Adventure Story SG

The Group

Julian watched Sam’s newfound weapon agility as well, from his position next to Aelric, Elsie, and Dee. “Well, I believe you got lucky there, Sam.”
Aelric threw him an irritated look and attempted to get himself off the ground, aided by Elsie and Desiree on either side, though not happy about it. “Let’s just keep going north,” he snapped once he was standing.
“Wait, wait-” Julian put a hand on Aelric’s chest to stop him, which probably wasn’t the wisest of ideas, because if looks could kill then Julian would be dead. He moved his hand sharply. “I think it’d be stupid if we all didn’t have a boost; rejuvenate. And since we can’t really nap right now, maybe we should drink those concoctions that we bought a week ago at that flee market.”
Desiree turned to him but was slightly hesitant, “But what if we need them later? And we waste them by drinking them now?”
Ailbe was thinking again. She looked paler than normal, completely drained of energy. “I don’t think there is much left of this forest and I don’t think any of us will need it more than we need it right now.”
“Yeah, it’s a good idea. I’m going to drink mine now,” Sam chimed in, removing her pack.
Faye added, at the same time Ailbe was removing her bag as well and starting to dig into it. “Me too, I think you should.”
“Jesus, I’m exhausted, I’m going to join you, ladies,” he stated, also digging into his own pack.
While they were finding the potions in their bags, Aelric had decided that he didn’t need to take his one and to just move on early. He stepped backwards, but Elsie was on him before he could turn away. “I feel weak, I need to recover my strength,” she told him.
“Not my problem,” he replied.
“It is. You have a stamina potion, swap it with me?!”
“For what?”, he questioned, remembering the useless one that she’d bought on the day. “A stupid skill one? No, thank you, I think I’ll stick with mine.”
“For anything,” she replied. “For the fact that you don’t actually want my death on your hands, do you?” Elsie folded her arms, feeling confident that she’d be making the trade with him.
Aelric’s lip curled at the sound of this. He knew that she was right and he probably had to now, but he didn’t like it. He didn’t like being forced into it. So Aelric did what he did best, came up with a cunning plan where she would be the one to refuse, not him, and he’d get to keep it. He narrowed his eyes and started stroking his chin with his right hand, pretending to think about it. “Hmm… what do I want in return for the potion? I did pay three Gold Pieces for it, but it is more valuable now, being that everyone is taking theirs. So how about… a kiss?” He smirked.
Elsie was instantly shocked, had he really just asked for that? She looked around at the others for support, but only Faye looked like she had heard him. As she looked equally as shocked as Elsie. Elsie opened her mouth to speak, her heart was racing, “…A… a what?”
“You heard me,” he responded smugly, but then foolishly looked at Dee out of the corner of his eye. She wasn’t looking at them, so it was almost impossible to tell if she had heard. Except that her shoulders had tensed, so he knew.
“That’s really what you want?”, Elsie reaffirmed her question.
Aelric shifted uncomfortably, feeling not quite himself, and he was sure he didn’t like that. Laughing it off, he said, “No, I was teasing you, Elsie.” He noticed Dee’s shoulders relax immediately, as he removed his pack to take the bottle out. “I’ll just take you skill position for it.” Though he still wasn’t happy about it.

After the five had taken their potions, they all waited another ten minutes for the wooziness to subside and the potion to take effect. Then they collected their bags together and started north again.
They walked along the narrow path until suddenly, they all heard the sharp crack of a twig breaking and the whispering of low voices. They stopped, clustered together, back-to-back and weapons were drawn. They waited anxiously. Then from behind the trees opposite Faye, stepped four men and a woman dressed in green tunics. Each looked more menacing and bigger than the other, and than them, which possibly meant their agility would be worse. But did the group want to find out if this was the case, as they watched the five surround them with swords and axes in their hands?
The young woman stepped forward and spoke angrily, “You are trespassing on our territory and you must pay a levy of five items from your backpack or face the consequences.”

Aelric
Skill: 12 (-2)
Stamina: 17
Luck: 9

Ailbe
Skill: 7
Stamina: 19
Luck: 9

Elsie
Skill: 11
Stamina: 21
Luck: 9

Faye
Skill: 10 (+1 skill)
Stamina: 15
Luck: 11 (+2 from ring)

Samantha
Skill: 11
Stamina: 24
Luck: 6

Julian
Skill: 9
Stamina: 22

Desiree
Skill: 9 (+1 for attack with helmet) (+2 skill when using the sword)
Stamina: 9
Luck: 9 (+1)


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The Group

Elsie, too, turned her head and replied, “Let’s just give it to them, we’re nearing the end of this forest and we’re all tired. Maybe I could give them some of my gold?”
“NO,” Aelric said abruptly, then turned his head to the group. “No gold. If you all really want to give them something, what about giving them crap? Those biscuits and that stone.”
“Yeah,” Desiree agreed. “And the necklace and flute. I could even hand over my potion.”
Faye continued on from Desiree while Aelric was skillfully getting out her potion with one hand. “If you’re giving them your fortune potion then I lose the healing one.”
Sam was thinking about what she could contribute and started to suggest something before being interrupted by Julian, “I could give-”
“No, we don’t need any more items, we have six,” Julian stated, as he watched Elsie delve into Faye’s pack, so offered to do the same for Ailbe.
When all six items were out of their bags, they passed them to Sam. In Sam’s hand were a tiny brass flute, a Potion of Fortune and one one of healing, a mouse skull necklace, the rod of Water-Finding, and a stone of a beast they had fought. She turned and handed them over, dropping them into the woman’s own hand. The young woman looked down at the items that now lay in her hand and curled her upper lip in distaste. She picked up the rock to examine it but ended up tossing it behind her. “A rock and same bones, not good enough,” she spat. “Two.” She held up two fingers as well as if her two henchmen were too stupid to understand. The two largest males, either side of her, stepped forward and grabbed both Sam and Julian, then stepped back. Each one held their hostage horizontally under their arms. Sam and Julian’s arms were held down at their side, leaving them rather constricted.

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The Group

Aelric gritted his teeth and clenched his fist tightly around the handle of his blade, readying himself for a fight. He was furious as well as struggling to comprehend how those two had so easily been picked up like bugs.
From their newly horizontal position, Sam was shocked. Minutes she remained frozen, not quite believing what had just happened. Until finally, she began to struggle against the man who held her, to no avail. She looked across to Julian, who was in the same position and had even less movement than she did, but was not giving up. Julian was yelling at the man who held him, “Ahhh, you hideous fiend! Put me down. Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?”
The henchman that held Julian sniffed the air. Then for the first time, he spoke up, “…I never thought I’d miss the smell of gnome!”
“Congratulations. You’ve gone nose deaf,” Julian mocked. “Now how about a fair fight? You put me down and I’ll show you how this dwarf can beat you in battle without breaking a sweat.”
While Julian and Sam were carrying on, the others were discussing their best options. Aelric looked adamant on fighting them, but Desire, knowing that this was a bad idea, put a hand on his shoulder as if to say, “Not a good time.”
Ailbe suggested, “How about we barter with them? Give them more items.”
“Because we just saw how well that went,” Elsie added. “I say we give them gold pieces. How about 10?”
“12!”, came a loud voice from behind them. It was the woman answering them, as if to say, “So I’ve been able to hear your conversation the whole time. Hurry up.”
Suddenly feeling watched and a little violated, the group tensed and agreed to give them the gold. Banding together, they collected the gold from their packs to make up a total of 12 now in Elsie’s hand. She stepped forward and gave the young woman the gold. The young woman looked at the gold in her hand and nodded. “I suppose this will suffice,” she stated nonchalantly while gesturing to her henchmen with her other hand to let Sam and Julian down, which they did. Then as fast as they appeared, they receded back into the forest again.

It took the group about 10 minutes to gather themselves and regain their bearings, and stop Julian and Aelric from chasing after those bandits. Once they had, they headed north again and soon noticed the trees beginning to thin out on either side of the path. Eventually, the path led out of the trees to a ploughed field. They were out of Darkwood Forest!
The path led through the field to a stone bridge over a clear stream. Beyond the bridge were the small cottages and wooden huts of the village. A sign at the end reads ‘Stonebridge’. Before crossing the bridge, Elsie realised that she didn’t possess the other part of the hammer and they had failed their quest to help the dwarfs. They are unable to face Gillibran, the king, without the hammer. Consulting Bigleg’s map, Elsie announced, “We need the second part of the hammer. We can either walk around Darkwood Forest and enter the forest from Yaztromo’s tower again? Or perhaps just head east, find a place to rest after this perilous journey and try to find other adventure to undergo?”

The first adventure has ended!

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Adventure 2: The Trial of Champions!

After Elsie had announced they had failed and that they had to choose between two options, the group fell silent. Each and every one of them was disheartened and upset. How could they have failed? How could they have lost one of their own; Roxanne. So young and naive, yet such a strong warrior. She would be missed. But Elsie knew she couldn’t just leave her.
“Good Riddance,” Aelric blurted out. “I’m not going back in there, risking my life, for someone who may or may not be dead.”
“How could you be so selfish?”, Elsie retorted.
“A simple no would have sufficed,” Ailbe added.
“Okay, NO.” Aelric folded his arms and leaned back on the Stonebridge sign. Sam nodded, agreeing with Aelric as if to say ’me too’.
Desiree and Julian joined the argument too, but only in their heads. More than ever did they want to make sure Roxanne was alright, however, there was a really high chance that she hadn’t made it.
Interrupting everyone, Faye declared, “I’m going back round to find Rozanne and the hammer. Elsie, Ailbe, and anyone else, follow if you want to join.” With that, she turned on her heel, heading West. The other two hot on her tail, but no one else moved.
No one even spoke until the three had disappeared, after heading to the south. Then it was Sam to break the silence. “Let’s find somewhere to spend the night and rest our heads before figuring out what’s next.” The group agreed and trudged into Stonebridge.

The next day, when the four were well-rested, they strolled the dwarves’ market. Selling things they’d collected, buying new strength potions, and spotting a poster. When they were gathered around it, Julian read aloud.

The Trial of Champions!
Win 10,000 Gold pieces and the freedom of Chang Mai forever.

On May 1st each year, warriors and heroes come to Fang to face the test of their lives. Survival is unlikely, yet many take the risk, for the prize is great. However, to become a champion is no easy task. Some years ago, the powerful baron of Fang, Sukumvit, decided to draw people into the town by creating the ultimate contest. A labyrinth deep inside the hill behind Fang, from which it only has one exit and is filled with many tricks, traps, and loathsome monsters.
Are you able to accept the challenge and win?

None of them spoke after Julian had finished. Yet, words were spoken, “I’m gonna’ do it.” The voice had a thick, country drawl, from someone who had not been brought up in the city. The four heads turned promptly to see where and who it’d come from. They were faced with a girl, one that was masked and hooded. Only her piercing green eyes were left uncovered, staring straight at the poster.
Aelric snarled, clearly not happy to be beaten to the punch, much less by a girl. “You?! This is a real damn tournament, child, not a pathetic game of stick combat.”
“Child? I’m not a child. I ‘ave as much chance as you do of winnin’, probably more,” the green-eyed girl, Kathryn, retorted.
Aelric laughed abruptly. “If you look like a child and sound like a child, then you are in fact, a child.”
“I’m not, and I am gonna’ compete.”
Sam watched the scene take place, wondering if she should cut in. Desiree, however, was in her head, wondering if she was actually brave enough to enter this tournament. While Julian, on the other hand, was quickly getting angrier and angrier. Finally, he couldn’t stay quiet any longer. “Aelric, stop it! There’s no need for such rudeness.”
Aelric ignored Julian and continued talking mockingly to Kathryn. “Child, be careful, there’s probably an age restriction.” He paused a moment and leaned a little forward. “But if you insist, fancy a wager?”
“What kind of wager?”, Kathryn asked.
He smirked. “If you do compete and you win, then I’ll give you 10 Gold pieces, but if you don’t, as I predict, then you give that Gold to me. Though if you die, then the satisfaction of knowing I was right will do quite nicely.”
She pondered the idea a moment before smiling and putting out her hand. “Agreed.” They shook hands.
In a quiet tone with a hint of envy, Desiree asked, “Does this mean the five of us are going to enter the tournament?”
Sam replied, “I believe it does.”

Despite its name, Fang was an ordinary small town in the Northern Province of Chiang May. Situated on the banks of the river Kok it made a convenient stopover for river traders and passengers throughout most of the year. A few barges, rafts and sometimes even a large sailboat could be found moored in Fang. But all that was long ago, before the creation of the Trial of Champions. Now once a year, the river is crammed with boats, as people arrive from hundreds of miles around, hoping to witness the breaking of an ancient tradition in Fang and see a victor of the Trial of Champions. A trial that Sukumvit had designed in meticulous detail so that anybody hoping to face its challenge would have to use their wits as well as their weapon skill. When he was finally satisfied with its completion, he picked ten of his finest, fully-armed, guards and sent them into the Labyrinth. He never saw them again and the tale of their ill-fate spread throughout the land. Rumours, messages, and news-sheets carried his challenge, and challengers flooded in. The first year, 17 brave warriors attempted ‘The Walk’, as it later became known, but not one reappeared. Years passed and the Trial continued, attracting bigger and bigger crowds. Fang prospered every April and May, they even dedicated a festival to it. Everyone sang, drank, danced, and laughed until day broke on May 1st when the town flocked to the gates of the labyrinth to watch the first challenger of the year step forward to face the Trial of Champions.

Having seen one of Sukumvit’s challenges nailed to a tree, Yoohan decided that this year she would attempt ‘The Walk’. For the past five years, she has been attracted to it, not for the rewards, but for the simple fact that nobody has ever yet emerged victorious. She intended to make this the year in which a Champion was crowned! To make a name for herself, to no longer be a nobody. Gathering her belongings, she set off immediately from Phan Thiet, a small town she’d been working in for the past few months. She keeps moving from town to town, never settling, never connecting, never staying longer than six months. Two days’ walk took her west to the coast, where she entered the cursed Port Blacksand. Wasting no time in that city of thieves, she bought passage on a small boat sailing north to where the river Kok meets the sea, and from there she took a raft up-river, finally arriving in Fang.

The trial begins in three days time, and the town was in an almost hysterical mood of excitement. Crystal and Emyrs had just registered their entry with officials and were both given violet scarves to tie around their arms, informing everyone of their status. For three days, they enjoyed Fang’s hospitality and were treated like demigods. Crystal may have been partaking in all festivities, but the look on her face whilst doing it was another story. She didn’t show anything on her face, no emotion what-so-ever, she never really did. Emyrs was quite the opposite, and it left them both wondering if they were going to be able to work together during this Trial. They had thought so, 14 weeks back, in the Vale of Willow, where they were going to help its people. Then they spotted the challenge and decided that they’d complete this first and then return to the Vale.
Though during the long merriment, Emyrs almost forgot their purpose in Fang and possibly would have too if it weren’t for Crystal. However, the evening before the Trial, the magnitude of the task ahead began to dominate Emyrs’ thoughts. And continued to later on too when both of them are taken to a special guest house and shown their rooms. There is a splendid four-poster bed with satin sheets to help the competitors be well-rested, possibly for the last time, but there’s little time left to sleep.

Just before dawn, a trumpet call awakens Yeonhwa from vivid dreams of flaming pits and giant black spiders. Minutes later, there was a knock on his door, and a man’s voice rang out saying, “Your challenge begins soon. Please be ready to leave in 10 minutes.”
Yeonhwa rolled over, sighing. Why did he have to be first in the line of competitors’ rooms? Though with the flip of a switch, he jolted upright and out of bed. No, today was the day and he was going to win this challenge. He walked to the window and opened the shutters. Already people were thronging the streets, moving quietly through the morning mist; spectators on their way to the labyrinth no doubt, hoping to find good vantage points from which to watch the competitors. Yeonhwa turned and walked to the wooden table on which his trust sword lay. He picked it up and cut the air with a mighty sweep, wondering what beasts its sharp edge may soon have to meet. Already dressed, as he slept in his leather armour, he adjusted it and grabbed his backpack before opening the door. Coming face to face with a small man with slanted eyes who greeted Yeonhwa as he emerged from his room. “Please follow me,” he said, turning left and walking quickly towards the stairs at the end of the corridor.

As one of the last doors to be knocked in the corridor, Scarlet was the last to leave. She and the man who’d knocked on her door left the guest-house, darting down narrow alleyways between houses. Soon she came into a wide dirt road lined with cheering crowds. When they saw her violet scarf, they cheer even louder and start showering her in flowers. The long shadows of the people in front of her shrank as the bright yellow sun rose higher in the morning sky. Standing there in front of the noisy and vibrant crowd, Scarlet felt strangely alone, aware of her coming ordeal. She wished Michael were here, standing beside her, supporting her. Suddenly she felt a tug on her shirt and saw her small guide beckoning her to follow him. Ahead was the looming hillside and the dark mouth of a tunnel disappearing into its depths. As she got closer, she noticed two great stone pillars on either side of the tunnel entrance. The pillars are covered with ornate carvings: writhing serpents, demons, deities, each seeming to scream a silent warning to those who would pass beyond them.

Felix saw Baron Sukumvit himself standing by the entrance, waiting to greet the contenders in the Trial of Champions. Felix counted 16 others standing proudly in line, their violent scarves displayed for all to see. He smiled, eager to start ‘The Walk,’ then looked to his left, to two bare-chested barbarians dressed in furs. They stand completely motionless, legs straight and slightly apart, arms thrust forward to rest on the hilts of their long, double-headed battleaxes. A tall, slightly bulky man with curly, brown hair and stubble was standing next to a blonde, meek-looking girl with a flail and a harsh-looking redhead with a bow and arrow. Felix chuckled to himself as he thought the girls should probably switch weapons. Next to the redhead was a dark-skinned dwarf with a big hammer who actually rather friendly and a what looked like the figure of a masked and covered girl. Next to them was a sleek, elven woman with golden hair, and feline green eyes like the hooded girl. She adjusted the cross-belt of daggers wrapped around her leather tunic. Felix turned to his right, to his employee of about a year, Derek. Derek had arrived in town during the last trial and met Felix at a town pub a few days later. Hearing that Felix had been struggling to cope with maintaining his land alone, Derek offered to help out, for payment, of course. So that’s what happened, Derek stayed for a year and worked as a farmhand, although it took the two months and months to be friends if that’s what they could be called now. But they were close enough now to agree to attempt this together, even if one may have had to persuade the other. Derek nodded to the smiling Felix before looking to his right. A young man was there and a little girl with very short, brown hair. Both carried swords and Derek thought that both would be dead very, very soon. The same went for the next girl with a bow and arrow who looked way to classy to be here competing. Next to her was a long-haired man who looked a lot more rugged than Derek and a long-haired, freckled child whispering to him. Or she looked like a child to Derek and children had no place here, neither did women. Of the two remaining men, one was covered from head to foot in iron-plate armour with a plumed helmet and a crested shield; the other is cloaked in black robes, only his dark eyes showing just like the green-eyed girl. Long knives and other death-weapons hung from his belt.

Half of the 17 contenders acknowledged Kendra’s arrival with almost imperceptible nods of the head, the rest didn’t even notice her. She turned to face the exultant crowd for the almost the last time. Suddenly a hush fell over the crowd as Baron Sukumvit stepped forward holding twelve bamboo sticks. Kendra drew one from his outstretched hand and read the word ‘eleventh’. After years of smaller battles and fights, while trying to find her family, it was time to attempt this Trial and put her skills to the test. the woman may have saved her life and taught her everything she needed to know to survive, but she had refused to tell Kendra one thing; where her family was.
Then the trial began! The knight was first. He saluted the crowd before disappearing into the tunnel and was followed 15 minutes later by the elf. Almost everyone else gets their turn, both in groups and individually, until only Kendra and other barbarian stood there. Now it was her turn to salute the crowd. She held her violet aloft, then took one final deep breath of cool fresh air before turning to pass between the stone-pillared gateway into Sukumvit’s corridors of power, to face the unknown perils of ‘The Walk’ through the mighty baron’s Deathtrap Dungeon.

East turned North, eventually, until finally, they reached the river Kok, where Sam had told a sailor what they were doing, and with much excitement, he granted them free passage onto his boat. Now they were starting ‘The Walk’. The clamour of the spectators gradually faded behind the group as they ventured deep into the gloom of the cavern tunnel. It reminded Aelric of the large hole belonging to the Sting Worm, except minus the slime, and he hoped it would stay that way. Large crystals hung from the tunnel room at 20m intervals, radiating a soft light, just enough for them to see their way. As their eyes gradually became accustomed to the near darkness, they began to see movement all around. Spiders and beetles crawled up and down the chiselled walls, disappearing quickly into cracks and crevices as they sensed people coming. Rats and mice scurried along the floor ahead of them, and Desiree had to bite her tongue to stop herself from screaming as she pressed her body into Aelric. Surprisingly, he didn’t seem to mind much as they kept walking. Droplets of water dripped into pools with an eerie plopping sound, which echoed down the tunnel. The air is cold, moist and dank, but after about five minutes, the group stopped at a stone table against the wall to the left. On it are 18 medium-sized boxes, each with a different name painted on its lid; there are five in the front with the group’s names.

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Fifth Stick

Julian looked at the boxes, then at the others while running a hand over his freshly shaved head. That was one of the things he did to prepare yesterday; visited a barber. He sighed, feeling a little jittery about what could be inside. “Okay, so what should we do? Do we open all the boxes or only some of them?”
Rather quickly but in a neutral tone, Kathryn replied, “I’m really not sure… we could go ‘fer openin’ a box or two, to see if it’s safe to open the others.”
Desiree was taken aback by Kathryn, as it was the most she had spoken since the day they had met her, almost two weeks ago.
“Fine by me,” Julian added.
Sam was watching, both the others and the boxes, as if calculating their options. Then she adjusted her bow over her shoulder and told them, “This sounds logical enough. We get to find out what is in the boxes without everyone being hurt if it’s bad. Just one question, who is going to open the box?”
“Well, I don’t care who else is going to but I am sure as hell going to open mine.” Aelric moved toward his box and put one hand on the hilt of his blade while placing the other on the lid. Inside was nothing dangerous, only two Gold Pieces and a note addressed to him,

'Well done, Aelric. At least you have the sense to stop and take advantage of the token aid given to you. Now I advise you that you will need to find and use several items if you hope to pass triumphantly though my Deathtrap Dungeon.
Signed Sukimvit.

Relieved, the others move towards their own boxes and find much the same, except with their own names on the notes.
Sam was the first to gather the box’s contents and turn, continuing north along the corridor. The others followed her quickly, so it went Sam, Julian, Kathryn, Dee, and Aelric at the back, as per normal. Though it wasn’t long before they reached their first junction, and it was the fastest decision for Sam to make; West, following the white arrow painted on the wall and three wet sets of footprints. Soon arriving at another junction, with this one having a direction going as well as continuing west.
Beating Aelric to the punch, much to his dismay, Kathryn muttered something, probably which direction. Although, between her half-face mask and the drawl, it wasn’t audible. This pleased Aelric, who smugly told the group, “West.”
Sam nodded from the front of the group, “Anyone oppose Aelric?” She paused, then faced forward to walk west. “That’s good then.”
Kathryn flicked Aelric a look, narrowing her eyes, as she followed onward, pushing past Desiree to walk behind Julian. Walking along the tunnel, Julian tapped Sam’s shoulder, surprised to see a large iron bell hanging down from the ceiling.


Sixth Stick

After watching nine other challengers set off and started ‘The Walk’, it was her turn, the sixth stick. Yoohan tried to appear as confident as she could, facing the roaring crowd. Flashing them a timid but beguiling smile, she started on her way. Delving deeper into the tunnel, where she found that she heard and saw less and less. That is until she arrived at a table of named boxes, hers was in the row behind. Yoohan didn’t hesitate, she made sure she tightened the violent scarf around her head like a headband, and opened her box to read a note, similar to the one the other group had, except that it was addressed to her. She took the coins and continued north, following the footprints from the competitors before her. Again, once getting to the first junction, she decided there was probably be safety in numbers and followed the majority of the footprints. Not too long after leaving that junction, did she hit another and decided much the same thing, stick with the majority.


Seventh & Eighth Stick

Crystal and Emyrs stared at the boxes before them. Emyrs was the first to speak out through the eerie silence of the tunnel, “We should open these before the next group come down the tunnel and gets in the way.”
Crystal didn’t answer for a moment, instead, looking up the tunnel to see if she should see anyone. When she couldn’t, she turned back to him and replied, “Perhaps only one of us for now. Check to see if it’s a good idea, if there’s something helpful, then I can open mine.”
Unsure why she was insisting he do so, he decided not to question her, stepping forward after muttering a quick, “Yeah, okay.” Upon opening the box, there was a stone click as a stone hit one of the walls. Crystal jumped, then looked to Emyrs, glad he didn’t see her do that. No, he was much too preoccupied with collecting the gold and note, starting to read it aloud.
However, he only got as far as his name when a voice spoke up from the tunnel. “Sorry for scaring you, sweetheart?”, Yeonhwa apologised with the hint of a mischievous grin.
Emyrs turned to see who had spoken from the tunnel they’d just come. He was about to acknowledge him but Crystal interjected. “You didn’t and I’m not your sweetheart, just watch where you kick things next time.” She moved toward her own box, grabbed her stuff out and pocketed them.
“Sorry,” Yeonhwa repeated to her. “Mind if I join you?”
Crystal only sighed and headed north ahead of them. It was Emyrs who nodded and said, “sure” before following her. Yeonhwa went to his own box, grabbed its contents and followed them down the tunnel.

The three walked silently north for a few minutes before coming to a junction. This time was no different, Emyrs was the first to speak up, “As for which direction to go, to the east or west, I don’t know. I do think we should stick together, perhaps heading to the east?”
Crystal wasn’t too sure since she was usually a lone wolf, but figured he was probably right and they should probably stick together. At least for now. “Yes, that’s a good idea” she agreed, without needing to deliberate further.
Yeonhwa, however, didn’t really want to stay with them after the situation back at the table of boxes. He didn’t care for the snarky comment earlier and eerie silences. He may as well stay on his own, so he made the announcement. “Here is where I will bid you adieu and be off in the other direction. Good luck with the challenge.” He bowed his head and backed off down the western tunnel, which he did for two reasons. One was so he didn’t turn his back to them, and two was to confuse the next group coming this way when they saw a set of footprints coming toward them as well.
Trudging carefully backwards along the wet cavern ground, Yeonhwa hadn’t really noticed all the other people’s tracks heading that way too. It wasn’t until he arrived at the second junction and turned around, that he saw them. Looking right, north, was only one set and everyone else had gone west, which was straight ahead. So Yeonhwa went for the path less travelled, the northern one, to see where that lead.
Ahead he hears the thud of heavy footsteps approaching. Out of the gloom, stepped a large primitive being dressed in animal hide and carrying a stone club. It saw Yeonhwa, grunted and spat of the floor, then raised his club and lumbered toward him, looking anything but friendly. What was he to do?

Emyrs and Crystal looked at each other after Yeonhwa left. Before she lead the way east, Crystal let out a sigh of relief, pleased that it was just the two of them again. Though they weren’t walking long before Crystal stopped in the middle of the tunnel, which if Emyrs hadn’t reacted quickly then he would have crashed into her. Ahead they saw a large obstruction in the tunnel floor, although it was too dark to make out exactly what it was. The wet footprints they’d been following carried on towards it.
Upon seeing the dark shape, Emyrs remarked, "Perhaps we should have gone the same way as the other guy.
“I hate to say it, but I think that may have been a better option,” Crystal sighed, shaking her head. She turned to face him, gesturing to take the lead for their return, but stopped when she heard someone’s approach.


Ninth Stick

Scarlet was the ninth group, or person, to set off into Deathtrap Dungeon. Although, eager and ready to get ahead of her competitors, she was the only one to run down into the tunnel. Once entering the slightly wider part with the table of named boxes, she didn’t hesitate to open her own box. Collecting her loot and continuing north down the tunnel at a steady jog. Though stopped just before the junction when she heard voices. A group were splitting up and she couldn’t help but admire the one who chose to go off alone. Waiting a few minutes for them to go their separate ways, she crept over to the junction, where she could either go East or West. Another quick decision; East, the one that much fewer had chosen.
Walking along the dark tunnel, she knew she could jog, else she’d get ahead of the two who had chosen to go that way. Although, that didn’t matter since she’d caught up to them within a minute.
“Perhaps we should have gone the same way as the other guy,” a male voice remarked.
“I hate to say it, but I think that may have been a better option,” a female replied with a sigh.
They were just about to turn around and not look to see what was ahead of them. She couldn’t quite see what it was but could see some kind of shape. So Scarlet said aloud to the pair while walking around them to try to get a better look, “What, are you scared or something? Where’s your sense of adventure? Let’s go see what is up there.”


Tenth Stick

15 minutes after the previous stick had walked, no, ran into the tunnel, it was Derek and Felix’s turn. They walked in at a leisurely pace without a care in the world. It wasn’t really a race since no one came out alive. Felix laughed as they walked down the hollow tunnel, his laugh echoing, and said, “That young girl who went before us is foolish. Running at the start, she won’t last the day.”
“Or she’ll be drinking all her water and have to beg other competitors for more,” Derek suggested rather brutally.
Felix licked his lips and skipped a step as he spun around, walking backwards. “How about a bet? I say that we will find her body somewhere ahead of us. Want to wager that?”
“Now that would hardly be a fair bet, Felix,” Derek replied with a sober expression.
“That’s true. I would take all your gold if you had taken me up on that bet.” Approaching the boxes on the table, Felix didn’t wait to think about it and just went over to open both of their named boxes. Luckily, nothing jumped out at him and he was able to look inside his own box, collecting the coins and note. Derek walked up to his, now open, box and did the same. After they had, the pair continued down the tunnel until they reached the West to East junction.
“There were quite a few girls in the competitor line-up, weren’t there?”, Felix continued on with their casual banter they had going.
“There were,” Derek agreed in his sedate tone and manner. He knew what Felix was like and that there wasn’t any point saying anything to him. Simply agree and do not further the conversation.
“You think any of them will be a damsel in destress and need a knight to come save them?”
“Perhaps, although they will be quite disappointed when the court jester shows up instead.” Derek was mocking, but unless one knew him, one would never guess based on his voice and straight face. Derek turned west without discussion and Felix caught up to his side.
“Ha,” Felix gave a short, fake laugh at him. “Seriously, though, this darkened place has enough hidey-holes for a little fondle or to get it on for five minutes.”
“You never know what may happen.”

The pair reached another junction, west or north. This time Felix made the decision but slightly taking the lead to go west, where most of the foot prints were headed.


Eleventh Stick

Once Kendra reached the the tunnel into the mountain, her senses heighten, suddenly aware of every sound and noise, every crawling insect. Being last into Sukumvit’s challenge was the best thins Kendra could have asked for. It meant that she could take her time and not have to worry about any other competitors catching up behind her. Nor did she have to worry too much about the things hidden in the tunnels for now, as all of the many competitors before her would face and probably destroy them first. That idea still only eased her mind slightly and she continued to tentatively walk down the dark passage. The violet scarf had been hanging from her hand since the starting line. Rubbing the soft silk material through her fingers, she raised her hands up to tie it around her neck like an ascot a male usually wears.
Kendra had reached the table of boxes, taking them all in. Each lid was either open or looked to have been tampered with slightly; all but one, the box with her name on it. Judging by the fact that they’d all been open, the boxes seemed safe. Stepping up to the table, she curled her fingers under the edge of the lid. Upon opening it, it was but a minute for her to skim-read the note and slip all the three items in her bag before creeping down the northern tunnel. Then after the most cautious five minute walk, Kendra came to a junction. Her eyes were drawn down to the mud-splattered white arrow that was painted low on the wall. It pointed west. Seeing the majority of the tracks head west, she thought it best for her to follow them. Less of a chance to meet creatures or traps, as there were people to find them first.
Treading warily along the western passage of the tunnel, trying to soften the squelching of the mud under her specially-crafted, thinly-stretched, leather boots. One that she dare not tell, nor ever show her people, else there would be disapproval and probable cause for banishment. Another junction was ahead; choose between continuing West and following over half a dozen footprints, or turning in the direction of north. It was a quick decision, as again, she chose the path of the many before her and continued west.

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Fifth Stick

The tap on Sam’s shoulder wasn’t needed, as she had already seen the bell hanging down from the ceiling. Hanging right above the passage in front of them. The group bunched up around Sam, who had halted in front of the bell. Five pairs of eyes were peering through the dark tunnel at the bell, which gave off a very faint glow.
“Apparently, traps aren’t exactly subtle in this challenge,” Julian stated in a mocking tone.
Desiree hesitated a second before commenting, “You really think that it could be a trap?”
“I don’t think it just grew there,” he retorted, this time with even more mocking.
Kathryn agreed with a nod of the head. “Julian’s right. It isn’t wise ‘ter even touch it; drawin’ unwanted attention in such a wee space, would nae be good."
However, Aelric had a different plan. While they’d been briefly discussing it, he’d got right up next to the bell with his hand poised on the rope below it, ready to ring. Then he did. The dull ‘bong’ from the bell sounds like a death toll. Everything around them starts to vibrate, and he gritted their teeth as his head too, started to shudder. Being so close to the bell, Aelric’s whole body was trembling and fell to the floor. He quivered and shook, writhing convulsively on the floor as the reverberations intensified. Feeling his energy drain and his glaive wielding hand feel weaker (-2 skill & -2 stamina), Aelric wanted to search desperately for a way to stop the bell.
Both Desiree and Julian threw their hands over their ears to protect them, while also opening their mouths to produce more noise. Fortunately for the group, Sam was quick and was able to wrap her arms around their heads to cover their mouths with each hand. So Desiree’s high-pitched scream and Julien’s whimpers were muffled. Despite the terrible ringing in everyone’s ears, Aelric had pushed himself off the ground to actually work with Kathryn to stop the noise. As Kathryn had taken off her boots and held them against the bell. Slowly the bell stopped vibrating and ringing in their ears gradually eased. They were able to calm down and look at each other through the gloom again, except Sam, who was listening for footsteps or something. There weren’t any.
Kathryn slid her boots back on her feet, snapping at Aelric as she did, “Nice goin’, idiot.”
Aelric snarled back, “Yeah, well, we’re not dead, are we? The bell has been stopped.”
“We could 'ave been.”
“Stop it, you two,” Sam interjected. “Let’s just continue before more trouble is caused.”
Sam pushed her way past the bell, taking the lead and continuing west. Then Kathryn after her, Desiree, Julien, and finally a disgruntled Aelric. The tunnel veered sharply to the right and continued north. They all heard a giant racket in the distance; sounds of growling and snarling and howling. Without communication, they all drew their weapons before continuing toward it. Ahead, they saw two HobGoblins squabbling over something ahead. Sam signalled to the others to go round, making it blatant to Aelric. They crept up behind the two squabbling HobGoblins. As everyone passed them safely, Aelric then leapt out of the shadows, pushing them into the wall as he ran by. Looking back to see them sprawled on the ground, he chuckled to himself as he ran ahead of the group. Taking a sharp right east, he arrived at a strange obstruction; a line of 12 wooden poles. They are fixed to the walls about half a metre apart.

Aelric
Skill: 10
Stamina: 18


Sixth Stick

Following the many footsteps down the tunnel ahead of her, Yoohan heard the faint ringing of a bell. Though the noise soon stopped. After five more minutes of walking, Yoohan stopped mid-step in front of a large bell hanging over the path. Standing there smiling at the bell for at least a minute, Yoohan decided it would not be best to ring it, especially since this had to be the one she’d heard a few minutes ago. Instead, she continued west, around the bell, to where the tunnel veered sharply to the right and continued north. Stopping again, she heard a mighty loud ruckus ahead, growling and snarling and howling. Yoohan drew her bow and arrow before starting up down the tunnel again. Ahead in the dim light, she saw two HobGoblins clambering up off the ground furiously, preparing for a combat dual. Deciding that she didn’t want to fight one, let alone two, Yoohan crept up behind the two HobGoblins, who had just locked arms, attempting to throw the other. When she was clear, she jogged along the tunnel until the sharp turn east where she met another group.


Seventh & Eighth Stick

As the pair turned around, away from something obstructing their path, feeling defeated, Scarlet said aloud while walking around them, “What, are you scared or something? Where’s your sense of adventure? Let’s go see what is up there.”
Emyrs let out a slightly-infuriated huff in quick-response to the new girl, “Suit yourself if you wish to get killed quickly.” Crystal only gave him a tight-lipped smile and then a soft punch in his bicep, as if to tell him to try to be a little more polite.
Scarlet tilted her head ever so slightly to the left to get a better look at the pair. She gave them a sweet smile but wasn’t going to be pressured into not taking a closer look as she edged closer. It was too dark to make out exactly what the obstruction was, but the wet footprints ahead of her seemed to carry on toward it. As she got closer, Scarlet saw it was a large, brown, boulder-like object. Reaching out her hand, she found it soft and spongy to the touch. Emyrs stepped closer too, over to her left. He also found it oddly soft to the touch.
Crystal stayed back, squinting her eyes to peer at it. “How about you both stop feeling it and just slice through it already?”
Scarlet gave a half nod and pulled out her sword, but Emyrs held up his hands, saying, “No, let’s not. You don’t know what’s in this object, it’d be better to just climb over it.” He felt around the sphere for a decent handhold to pull himself up.
“We don’t know what’s behind it either, so I’m going to slice through it.” The tip of Scarlet’s blade cut the surface of the object.
“Yeah, stand aside, Emyrs, destroying this thing is the best option,” Crystal told him dominantly, despite him being older and bigger than her. She drew her daggers and charged the ball. Unfortunately, Crystal was not very aware of the direction of her daggers as she ran. They left a shallow cut in the arms of the other two before both blades plunged into the ball (-1 Stamina each). Almost simultaneously, Emyrs growled her name like an annoyed parent, while screeching in pain. Scarlet sliced the object again with her sword, this time angrier and deeper, and Crystal pulled her daggers out. A thick brown cloud of spores burst out of the ball and enveloped them. Some of the spores stuck to their skin and started to itch terribly. Great lumps came up on all three faces and arms, and their skin felt like it was on fire. (-2 Stamina) The girls began frantically scratching their itchy bumps while Emyrs refrained from agitating it further. Leading the way, he stepped over the now deflated ball and headed east.
The tunnel made a sudden turn to the left and headed north for as far as Emyrs could see. The footprints they’d been following started to fade out as the ground became gradually drier. Soon they were beyond the dripping roof and pools on the floor, and then Emyrs started to breathe deeply as the air became hotter. The girls, too, slowed their pace. In a small recess of the left-hand wall, Crystal saw a section of bamboo standing on its end. She lifted it down to find it was filled with a clear liquid and gestured to the others to look too. Each of their throats was painfully dry and they were starting to feel dizzy from the heat in the tunnel.

Crystal
Skill: 11
Stamina: 19

Emyrs
Skill: 11
Stamina: 16

Scarlet
Skill: 11
Stamina: 19


Ninth Stick

Caveman's fighting ability:

Skill: 7
Stamina: 7


As the primitive being’s spit connected with the ground, Yeonhwa turned his head and twisted his leg around as if he planned to bound back up the tunnel to escape. The ape-like man already had his club in motion, bringing it down on Yeonhwa. It was fortunate that he saw the primitive’s shadow and was able to throw himself out of the way. The unfortunate part was that he smacked into the wall at some force. His back jarred in pain. Sliding down the solid dirt wall, the creature’s club changed direction, but Yeonhwa had been able to pull out his sword to deflect the attack. Sending the club into the wall and leaving his bicep open to be sliced. The primitive grunted again, a little angrier. Leaving no chance for the primitive to retaliate, not even risking standing up, he then ran his blade across the side of the caveman’s thigh. He made a groan this time, at the gash on his thigh, which was one groan too many. As Yeonhwa used the time that the man cried in pain, to quickly thrust his sword higher. Into the top of his thigh. Only to pull it swiftly out, lift the hilt over his own head and stab the blade into the primitive’s upper stomach.

Pushing himself back into a sitting position, he rested just long enough to catch his breath. When he had, he stood and peered over the fresh corpse, examining it. The only thing of interest on the dead Caveman was a leather wristband with four small rats’ skulls hanging from it. He thought about whether to take it or not, as it wasn’t exactly fashionable, but then again it would show others what he was made of. So he slipped it off the primitive’s wrist and onto his own. The leather wristband had been made and cursed by a Hag. It leaves the wearer unable to remove it, and it slows down reactions and dulls their senses. (-4 Skill) Yeonhwa kicked the tunnel in anger and stomped off north. Though not far along, he stopped stomping, as he saw a backpack propped up against the tunnel wall. He wondered if it belonged to one of his rivals.

Yeonhwa
Skill: 8
Stamina: 21


Tenth Stick

Turning west, they didn’t walk long before they faced what seemed to be a large bell in front of them. Walking right up in front of it. “That’s a bell, probably a trap, and you’re probably going to ring it anyway,” Derek stated, keeping his serious tone as he observed the bell.
Felix beamed, before flashing Derek his glistening silver pupils and replying cheekily, “You bet. How could I refuse such a great suggestion as that?!” Then before Derek called even think about rolling his eyes, Felix pulled on the rope hanging from the inside of the bell. Again, not that the pair knew this was the second time, the bell’s dull ‘bong’ sounded like a death toll and everything around them started to shake. Biting down hard on their teeth to try to stop their heads doing so too, which wasn’t successful as they were forced to drop to the floor. Trembling and convulsing as it got worse, as did the feeling of loss of strength and experience (-2 skill & -2 stamina). An involuntary noise escaped their lips, almost in unison. From Felix was a high-pitched scream, which he quickly tried to cover up by clearing his throat. Derek, on the other hand, let out a much gruffer scream-like yell. Their heads were rattled and there was now a need to stop the bell, though with the noise and vibrations it made it hard to stand, let alone think of a way to stop the ringing.
Despite the terrible ringing in Derek’s ears, he could hear footsteps running down the tunnel from where they’d just come. Their loud screams had attracted a tunnel guardian, a co-leader of its own kind. Standing over Derek was a HobGoblin; its face bore a sick smile as it pressed the point of its sword against his neck. Unable to defend himself, he couldn’t prevent the HobGoblin from running its sword through him. Felix hadn’t heard the footsteps, so it came as a surprise when he turned his head to see his friend brutally murdered. The mere seconds it took for the creature to pull his blade from Derek and hold it to Felix’s neck, was only enough time for Felix to grip one of his arrows. As the blade poked into his neck and he felt a trickle of blood, the last thought he had was regret. He regretted ringing that darn bell because if he hadn’t then Derek would still be alive.

Sorry Martha and Blue, the main results of each choice are all already planned out before actually chosen. Though I’m honestly the most disappointed about this 'cause they were my FAVOURITE conversations to write. I LOVED these two characters. You’re both welcome to help Brooke (fifth stick) with any decisions, and I really hope you’ll be keen for the next adventure after this one!

Derek
Skill: 11
Stamina: 0

Felix
Skill: 10
Stamina: 0


Eleventh Stick

Walking down the tunnel, Kendra heard ringing sounds from somewhere ahead of her. The walls were vibrating and for a few seconds, before she could steady herself, her legs felt like jelly. Once her legs were steadier, her ear became attune to two screams, followed by heavy footsteps coming closer. Drawing two of her daggers, she stood on guard, ready for the upcoming approach. A HobGoblin ran past, too focused on where it was heading to bother with her. After the creature had passed, Kendra continued walking, rather slowly, keeping her daggers out in front of her. Only two minutes had passed when she heard the footsteps approaching again. It was the HobGoblin back again and this time it noticed Kendra and ran to attack her.

HobGoblin guardian's fighting ability:

Skill: 8
Stamina: 6


As the HobGoblin ran toward her, it brought its sword down, which she parried with her daggers. The creature stepped back to adjust itself for another strike, except that Kendra struck it first. She plunged her dagger into his gut, causing the creature to double up. When it did, Kendra lifted her leg up and kicked it in its new wound. Falling backwards from the kick, Kendra thrust forward and stabbed one of her daggers into its chest. It was dead.

With a quick wipe of her daggers, she trudged forward again, to the bell. She didn’t seem surprised to see a large bell hanging down, blocking most of the path, and was especially unfazed by the two bodies laying on the ground in front of it, bleeding out. Taking a closer look at the bodies, she recognised them; two of her challenge competitors, the previous stick before hers. Both were tall, well-built men. That thought nagged at her mind, if two rather strong males could be killed here, then what hope did she have?! Attempting to push the thought aside, Kendra kneeled between the men and carefully closed their eyelids while saying a little prayer she knew. Just one to bring peace. Waiting a few minutes in what was dead-silence, she decided to search the bodies, thinking that they’d want someone to make good use of any possessions to try to win the challenge. She took the contents of the backpacks, which included potions, 4 Gold Pieces, and weapons.

Once shouldering her pack again, Kendra bowed to them then looked at the bell. It only appeared to be one of the first of many challenges this mountain would throw at her. With that logic, and the two other challengers laying there, she decided it was best to walk around it, as she wouldn’t want to draw attention to herself. Continuing cautiously west, the tunnel veered sharply to the right and continued north for as far as she could see.
Hearing a tremendous commotion in the distance, growling and snarling and howling, Kendra kept her daggers steadily out front and walked carefully down the tunnel toward it. Ahead in the dim light, she saw two HobGoblins fighting, punching and kicking each other furiously. There is a leather bag lying on the floor, and it seems to be this that they are fighting over. Not wanting to see the fighting continue, nor witness any more death in the tunnels, Kendra decided to break it up, quite loudly.

“Oi! You won’t solve your problems this way. Why don’t you try sharing the bag?”

HobGoblins' fighting ability:

Skill: 7
Stamina: 5

Skill: 6
Stamina: 5


The two HobGoblins stopped their fight immediately. They didn’t understand what she was saying and just snarled at her viciously. They drew their short swords and ran forward to attack her. Kendra dodged the second HobGoblin’s attack and then jumped out of the way of the first HobGoblins’s attack. Unfortunately, leaping into the second’s thrust, left a cut in her arm. Though not letting the pain faze her, she rolled behind the second and thrust her right into its back. With her left, she jabbed at the first. When it leapt forward to attack, she cut it and then pierced it with her right.

The two HobGoblins lay there unmoving. They looked to have nothing of any use to her on them, so she decided to open the little bag on the floor. Inside was a corked earthenware jug. Kendra uncorked it and sniffed. It smelled sharp and acrid.

Kendra
Skill: 12
Stamina: 21




Questions:

Fifth and Sixth Stick
Do you wish to step between the poles or across the top of the poles?

Seventh and Eighth Stick
Do you wish to drink the liquid or continue north without drinking it?

Ninth Stick
Should he look inside the backpack or would he rather continue north?

Eleventh Stick
Do you wish to drink some of the liquid or dip a piece of cloth in it?

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Fifth & Sixth Stick - @Littlefeets, @BlueInferno, & GROUP DECIDERS

Aelric stood there analysing the poles, thinking about the best way around them. He was just about to start to make his way between the poles when the group caught up to him and he heard the voice that he’d grown to like.
“And where do you think you’re going, mister?”, Desiree chided him with her arms folded and a hint of a coy smirk on her face.
Aelric stopped at the sound of her voice and turned around, rolling his eyes at the demand but smiling at the words. “I’m going to make my way through this obstacle course, care to join me?” He offered Desiree his hand.
Desiree was thinking of taking it, however, Kathryn interjected before she could, “I think both ways could cause problems but if we go ova the top o’ them then we’re higher up and away from bein’ attacked.”
Sam nodded. “I agree. Above them is safer.” She turned to look at Julian beside her. “You agree with us, don’t ya?”
Kathryn looked around at him too. “Yes, Julian, you are the decidin’ factor after all.”
With all eyes on him, he hesitated, panic filling his eyes and mind. “What?”, Julian snapped at them all. “I’m supposed to be your deciding factor for whatever way we go. So if whichever I choose goes wrong then you can all just blame me. Don’t think so, I ain’t doing it.” He crossed his arms angrily.
No one answered him, they didn’t have a chance. Their eyes were too focused on the girl who was walking up behind Julien. Her dark hair was out, down to her shoulders, pushed back off her face by what looked like an opal decorated headband. With it, she wore a long-sleeved, rusty tight-knit tunic, woollen tights, brown leather boots, and a smile. She got rather close to Julian and said with her own brand of sarcastic charm, “Yeah, you’re totally right, you don’t want to go making decisions, not ones that can be life or death. No, staying here in this spot seems like a much better choice.”
Julian jumped away from her in mild fright, then barked back, “Hey, I can make a decision if I want to.”
“I have no doubt in that, I’m sure you can,” the girl, Yoohan, said again in a soft tone. Then she gave him a little wink and turned to Aelric. “Which way were you thinking of going?”
Aelric didn’t respond but Desire surely did. She reached for the hand that he had just offered her and gripped it… tightly, and rather protectively. “We’re going around the poles.” She made sure to emphasise the ‘we’ and then turned them both around to face the poles.
Julian raised his index finger up to them and said, “I’m coming too.” He ran up behind them, making sure not to look at Yoohan as he did. However, seeing both the boys leave, she was going too, it didn’t matter if Blondie was there or not.

Desiree was actually pulling Aelric by the hand, between the poles, with Julian and Yoohan closely following, taking care not to touch any of them. Sam and Kathryn, however, weren’t so sure. As soon as the four turned to make their way between the poles, Sam and Kathryn exchanged glances. Kathryn nodded to Sam, who immediately took the lead. With a small run-up, she leapt confidently onto the first pole and then strode onto the next, with Kathryn on her tail. As she landed on the third pole, it immediately released a shower of sharp splinters, each several centimetres long. They flew out in all directions at great speed, and they couldn’t avoid being hit. (-2 luck) Lucky for the group of four, they were already further along than the third pole. Seven splinters pierced Sam and eight pierced Kathryn while they both managed to scramble over the remaining poles. When they reached the end, to where the others stood, the two sat down to the painful task of removing the splinters. Julian stood there watching them the whole time, smirking.
“Be quiet, Julian,” Kathryn growled at him, despite him not making a noise. Yet, the smugness stayed.

After the last splinter was removed, the now group of six hurried east. The tunnel later ended at a junction. The footprints they had been following turned north. With Aelric and Desiree still leading the group, Dee allowed Aelric to continue north as he gently pulled the hand of hers he held. Then further along the wet footprints turn east and he followed them, everyone trailing after him.

The passage opened out into a wide cavern that was darker and drier. The footprints they had been following had faded and disappeared. Standing before the group, in the cavern centre was a large idol about six metres high. On each side was a giant stuffed bird-like creature, and the idol itself had jewelled eyes.

Aelric
Skill: 10
Stamina: 18

Desiree
Skill: 9
Stamina: 20

Julian
Skill: 9
Stamina: 22

Kathryn
Skill: 11
Stamina: 19
Luck: 6

Samantha
Skill: 8
Stamina: 24
Luck: 9

Yoohan
Skill: 12
Stamina: 21


Seventh and Eighth Stick - @wanderingechoes, @Daunt, and @Caticorn

Crystal examined the section of bamboo, trying to see what the liquid was. “Any ideas on what this could be?”, she asked, sounding out of breath.
Scarlet coughed. “One way to find out, pass it over and I’ll drink it.” She reached for the bamboo.
Shaking her head, Crystal held onto it a little tighter. “No, we’ll share it. I found it after all.” She looked over at her travel companion. “You in too, Emrys.”
He backed up slightly from them, scoffing, “I’ll do whatever you two aren’t, especially after what just happened. I’m not trusting either of your decisions after being attacked by a giant boulder. You two drink it first and keep it far away from me.”
“Suit yourself,” Scarlet replied with a shrug, turning back to the girl and the bamboo with reckless anticipation.
Crystal pursed her lips in contemplation, almost rethinking the idea after hearing what Emrys said. Though the girl’s eagerness stopped her from second-guessing herself. She put the bamboo to her lips and tentatively sipped it before passing the rest to Scarlet. The water in the bamboo pipe is welcomingly refreshing (+1 stamina). The air around the girls didn’t feel as hot as it did before.
Scarlet discarded the pipe and shrugged with a cocky smile. “See, didn’t kill me.” She continued north in good spirits. They followed on, but not in a hurry to catch her up. Crystal starts to give him a sympathetic shrug, except he doesn’t look so good. The temperature continued to rise, though only for Emrys, the water must have had cooling properties for the body. As he struggled to take a step, the heat intensified until it felt like white heat and became unbearable, he felt like he would pass out.
“Are you okay?”, Crystal asked with concern.
He shook his head, trying desperately to stop himself from blacking out, but the heat was too much and he fell on the floor. Only his immense strength and grim determination kept him from falling unconscious. Picking himself up, he nodded to Crystal and pressed on.

Mercifully, the temperature starts to drop rapidly. It was almost cool again when they reached Scarlet, who was standing there waiting. On the left was a closed door with a small iron plate in it.

Crystal
Skill: 11
Stamina: 20

Emyrs
Skill: 11
Stamina: 16

Scarlet
Skill: 11
Stamina: 20


Ninth Stick - @melancholy

Opening up the backpack, Yeonhwa saw a single Gold piece lying at the bottom. He he reached in to retrieve it, he suddenly a tickling movement on the back of his hand. Withdrawing it slowly, he tried to control his mounting panic upon seeing a Black Widow spider. Before Yeonhwa can shake it off, it sinks its poisonous fangs deep into his wrist (-6 Stamina). Noticing his hand trembling as he pocketed the Gold Piece (-1 Skill), he cursed owner of the backpack. Yeonhwa took a moment to breathe and shake off the pain before setting off north again.

Yeonhwa Kim
Skill: 7
Stamina: 15


Eleventh Stick - @melancholy

Kendra removes her pack and rips off one of the smaller flaps covering a pocket. Carefully holding the jug, she drops the cloth into it. Acrid smoke rose from the jug; the liquid is unmistakenly acid. Recorking the jug, Kendra was careful to place it in her pack and shoulder it again, hoping to maybe use it later.
She continued northwards a few metres before it took a sharp turn east, soon arriving at a strange obstruction of 12 horizontal poles. Seeing long splinters scattering the floor, she wondered where they came from; above or the sides.

Kendra
Skill: 12
Stamina: 21


Questions:

Fifth and Sixth Stick
Would any climb up to take the jewels or just walk around it leave the cavern?

Seventh and Eighth Stick
Do you open the door, slide the plate, or just continue onward?

Ninth Stick
What did you think about him finding a spider in there?

Eleventh Stick
Do you go over the top or between the poles?


Group Deciders and Readers:

Deciding for Aelric, Desiree, Julien, and Sam
@Tellyg47, @EmilyJunkie, @ChaoticDeluge, @jaytastic, @Skyler2, and @unsungcheerio

Those just reading: @sunflower.flow, @duck, @Duckling, @SilverKittrn, and @TheDancingFryer

5 Likes