Project Update: Chapter 15 || The Cat, The Lich and the Feather
For all of their might, it’s clear that the lich is playing with them; it’s the same way a predator teases prey trying to escape. There’s a cruelty in its actions, as if they’d stumbled too far into its web, and now it’d finally become interested enough to torture its victims itself. The creature’s weird chortling laugh bounces between all sides of the cavern.
The lich slips in and out of the shadows, materializing behind one of them and fixing his purple eyes on them until the screams die in their throats. The ice in their veins override their urges to run, and they only can stare until one of the other party members grab them by the scruff of their necks and yank them back to relative safety. For now, the creature doesn’t follow and just continues to test their mettle before returning to its perch to watch the chaos.
Anything non-magical is useless against the lich itself, and Tuff, Grey and Beau both resort to cutting down the summons that pull themselves out of the dirt to grab at the party. Fluff is shaking, her tail curled around her leg as she struggles to hang onto her chants. Her power is clearly failing, after pouring so much into the Wand of Sacred Fire, and there’s a lilting desperation to her spells. Abitail hangs beside her, casting concerned glances while weaving her own sorcery spells.
“Bones, are you okay?” Tuff yells between waves of monsters, and ducks as the minions sweep through a wave of the undead, their little bodies glowing brighter as they absorb the life essence of these dark creatures.
Despite their glowing bodies, Bones looks haggard, using his scythe as a support. His teeth flash as he grits them together in pain. “Don’t worry about me. The lich is far above our level. We’re out of holy magic, and nothing physical will do anything. By the way it’s acting, it can read us.”
“It’s a scrying lich?” Abitail casts out her magical yarn, which stretches itself taut and slices through a few opponents, but disintegrates with the use. She points wildly at the ceiling. “What does ‘yawning and laughing’ mean in lich language, Bones?!”
“It thinks it has new recruits soon?”
Gray’s eye twitches as he drags Fluff away from the dark shadows that erupt from the ground, shoving her behind Bones. “Oh, that’s charming. Next time, maybe tell us more potentially life threatening information about our destinations before we’re there.”
Bones looks apologetic. “Max and I just knew about the curse magic, not that a lich of this grade was behind it.” The dark chuckling made him jump, but the lich didn’t move from his perch this time. “We would have brought Soot if we’d known.”
“Famous last words, ‘should have brought the guild leader’.”
A bombing laugh made them all jump. “Did someone say guild leader? Oh Gray, why didn’t you say so sooner?”
Gray’s jaw goes slack as he twirls around, bumping straight into a giant cat with a lute strapped to his back. In his free hand, he holds an… oddly familiar yarn ball, and in the other, he’s dragging a very petulant looking Simon.
“Guild Master Coda!” Tuff squints. “Wait a minute, isn’t that…”
Fluff looks incredibly confused. “We sold that to Nightshade…”
Beau raises an eyebrow. “And how did you drag Simon here?”
“Alas, my little kittens, you didn’t see this gem for what it was worth. This, little ones, is a red string of fate. And this cat just happened to fall into my path as I was traveling.” Simon scrambles out of Coda’s grip, eyes narrowing dangerously as he clutches the chest that holds the chest he’d run away with from the dragon cat. “There are no coincidences.”
They’re interrupted by the lich bellowing above them, clearly no fan of these new reinforcements or the heightened mood. Immediately the ground shakes, splitting in more spots, and the bones begin rising out of the ground.
Abitail starts to raise her arms, but her magic flickers. She gasps, knowing she’s also tapped out. She whirls to DERP’s guild master. “Please, can you do something? I know you’re a bard but–”
“Oh, but this one possibly could.” Coda grabs Simon, who had been starting to slink off, then pushes him in front of Abitail. “You won’t have anyone to drink with at Catatonic Brews if you don’t save them, little black cat.”
With a long grumble, Simon unlocks the chest he’s been guarding, and fishes out the feather wand. With a disapproving look, he swishes it in the air. The demonic cackling ceases while they all wait, and then they slowly watch as the Lich goes from being colored by darkness to being layered in a sheen the color of blueberries. The pause breaks with a roar of anger.
Coda manages to block the splash of dark magic that rips through the room. “What –” Gray struggles out, “--is that shitty thing?”
“Wand of Wonder!” Coda yells out, just as Simon says something about being trash, and throws the wand to the ground. “Does random nonsense. Sometimes fireballs? Sometimes butterflies. First time I’ve seen that particular reaction.” They all look up as another screech of rocks the entire cavern, then to the front as the creature begins to materialize on the floor while summoning more skeletons. “Well, this might be bad.”
“This is your inspirational pep talk?!”
“Would it be better if I told you the lich really doesn’t like its new skintone?”
Suddenly, a “MEROWW” cries out from beneath them. They all jump and duck again as more magic flies by, and squint through the dust to find a small odd-looking cat holding the feather Simon discarded. Slowly, it turns its head, and the wand glows as it casts. The team freezes, waiting for the next weird occurrence.
Then they wait.
Finally, they look at each other, then slowly look toward the fight they’d been distracted from… where they find the Lich completely petrified. Beau reacts first, loading three arrows into his bow and firing – each hitting true. Everything turns to dust, except for a skull that drops to the ground, and a chest that sits closed.
Abitail immediately grabs Simon. “If you dare touch that, I will tell Catalina all of your secrets.” Simon grumbles savagely, but Abitail instead ducks down and gets on her knees next to the unfamiliar little cat. “Are you Unknown?” The creature cocks its head. “Your dragon cat friend was looking for you.”
It seems to sigh at the adventurers, and they all shrug at this weird creature. It listens to them debate on whether they should return with it, or whether it’ll just wander home after hearing that the dragon cat was worried. They decide that the danger has passed, and take back the giant skull back to Max – along with the chest that was dropped along with it.
The members of the group in turn pat the little Unknown on the head, and he meows at each of them in parting. He watches as the adventurers, one by one, walk out of the cavern, and the dark little eyes follow them, before he gets up to join them.
Slowly, the little cat smiles, the snake on his tail hissing lightly, and the cat begins to follow, stepping through a bit of smoke that reaches for him from the burnt ground, and leaves the cave behind without a backward glance.
And...I've finished the story. Just short of 10,000 words. I don't know how long I expected a "chapter-by-chapter DnD campaign" to be, but I don't think it was quite this long. Some light reading, right??
I truly hope you've enjoyed this production/campaign/...thing and it's been memorable for you! Let me know in the comments if you've enjoyed the ride. I've been holding onto so many of these plot points for SO LONG.
Much love to all of you - we'll touch base soon, but in the meantime... let's power through the last 20 some hours of the campaign. :D
🐾Mel, Jess and Venetia
Welcome on adventurer from fellow designer, Onicake! This is added to all full campaign packages for free (and will become an option for everyone else).
Goal: $22,500 reached! — We did it! This project reached this goal!