Paul’s Game: No Turning Back

This teaser was written by Paul G., one of our Dungeon Masters for the 2022 D&D Super Dungeon. His character creation workshop will be on June 18, at 6:00PM EST with DM Pablo. For details and registration, visit our web page.

Che threw the lasso up, tugging on it to make sure it had caught on the rocks above. It didn’t budge, so he jumped off the rowboat and planted his feet firmly on the cliffside, narrowly missing the water below. Che forced a foot up, planted it down, then moved the other. Slowly, he inched up the cliffside. After about five minutes of this, Che could see that he was almost at the top. He glanced down, and shut his eyes tight at the dizzying height. If he were to fall now, then… splat. That would be the end of ‘Master Treasure Hunter Che Thire.’ Che made the last few steps up the cliff, collapsing on top, panting. Che looked up to see a teenage elven girl holding the end of the rope, with red marks on her hands and pain contorted across her face, her arms shaking. She had bright blue hair, and incredibly pale skin. However, both these were mostly covered by the midnight black robe she was wearing.

“Chastine…” Che panted. “Why didn’t you just hook the rope onto a rock?” Chastine looked up at him, offended, ask if he had just insulted her.

“You’re heavier than you realize.” She said, her voice delicately quiet. “I could’ve slipped and dropped the rope trying.” Che got up, looking at the burns on Chastine’s hands. He took one of them, pouring some water from his waterskin onto a cloth and rubbing it, then doing the same with the other. “Thanks.” Chastine said, wincing from the pain. Che gazed up at the giant castle before them. Peford Castle. Where the king hoarded all his treasure and magic-users. He walked closer to one of its dark, giant windows, staring through it into the dark room. Chastine walked next to him, shivering.

“Chastine, this is your first real job. If you’re not cut out for it, it’s fine. I don’t want you to get in trouble.” Che forced out of his mouth, even though he knew that Chastine was vital to this heist. 

“As if I’d chicken out now.” Chastine scoffed.

“Thought so.” Che replied, glancing at Chastine before walking over to one of the enormous walls. Chastine followed, grabbing onto one of the rough, weathered stone bricks. “What the heck are you doing?” Che asked, watching Chastine put her other hand up and then one of her feet.

“Climbing.” Chastine replied, looking at him with a confused stare. “What are you doing?”

“Using the door.” Che chuckled, walking over to the flimsy wooden thing and inserting a lockpick.

“Oh.” Chastine replied, jumping down. “So you want to add breaking and entering to your charges?” she asked.

“You wanna climb, go ahead.” Che replied. “Besides, they have more than enough reason to arrest me already. Doesn’t matter if I do anything else now.” He could tell that Chastine wanted to ask what the other reasons were, but he hurriedly turned the lock and pushed the door open before she could. Che took a quick glance inside, and seeing no one but arrays of flowers, crept in. Chastine grabbed his shoulder, pulling Che back to look at her. She was slightly taller than he was, and much older. However, Che was the most experienced one here. Why was she stopping him? Don’t think like that… Che thought furiously. You’ll be just like him if you do. Chastine stepped into the doorway and scanning the area, probably looking for any signs of magic.

“One of the doors has a magical alarm on it.” Chastine said. “We’ll have to take the bigger one.”

“The bigger one leads to the trophy room.” Che said. “We would’ve taken it anyways.” Che looked back at Chastine, and she seemed a little hurt. “Sorry.” Che grumbled as they walked towards the large metal door.

“Sorry?” Chastine said in faked shock. “I’m simply honored, Che of the Thire court.” Thire Court… Che thought. That has a nice ring to it. He slowly pushed open the rusty metal door, this time letting Chastine look into the room first. “All clear.” She said, stepping in. Che followed, looking around the room. It was practically glowing, shelves upon shelves filled with gold and silver and all sorts of treasures. And there, on a pedestal, below two crossed swords mounted on a wall, was what they had came for. The Amulet of Ludivicia. Che picked it up, noticing a plaque above it. It read:

The gods gifted us this power
Because of our own.
We must use this in our darkest hour
To brave the last unknown.

Che furrowed his brow. What the heck does that mean? He thought, concentrating. All that Che knew about this amulet was that it was priceless. Chastine walked up next to him, glancing around his hood to Che’s confused face.

“You really don’t know any history, do you?” She asked, holding her hand out for the amulet. Che passed it to her, still transfixed by the poem. Chastine took off her hood, putting the amulet around her neck. It looked strange on her, an almost glowing piece of gold and diamond next to pale white skin and black cloth. “They say that an ancient emperor of peford fought off a giant squid that was attacking boats in the harbor. That squid was supposed to be nearly the size of this castle. Anyways, Ludivicia gave him this amulet because she was so impressed. It’s said to have extreme magical powers. Ludivicia told him that his people would need this amulet someday, but for now he had to take it and join the elves in the north. The emperor didn’t listen, and Ludivicia killed him.” Chastine poured out. “Wow.” Che said. “Where’d you have room to breathe in there?” Suddenly, Che spotted something behind Chastine. A man was standing, on the end of the hallway, seemingly scared. Noticing that Che was looking past her, Chastine spun around, startling the armored man further. The man gulped, and shouted:

“Everyone! The elves are attacking!” And with that, he ran forward, sword drawn, shouting nonsense. Chastine pivoted, as did Che, and they began running down the halls in the opposite direction. Why would he think the elves are attacking? Che thought. I’m a human, after all. And Chastines not even fully grown. Chastine took the lead, turning left and right through the halls of the castle. They often had to duck under swords and arrows, cheating death at every turn. Just as they could see a set of large blue doors ahead, a woman in robes ran from another hall, blocking their exit.

“An elf and a human. How peculiar…” The woman said, holding her hands up. Little sparks of lightning crackled on her palms. Her black and gold robes fluttered in a nonexistent wind. Chanstine pulled off the amulet, then placed it around Che’s neck.

“Go. Run.” She said, kissing him on the cheek. “I love you.” Che opened his mouth, but no words came out. “Go! Now!” Chastine yelled, pointing to the hall where the woman had come from. Che could see an open window in it, and took his chance. The woman didn’t seem to notice the amulet, or just didn’t care, and focused on Chastine.

“How sweet.” She said while Che forced himself through the window. He heard booms of thunder, and the whoosh of fire from inside. Chastine is a sorcerer. Che tried to convince himself. She’ll be fine. And so Che ran, back through the streets, past the guards, gripping the amulet the whole time. And not once did he look back.