The Thin Man
Dog of God
The party stayed alert as they stepped over the threshold into yet another set of twisting rooms and corridors. Grik looked around quizzically, hoping for more oddities like the carved obsidian table, but found only the eerily lit, cold stone of the labyrinth.
“Watch yourselves,” called Guillaume, “foul monsters abound.”
“Way ahead of you,” murmured their newest companion, rapier at the ready, nursing the two wounds where the skeletons had slashed him with their broken blades.
The party found the first door in a dead end around a dog leg. Lydia was sure that, had the maze followed the established laws of reality, the door would open into the corridor they had just passed through.
Grik was reaching for the handle when there was a polite cough from behind the party.
They wheeled, raising shields and weapons, the first syllables of spells and war-cries on their lips.
The armoured, bipedal hound that faced them raised his hands and one eyebrow, “Woah, calm down there, I’m not here to fight. Unless you want to that is.” He bared his teeth in what they hoped was a smile and shifted his stance so that one hand inched towards the hilt of the large sword strapped across his back. He let loose a laugh that sounded a lot like a bark, then relaxed.
“Who are…” Guillaume began.
“You’re a hound archon!” gasped Lydia.
“What game it away,” asked the hound, grinning.
“A messenger of the gods?” asked Zamas.
“I prefer to think of myself as a herald, but aye, you could say that,” he replied. The burnished breastplate and clean, flowing robes added to an air of sanctity which the rolling but unrecognised accent and flippant attitude did not.
“Why are you here?” asked Guillaume, unable to lose the suspicion in his voice.
“Mmm.” The archon sniffed, “looks like whoever built this place wanted to give a hand to the righteous in traversing this labyrinth. You do count yourselves amongst the righteous?”
The party awkwardly muttered their assent while the archon stared at them closely through impassive labrador eyes. The silence stretched out as the hound continued to gaze at them, making eye contact with each in turn.
Grik was starting to feel an itch developing between his shoulder blades when the archon nodded and smiled. “Very well, follow me!” He turned, halted and said, “That is, if you want my help. You do, right?”
The party hesitantly expressed their assent and started following the hound through the maze.
As they passed through a room furnished only with a large and mournful looking stuffed elephant, the party made small talk with their guide.
“So who sent you?” asked Lydia.
“Ah, sorry lass, no clues. To be honest, it was more of a summoning than a sending. No mission briefing, no ‘daemon needs a good kickin’ on one of the primes’, just ‘yoink,’” he tugged on his ear in an exaggerated manner, “’maze, adventurers looking lost.’ Kinda a novelty.”
“How do you know where we’re going if you’ve never been here before?” asked an inquisitive Grik.
The hound scratched his head. “It’s like, I dunno. An instinct? Like I’m on autopilot on a familiar route.” He shrugged, “if I think about it too much it just slips away.”
“So are the gods…” began Zamus, only to be interrupted by their guide. “Woah, woah, let’s keep it light wee man. Like I said, no clues.”
“Alright,” he said, leading the party into a new section of the maze. Something changed in the air. It might have been a change in the magic, but it was probably the moisture in the air. “This is as far as I go. Good luck to you. Hold up…” The archon looked into the middle distance for a long moment, “looks like someone upstairs has taken an interest in you lot. “They’re saying you have to look at the shields.”
“What does that mean?” asked Guillaume.
“Beats me, lad,” replied the Archon, not unkindly, turning to leave.
“Wait,” said Guillaume, “How do we get back.”
The archon looked pensive for a second. “I know a lantern archon who owes me a favour. I’ll get him to pop down in a bit. Looks like a glowing ball of light.”
The hound archon, nodded at them, then turned and vanished, leaving a faint corona of light behind him.
Within seconds the entire encounter had begun to take on dreamlike qualities, with the party disagreeing over what, exactly, had just transpired.