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Archive for the ‘The Proving Grounds’ Category

The kobold gazed forlornly at the leering gargoyle faces decorating the titular well at the center of the Well Chamber. The surface of the water was heartbreakingly still.

“She can’t still be alive,” said the kobold, whose name was Hubert. “How long has it been?”

“I dunno,” said the intellect devourer lounging casually nearby. “Feels like years we’ve been waiting here.”

“Check her again?”

The intellect devourer, who had not until recently had a name (but who was now apparently named “Eidey”), gave a deep psionic sigh. “All right, fine.” There was a brief, sharp whine. “There,” he said. “Done. Yep, our high-AC friend is still alive down there.”

“I hardly believe her AC is all that high,” said Hubert. “Did you see that armor she was wearing? That should put her down to at least a three. Maybe even a two!”

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“Okay,” said Kelli Thunderhold, Paladin of Righteousness, clanking mightily from every last joint in her platemail as she was functionally towed into the Well Chamber by a small and furry kobold. It was not, in Kelli’s mind, particularly paladinesque behavior to be “towed” anywhere, but needs must as Hextor drove. “You keep on telling me that your friend Seamon is interested in ‘drowning’ me. I’ve kinda been, y’know, working on the assumption that you don’t actually mean he’s literally interested in drowning drowning me, because you’re being really perky and friendly and everything. But on the off chance that just maybe, all this is due to my kickbutt attempts at diplomacy earlier, p’raps you can, like, tell me what it is you’re actually—”

This was the last thing that Kelli Thunderhold said before she was seized about her vambraced leg by a tendril of animate water and hauled bodily toward the grotesquely-decorated well in the Well Chamber’s center.

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The passageway leading to the Well Chamber went on and on and on.

And on, and on, and on.

Kelli Thunderhold, Paladin of Righteousness, was getting antsy.

“Uh, excuse me?” she said, after a while. “How long now?”

“Not far!” said the little kobold, encouragingly. “Not far at all! Just have to wander a little more!”

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It took me all of ten seconds to verify that the Obligatory Chess-Board Puzzle was not as obligatory as usual.

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“I don’t get it, Seamon,” I said, scooting myself back up against one of the large columns ringing the central well of the pool chamber. “I mean — I’m not sure I quite follow. You are an elemental, yes?”

“Wull, yes,” grumbled the water weird, lounging his long and snakelike mass along the diabolically-carved reddish stone of his well.

“You’re made entirely of elemental water, given shape by psychothaumaturgical vibration.”

The weird flopped from side to side, ambivalently. “More or less,” he said, eventually.

“You don’t sleep. You don’t eat. You obtain sustenance by drowning things here in your pool, by means none of us fully comprehend.”

“Yup,” said the weird.

“You have no discernible biological functions.”

“Mm hm,” Seamon agreed.

“And yet… you want a girlfriend.”

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“Okay, here’s one,” said Kelli Thunderhold, Paladin of Righteousness. She worked her voice up into a mocking nasal squeal. “‘Look at me! I’m an Intellect Devourer — and I’m starving to death!”

“Oh, please,” said the Intellect Devourer. “Like I haven’t heard that one a million times.”

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