As Baffin and Malachi moved to help Snow against the ghouls surrounding her, a loud crash of breaking glass erupted from behind them at the other end of the hall. Baffin whirled around and discovered that Nameless was gone. What the hell?!?! thought Baffin, as he dashed toward the freshly broken window. The bard could only see broken glass and blood on the street below.
Meanwhile, as Snow regained her feet and faced the slavering ghouls, they viciously slashed and clawed her, and copious amounts of shifter blood spattered the ground. Malachi sprang down to rescue Snow, and with his new-found zest for combat, the party’s guide displayed both daring and skill in fending off the ghouls. Realizing he could do nothing about Nameless’s sudden disappearance, Baffin turned back toward the fighting. With Snow hurting badly and still within the clutches of several of the foul beasts, Baffin unsteadily scampered down to her side to protect her flank and be close at hand to provide arcane healing to her and Malachi.
Suddenly, a massive humanoid charged in from the other end of the alley … Moog! Right behind him was the sorceress Ophelia, wielding her staff with deadly intent. Soon, with Moog slamming ghouls around and Ophelia blasting them apart, the battle turned in the party’s favor. The ghouls, originally silent and intent on keeping their unexpected prey to themselves, now let loose with their dreaded howls, to bring more of their twisted brethren before the party overwhelmed them.
Too late! After silencing the last ghoul, the party quickly scrambled up the drainpipe to reach the roof, and then nervously clambered across the roofs of various buildings as they made their way to the house of the wizard Tiren.
Following Malachi’s instructions, the party stopped after crossing several buildings and quietly climbed down to street level, the closest point from which they could reach the entrance to Tiren’s house. The navigator – the World’s Finest – pointed to a house three blocks away and made motions for the party to pick their way carefully through the litter-strewn and debris-filled street. He also pointed out the furtive movements in the buildings lining the street. Ghouls on the prowl, no doubt.
In a lengthy, whispered discussion, Moog and Baffin reached different conclusions on how best to proceed. Exasperated by the delay, Malachi left, and he quickly slipped away to the other end of the street. Finally, the party agreed to move ahead in pairs, Moog and Ophelia first, followed by Snow and Baffin.
As Moog stepped forward and approached a broken down cart, he stepped on the end of a long-handled tool, perhaps an over-sized rake, and the goliath yelped in pain as the handle smashed against his face. Instantly, a few ghouls snapped their heads around to stare at Moog, while they crept menacingly toward him. In a desperate ploy, the goliath let loose a challenging roar and ran screaming down the street to draw the attention of all the ghouls in the area.
Pouring out of the shadows and buildings, more ghouls, with drool flying from their fang-filled mouths, bounded after the sprinting goliath. Moog put on a burst of speed and dashed into an alley on his right … and saw a dead-end at the far end. Without hesitating, not even for the pun, he raced toward the dead-end and the drainpipe leading to the roof. With ghouls snapping at his heels, the goliath leapt onto the drainpipe and pulled himself upward. Moog, impressive in his athletic abilities, yelled from the drainpipe at the ghouls climbing after him, “I could feed you for a week!” Challenged and enticed by the prospect, the ghouls howled with bloodlust, and more ghouls burst from the buildings along the alley.
Perhaps in a strange twist of fate, as Moog neared the top of the drainpipe, his grip slackened for an instant, or the decrepit plumbing crumbled from the weight of the goliath and ghouls. Or both. No matter, goliath and drainpipe fell away from the side of the building and crashed down amidst fifteen ghouls. Instantly, a barrage of rending claws and gnashing teeth swarmed over his prone body. Moog surged to his feet for a moment, but then the mighty goliath fell and disappeared under the frenzy of ghouls as they feasted on his flesh, bones, and entrails.
To be continued …