Mara looked back and forth across the sights in front of her. She was in front of the drawbridge of Castle Charon. Her eyes were set on the rumors of the ungodly amounts of treasure it kept. It certainly had been a while since it was maintained, worms had eaten through it and decayed it a lot. Still, Mara had her wits her rope and an uncanny ability to dodge out of the way of trouble. She stole forward across the bridge, but when she took a step about halfway in, the floorboard under her foot gave out. The dodge saved her, and she managed to get across without any other trouble.
She made it past the castle gates, but there was a sentry beast on the other side of the bridge! She pulled out a dagger and trusted that her armor would protect her against the attack that would come. She takes a strike at the beast and hits where it counts, knocking off most of the beast’s protective armor in the process. It looks unsteady. Mara pulls out her sword and strikes again, but in her haste the beast gets in a sneak attack! Mara is knocked to the floor by the devious swipe of the beast. She decides to change tactics and whump the monster with her shark tail, hoping she could dodge any more attacks. She hit the beast and it fell to the ground in a heap. There was a jewel in the middle of the beast’s helmet. That jewel is now Mara’s.
Mara walks forward low to the ground and lets her guard down a little, the rush of the victory getting to her head. She made a step and found a pit trap and she was about to fall in it! She grabs for her rope and throws her sword up to try and catch something. She misses. Luckily the trap wasn’t very deep, the rug would probably never be the same color again, but she managed to avoid certain doom this time.
She entered the castle ruins. There was rubble and darkness everywhere. Mara took a look at the muddy ground and saw a lot of criss-crossing tracks, meaning people have been through these halls. Many people. Potentially with the same idea she had for getting a quick buck out of the castle.
No time to worry about that now, she thought. She advanced onwards, a bit shaken from the pit trap and heard a click as she walked. An arrow trap! It fired at her, so she attempted to dodge it and cut the arrow in two with her sword as it flew. She barely manages to dodge it and expertly cuts the arrow in two, except horizontally instead of down the middle. She collects herself and takes a closer look at the rest of the hallway, carefully stepping around the remaining trap triggers.
Walking for a while, she hears the sound of little feet running against the stone, right for her. It was a pack of guard dogs! She readied her dagger and attempted to hide behind a pillar to get the advantage. She jumped out of the way and struck one of the dogs right between the ears, neutralizing it and scaring the others. The dogs tried to charge right for her, but this was a mistake they would soon regret. She may be lousy with her sword, but she is excellent with her dagger. Expertly, she slashes at the other dogs, ending them. One of the dogs had a golden tag on its collar. Doesn’t look like much, but the collars could be worth something. She takes them as her treasure.
Walking down the hall some more, she finds a woman chained to the wall. Sharks tend to drive fear into humans, especially the ones that walk on land. Mara thought it was best to try and sneak by without disturbing the poor woman. She is obviously upset about the bodies of the dogs, screaming and hollering. Mara hesitates for a moment and tries to duck past the woman, using her tail to help her roll. Using her tail like that was a good idea, but didn’t really translate into a success in practice, however, she managed to sneak past the woman without too much difficulty.
Mara was confused. The map she had said that she needed to take a left at this point, but she was obviously faced with a dead end. How could this be? The map wasn’t wrong so far. Mara decided it was a good idea to head back the way she came, just to see if she got a turn backwards on accident. Using some extra rope and a lockpick to mark her place, she headed towards the noises of the poor woman that was chained to the wall. It took a while longer than she hoped, but she managed to find her way again, it was a demoralizing setback though. Every moment she spent trying to find her way meant another moment she wasn’t getting treasure!
Despite this, Mara forged on. She found a potion rack! There were many valuable potions just sitting there. But there had been so many people through this part of the castle already, they would have taken these if they weren’t booby trapped somehow. Mara decided to grab one anyways, even the least valuable potion would feed her for a week! She reached out for one, stabilizing herself with her tail and getting ready to dodge any traps. She grabbed a potion of cat agility and yanked it. The shelf retracted into the wall as soon as she did. Ah well, she thought. At least she had the potion, that would more than make up for the trip alone. Anything else was just icing on the cake.
Mara reached the end of this path and found a stone staircase. It looked safe enough, but going up it would lead her to the deeper parts of the castle, where all of the real treasure was hidden. She took out her rope and got ready to get out of the way, just in case. She was right to be cautious, however after avoiding one loose stone she caught another and tripped, catching herself with the rope. A rookie mistake. She had a few scrapes and bruises, but she would be fine.
After climbing the staircase, Mara was confused. The map that she got from that tricksy Snep was insisting there was a path ahead of her. However all she saw was a thick stone wall. There was one stone sticking out though. Mara didn’t want to take any more chances and set up a rope in the ground next to her. She pushed the rock in and got ready for what was about to happen. A hidden passage opened up and nothing else happened. Mara facepalmed and decided to head forward, packing up her rope.
Mara saw a treasure chest to the left, or at least what she thought was one. It was so dark it was hard to tell. She grabbed a lockpick and her dagger to break its lock open. Surely something hidden so well had some good stuff in it. She was right! There was a royal looking scepter in the chest. She held it up to the torchlight and saw it had a rather large diamond in its tip. This wasn’t just a payday, this could potentially let her buy a house! Commission a house to be built! Commission an entire town to be built in her honor! Wrapping it in some cloth, she put it in her bag for safe keeping.
Walking forward, Mara felt a change in the air. The musty smell of the castle had changed to a more gloomy smell, that and ridiculous amounts of incense. Checking her map, Mara concluded she was in the catacombs. She pivoted her ears around and heard a distant hum. Could it be chanting? Either way, there was treasure to find. Mara walked down the hall and found an engraving on the wall. It read:
I have no wallet but I pay my way. I travel the world but in the corner I stay. What am I?
Ugh. A riddle. Mara hated riddles. She tried to think about the possible answers to this riddle and hid off to the side in case anyone walked by. After a while, the answer struck her like a ton of bricks. It was a stamp! A stamp doesn’t have a wallet and goes on the corner of letters! She felt better about the situation and was ready to head towards the main treasure room.
She didn’t get very far when she heard something ahead of her. It was a slight hiss. Was this one of the crypt crawlers she was warned about?
It was. She readied her dagger and got ready to duck, hoping the memory of the riddle wouldn’t distract her. Her dagger connected with the crawler, stopped by its scales and managed to get out of the way of the crawler’s counterattack. She still put a sizable nick in the crawler’s neck, that would give her a weak point to attack. Mara decided to go all out with her next attack, dual-wielding a sword and dagger with reckless abandon. She hit it twice against all odds, stunning the creature for a moment. She decided to try it again and struck even harder, hoping this blow would finish the job.
It did. She pierced the scaly armor of the crawler and expertly beheaded it. Mara had never beheaded a monster before, she was in awe at this and quickly stole the crawler’s necklace made of chitin, bone and gold. That ought to get a good price at the store.
There was a strong scent of blood in the air. Mara’s shark senses picked up on it like it was fresh meat to kill and eat. She headed for the scent, an inhuman hunger raging within her. It was a dead rat, obviously killed by one of the traps it set off. Still, food was food. She reached down and ate it up in one bite. Her digestive system would take care of the rest.
Mara looked up and saw guards. She said “Aw heck” aloud on accident and the guards heard her, charging over and ready for battle. She readied her dagger and braced for a fight. She shouted “HECK U!” to the guard on her left and obliterated him with her dagger, his lifeless body falling to the ground in a heap. The other guard tried to attack but the leather armor repelled it. Mara still had the lust for blood on her mind and decided to bite the guard in his neck. She jumped up at him and savagely bit the guard, tearing out a section of his throat. The guard looked up at Mara and tried to say something, but failed and joined his friend on the ground. Mara giggled and looted the guards for valuables, finding a golden ring. She threw it into her bag, laughing manically.
She found a coffer ahead. Running over to it, she took a closer look at it. It looked like she could just take it with her. She tried to pick it up and got ready for any traps that picking it up might set off. Turns out it was full of gold and way too heavy to pick up, she strained herself for a moment and gave up. She also wasn’t able to open it. It would have been a nice thing to put on her shelf, now that she could afford having a shelf.
A cultist had wandered over to the coffer and saw Mara standing there, trying to steal it. He shouted out “STOP! That is a sacred artifact of Mirath! You can’t take it!” Mara smiled and snarked back “I can’t, you bozos filled it full of gold. Wanna heckin eat those words?”
“Try me, thief!”
The battle was on! The cultist had a rather deadly looking steel flail, but no armor to speak of. No matter, Mara’s dodging skill was legendary, so was her accuracy with her dagger. The cultist took a swing at her and missed, Mara took this as an opportunity to strike back, hitting the cultist in his side. Smiling, Mara pulled out her sword to finish the deal, and rope to make the cultist not a threat in case she missed. She connected and slew the cultist where he stood. The cultist had an amulet around his neck with an arcane sigil on it. Would probably fetch a nice price from the enchanter in Creator’s Landing, she thought to herself.
Mara walked on, her backpack getting heavier and heavier with her spoils. She had made it to a larger room, magical sigils covered the walls and the chanting was even louder. She thought to herself: what were they trying to do, summoning the devil? She crept forward more quietly than normal, not wanting to get caught. She stumbled across a large group of cultists chanting in some satanic sounding language. Hiding against the wall, she got ready to stealth her way around them. She managed to dodge past the gaze of the leader as she made her way around the room quietly.
After some time passed creeping her way through the room, Mara found a glowing book open on a lectern in front of her. The book looked like it was some arcane manual to the afterlife or something, she wasn’t fluent in Ancient, but didn’t think it was worth the risk taking with her. It was glowing and all. Would give her away. Mara walked past it.
However, she couldn’t walk away from the scent of a bloody altar ahead of her. Her shark senses were drawn to it and its sweet smell was a rapture to her exhausted body. No, she had to break its hold! She kicks it over and tries to run away from its influence. Fortunately, the occult chanting is loud enough that the noise she made destroying the altar covers it.
However, no good deed goes unpunished. Kicking over the altar releases waves of arcane darkness at Mara! She tries to dodge them and use her armor to absorb the worst of the damage. The chanting continues louder, seemingly empowered by the darkness. Try as she may, the waves of darkness overwhelm her abilities and she takes a blow to the head from them.
The waves of darkness apparently sent the ritual into overdrive. The chanting gets louder and louder, faster and faster, they seem to be chanting one name over and over: Consort of Blades. The Consort rises out of the middle of the summoning circle and spears all of the cultists in the heart simultaneously, absorbing their power. It turns its head up and lets out a shriek:
“YOU FOOLS! You have brought on the DOOM of your kind! For I, The Consort of Blades will slay you all and leave this land forever changed with my divine right!”
The consort looks right over into Mara’s eyes.
“Oh, you, you were the catalyst to my reincarnation. I should thank you, but your heart will suffice.”
Mara readied her dagger and her tail and shouted back “Not heckin today you creep!” She threw her dagger at the beast and struck it in the arm. The consort attempted to strike back, but Mara blocked it with her tail, stealing her dagger back in the confusion.
Mara thought for a moment and saw an opening in the consort’s armor. She could get a rope around one of the hooks and pull it off, leaving him entirely vulnerable. It would be a very tight jump, but this dungeon has prepared her for this. She jumps and rolls to behind the consort and throws her rope at the open spot. It lands and she lassos the weak point. She tears the armor open and leaves the consort’s hellish body exposed.
“So that’s how we’re going to play, mortal? You have more gumption than most if you could see that weakness. Let’s hope your luck will last!”
Mara smiled and picked up her dagger from the floor, readying her armor for another hit if need be. She strikes the exposed hellflesh and stabs the consort of blades right in the stomach. The consort screams in pain, making the walls shake from the anger and rage. A group of cultists from the other side of the room have formed around the battle, continuing the chant and sending power into the consort’s body. The consort is able to stand again and stares Mara directly in the soul.
“Be a good little girl and DIE!”
Mara jumps and dives out of the way, making the monster slam the hard rock instead of her, the consort of blades just slightly damaged his right hand in the attempt to brutalize Mara. Mara takes advantage of this distraction to plant a dagger right in the heart of the beast, hoping to dodge out of the way should she need to. It connects and she twists the dagger before pulling it out, making the consort of blades disintegrate slowly.
“YOU FOOL, YOU KNOW NOT WHAT YOU HAVE DONE. MY SOUL WILL HAUNT THIS CASTLE FOR ALL TIME. I AM MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU CAN COMPRE-” and at that moment the consort of blades faded into dust. The cultists around Mara started fleeing in terror. She had just killed their god. If she was that powerful, what could they do to stop her?
Mara sighed and grabbed the consort’s bladestaff, sizing it up and putting it on her back with her sword. If she wanted, she could take this and use it as an impetus to go and destroy everyone involved in this cult so this evil could not rise again. But first someone needed to buy off all this loot!
The barrier protecting the world of mortals from the fires of hell is restored, at least for now. Mara heroically retraces her steps outside of Castle Charon, her pack full of loot and her mind full of stories. She made it to town and celebrated the only way she knew how, she bought a large glass of ale and started telling the story of her adventure to her friends.