The dungeon beneath the Yawning Portal was dark, dank and dangerous. The list of heroic adventurers it has claimed is long and, after my injuries today, I fear the name of Tarquin The Honest may soon be written on that list too. Those of a squeamish disposition may wish to stop reading now.
The atrocities began as Itiff stealthily opened a door into a small dungeon room. I peeked past him to spy a sea of rats feasting on the bodies of three dead orcs. I’m not a huge fan of rats, but then again, I’m not a huge fan of orcs either, so I may have been ambivalent about the situation were it not for the giant rat the size of a man perched atop one of the cadavers. There was something most foul about its near human visage, a delight on its face as it plucked at the orcs fetid flesh with claw-like hands. The thing was an abomination and I felt no remorse as I hurled a fire-bolt from the protection of the doorway and prepared to scarper.
Now it is fair to say that I am adept in the art of running away seeking a tactical position away from the enemy from which to dominate the battle. I was therefore much vexed that Ratman, despite being victim of a surprise flambé, seemed able to cover the considerable distance to the door before I could withdraw as planned.
The beast, apparently none the worse for wear for its roasting, swiped at me with sharpened claws, but for the moment I managed to keep it at arm’s length with my staff.
“That’s ironic, Tarquin being attacked by a giant rat,” said Lunar from somewhere to my rear. Her crossbow twanged and a bolt whistled past my ear, missed Ratman entirely and lodged itself in Itiff’s armour.
Wrong-footed by Lunar’s careless aiming, Itiff failed to push the door closed before the pack of enraged rats swarmed into the corridor. I decided my skills would be of best use at the rear of our band of adventurers and valiantly turned to leg it. Unfortunately, Komgrirk had advanced down the corridor and was now blocking my way. I have to say I was somewhat taken aback. Not only because the little blighter was normally happy to stay out of the action but also because, despite his size, he somehow managed to block the whole corridor, and therefore, my retreat. I cursed my luck. It was almost as if some greater force was conspiring against me, determined that today I would not emerge unscathed.
Ratman clawed at me again with an attack so vicious it would have caused me terrible trauma had I not cast a protective shield around me to deflect his blows.
“You jammy runt,” shouted Lunar, unable to believe how I had skilfully avoided injury.
At least I think that’s what she said. It was hard to tell because at that point a glass jar of yellow liquid smashed into the wall. Hurled at the Ratman with the ineptitude that I have come to expect from Komgrirk, it had landed nowhere near its intended target.
The pack surged towards me. Itiff swung his blades like a whirling dervish, slicing and chopping at the feral horde with gusto. He was truly magnificent and I was certain that Lori, who was alas stuck at the rear of our group, had blessed him with the favour of the gods. If only her blessing would extend to me so I could be rid of the malevolent power intent on smiting me.
Ratman snarled, his beady yellow eyes full of malice as he savaged me again. My magical shield took the brunt of the attack but, weakened by the onslaught, it faded and collapsed. I was now unprotected and at the mercy of the remnants of the pack that had scurried past Itiff. They climbed up my robes and with visceral menace sunk their teeth into my arm.
The shock of the pain was intense and a lesser adventurer may have succumbed, but I am made of sterner stuff. Despite my mauling I directed bolts of sizzling magical energy into Ratman’s torso. He made a horrific keening scream and dropped dead to the floor.
From behind me a whipcrack sounded and the beasts upon my arm were decimated by the cruel leather expertly wielded by Lunar.
Itiff sliced through the remnants of the pack. “Well rats, rat,” he said, jovially skewering the last of the critters and presumably unaware of my horrific injury.
I sunk to my knees, clutching my arm from which leaked my life. I looked at the terrible wound and I knew that I, Tarquin The Honest, would be scarred for life by the battle.