Melchior the Mad
Listen up lads, and I’ll tell you the tale of Melchior the Mad. Mad they called him, for what sane man would enter the Palace of the Vampire Queen, much less offer to lead the way? Melchior and his elven comrade Ecthelion gathered up elven other brave souls, a collection of talented fighting men, pious clerics, and mysterious magic-users to pumb the depths of the palace. They had upon them a map of the first level created by an earlier group, with the note that much of the rooms south of the first major east-west hall had already been cleared of the foul denizens there-in.
And so they found it, with signs of battle everywhere they turned. The leaders decided it were best they explore a room or two on the first level before making their way to the location of the stairs up. The first room they entered however, contained not foul creatures, but a very large gathering of simple house cats. While some of the thirteen attempted to cajole or even herd some of the cats, and were viciously scratched for their troubles, Ecthelion inspected the walls and discovered with his keen elven eyes a secret passage on the north wall.
The party progressed through, and there met a strange old hag with yet more cats standing guard over two hefty chests. Fearing she might be a foul sorceress, one of the magic weavers delivered her unto enchanted slumber. The rest fell upon the chests, and the dwarf upon smashing open the first was sprayed in the face with cat urine which cost him the site from his left eye. And was the boon? Why, not but many tins of sardines, food for the company of felines that resided there-in.
Ecthelion cleverly removed a fine chain from the neck of the old hag to discover it held a silver key. Using this on the second chest he found many bags of solid food for the cats, but searching more closely found one that contained several silver coins. The group pocketed the coin and made their way out, fearful that the hag should awaken and cast a vile hex upon them.
Next they entered a large dining room which contained the dessicated corpses of the Vampire Queen’s former victims. Melchior bravely lifted one up and emptied the man’s pockets, finding a few copper coins. As they left, however, those of the company who had been relegated to the rear ranks decided to hold back and search further. They found a secret panel on one wall, which they opened, only to reveal a cupboard holding three deadly poisonous vipers! The rear guard struggled to make their way from the foul beasts, but three of the seven were slain by poison spit of the vipers.
The rest of the party continued towards the stairs,discovering on the way a secret lair of a foul spider. Melchior bravely confronted the beast, and dealt it many might blows [Paul's note: two natural 20's in a row!], though it was the dwarf that dealt it the final death blow. After clearing the webs they found a small chamber holding many empty casks. Searching behind them, they found hidden a parchment which contained an unfinished map of the second level. And happily, there they met three other fellows who came to search the old manse, and were happy to join the company bringing the total back up to thirteen.
Climbing the stairs, they found their way barred by a troupe of skeletons, but one of the clerics held forth his holy symbol and all but one fled before them. Melchior thrust his might spear at the undead creatures, but it only rattled between the ribs of the skeleton. Ecthelion brought forth a mace to beat upon the skull of the once-man, and Melchior then bravely rushed the beast with his shield, smashing it to bits.
The brave adventurers stopped to investigate a single room on their way to the stairs, and beheld within a horrible site – a huge troll! The was joined and soon all surrounded the horrible beast. In the front drawing its attacks were Melchior, Ecthelion, and the dwarf. Sadly, the mighty beast mortally gouged Ecthelion with his claw, and wounded the dwarf so badly he was forced to retreat. For a brief moment Melchior was alone facing the beast, though many attacks to the flank and rear were had, as well as missile fire and several thrown flasks of oil. It was not long before another brave warrior stood beside Melchior, and amazingly Melchior took not a wound from the horrible creature. Soon enough it was lit ablaze and the final blows were landed, killing the vile beast. Melchior honored his bravely fallen friend Ecthelion in the only way he knew, by stripping him of all valuables.
The party continued on to the next set of stairs and up to the third level, where-upon they found Ecthelion’s cousin tumbling down the stairs. They had heard rumor the vile Vampire Queen held the Princess Oprah at the top floor, so up they went. Having no notion of where things lie on the third floor, however, the brave adventurers had to grope about to find the next set of stairs. They pressed their ears to one door and heard a foul slurping and gurgling sound within. Ecthelion’s cousin wisely decreed that the door should not be opened, and so the party passed by.
But woe, the unruly rearward ranks, despite their losses from the poisonous snakes, were once again tempted to find glory for themselves! The wizard Fladnag threw open the door as they passed, and was promptly thrown against the opposite wall as a huge gelatinous mass burst forth, slaying the magic user and the poor soul standing adjacent to him. The party found themselves separated by the ever expanding mass of rubbery material, and though they tested it with both arrow and fire, nothing seemed to stop its slow progression. The three remaining rear guard members had no choice but to proceed down an adjacent corridor, while the rest pressed forwards, both sides hoping to rejoin at a later point.
And sadly, that is where my tale must end. Nothing more was heard of the brave adventurers. How this much of the tale reaches our ears, none can say.