Friday, June 12, 2020

What's In the Chest?

 All Art by Dean Spencer

After thirteen hours in the old Swerwill Sewers we're bloodied from battles with goblins and human raiders. Even the thief fell into a pit as he checked the corridor for traps. "I found it." He yelled up from the pit.

The elf caught the merest difference in the surface of the wall. He search the wall as the rest of us watched. He had a habit of doing this even when there was nothing there. This time there was. He asked for a pry bar. He worked the section of wall opened enough the fighter could grip his fingers on the edge and pull the heavy secret door open. 

An alcove hid behind the door. Within was a battered chest. The elf and fighter brought it into the light as we gathered around it. We hadn't gotten much treasure for our efforts. The thing was covered in dust. This wasn't the goblins' or raiders' chest. They didn't know it was here. The thief rubbed his hands together and smiled. 

The chest was simple, made of a thin wood and reinforced with iron straps. It looked cheap. Something an old woman would keep her gowns and shoes in. My excitement faded, but it was hidden for some reason.

The thief worked his picks into the lock and a moment later, click. He grinned. He stepped to the side and used to small fishing hooks attached to string and stabbed them into the wood and slowly open the lid from behind. Nothing exploded. No darts. No mouth formed to eat anyone. 

Treasure time boys, the thief said. I stepped around half expecting it to have ordinary stuff it in. But to my surprise there was nothing ordinary inside.

Sitting atop of everything was a candle stub. It's flame flickered. For some reason this simple magic caused a chill to go down my back. The thief reached in and grabbed the candle. He blew on the flame, it flickered and bent, but did not go out. Magic, he said. The elf and myself, a magic-user, appreciated his obvious statement.

A metal flask with small teeth worked into the metal for a gruesome detail. I'd seen one of these before. Flasks of the Divine Mother and Destroyer. Her children would drink fresh blood from these flasks during rites. A nasty artifact. The interest I had now turned to dread.

What the hell, the thief reached in and grabbed the handle of a glass container. Once he saw some horrible looking thing swishing around in the dark liquid he dropped it to the floor and scooted on his ass away from it. I was just relieved that the glass didn't break letting whatever is inside, out. I didn't want to know what it was. I saw a tentacle. I'm out.

The elf slipped his thin hand in and brought out a small pouch. By all the gods, let it be coins. I'm poor as shit and I need new boots. The distinct sound of coins sliding over one another made us all take notice. The elf dumped the contents into his hand. I counted forty-one silver coins. But these were weird. Each coin had a crude face on one side and blank on the other. One coin had a name scratched on the back.

The thief shook his head, fucking death coins. I never saw them before, but I heard of them. Those crazy assholes that worship The Mother, scratch the name of someone they want dead on the back  then throw it into the font in their temples to make it happen. 

Are they worth anything, I asked. I really needed boots. Thief shook his head, I'm not touching them. The elf shrugged, we could get something for the metal.

The last thing in the chest was a cluster of crystals. Purple in color at the base that darkened to black at the top. I could feel the magic emanating from these crystals. It made me sick to my stomach and dizzy. The elf put them down quick. He seemed to suffer the same side effects. I didn't know what the crystals were. The elf shook his head as I looked at him. He didn't know either.

A spark jumped off the tip of one of the crystals. Then another. I didn't have time to warn anyone as a thin, jagged stream of energy shot from the cluster and hit the elf in the chest. The elf flew back into the wall. A black hole in his armor smoldered where he'd been struck. It sparked again. This time I could smell the energy building. 

I shouted run. I didn't wait to see who listened. 


  1. Those coins are so cool! Really nice write-up.

    1. Thanks, glad you liked it. I grabbed some stock art I had and wanted to write a quick scene around them.

  2. Thanks for the "treasure" DM. All that's missing is a root canal and maybe a call from a collection agency.