Fan Fiction: Critical Hit, from Major Spoiler’s Podcast

Savvy Gamers listen to the Critial Hit Podcast, by Major Spoilers. Steven Schiecher and the crew provide years of entertainment via this weekly podcast.. which interestingly has outlived 4th Edition. Here is my Fan Fiction based on the current crew (Adriana Included!), which I am calling “Five Against the Void”. Enjoy!!! —Uncle Andy


Fan Fiction: Five Against the Void

Episode One: ‘The Torkeltones: Escape from Edeos’

by Andrew Thomas Schiller

Tork stood in the market square, munching his funnel cake absent-mindedly. This would be the eighth funnel cake in a row. Its another uneventful afternoon for the party to pick up supplies, rest, and train. The three-quarter orc wandered over to one of the many Guardsmen. He struck up a conversation about being a constable, and the two were soon telling old stories. His companions Orem, Kett, Randace, and Trell milled about nearby.
Suddenly, a huge explosion rocked the place. Everyone was knocked off their feet. A cloud of smoke rose from the palace doors. Shouts emanate from inside, and confusion took hold of the crowd. A guardsman screamed, pointing, “He’s taking the King’s crown! Stop, thief!”
A tall human in black robes is seen running toward a glowing portal. He’s running toward that portal! After him!
The human turns with a sneer. Reaching his hand into a pouch, he draws out a phial. He tosses it to the ground as the group tries to react. There is a blinding flash of light.
The smoke clears almost instantly. “Which way did he go?” rumbled Tork.

Before them, the Torkeltones saw a shimmering portal, with three facets. One was a castle floating in the clouds. The next was a dark sewer. And the last, a cliff on the shore of an ocean.
Oram replied by pointing. “The castle floating in the sky. Quickly, we have seconds to decide. The portals are closing!”
Kett holds up his hands. “Calm down friends. We have important matters to attend to. Its unfortunate that this lovely town had its symbol stolen, but it is none of our business. We need to get back to…”
Tork raises his axe and shouts, “After that thief!” and jumps through the portal with the Castle in the Sky. Trell jumps in after him. The three remaining companions look at each other, eyebrows raised.
“Never split the party” Randace says with a shrug, and jumps through the ever shrinking shimmering light.
Kett says “Im not going”
Oram starts to try to talk Kett into jumping. “We’ve got no choice, we can’t stay here…”  Kett shakes his head and crosses his arms. Looking back at the portal, Oram sees that it is almost closed. He holds out his hands and speaks a word of magic. A wall of force pushes Kett through the portal. “Oram, you arse…”
“He’s going to be pissed. Oh well.” Oram dives through the opening. An instant later, it blinks shut, leaving a crowd of people dazed, confused, and shaking their heads.
“You stand on top an Earthmote, about a mile above the ground. Roughly square, this 100’x100’ chunk of rock is home to the crumbling ruins of what was once a magnificent castle. Piles of rubble lay scattered about. The walls of what used to be buildings can be seen, but are now completely destroyed. The only thing that seems to be intact is a well in the center of the courtyard.”
The crew emerges in the castle. It is in ruins. Numerous staircases went up to higher levels. A few steps descended into darkness, some with a bashed-in door, and some with a pile of rubble.
“There’s no telling which way he went. Split up and look for tracks.
A tenticle
“Over here!”
“Ewwww. Don’t let that green stuff touch my fine robes.” Oram’s nose wrinkled.
Trell bent down, scraping away the algae with her coukree. She saw a square shape emerge. Tork used his axe to pry it open. The tunnel descended down into darkness. At least it has irons for the hands and feet.
Climbing down, they emerged into a completely black room. Feeling along the walls, they eventually found a door handle. Giving it a shove, the door opened with a creak and flying dust. Light poured into the room. When their eyes adjusted, they could see a typical castle corridor ahead, lit by ghostly torches on wall sconces which crackled with and etherial blue light.
Tork, you take point. They crept down the corridor. They came to a small door, marked in dwarven. “Can anyone read this?” Oram stepped forward.
“It says ‘broom closet’. Randace chuckled and Kett sneered. “We’ll surely find nothing of value in there. Let’s move on.”
“Lets be thorough,” Trell said. She opened the door and peered inside. As soon as light from the hallway hit this room, they all immediately heard a muffled voice. “Mmmrrph!”.
Trell pushed aside some brooms, mops, and aprons. Hanging from a hook on the wall was an ornate leather bag. The sound was emanating from the sack, although it wasn’t moving.
“What do you make of this symbol?”
“That’s the sign for the god of Luck.”
Shall we?
Trell yanked the cord, then pulled at the opening. A loud voice immediately emanated from the bag.
“Thank heaven’s you found me! I’ve been in this closet for too long! Need a mundane item? I’m your bag! Let’s get to know each other. We’ll be the best of friends. Did I ever tell you about the time the acorn-“
“I think I need some earplugs.”
“I’ve got some of those! Reach inside me and pull something out! RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW!!!”
Trell reached in to the bag before anyone could stop her. Her arm emerged, and in her hand was an old moldy  shoe. “I thought you said you were useful?” She raised an eyebrow at the bag.
“I am! Try again! Ask for something better this time! And if you put something in me, you might just draw it later! I’m really fun!”
The group rolled their eyes. Kept shouted over the bag. “We don’t have time to waste on this. Maybe we could sneak up on this guy, if it weren’t for this loudmouth bag. Lets get moving. ” he demanded, heading for the door.
“Hang on,” Trell said. “Give me an ice cold mug of beer.” She reached into the bag again, smiling. Took chuckled. This time she pulled out an apple.
The bag continued its perpetual rambling. “Saaaaaay, that could be very useful. I remember one time when a prince I knew used an apple to defeat an army. Not so much a prince, more of a duke’s son, I’d say. And it wasn’t a huge army. More of a solid beating than a defeat. Anyway, mmmrph-“
The sound was cut off as Trell pulled on the cord. “OK, even I’ve had enough.” She quickly tied a knot and shoved the squirming bag to the bottom of her leather backpack. The group turned toward the door. Kett signaled the group with his hands, and they recognized it as the sign for silence. He crept down the corridor, and the group fell into formation.
The group tiptoed down the a slanted hallway. After the length of a gnome ball court, the passage leveled out and widened into an oval shaped room. The group crept forward at a snail’s pace across the center of the chamber.
Randice’s foot landed on a nondescript floor tile, which immediately flared up into brilliant blue light. “Umm, guys…” His voice trailed off as he stood on one foot.
The blue light splashed like a raindrop, then spread out silently. The magical wave climbed the walls silhouetting mysterious objects. Enchantments caused the torch sconces to come alive with darkfire, illuminating the space in a stylish wash of purple color.
“This guy has style” Oram said chuckling. The elf walked up to Randace, placing his hand on the human’s shoulder. “It’s alright. You can stand, walk. It’s not a trap, but a cantrip. It’s expensive vanity magic. Look around…”
The party turned, forming an outward facing circle. They had wandered into a grand gallery; a magically warm, finely worked chamber where beautiful artwork is displayed.
A breathtaking painting hung on the closest wall. A perfectly realistic cliffside balcony overlooking a tumultuous sea. The waves inside the painting were animated, and undulated against the shore. Tiny brushstrokes splashed against the rocks in tiny bursts of foam. Its frame was made of dark stained ironwood.
A finely crafted glass bowl sat on a short pedestal near the middle of the room. The bowl appeared to be filled with water. At the bottom of the bowl, submerged in the water, laid a huge gem. Although the bowl was shimmering and glossy, the pedestal and the floor around it were covered in a thick layer of dust. Although they wandered through a dank dungeon, the water appeared to be fresh.
A life-sized sculpture of a woman stood among a pool of light. The carving is made of marble, and depicts a pleading figure on one knee, her hands outstretched and together, as if cupping some unseen object. Or perhaps, asking the onlooker to place something into her hands…
An empty table with a silk tablecloth sits against the far wall. The tablecloth is discolored with age and dust, except for a circle of bright green fabric. Something must have lain here for decades, but is now gone. A small yellowed parchment on the table reads “Gillaon’s Arm”.
And lastly, a sword of glowing red steel is hung on the wall. It is held in place by an ornate gauntlet, which seems to be grasping the sword’s hilt.
“Uuuuh, izat a art paintin’?” Tork mumbled.
“Trophies. A trophy room.” Oram surmised.
“Treasure! A treasure room!” Kett said breathlessly. “How much do you think we can get for that sword?”
Randace jumped ahead of the group, with his arms out wide. “Wait! Don’t touch anything! If he’s showing off his prize possessions, he’s bound to have security systems.”
Oram walked over to the painting. He had never taken his eyes away from it. “We’re going to need this painting, it has something to do with that portal we saw. One of the portal’s facets held this particular scene…” His voice trailed off, as if he was deep in thought.
“Letz jus put em in that there, uhhh, …mouthy sack” Tork mumbled.
Kett snapped his fingers. “We need to catch up with this villain, whoever he is. Two minutes. Oram, get the painting. Randace and I will get that gem. Tork and Trelle, see if you can get that sword.”
“But what about the statue?” Trelle asked, eyeing the stone woman longingly.
“I’m sure Tork can carry it. I’m just not sure he can swing an axe while he’s doing it.” Kett said with a smirk. Then the group split apart, walking in different directions.
Tork and Trelle turned toward the sword and slowly approached it. Trelle scoured the area for traps, but found none. She took out the writhing bag and yanked on the cord. “Oh, thank the heavens!” it immediately spouted. I’ve been in that stinky backpack of yours for far too long. Now why don’t you-“
Trelle grasped the neck of the bag, choking off the annoying voice. “If I could just slip the statue’s hand into the mouth of the bag…” She slid the leather bag up to the statue’s elbow.
“Didn’ it say something’ about only been’ able to carry, uhhh …them’s that is mag-icky type items?” Tork posed.
“Yes, it said it could only carry mundane items. This statue obviously isn’t magical. But she’s so beautiful, and so… lifelike.”
Tork tipped the stone woman, standing her base on its corners. The pair quickly had the statue in the bag.     The elf walked over to the sword hanging on the wall. She crouched down, inspecting the floor. Tork stood silently behind her. “There’s a seam here. Tork, stay back.
The three-quarter orc took a step back. He stared as she crept closer to the statue. She stood on her tiptoes, looking closely at the gauntlet holding the sword. “Just as I suspected. I’ve seen this trap before.” She backed away from the sword, standing once again next to Tork. She crossed her arms, exhaled, and tapped her foot impatiently. Then her face lit up in a smile.
Trelle smiled at Tork with a playful grin, and let the bag fall open. Before it could say anything, she said “Give me a ten foot pole”, then thrust her arm into the bag.
Tork’s jaw dropped even lower than normal as her hand emerged clutching the end of a ten foot long wooden pole. The smile on Trelle’s face was enormous. “And you guys thought I wasn’t useful!” the bag whined. “Well, next time you need something badly enough, I’m sure you’ll erp-“. The sound was cut off as Trelle quickly tied a knot in the rope, and shoved it to the bottom of her knapsack.
By then, Oram had wandered over to the pair. He held a rolled up canvas, tied with a ribbon. He slipped the painting into a scroll case. “It had something written on the back of it. I couldn’t read it. Next time we camp, I’ll take a closer look at it.”
“Letz keep moving’. Week gotz to catch up with out friend in the black cloak.” Tork insisted. “I’ll take point.”
The group fell into formation behind their huge friend and continued to creep down the corridor. It turned a corner, and continued unremarkably for a short time. The the group stopped in their tracks, looking up at a curious object. A doorway?
The door in front of the party was partially blocked. A layer of granite was suspended about two feet off the ground by a system of gears, pulleys, and chains. Peering under the granite layer, the bronze arm of a statue can be seen propping up the “ceiling”. Metal spikes also protruded from the granite. The skeleton of a Goliath can be seen in the corner. The unlucky adventurer met his fate with a spike through the head. The Goliath’s hand seems to be crushed against the wall, as if he were reaching for something…
A closed door on the East Wall appears to be the room’s only exit.
“Uuuuhh, Well I’m figurin’ we jus bash that arm,” Tork said.
“Stand aside.” Oram stepped to the front of the group, and made a dismissive motion with his hands, waving the others away. He pulled out his wand. With a  flick of the wrist, a glowing hand emerged from the wand tip. It flew silently along, until it punched at the bronze arm. The heavy arm fell with a thud, just as an ear piercing screech caused the party to cringe. A puff of dust emerged from the gears. The granite slab began to slide down.
“That’ll do ‘er,” Tork said. “Not a bad punch fer a lil’ elfie.”
Oram rolled his eyes, sighing. “I am not an elf! Trell, can you explain that to him again?”
Trell simply exhaled impatiently, and peered into the dark chamber.
A crunching sound emerged from below the trap. It must have been what was left of the goliath skeleton.
After a few breaths, the gears reversed, and the trap went back up to the ceiling. The iron spikes retracted back into their holes. It settled into place with a resounding thud.
Kett stepped forward carefully. “Randace, grab the goliath’s backpack. I’ll work on getting that door open.”
Randace picked up the backpack. Reaching inside, he pulled out a handful of gold coins, and a pair of gems shaped like stars. Smiling, he pocketed the loot.
“Got it,” Kett said over his shoulder. He pulled on the door, and it swung open. At that moment, they all heard a ‘ping’, and the ceiling started to descend again.
“Everyone through that door, NOW!” Oram screamed. The group sprinted through the opening, looking back at the ever shrinking room. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Oram gasped, “The arm!” He shot back into the room, ducking down to avoid the spikes.
“Oram, no!” Trell screamed, starting toward the door. But the rest of the group held her back. Oram scooped up the arm in both hands, and in the blink of an eye, was standing near the group again.
“Oh, I forgot you could do that.” Trell said sheepishly.
“Let’s move on,” Randace said. The group turned around, peering ahead. They stood in a room made of blocks, a thin green line of moss growing in each seam. The walls were lined with huge shelves, each shelf holding dozens of barrels. A dozen oversized barrels were stacked in the center of the room, held in place with huge leather straps.
“A vintage!” Kett and Randace looked at each other, eyebrows raised. Trell said “Me first!” and started examining one of the barrels. Even Oram smiled.
Tork stood in place, scratching his head as the rest of the group fanned out. “Uuuuhh, where are we?”
Trell found a tapped barrel, and pulled the tab. Red liquid began to stream out onto the floor. She bent down, taking a few gulps of the sweet liquor. “Not bad.”
Oram walked up, producing a glass that he had found on a shelf somewhere. “The proper way is with a fluted glass. If it were a white, one would use a…”
“There’s no proper way to drink wine, Oram.” Kett and Randace elbowed each other to be the next in line for a drink.
Tork still stood in place, a bewildered look on his face. “Uuuuh, izat grape juice?”
“No Tork, its wine! Enough to last an entire life time!” Kett said.
“Perhaps your lifetime…” Oram quipped.
A short hallway. On the floor laid what remained of a very expensive carpet. A huge tapestry lined one wall. On the other, a clock. It’s huge gears and pendulum lied motionless, asleep all these years.
“You push open the creaking iron doors, and a gust of stale, warm, dusty air emerges. It smells musty, as if this room has not been visited for a very long time. As you cross the threshold into the library, a huge clock face dings, and begins ticking. It seems to be counting backwards very quickly. The library is huge and unkempt, as if stacks of books were thrown about randomly. Piles of books lie in the corners, as if tossed there by a tornado. Shelves are arranged in rows forming aisles, and each is labeled by subject in dwarven.”
The door to the library clicked open. It swung a few inches on rusty hinges. Suddenly, a loud bell sound emanated from the clock. It began to tick, its pendulum began to swing, and its gears sprang to life.
“Quick, how much time? Get the pattern of these hands…”
The group stared at the face of the clock. Eyes darted to Oram, but he just stared at the machine, his brows furrowed.
He finally spoke. “Uhm,…”
“That’s what I waz gonna say.” Tork quipped. He stepped forward and pushed the huge door forward. It opened most of the way before hitting something with a loud thud.
Tork stepped in to the room. “Yuck. Youz guys wanna smell somethin’ gross?”
Randace pointed to the gears. “A few minutes at most.”
“Anyone speak dwarven?” Kett yelled from the first row. “All the row markers are in Dwarven.”
“There is not enough time to cast the ritual of Read Languages. Everyone look for a symbol that looks like a split tree. This is the first darken character of the name we seek. He bent down, drawing the symbol in the dust.
“Quick! Who was the dwarven god? What is his symbol.
Tork held up the symbol. The statues immediately ceased their attack.
Kett jumped on top of the barrels. Pulling out his dagger, he held it to the leather strap. “Come closer…” he hesitated for a breath, letting the behemoth stagger into the path of the barrels, then he cut the strap. The huge barrels rolled, crushing and trapping one of the brutes. One barrel exploded, dousing Oram in red liquid.
“My robes!”
When the wind finally settled, the crew found themselves in a new room. The door that had been their exit from the library was quickly turning to stone, becoming one with the solid rock wall. There’s no way we can go back that way. The magic is just too powerful. We must go forward.
“This here’s the weirdest dungeon I’ve ever been in.”
The troupe found themselves in what once was an elegant sitting room. The moldy remains of a few couches lay in perfect parallel to the granite tile floor. At one end of the room, a huge fireplace and mantle piece. Above the mantle was a huge portrait of a dwarf. Oram stepped forward to take a closer look. “Obviously, a man of fine taste. The couches, the lighting, and to sit for a life-sized portrait… It must have cost him a pretty penny.”
“Nooooooooo!” the man in the picture screamed. The sound was cut off by a tearing sound. The canvas ripped like an axe through butter. Pushing the shreds out of his way, Tork stepped through the open picture frame. He sheathed his axe, and gave the crew the hand signal for ‘all clear’.
The group stepped through the frame. They found a forgotten area, unfinished, and covered in dust. An unremarkable set of stairs descended into darkness.
Creeping down the stairs…
They take him before the king, and use the scroll of commune with dead. Pandis tells the truth, and Larien is locked up. Good guys win, and strike off, continuing their adventure. The End?