thoughts and realized what sort of creature must wait further in. He returned to his companions, still invisible.

“There is a creature within called a gibbering mouther. It is an abomination that has the ability to cause temporary insanity in anyone who hears it’s unnatural babble, so be careful.”

Though he could not be seen, his friends were not overly surprised by his disembodied voice. As they started in, Viselys stopped Diamondback.

“Tara, I want you to wait here. Guard or backs and watch Urol.”

Within, Viselys nearly bumped into the dwarf as they walked. Not far from the entrance, both Saris and Adameus stopped, unable to continue. Saris grabbed at his ears and buckled over, as if in pain as a long stream of nonsense poured out of his mouth (Real nonsense, not the kind he usually spews.) Adameus appeared disoriented and not sure where he was or what he was doing.

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Viselys charged the creature. It was a bizarre thing appearing to be a blob of slime with multiple eyes and mouths covering it. Ornrik summoned an owl to peck at it. Soon, Adameus seemed to shake off his confusion and he charged forward, too – just in time to receive a burning spray in the face that blinded him. Viselys continued to slice at the thing, being bitten and spat at himself in the process. Ornrik’s bird bit and clawed, but was soon swallowed hole by the abomination. Adameus cleared his eyes enough to see a bit and he groped for a way to escape, knowing he could do no good.

Meanwhile, Saris stopped babbling long enough to draw his sword and lash out at the nearest creature, which happened to be Diamondback. Deducing that her compatriot must be under the mind-effecting influence of the creature that Ornrik had described, she tumbled away from him and retreated.

Inside, Ornrik offered Adameus a sling to try to attack the creature from a distance, but he was unable to score a hit. Eventually, Viselys dispatched the creature almost single-handedly.

Adameus, his vision having mostly cleared, began investigating a well in the chamber. It was nearly filled with bones, but as he picked through, he was able to uncover a reasonable about of treasure, including several gems and a dagger (Ornrik was able to identify it as a magical +1 dagger) that must have belonged to the mouther’s previous victims. Then he turned his attention to a large statue at the other end of the chamber…

Continue to Chapter 10...

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