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A Neverwinter Nights Fantasy - Chapter Two

Ken McDonald, aka lazybones
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The journey to the caves passed so quickly that it seemed almost instantaneous. One moment they were leaving the inn in Neverwinter, and the next they were facing the knobby basalt mounds that made up the foothills of the Crags, the rough line of mountains that bisected Neverwinter Wood. A thick belt of trees ran along the horizon all around them, but directly ahead of them lay a ravine with a

At their feet lay a strange marking, a green circle bisected by a red arrow that pointed in the direction of the ravine.

"What's that?" the wizard, Zarath, asked, pointing toward the marker. The young elf seemed to have some difficulty moving, and he kept drawing and sheathing his dagger, as if unsure whether he wanted to hold the weapon or not.

"It marks the beginning of the Caves of Abbok-torim," Graf explained patiently. "Great dangers - but also great rewards - await the daring within."

"Bah, let us be about it, then," Margos said. He pushed forward, leading them toward the ravine. "I should be in the lead, I've got the best armor class and both Power Attack and Cleave. I would have gone with the mounted combat feats, of course, but since horses aren't implemented in NWN..."

The others followed behind, wary of any sign of danger.

The ravine was free of the thick growth of the surrounding forest, its floor of uneven slate cluttered with particularly aggressive weeds that had managed to take hold in the cracks in the stone. The steep walls of the ravine rapidly rose up on either side to enfold them, and they hadn't gone very far when they saw several cave entrances gaping invitingly at the base of the cliffs.

"Which way, guide?" Sidon asked, his eyes darting over every inch of their surroundings.

"It is for you to choose," Graf replied after a moment. "My job is just to get you here."

"Let's go toward that larger cave in the back," Margos pointed. He drew his sword, the long steel blade almost eager in his hand.

"Vanguarde ownz NWN an all u n00bs! Kick a$$ w00t l33t!" the barbarian hooted, his great bulk looming behind the paladin as they approached the cave.

"Thine speech borders on gibberish, barbarian," Barzoun observed dryly. "I hope that thy axe is more articulate than thy tongue."

The barbarian fixed a hard gaze on the cleric. "U cant handel the fact that im tuffer than all u n00bs," he said.

"Indeed," the cleric replied with a raised eyebrow. "We shall see."

They reached the mouth of the cave and entered the darkness. Barzoun paused to cast a spell, and a shining light erupted from the head of his mace. The light illuminated a natural passageway that headed into the hillside in the back of the cave, and with the paladin still in the lead they started in that direction.

Zarath stumbled and got momentarily caught on some rocks near the entrance, but finally shook himself free.

"Careful, newbie," Sidon said, with a grin on his face that didn't quite make it into his eyes. The young elf swallowed and followed them.

The passageway progressed only a short distance before it opened onto a large natural chamber, easily thirty feet across with an uneven ceiling some twenty feet above. A pair of exits were visible in addition to the one through which they entered.

"Rogue, check for traps," Margos said, pointing with his sword toward the two exits. Sidon's look showed annoyance for an instant, then he shrugged and started into the chamber, moving with a sinuous grace that seemed to embrace the shadows cast by the cleric's light.

He had barely entered the room, however, when a sound became audible from the nearer of the two exits.

"Someone's coming," Zarath said.

The others all looked at him dryly, then turned back as a group of eight man-sized skeletons clacked noisily into the chamber, their bony claws outstretched toward the adventurers.

A Neverwinter Nights Fantasy, Chapter 2 © Ken McDonald, aka lazybones

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