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Carl
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Return to Eberron - 5e
41. The Torture Room
Alfrigg approached the solid wooden door that would provide entrance to Toadwallow. He recognised the rough stonework of the archway containing the door – he could sense its age, its reality. He reached a hand to the door, sensing its more ephemeral nature. It shimmered under his scrutiny and Alfrigg watched as a series of angular letters rose eerily from the surface. “This door…it be a…dream” he murmured.

“The Shadows Await” Cedric spoke to himself, looking up at the door and deciphering the anagram. He spoke again, louder, turning to the party with the faintest look of question on his face. Behind him, the angular writing sunk back in to the oaken wood, and the door creaked faintly as it opened.

Aernard moved like a shadow across the rocky cavern floor, the ceiling of stone now just 8 or 10 ft above him. The party waited behind, watching him intently for any sign. He controlled his breathing and moved forward with practiced slowness. And then he smelt it.

Cedric moved forward at Thysper’s signal with what stealth he could muster. Immediately his armor jangled and he stopped with frustration. I’m simply not built for this type of operation, he thought with resignation. And then it struck him. He moved forward again, this time with only the barest whisper of sound, the joints between his armor suddenly padded in thick folds of chiffon.

Selph watched as Aernard, then Thysper, dashed forward down the rocky passage. He readied himself, beginning an incantation and then it hit him. He gagged. He couldn’t help it. The fetid and rancid smell of decay struck him like a wall to the face. It covered the inside of his mouth and nose. Gah! he thought, I can taste it.
Tastes like revenge.
The thought came unbidden and Selph ignored it and moved forward. He couldn’t see the pleasurable smile on his face.

Leaping Winds could smell it. Death. Decay. Fear. Terror. Glee. Evil. A low growl settled in his throat. He knew that battle was at hand. The pack must run down the horrible evil that was the source of this smell. His fur bristled with a grim anticipation as the pack moved in to position. The wrongness grew. Leaping Winds eyes burned with a fierce amber light and he flitted in to the narrow rocky passage like a grey ghost, preparing himself for the monstrosity he knew they would find.

Aernard could barely describe it. The thing was as a horrid a creation as he had scene. Another foul, infernal abomination of the purest evil. It smiled at him amidst the sheer carnage, covered in the dry gore and blood of the countless hapless victims that painted the room like a butchers yard. Aernard fought down the disgust, barely taking in the scene around him. The world narrowed down to him and the fiend. Him and the fiend. That smile again.
You’ll be smiling out of your ar-.
He never finished the thought. Something cold snaked around his neck and began to choke him.

Cedric writhed as the chains entangled him, encircling his body like some demonic, metal snake. He pulled, struggling to keep his halberd in hand, then pulled a different way, looking to get some purchase. Something crashed in to the back of his leg, sending a pain up his thigh and sending him to one knee. He gave a grunt in pain which quickly became a strangled cry as the chain wrapped itself around his throat.

Alfrigg swung with his bloodaxe, the weapon as eager as ever in his hands. Thick chunks of pale green flesh flew left and right with each swing, like wood chips from a log. The creature snarled, its voice a menacing chuckle. Around him, a metallic cacophony rang, punctuated by strangled grunts and the sounds of struggle. Alfrigg spat, fighting the urge to hold a hand to his nose at the horrific smell.
I’m getting sick’a these blasted things! he thought, dodging a viscous slash from the beast. Beside him, Aernard began to turn slightly blue.

Darkness seemed to be closing in on Aernard. He reached with as much force as he could, struggling to get his fingers under the chain that tightened painfully around his neck. He looked up. Something floated before him. It was silver and sparkled merrily in the light. A small dragon. It seemed to stare back at him with small, red eyes. And then it was gone, carried off like a leaf in the wind.
Wind? Aernard thought, through the growing haze of his unconsciousness.

Selph watched as Cedric seemed to swell, his form growing larger in brief pulses. The chains continued to smother him, snaking about his enlarged form. A massive arm popped free and Cedric moved without hesitation, grasping his talisman and whispering a prayer. A part of Selph knew what was going to happen. Another part frowned with irritation, knowing he’d saved the party once again.

Cedric was the centre of the storm. About him links of chain swirled about, caught in the teeth of small, spectral dragons. He breathed deeply, invigorated by the suddenly clean air, the purity of his divine magic filling his lungs as it filled the small, grotesque chamber.
And so shall evil be delivered unto its fate, like winds upon the storm of her glory.
That had always been one of Cedric’s favourite prayers. Now he knew why.

The iron cages were much like the one they had already encountered at the entrance to Toadwallow - thick bars and a formidable lock. Alfrigg could see they’d take a power of work to get through if they couldn’t find a key.
Luckily, he had a key with him that fit most locks. He hefted his axe with the intention of unlocking the cage when Aernard suddenly walked in front of him.
“Blast ye hide elf, I’m tryin’ to open this flamin’ cage. Stand aside”
But Aernard did not respond, moving closer to the cage, his stare transfixed on its occupant.
Intrigued, Alfrigg followed his gaze.
Within the cage stood a thin, emaciated elvish female, her long silvery hair wispy and tangled with blood. Slim fingers gripped the bar with determination, but her entire body seemed on the point of collapse. Her pale blue dress was little more than tatters and her face was covered in a thick layer of grime and curtains of blood.
Glancing down, Alfrigg could see that she was standing on one leg - the other looked to have been brutally hacked away at the knee, the wound still ragged but hideously discoloured, the flesh a greenish brown.
Foul treatment for a foul place and Alfrigg was again struck by the sheer evil of these creatures.
Beside him, Aernard stood shockingly still, his gaze locked upon the elf in the cage.
Alfrigg almost jumped as the elf rushed forward to thrust his hands through the cage, gripping the elf firmly and trying to pull her towards him.
Cedric reacted immediately, even the cleric unsure of what was happening. He laid a hand upon Aernard, obviously trying to calm him.
"What is wrong brother? Do you know her?" he offered in a soothing voice, reading the frantic nature of Aernard’s movements.
Aernard turned, stopping suddenly but keeping a hold of the captive, an evident pain wracking his face.
"Shes-“
“Shes-“
“Shes my mother” he finally said.
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Dramatic Chord