Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dungeons & Dragons a guest post by Sky Luke Corbelli

Silence reigned in the crypt around us. I glanced back at the solid wall of rubble that had been a hallway a moment earlier. "I was not worried," I said, my deep, mechanical voice echoing oddly off the dark stone coffins around us.

The tiger growled, and I smiled down at her. I liked the druid when she was shapeshifted; it meant she never had anything bad to say.

"Of course you weren't, Glitch," Pip, the artificer, rolled her eyes, dusting off her dress and gingerly checking her horns for damage. "You're made of metal. That cave in wouldn't even have dented you."

I frowned, thinking it over. "Mistress Pip, I'm afraid I don't understand," I queried her, confused. "My previous statement was a lie. I was actually very worried. Does the fact that I needn't have been concerned negate the lie?"

The little Teifling sighed, checking over her healing gun critically. "No, Glitch, it was a very good lie."

"Because, you see," I continued, wanting to perfectly clear. This was deliberate falsehood we were talking about, after all. "When that imp triggered the trap our expected group probability of survival dropped by forty eight point nine three percent. If lady Gorma hadn't knocked that support pillar through the wall, I fear that one of you may have suffered a severe malfunction."

"Injury, Glitch," the swordmage groaned as he reformed from a puddle of acid, shaking his head tiredly. "Living things suffer injuries."

"Ah, master Isaru," I exclaimed, seeing yet another perfect opportunity. "I see that you made it through unscathed. I was very impressed with your sword work back there."

His eyes flashed dangerously. "Why you-"

"Easy," Gorma, the half-Orc growled, catching the Genasi before he could draw his sword, her dark eyes scanning the crypt. "You know he didn't mean anything by it."

"That is correct, master Isaru," I confirmed. "Once again, I was prevaricating. Did you find it convincing? In actuality, if my negative emotion emulator was functional, your failure to land a single blow would have been most depressing."

"Glitch," Pip chided gently. "When you say things like that, it actually sounds more like sarcasm than lying."

I processed this information for several seconds. "I understand. Sarcasm was not included in my primary operational load out. Once I have mastered the art of telling falsehoods, I shall begin to explore sarcasm as well."

"I think you'll take to it pretty fast," the swordmage muttered under his breath.

"What is this place, anyway?" Poppi, the druid, asked as she shifted out of her tiger form. "It wasn't on any of the maps, and I don't think we were supposed to come through that wall..."

"It would appear to... NOT be some type of burial chamber." I looked around, proud of my deception.

"But why would they have a tomb down here?" the half-Orc wondered, ignoring my brilliant lie and examining one if the stone coffins. "This seems like the kind of thing that someone would have-"

A deep, grating laugh rumbled out of the darkness from the far side of the crypt. "That doesn't sound good," the Teifling whispered, inching back and looking for a place to hide. "Glitch, why don't you go ahead and take the lead on this one."

"A solid suggestion, mistress Pip," I said, easily hefting my war hammer and shield. "Fortunately, none of these coffins appear to be large enough to hold anything of significant-"

A huge white claw emerged from the gloom, pulverizing a stone pillar as a massive skeletal dragon came into view, ghostly blue flames burning in it's eye sockets.

"That was actually a good one, Glitch," the Shifter druid said weakly. "You really had me going for a second there."

"That was not my intention, lady Poppi. I fear that I still do not understand the nuances of lying."

"Puny mortals," the enormous dragon chuckled. The stone slabs covering the coffins all around the room began to crack and split as an army of undead rose from their slumber. "Soon you shall join ranks of my minions of the dead and help bring forth the dark god who has no name. Now is the time for your-"

With a whir of gears and a grind of clockwork, the little lantern sped past me, flapping it's wings like mad. "Eyes!" Pip screamed, diving for cover behind the fallen pillar. My optical intake units adjusted automatically as the lantern flared to life, bathing the room in blinding radiance.

The dragon stumbled back, crushing three zombies as its tail thrashed back and forth through the crypt. A flaming sword flashed out, spinning as it cut a swath of destruction through the legion of undead, slashing through the dragon's foreleg before spinning back to Isaru's waiting hand. "Ha!" he laughed triumphantly. "Who's depressing now?!"

"Insolence!" the dragon roared, and a torrent of blue fire erupted from its skeletal maw. I got my shield up in time to weather the attack, and glanced over to see the swordmage yelp and morph into a cloud of poisonous mist the instant before the flames reached him. The dragon snarled in frustration.

Gorma appeared at the beast's flank, tulwar whistling as she screamed in rage and cut deeply into the monster's side. It whirled and struck at her with a massive claw, but as it made contact the half-orc's body it became a web of shadows. Suddenly Gorma was on the dragon's other side, laughing scornfully as she danced away, cleaving through a pair of zombies with ease.

"Fairy fire!" the druid cried out, pointing imperiously at the undead dragon. Spectral flames leapt up around its head, darting and burning it in a blinding display of light and power. A huge zombie, armor hanging from its desiccated body, loomed up behind Poppi, wickedly sharp ax gleaming in the light of her spell as it descended toward her. The Shifter flinched back, a wall of air slowing the ax stroke as her form blurred, resolving into a tiger that savagely raked the undead minion as it darted away.

"Aren't any of you what you appear to be?!" the dragon demanded, shaking off the dancing flames.

Life can be hard for an uncharismatic Warforged adventurer with the noble goal of becoming the world's greatest liar. But every so often, you get a straight line. "I am," I lied proudly, drawing the beast's attention.

The bones of the dragon's face shifted and stretched into a mocking smile. "Then die, metal man." It's head snapped forward, jaws gaping open, teeth gleaming malevolently. I stood my ground, humming as I felt my energy source prime, ready for action. At the last instant I kicked out a foot, stomping down on the dragon's lower jaw and pinning it to the floor. At the same time I lifted my shield, catching the upper jaw and holding it, my steel shoulders straining. Blue flamed roared out, bathing me in light and heat, but I activated my repair systems and shrugged it off.

"I must apologize," I intoned quietly. Reaching within, I tapped the mountain lightning coiled in my power core, and pieces of armor began to glow an electric blue, floating into the air, tethered to my circuitry by brilliant beams of lightning. My voice shook the room with the sound of thunder as I spoke. "But my previous statement was actually a lie."

Lighting coiled around my hammer, writhing madly as tiny tongues of blue-white energy flickered out across the undead legion closing around me. I smiled, gears grinding in my arm as I readied my strike. The dragon made a startled sound, trying to pull its head away, but it was too late. With a mighty stroke, I brought the hammer down on the beast's head. It exploded in a flash of light and a crash of thunder, a shockwave radiating out to obliterate the army around me.

"Damn OP wardens," Tony said, throwing down his dice. "And after I used my encounter power, too."

I grinned at him. "That's what dailies are all about," I gloated, taking a sip of Mountain Dew.

"Seriously," Michelle scoffed. "How is that balanced? You got Form of Mountain's Thunder at what, level three? I got Vampiric Darts that only hit once and heal for practically nothing. I didn't even get to do anything that fight!"

"Crit happens," I shrugged, prompting a chorus of groans from around the table.

Erin took the last piece of pizza. "Next game, no theorycrafting your character for two weeks before we play." She sighed. "So what did we get, Sean?"

"Well," the dungeon master cleared his throat, turning a page in the campaign manual. "You find a tulwar of undead smiting-"

"Mine!" Steph called from the kitchen, the refrigerator door slamming as she retrieved her Diet Coke. "Yes, I've been needing a new weapon," she gloated, taking her seat and depositing a plate of cookies on the table.

"You also each find a magical item from appendix B of the adventure manual, one thousand gold pieces, and," he paused dramatically. "A small tome inscribed with this picture." He held up a sketch with a mischievous smile.

"A prophesy of the Heavenly Hedgehog?!" Michelle gasped.

"May he embrace us to his fuzzy belly," I intoned solemnly.

"And turn his pointy quills upon our enemies," Tony, Steph, and Erin said together, cracking smiles and snickering.

"I open it!" Michelle declared immediately.

"You find... that this session has come to an end." Sean shut the book with finality as we all voiced our protests. "Same time next week?"

All artwork is (c) Michelle Corbelli. Do not copy or reproduce.


  1. Oh, boy. The overuse of words ending with 'ly' made this story-within-a-story jar for me. However, well done in the imagination stakes.

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  3. sorry, removed because my grammar was particularly poor.

    Not my normal reading fare, but I found the story entertaining, witty and fun. .. and there are times when I'd love a robotic arm - preferable with gears that don't grind noisily ;)

    Sue: An A-Z of Climate Matters

  4. Hey look, there it is, that thing that I wrote
    When trying to think up a post
    Oh adverbs, it seems that the jig may be up
    You know that I love you the most

    I guess I'll just have to write out a new tale
    Detailing our nerdy campaign
    So maybe on H I will once more embark
    To this dark D&D domain