by Cal "Syruss" Marsden
Hello there, I am Syruss O’leary…Knight..lover..detective for hire..and sometimes a Dragon Hunter.
"She walked through my door like a lioness walks into a meat orphanage — strawberry blonde and legs for hours. No dame her age could afford armor like that, and the kind of war paint she had on gave me a good idea how she got it. She had bad news written on her like October of '29, the year before the Bedlam Wars.
“Are you Sir Syruss O’leary?” she asked
“ I am,” I replied, curt and aggravated. Don’t know why, maybe I was ready to head home, maybe I didn’t like the look of this Dragon Lady's face, maybe I am just an old grump…maybe.
“I was told you're the type of fella who helps out poor souls for a fair price,” she clambered on.
“That depends on how 'fair' of a price,” I told her.
She went on to tell me about some sob story of a missing dragon sister being held captive by evil Doctors who were up to no good. Apparently Ms. Salina Dargoneesee, that’s her name, had this half sister, being held against her will all while having rotten experiments done on her….like draining life force experiments awful. It was the typical tale with a few new twists: dragons, kidnapping, treasure, mystery and a lost love. She went on and on for what seemed like hours. The more she talked the more I listened and the more I felt compelled to help.
I don’t know what it was about her sob story that got to me: maybe the lost half-sister, or the sad look in her eyes. Perhaps it was the hundred rowan she laid on my table. Whatever it was, I was on the case.
I haven’t felt this excited since Grebinar and I started the S&G detective agency. Now maybe was our time to do some good. We loaded up the wagon and went to case the joint. This was a miserable looking cave entrance with too nice of a door. When did bears get into reinforced carbon steel door engineering, am I right? There were a few windows around this cave entrance but nothing large enough to see in. Heck, we were lucky enough to get glimpses of what was on the other side of the door, nothing helpful just a hallway. We cased the joint Friday night for 48 hours until it was OUR time to enter on Sunday.
Over the course of our study people kept coming in and out of the facility like a popular Chimeron Deli on lunch hour. We watched some groups go in, most come out, some who came out with less people than when they went in. While we weren’t sure what was going on in there, we were sure we would need a team to accomplish this feat. We gathered the usual muscles for hire. D and Quayloth from Folkestone were willing to lightning-bolt their way through anything for some coin; after that, the rest of our crew could be bought with whiskey and the promise of a good time.
We projected we would need at least twenty coin-hungry adventurers. What we got was over a half-dozen hung-over meatheads. Lovable meatheads, but meatheads all the same.
We entered the facility and were immediately greeted by what appeared to be friendly hospital staff. The boys were a mixed bag of Blackwood Trail Mix on whether or not we should trust them. Half the boys thought: “What the heck, let's sign these blank Doctors/Patient forms. What’s the worst that could happen?”
Well, I knew better. It was something in the air. I never quite trusted hospitals, not after the experiments of 1008 but that’s another story. No, there was something off in this room. How did they have all our names? Why were they so friendly? WHERE DID HALF MY GROUP GO??? That was my last question before I felt that unforgettable prick in the side of my neck. Yup, I had been tranquillized…..
I woke up in a small room with my fellow Neden Guys, like our B squad...heck, who am I kidding - in this situation there were few others I would prefer to have. We were stripped of all our possessions and the door was locked. I immediately scanned the room before the others woke up. I had a room with one small window (too small to escape), a door with a lock and a note in a language I was unfamiliar with, plus a whole heck of a lot of puzzle pieces. Whoever these guys were, they sure went through a lot of trouble to keep us in here and to keep us entertained while we were here. I mean, I am used to having an old magazine or two but these puzzles would be a much better use of my time in this perpetual waiting room.
It was time to asses my resources - like I said, I had a cracker-jack squad. We had the incomparable Siff of Neden (who had the only means of combat magic missile) and Rawlin the Clown (he would be able to distract most opposition or at the very least provide the knock-knock jokes for the next however many years we would be stuck here). Then there was Razmith and our petitioner Gumbo. Now Gumbo was only good for cooking, but I knew Razmith would be able to crack this code and get us out before it was too late.
The rain was coming down like all the angels in heaven decided to take a piss at the same time. When you’re in a situation like mine, you can only think in metaphors. I knew this weather was an omen of what to come and I knew we had to do something quick.
“Eureka!” Razmith exclaimed.
With that resounding statement we were free, and we left that room with zero regard for what was on the other side. We left that room like schoolchildren running from the building on solstice break. Before we knew it we had located our comrades equally stuck in other rooms. I had the notion that the facility didn’t think to change the combinations to the doors. Minions, am I right? Smart enough to practice medicine poorly but not smart enough to change a four-digit code.
We were out of there in no time...well, actually like fifteen more minutes than we needed. Nymbous insisted the doctors were not that dumb. No way it was the same code…right?!?!?!
After we convinced our fearless leader to try one more time we were on our way. Then, without warning a Specter of a Dragon appeared and you could tell she was the missing sister the dame who hired us was missing. She went on to help us navigate various rooms with various puzzle traps. We decided the best route was to set off all the traps with our more resilient crew. We may not be able to kill all these doctors, but we can send wave after wave of regenerating meatheads at them until they get bored or we get the upper hand. We all tried something different with the doctors until we found these cool sleeping agents that could knock out the doctors, along with some empty syringes and all these colorful pills that most of us were forced to take…some of us not so forced…
After what felt like days and with various visits from specter lady (who was always magically on the same treasure chest that I am pretty sure we weren’t carrying), we made our way through all the doctors to this warden guy, a head honcho.
He was conducting weird experiments on a few tree-looking folk. Not any of my business. Some of our group that had gotten separated, or had fallen into the cavern, or wandered off alone were in the room and getting the ugly end of this guy’s business mace - and that, my friends, was my problem.
I busted in there like a flesh tornado with arms and legs and teeth just tearing into anything in my way. After bashing on this guy for ten minutes, I noticed it wasn't working. I pulled the old classic “What’s that over there?” and dove behind a pile of dead bodies when he turned his back, until he passed. I found Siff, Razmith and Lord Nymbous all bogged down with these huge boulder-like chains. Grebs and I were busy treating our friends like they were hot new bardic songs “off the chain” and we freed them. Well, not the tree people……..
We still had Mr. Smashy-Mace swinging his thing around like a toddler with a rattle.
“Hey Nymbous!” I shouted. “If their chains were strong enough to contain your awesomeness to the ground, maybe just maybe it will work on this mook.”
With that said, Nymbous and I sprang into action, hurling the chains together with four hands onto this guy’s back. It worked, he buckled under the weight like my belt and pants after a good Nedgiving Dinner. Naj got a cool pair of shoulders and Jean Baptiste wore this man’s face (note to self: watch JB more carefully...) We got another key to the Specter Dragon Lady who kept appearing like smoke on foggy morning. It would have creeped me out, but that wasn’t even the weirdest thing that happened to me this day. No, I was much too busy collecting keys to care or wonder about why.
The next room was a Mastermind Doctor, presumably the Mini Mini boss, like your direct supervisor. Sure he can make you work late, but he can’t make you come in on Saturdays kind of boss. This loony tune was using his own blood to create the undead and generally cause mischief and malpractice with “patience”. He even replaced my liver with paper plates and other stuff. I think??? To which I responded by ripping open the sutures and self removing the plate and adding my liver (along with a few others) back where they needed to be for this Friday’s Karaoke action. I tried using the syringe to fill one of those poison vials of blood and inject it this Creepy Doctor Doom…and it failed. Like horribly, comically failed…
Then I noticed Mr. Mini Boss was missing some fingers and there were all these jars of blood everywhere.
“Where did you get all these jars of blood?!” Naj yelled.
But it didn’t matter where he got them from, only that they were important for solving whatever this disaster was.
I noticed the Mr. Mini Boss was missing fingers and started opening the jars with fingers in them……Yikes that was a painful idea. Good thing I practiced mortification in the Church of Darkhaven. The pain was nuts but not all that unbearable. After opening 16 out of the 18 bottles I knew the next bottle was sure to be a winner. I was wrong. But, BOOM 20 had the solution. I drank the blood because I’m a Demo..…er I mean because at that point I was sure it would either kill me or give me super-powers. If you guessed it killed me, well then you’d be wrong - I got the super-powers. I was a Lich Bane swinging son of a lich (not really, my mom was a beet-farming saint I tell ya).
After enough smashing of the Lich he dropped a key which unlocked more of Rubyious’s (that’s the Dragon Specter, which you know because I have mentioned a million times I am sure) chains. Which led us to this poor soul snake person who had a killer headache (which I could relate to, having spent the first part of the quest listening to Siff tell me a great idea for a Harlequin Comedy Club). We helped this guy. Sort of, well not really, but we definitely got the key and we definitely DID not trap this guy inside a cage forever.
I couldn’t help but feel like this key, the presumably last key, was in fact not the end of our adventure. I could attribute that to the fact that all the hallways were suddenly eerily empty or the fact that I am a cracker-jack detective, but I guess ultimately it was because we had not seen a dragon yet and you know, that was the main purpose of this thing.
We unlocked the last of the Specter’s Box and just like I predicted, this Dragon Lady turned on us like out-of-date milk. She immediately turned from an adorable damsel dragon in distress to a dangerous dragon of doom. Just when me and Grebinar were getting pumped up to go in and kill the dragon super-duper big time, the rest of the team got it done…..Like super-fast.
It was all over...or so I thought. The room went dark - darker than Bedlam on a moonless night - and the walls came crashing down like all of Grebinar's previous relationships. Behind them was a three-headed super-duper dragon.Time was ticking; we had to have been in there for a year now. How long did we have? Three hours? That can’t be right. We slept...we ate...so many rooms, so many pills...what did the doctor say about side effects???
Anyways, we crack the code of the dragons by making them crack their heads against each other….silly triplets. After the Wytherin was down, I gutted its stomach and dove in and out the other side…
“Syruss, how did you know this was going to lead to the treasure room?” D asked.
“I am a cracker-jack detective, D. That, and diving head-first into things has literally never backfired on anyone in the history of ever.” (That’s a fact, look it up)
Well, we got the treasure and a cool Mimic pet named Stevie McPherson….and four new dragon heads to add to the wall.
So the dame set me up, so the guys took 90% of the loot and left me to deal with the mimic - I still solved the case, and by that I mean I killed a bunch of stuff and got free healthcare.
We ended up escaping the area with nine minutes left to spare…or we did it in nine minutes flat….one of two...Time was weird there…Did Jean Baptiste get taller???? Are the colors going to go back to normal…Did I get all the plates?????