In the Abyss part 2

Yes, I’m back just as I promised. You happy? Good. Not happy? Your problem.
I’m going to tell you about one of my greatest adventures. It features almost all of the fellows mentioned in my last post. To give you a wider perspective my human advised me to give it a bit of an introduction. So here we go:

I have known Groisch all my life. I can’t even remember a time I had not known him, which is only partly owed to my poor memory. I’ve really known him forever like. Noden is a bit younger but grew up in our tribe. Slaag, Vorn, Kiba and Roxas joined us recently when we all united under the banner of an evil overlord, called the Dragon Son. You might have imagined he’d give himself a fancier name, but there you are. Not that I would ever tell him that face to face. Just two words: fire breath.
We quickly came to be a merry band of warriors, more successful and efficient than any other group within the newly formed alliance. So soon enough we were chosen for special missions. Unfortunately (or better: very fortunately) those were also rather dangerous missions. And it got Groisch killed in the process. Well, it was Noden with one of his ill-aimed fireballs who killed him, but not on purpose. I think. My human says this is called collateral damage. Whatever. This is how this episode begins. Gather round, folks.

Groisch had come to stand in front of our mighty god and was given a choice: either to stay and feast forever with other orc warriors or return and finsih what we were doing when he died. Groisch is stupid, you heard me mention it before, so he chose to return. As I understand it, we were all under close scrutiny to see if we passed a sort of test. For some reason our god seemed to be of the opinion that we had failed him. Gods. Don’t get me started.
So, reunited with a reanimated Groisch we found ourselves in a strange world, at the entrance to a labyrinth. Behind us was nothing but a deserted, flat, dark and dusty plain. The twilight seemed to be permanent, Noden’s familiar (a very annoying imp-like creature) assumed that we had been sent to a place in the abyss. As it was, there seemed to be an obvious task ahead: get into the maze of high thick walls of dark stone; not very inviting. But in order to prove our worthiness (or rather Groisch’s worthiness) there wasn’t a choice obviously.
I think it was Slaag who came up with the brilliant idea to always keep the left hand on the left wall and just follow that lead. That’s what we did. Very soon we realized a few things about the labyrinth:
1) the walls were incredibly high and had no joints whatsoever. They felt like stone but – when hit – they sounded metallic. What kind of mason could cut a stone like that?
2) no matter which way we turned, the wind always blew in our faces.
3) somewhere in the distance we heard strange vibrating and scratching noises.
4) our footprints in the dust dissappeared very quickly.
We kept on walking, left hand – left wall.
After a while some shrill screaching or howling was to be heard, followed by the familiar scratching. All of a sudden that noise was incredibly close. It sounded as if the walls were rearranging themselves. Honestly, what kind of cheat is that? They moved towards us, there was no escape. Only after Groisch and Noden had been painfully hit by something did we realize that it had only been moving shadows. But what did hit Noden and Groisch then? It was far beyond our intelligence to understand, I’m sure. Therefore I did not even try.
I know what you think, but Noden is a clever little orc and Vorn and Kiba are dark elves. They might be despicable creatures (not Noden, don’t get me wrong) but they’re not stupid. None of us understood what the fuck was going on.
Nevertheless we moved on. And on. Time seemed to follow its own rules inside that maze.
Out of the dark a weird creature appeared as if out of nowhere. And maybe that’s exactly where it came from. Nowhere is a place on some plane in our multiverse. Or maybe it’s a plane on its own. If a god wants to make a point anything is possible.
So, this weird creature. It was sceletal and zombie-like. Its tongue morphed into its guts, visibly, between the ribs, where the organs should have been. On its other end the tongue formed a nasty claw.
It did not like us one bit, that was evident by its approach. Or maybe it liked us far too much and was in for a bite.
The creature approached us, moving surpisingly fast, trying to make us unsurprisingly dead. We made quick work of it and moved on. The problem with labyrinths is – as far as I can tell – that they wear you out. We lost our patience at some point and decided to get to the center of it somehow. The howling noise was constantly tearing at my nerves and distracted me. So when more claw-tongued zombies attacked us I was not at my best. And guess what? After a while more of them appeared. Actually we were beginning to think that maybe it were always the same zombies and we just had gotten lost in the labyrinth. How unexepected. In addition we were attacked by bat-like creatures with human heads. But of course it needs a lot more to bring me down (usually anything the Brewer concocts). I hacked down one of the bats, my colleagues took care of the other one.
We finally reached the center of the labyrinth. Don’t ask me how we knew it was the center, we just did, okay? We were on a mission set up by our own god, so get over it.
There were sharp edged stones lying around but we were a little distracted by six stingy pig-like creatures that not only attacked us but seemed to be the source of the howling. I desperately wanted to kill them, but so did they. Noden casted an icestorm that weakened them considerably, but two of them still got to me. It hurt! Bugger, did it hurt. My colleagues and I did finally end their pathetic lives but I was pretty fucked up. Roxas proved to be a skilled and reliable healer while the others took a good look around, in order to find a way out. Somewhere the walls were vibrating again. Or maybe it was just the shadows of those walls. What did I care.

After a lengthy debate we came to the conclusion that this was not the center of the maze. Of course not. Who ever had come up with that theory definitely did not know what he was talking about. We took a different route, with me taking the lead. You see, I am not normally the one who’s scouting ahead as my sense of direction is somewhat limited. But there and then I seemed to follow an inner voice I chose not to question (as it had no resemblence with any of my wives’ voices).
We got to a room with a warm orange glow. Right in the middle stood a huge stone bowl on massive pillars, filled with orange-glowing fluid. Before we could discuss the matter, Groisch had dipped a finger into it, then his head and finally his entire self. As it did not seem to do him any harm we all took a sip. It tasted nice and healed our wounds. Noden and Vorn filled their waterskins with it.
Soon after, everything appeared to be relaxed and quite colourful. Why all the fuss? What fuss? We moved on. (Yes, this is a bit repetitive, I know. But imagine how we felt while being in that maze!) After a short while the others began to behave strangely. They giggled. I mean, really? Giggling orcs and dark elves? How embarrassing. We got to a stone circle where everyone except me started dry-humping the stones, declaring them to be their favourite sexual partners. The dark elves especially lost it completely. Noden and Slaag managed to shake off the illusion but Kiba and Vorn definitely tried to impregnate the stones. I saw what I saw, and it cannot be unseen ever again. It happened no matter what they might try to tell you. It stopped being funny after a while and we shoved them off their love-stones in order to move on.

A thick mist came up. We had the glorious idea to use my rope in order to stay connected and not lose anyone in the fog. Unfortunately, Groisch was leading us and did not see where he put his feet. Guess what? Exactly. We fell off a steep cliff and got hurt rather badly. We seemed to be at the bottom of the maze, or rather on the outside. What did I know.
Luckily, Vorn did not fall. But getting up that rope again made no sense. So he climbed down to join us. We followed rule No. 1, left hand – left wall, you remember. I mean, if I can remember, I assume you can as well.
After what felt like eternity we arrived at the dangling rope again. By that time our mood hat shifted a bit to the gloomy side. Had I told them that we were moving in circles? Yes, I had. Did they listen to me? You know the answer. So we stopped following rule No. 1 and moved away from any wall towards something that appeared to be an open plain. After a while we saw a massive block of stone. Right in the middle of nowhere (no, not that place in the multiverse, just a metaphorical version). To get close to the block we had to cross a moat. Unfortunately the water was boiling hot. What now? A few rocks and trees nearby provided the obvious solution. We cut down some of the trees and chucked them into the water together with the rocks. It made a very shaky bridge halfway into the moat. It did not look very difficult to get across, but…
Well, how could it have been otherwise? Noden (because he is rather clever) and I (because I am wise in the ways of the world) waited to see how the others would fare. Groisch tried it first. The treetrunks started to twist and roll, so he fell into the water which seemed to be freezing cold. WTF? Only a moment later Slaag fell into it too and yelled very unorcishly, insisting that it was boiling hot. They assisted each other to get back onto the treetrunks and crawled on. And fell in again. And again. The water seemed to change its extreme temperatures at will, or let’s say randomly. At that point I began to question the intelligence of the whole group. Noden and I arrived at the same conclusion: we needed more trees. In the meantime Kiba had crossed the trees easily and arrived safely on the other side, Vorn tried a sort of pole-vault that looked rather funny and didn’t do the trick. But instead of doing the in-and-out kind of thing Slaag and Groisch were struggling with (Steady! No pun intended here!), he just swam the rest of the way, stoically ignoring the freezing-hot water. Also, someone finally realized that poor little Roxas had been very uncomfortably sitting in Slaag’s backpack the whole time and got cooked. Realizing also that we needed the little bugger as he was our medipack, Vorn gave him some of the orange healing draught when they all had finally reached the other side. Noden and I put our plan to work and got across the moat on dry feet. Sometimes things are as simple as they look. Our method might have been unorcish but rather efficient. On the other hand Slaag and Groisch had added substantially to our entertainment and to their own legendary stupidity.

We climbed on top of that block of stone and took a look around. The area looked pretty much the same from that higher perspective but: the stone had a hole in the middle. An entrance with stairs. Always favouring the obvious, we followed that lead and got on the stairs, Groisch first (it was his mission, so no argument there). Halfway down, Groisch activated some hidden mechanism, the stairs dissappeared and he fell, screaming. The stairs returned, we still heard him, though somewhat distant, from above. We all pressed flat against the wall when Groisch dropped through the entrance and painfully crashed on the stairs again. More carefully we proceeded downwards. On our way we found bones that showed marks of rats’ teeth. On the next set of stairs Groisch activated another mechanism (he never misses any of those, believe me). The stairs turned into a slippery slide and we all dashed downwards. It was rather enjoyable although I had to admit that the butt was glowing hot a bit. Of course there was a water basin at the end of it. We found ourselves in some kind of grotto. A torch burned near the exit, we took it and followed the path. Rats, more rats. Lots of rats. Some of them had an unhealthy amount of legs or tails, some looked as if their fur had been burned by acid. They appeared to be rather hungry and seemed only to wait for one of us to stumble. We arrived at a room with eight locked doors of different sizes. There was also a table with several bottles on it (someone said, twenty-four bottles). Some of them showed ornaments that seemed to match the same stuff on the doors. Bear with me, friends, it got rather complicated after that.

To make a long story (and debate) short:
sixteen of the bottles matched with the doors, eight did not. While Slaag placed the matching bottles in front of each door, Groisch tried to open one of the doors. Tiny electrical bolts rushed across the handle and he withdrew quickly. Slaag opened all the bottles and sniffed. The matching ones smelled nicely the other eight did not. Several theories were discussed. We all liked Noden’s best: the smelly ones were for healing, the nice ones for the party afterwards.
Groisch, never having heard of delayed gratification (something I myself have learned about just very recently), drank one of the bottles in front of the biggest door. It tasted delicious and he choked on a key that stuck in his greedy throat. He used it very cleverly to unlock the door. Through the open door we could make out a narrow corridor, dark and smelly. Even the rats seemed to avoid it. Groisch and Slaag went in first. At the end of the corridor was a stinking pool, black, with green smoke looming above the muddy water. Above it, high on the wall, was the holy symbol of our god, carved into the rock. Slaag asked the obvious question: “What’s this all about?”
The black water began to bubble. A head appeared. A gigantic green-eyed black head of a dragon. Slaag yelled at it. The dragon yelled back.
Tactical retreat!
Only little Noden stayed behind. The dragon opened its mouth wide and spit hot acid all over him. As it also damaged his pretty robe, Noden decided to retreat as well. We returned to the front room and closed the door.
Groisch drank another bottle, no key. The second bottle in front of the next door provided it though. Behind the door we faced a snowstorm. Not good.
We started swapping the fluids between the bottles in order to get all the keys and look behind the other doors.
The smelly bottles were also sorted out, by their smell, obviously. Sometimes, you know…, well, never mind.
We decided that as there were eight doors of different size and we were eight comrades of different size, it could only mean that each door was matching with one of us as well. Also we assumed that the spare bottles provided some aid to deal with whatever was waiting behind those doors.
So, next time I’m gonna tell you how each of us fared.
My human said, in order to keep up the suspense I should split the story. Actually that corresponds rather nicely with me being quite knackered after writing so much. Will go out for a catsnack for a bit. So, until then, mates.
Tune in next time to read about frostworms, succubi, singing elves and lots of other rather unexpected dealings when each of us made his way through one of the mysterious doors. Ta.

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