Beneath the bascinet, the broad face breaks into a wide grin. He pulls his sword free of its scabbard and saunters into the room. I use the large table to keep some space between us. We circle the table, Catllali following me step for step. The swordsman’s eyes dart from me to the jaguar and back.
“You won’t stop us,” he sneers. “I’ll make sure of it.”
“Stop you? I came for these,” I gesture toward the items on the table.
“Ah. In that case, you won’t mind remaining here for a bit?”
“I’d rather not,” I reply, tightening my grip on my weapon.
“I see. I will try to make this painless,” he growls, charging past the table.
** GM sets Timer to 2 **
** GM sets the warrior’s combat bonus to +2 and 20 HP **
** GM rolls the warrior’s Str Attempt: 7, Setback **
** Player chooses to Counterattack and applies Expose **
The table slows his movements just enough. I smile and sidestep into the middle of the workshop. His overextension places him in the middle of Catllali and I.
** Player rolls Str Attempt for Petra: 6, Raised to Exchange **
** GM chooses to Un-hinder and removes Expose **
** Player rolls 5 damage **
** Player rolls Str Attempt for Catllali: 8, Exchange and deals 4 damage **
** GM chooses to Counterattack for 5 damage **
** GM counts Timer down to 1 **
I try to take advantage of his placement, but my attack is unpracticed with my new found ally. The sword digs deeply into the warrior’s shoulder. Catllali snarls and leaps at him as well, raking his claws across the man’s face. The warrior pushes Catllali back with his shield and slashes into the jaguar’s side.
** GM rolls Str Attempt: 12, Exchange and scores 6 damage **
** Player chooses Expose **
The warrior presses in on Catllali and slashes the arming sword across one leg, leaving a deep bleeding wound. To Catllali’s credit, he maneuvers and pounces on the table, leaving the man’s back exposed to me.
** Player rolls Str Attempt for Petra: 9, Raised to Win and inflicts 5 damage **
** Player rolls Str Attempt for Catllali: 10, Raised to Win and inflicts 8 damage **
** GM counts Timer down to 0 **
I appreciate the effort that Catllali makes. I slide forward and thrust the bastard sword where I think his kidney should be. As the man screams in pain, the jaguar drags its claws across the man’s throat. The room is filled with a sudden gurgle coupled with heaving as he falls to his knees.
I reach down and take his sword; Catllali hops down and stands beside me. We both watch him gasp and struggle for air with cold detachment. As I am about to search over his warm soon to be corpse, the air becomes charged with electricity. A wave pulses across the floor. The man turns to us and mouths something, smiling in spite of his imminent death.
Turning, I scan my surroundings as another pulse travels across the floor. The bastard sword is shunted back into the place between. I stow the gear into the large sack and head back down the main corridor. A third pulse rumbles beneath my feet, quicker this time.
As I break into the circular chamber in the middle of the labyrinth, my eyes swiftly take in the scene. A stone arch seemingly made of a single stone. Black and streaked with strands of green. Six figures kneel around the arch in a circular formation. Silent. Watching.
A fourth pulse crosses the floor, this one accompanied by a wall of purpureus energy. The wave passes over the six figures then continues on to envelope the corridor Catllali and I are standing in. My hair stands on end, like I’m underwater. I begin to float, touching the floor with the tips of my boot. Catllali reacts the same, floating in a sea of energy. Then, just as quickly, we are released back to the floor as the wave moves along. The six figures slump over in their kneeling positions, unmoving, and everything seems normal.
Whatever. Folks want to sacrifice themselves to make a purple wave, that’s their prerogative. I’ve got the items recovered, and it’s apparent these cult members are dead. I turn back and walk toward the exit of the labyrinth.
“Let’s go, Cat.”
The walk back through the labyrinth was hollow. My boots made muted thumps on the stone as if they were thinly carpeted. The hallway felt different, like something was out of place. While the workshop was still there, the warrior’s body was not. The vials seemed filled with dull green liquid and the beakers were coated with grey dust.
I found myself back at the entrance and found nothing but the pit to greet me. I look down into the pit and see a floor lined with stakes; had I fallen into that pit, I doubt I would have made it back alive. And that was when I noticed the first change in this environment.
The path that would lead up to the tower was, instead, a path leading down into a swamp. The nearest to Luln would be The Blighted Swamp, but that must be a week or so away. I turn around and look back at the maze. This was where I had entered, wasn’t it?
I look down at Catllali who seems visibly disturbed by something. I shrug, and he rumbles back. Whatever the cultists had accomplished, I seemed to have moved a week’s journey away from Luln. That also brought me closer to Specularum. At the very least, I had a small pouch of gems, so I could barter those for supplies for the trek back to my hometown.
With a renewed sense of purpose, the two of us head down into swamp.