Dancing with Maenads
We spent the night in the guard room undisturbed – apparently the Moonbeast Ahrkh-Nar had no interest in what his old rival Yath-Kheph was up to. Our first task of the day was to figure out how to get into the western side of the prison, the main route being blocked by the massive sliding block mechanism.
In the end we resorted to brute force – working together, Catiana and Gregor were able to remove the iron grill through which food was delivered by ripping it out of the wall. They made a lot of noise, but I’m not sure there was anyone around to hear.
This allowed all of us to get into the ground floor of the western half of the building, which was mostly taken up with prison cells. They were small cubes with iron bars for walls which didn’t afford much in the way of privacy or comfort, but then I don’t believe that either were high on the priorities of those who had built the place. As usual, Ray scouted ahead and he found that just two of the couple of dozen cells were still occupied.
One of the prisoners seemed most unwilling to talk to us, too scared of being caught in an escape attempt I believe. The other though was more talkative, though she too was terrified of those upstairs. Her name was Kelvetta Brix, and turned out to be the owner of the items we had ‘rescued’ from Yath-Kheph’s possessions yesterday.
Despite Ray’s misgivings, we handed her back her clothing and equipment and freed her from the cell, offering to let her gain revenge on her captors if she wished. She took us up on the offer, and eventually turned out to be quite a useful companion.
Upstairs was very obviously a torture chamber, with racks, iron maidens, spiked chairs and vises around the walls. Unfortunately for us, they weren’t just simple items of equipment – a fact we we discovered later. One end of the room was dominated by a large apparatus made of conical brass horns, fluted pipes and oily tubes which connected it to each of the torture devices in the room.
Working on the pipes was a dark skinned woman with short reddish hair and dark eyes who we later identified as Orsephellius.
Ray was able to sneak across the room towards her, and tried to take her down with a well aimed snowball. However, she was stronger than she looked, and her body shifted and changed, taking on the form of a Nightmare Dragon. As she changed, so the torture devices around the room began to move, disconnecting themselves from their tubes and started shuffling, shaking and scraping their way towards us.
Dream dragons are often found in the dimension of dreams. They aren’t the most powerful of dragons, but can enter the dreams of their prey, and make use of psychic magic much like I do rather than the arcane sorcery of most dragons.
Catiana rushed at the dragon, taking on her larger aspect as she did so, and Ray summoned bolts of fire to try and burn it. Whilst most of us tried to deal with the nightmare, Kelvetta took on the animated contraptions almost single handed, making us grateful that she had come along.
Orsephellius though was able to heal herself, and then the doors opened and two women, both splattered in blood and with sharp teeth and an insane glare danced into the room, singing and calling out to us to join them and fight our friends.
We identified the women as Maenads, a type of humanoid born of unbridled violence and decadence. They use their magical arts to control the minds of people they insinuate themselves amongst, encouraging bloody festivals of debauchery and cannibalism.
They have a venomous bite that can drain the victim’s health and are much stronger than they look.
Not having much luck against Orsephellius, Catiana handed back control to me, and I tried to shatter the dragon’s bones but failed. As the dancing women leapt at us, so Orsephellius retreated back out of the room and we weren’t able to follow her. The dancers had a venomous bite, that left Catiana sick and weakened until Erasmus was able to use his healing magics to neutralise it. Eventually though we slew both of them.
Now though there was no sign of Orsephellius, and apart from some apparently empty cells the only way out of the room lead to some stairs leading up. Whatever controlled this side of the prison was very probably up there. Hopefully the King in Yellow is up there as well, and he is still alive enough to be able to help us find our memories.