Lady Zehra and the Dungeon of the Mad Mage: One

First Floor

By Emil

Zehra scurried down the empty hallway in a haze. Her claws clicked against the stone floor.

Why had she gone to the Yawning Portal? Why was she chasing random adventurers through this dungeon? How had they gotten so far ahead of her?

She was distracted. The demon statues at the entrance had thrown her off. So out of place in a supposed Elven crypt. Glaring reminders of her home plane transposed onto an otherwise mundane location. She felt Dispater’s hand at play, but how?

Zehra’s train of thought was interrupted as she turned the corner and caught up to her party. The two schoolers, Lukri and Ellenolor, stood close to the entrance. Both stared into the center of the room. A ceremonial chamber filled with more statues. Elves in armor (thankfully no demons this time). More pressing than the statues was the crowd of angry-looking humans filling the back half of the space. They had a clear aesthetic, all pale skin, and black leather. Unfortunately, she couldn’t quite place what they were going for. In the center of the room stood the fourth party member, Krov. His face animated and hands gesticulating as he talked to an important-looking pale skin. The ringleader of his own personal circus.  A semicircle surrounded the pair on three sides as more weirdos came in and jostled for a view.

Cultists maybe? That would explain the black clothes and the demon statues. Was that why she was here? Dispater wanted her to take over a cult? Seemed like a waste of her talent.

“No my friend, I think you have it backward.”

The Tiefling’s harsh Barovian accent oozed with self-satisfaction.

“We are no marks! It is I who am robbing you. Now, where do you keep your valuables?”

Krov pantomimed looking around the room for something. The Cult leader snarled, baring large fangs. A few of the pale skins in the back unfurled large black wings.

Vampires. Not cultists. Vampires.

“Insolent fool! pay the 10 coin or we will extract our price in blood!”

The vampire’s accent was thicker than Krov’s. Zehra rolled her eyes.

What are these human vampires doing in an elvish crypt? Was it an aesthetic decision? If they were haunting a crypt, why not use their own and leave everyone else alone? If they were highwaymen, why not choose a location closer to the main path? Why did vampires need to be robbing adventures in the first place? 

Too many questions and not enough time to think. Krov was intentionally causing the situation to spiral. Someone had to regain control. She looked to the schoolers. Neither seemed particularly interested in interrupting.

Here she was again. The only kobold dumb enough to clean up other people’s messes.

She felt the weight of judgment pressed upon her. A thousand eyes burning into her back. 


Probably. He delighted in subtly orchestrating every aspect of her life. This felt different though. More…present. Like someone was in the room, watching her.

Some sort of test? If it was, she was failing. She didn’t even know the rules.

There was a scream and Zehra jerked her attention back to the center of the room. Whatever had happened, it was already over. Krov stood motionless. His left hand dripping blood, Sword loosely held in the other. All mischief had drained from his demeanor. The chief vampire limped away; pale makeup smeared across his face. His body contorted in agony and panic as warm guts leaked from his belly.

Not vampires, Thugs playacting as vampires. That explained the scam at least.

The schoolers leaped into action. Ellenolor’s Humanoid form erupted into a swirling mass of stars and night sky. Cosmic energy radiating like lances into the fake vampires. Lukri took a more subtle approach. Slinging explosions and fire around the echoing chamber until the whole room stank like burnt meat and singed hair.

So, it was violence then.

Zehra understood violence. She ran towards the nearest two opponents dragging her comically oversized longsword along the ground as she went. forward slash and tumble past the first, back edge attack against the second, dispatching both opponents in one fluid movement. It was obvious these men weren’t trained fighters.

The situation seemed back in hand. Zehra glanced around for the leader. She would have answers now. Her eyes met with the panicked bandit’s just in time to see Krov walk up on the simpering blood-stained human. This time Zehra watched as the blood streamed from his hand infusing his sword with dark energy before taking the helpless man’s head off in a clean stroke. Fake fangs clattered to the ground as his head fell with a dull thud.


Seems like answers will have to wait.

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