Dungeons in the Wasteland: Part III

An Espresso Tale

By

Accipiter G. Goshawk

Here is Part III of the story that started in Part I and continued in Part II.

Enjoy!

“…the creature recoils at your touch. It looks at you fearfully.”

“Can I try and explain that we mean it no harm?” asked the Spinner thoughtfully, peering down at her stats.

The DM looked at her cautiously.

“Roll a Nature check please.”

Hours had gone by since the game had started, as action-filled sequences gave way to long explorations of forgotten ruins and seedy villages. A few among the people watching the game had nodded off to sleep, while others were still sitting on the edge of their seats, whispering amongst themselves.

Tia was wide awake, fiercely concentrating on the current exchange. They had just saved a small plant-like creature from a group of angry villagers who appeared to be possessed. After an intense fight, they had managed to subdue the attackers, who had slunk away, leaving them to talk with the tiny forest denizen.

“Seven…plus my modifier…nine.”

The DM squeaked in terror, her eyes growing big with fright. Tia could see the plant-creature before them, scrambling backwards in terror.

“Let me try,” she said softly, and stretching out her hand, cast a simple spell that would enable her to communicate with the being.

“Hi, I’m Grija. What’s your name?”

Two big eyes peered out from behind the DM’s screen and a small leafy voice answered tentatively, “I-I’m Hunu…I’m scared.”

“Oh no, please don’t be afraid, we are here to help you! Don’t you see, we got rid of the people attacking you; you’re safe with us.”

“No, no!” squealed the little plant-thing, stretching its green limbs towards the exit of the cave. “You don’t understand; I can’t be safe!”

“What is the wee potted plant pratlin’ on about?” exclaimed the village hunter, giving his gnome sorcerer a fairly convincing accent.

“I don’t know,” answered the bard worriedly.

“Can I look around and see if anything appears to be wrong?” asked the Spinner tensely, rattling her dice.

“Sure, make a Perception check,” answered the DM.

“…twenty-four,” said the older woman, looking up with an air of satisfaction.

The DM smiled, a sinister curve deforming her face. “Nothing seems out of the ordinary. The cave is damp, and you are – without a doubt – the only ones in it.”

Tia shivered, as the shadows seemed to lengthen around the figure behind the screen. She returned to the game and Grija.

“I want to understand,” her dwarf druid told the –now frantic- nature spirit. “Please, what are you afraid of? Who are you running away from?”

The DM looked at her with an expression that supremely mixed sadness and fear to deliver a heart-wrenching blow.

“You. I’m afraid of all of you.”

The DM emerged from her acting and looked at the table with a steely gaze.

“I need everyone to make Wisdom saving throws. With disadvantage.”

The players gasped in horror, but immediately rattled their dice. Groans went up all around the table, as one after another, they all failed their saving throw.

All except Tia.

The DM looked at her for a moment and then grinned, the warmth returning to her smile for a split second. Then she turned to the rest of the group.

“Reality shifts around you, and you find yourselves on a battlefield. Before you, you no longer see a small plant creature and your comrade, but a two horrifying monsters, ready to attack. Tia, you see your companions turn towards you and draw their weapons, dark shadows pouring from their eyes. Roll for initiative!”-

The story continues in Part IV...

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