The good news was we only needed one more key to escape from the dungeon. The bad news was that it was protected by a Beholder and a Death Kiss. I had only ever heard of Death Kisses in legend and the tales did not do justice to what floated before us. The ball of pallid flesh was five feet across with one giant blood red eye. From its body snaked twelve pale tentacles at the ends of which rasped hungry horny mouths.
Akra, our dragonborn sorcerer, took the unusual approach of trying to reason with them. It was an audacious plan, and one which in my opinion was doomed to failure from the start. Although, to be honest, and I am nothing if not honest, my attempt to throw a firebolt at the Death Kiss while it was distracted probably didn’t help matters along.
Agitated by my assault the beast’s tentacles flailed towards Akra who, unlike me, was not sensibly some considerable distance away. She flung her own firebolt and in an explosion of flame managed to retreat.
South, never one to shy away from a fight, was desperate to try out his new magic battle-axe and swung wildly at the floating ball. His blade bit deep, magic fire surrounding the steel and scorching his foe.
The Death Kiss retaliated, lashing at South with three chomping tentacles. I leapt to his defence, metaphorically speaking at least. Obviously I wasn’t going to do anything as foolhardy as putting myself in reach of the creature. I sent scorching rays towards the squirming mouths driving two of the tentacles back. The third fleshy feeler encircled South and the foul toothed jaws latched onto his arm.
Lunar and Itiff let loose with arrows but the beast continued to maul South. The barbarian roared and ripped the tentacle free before cleaving it with his axe. Silvery blood splattered from the monster and electricity arced over South causing him to convulse in shock.
Seeing the barbarian was in trouble, Itiff drew his blades and charged at the Death Kiss. Beside him scurried Komgrirk, a healing potion clasped in his outstretched hand.
Lunar loaded another bolt in her crossbow, then inexplicably tripped and fell face first on the floor. Fortunately for Lunar the floor is never that far away and so the only injury she attained was to her pride (which had obviously come before this fall).
Itiff slashed at the tentacles while South chugged down Komgrirk’s healing potion. Akra threw what I would describe as a rather measly firebolt into the fray. My much more powerful spells had obviously severely wounded the beast because the sorcerer’s rather puny effort was the kiss of death for the Death Kiss and it disintegrated in a mess of flesh and electric gloop.
Sadly, there was no time to celebrate. Seeing the Death Kiss defeated the Beholder roared, saliva flecks flying from its toothy maw. It drifted closer, the light shimmering from its chitinous scales. Atop its head myriad smaller eyestalks writhed menacingly.
Red beams shot from three of the eyes hitting Itiff, his pet wolf Snarf, and South. The big barbarian shrugged off the attack, but not so Snarf or Itiff. The wolf whimpered and ran away while Itiff cried, “I’m blind. Give me directions.”
“Over here,” I called. (I most certainly did not shout ‘Run forward’ as later reported by some members of the group, an instruction that would have sent Itiff stumbling blindly towards the beholder like a disposable diversionary target). Sensibly, Itiff headed for my voice and out of immediate danger.
I hurled a fireball at the Beholder but it fizzled to nothing and another legend sprang to mind; the eye of the Beholder could destroy magic. Irked by the waste of a perfectly good spell I shouted to Lunar, “Shoot it in the eye.”
She let loose her bolt and it struck true, thudding into the Beholder’s massive eye. I followed up with a firebolt which exploded on the floating foe’s carapace.
“Blitzkrieg!” bellowed South, the name of his new magic battle-axe and he charged at the monster. At his heels ran Komgrirk waving a rapier, recently gifted to him by Lunar. South’s axe hit home but then in a flash he was transformed into a muscled black panther. The change didn’t seem to put the enraged warrior off his stride and he leapt at the Beholder sending it tumbling backwards.
Akra loosed a crossbow bolt, which also found the monster’s eye; a lucky shot I suspect. The Beholder tore the offending bolt free and I used the distraction to hit it with a devastating fireball. My superior, powerful magic not only severely singed the monster but also brought a large portion of the ceiling crashing down on the beast, exactly as I had planned.
While the monster was stunned by my impressive assault, Akra took an easy shot and hit it with another firebolt. This one was of considerably more effect than her last puny effort but I decided it was time to show the sorcerer who was the real wielder of magic in our band of adventurers. Scorching rays of flame streamed from my fingers and in an explosion of gas and fetid flesh the Beholder was no more.
I casually blew on my smoking fingertips and winked at Akra, knowing that I, Tarquin The Honest, had once again saved the day.