A Flurry of Activity

Leopold Voûteacier was a long and somewhat noble sounding name. It was perhaps strange to think that it currently belonged to the small millipede that was now scurrying along a smooth stone floor in a dungeon deep beneath a ruined castle. It would not be odd though if a person knew what sort of entity that Leopold Voûteacier was underneath this arthropod form. Under normal circumstances Leopold was better known as an unimpressive fellow who appeared to be both soft and boorish. Shorter than most men and a fair bit more rotund, Leopold had a luxurious mane of shiny grey curly hair that almost everyone mistook for a wig. Bookish and drawn to scholarly pursuits the one term never used to describe Leopold was “adventurous.” And yet here he was, polymorphed into the form of a millipede, skittering with amazing speed along a dungeon floor as he sought out the Olcurean Thurible.

The dungeon was a vast network of passageways and rooms all laid out in a way to bewilder and hinder the uninvited. Originally constructed by elven and human architects to serve as storage and as a crypt for the royal family of Maelonbourg these deep corridors and the rooms along them were modified and added to by Colldrenia the night hag who had utilized these spaces as a prison and torture chamber. It was here away from prying eyes that Colldrenia had turned the broken souls of her victims into the wretched larvae that all night hags coveted above all else. As a fun fact there were still larvae down here, and Leopold discovered them rustling about in a large chamber much to his horror. There were a number of things down here that Leopold stumbled across that he found absolutely sickening, though. There was a chamber in which two corpses laid upon beds on either side of an empty wall niche. There were a couple of rooms filled with what turned out to be artworks and loot, probably squirreled away here by nefarious persons and now was claimed by the occasional tenant.

The person that randomly occupied this dungeon and used it as their base of operations from time to time was none other than the Viceroy. For a couple of years now he had come and go via magical means and while it wasn’t his only lair it was handily his most commonly utilized. Leopold went ahead and checked it all out because he wasn’t setting off any alarms or traps in the form of a millipede. He continued nosing about and making mental notes until he blundered into the room he had come down here to find. There it was, right on display in the middle of a room that was nearly a hundred feet across. The Olcurean Thurible sat upon a small stone pedestal. The entire room was illuminated by an eerie green glow that seemed to flow from hidden recessed areas.

There was only one door into this room and Leopold guessed that any attempt to physically remove the thurible would trigger a number of alarms, traps, and probably a mechanism that would seal off the room to prevent any escape. Leopold did a number of laps around the perimeter of the room and sized it up. It was vaulted such that gruesome arches curved up and over the thurible, making the room higher than it needed to be. Leopold paused and gazed at the thurible as he calculated the risk of grabbing the coveted item and what such an act would bring about.

Leopold realized of course that as a millipede he wouldn’t be able to abscond with this heavy relic so that would necessitate another polymorphed form. That act alone will trigger a number of alarms and traps, so Leopold gave due consideration to his choice. Ultimately he decided to go with his normal and natural form. Not the aristocratic late-middle aged man with the luxurious grey curly hair, but as a dragon. A steel dragon to be exact. In this light he reflected more green than his natural steel blue color but Leopold wasn’t concerned about that in the least. He grabbed the thurible with his right foreclaw and while he nearly filled the room with his draconic presence he still kept his head moving rapidly to see where an attack might come from.

The Viceroy appeared in an instant close to the door of the room, and to say that both he and Leopold were surprised to see each other would be a gross understatement. Leopold was of course cognizant that an appearance by the Viceroy was a possibility, and he was ready for that contingency. The Viceroy however was wholly and comically unprepared to find a dragon hulking in this chamber. After a split second of wondering what on earth he should do about this sudden and unwelcome turn of events, the Viceroy decided to go ahead and launch a fireball. For his part Leopold opted for a more physical approach and with thurible firmly in hand the dragon struck its neck forward and with his huge jaws snapped at the lich.

The fireball was successful in that it went off and incinerated the room with a burst of fury and heat. Unbeknownst to the lich, however, Leopold was and remains completely immune to lower levels of magic regardless of how angry the caster is. The Viceroy did not share the same kind of luck against dragon bites. The steel dragons gaping maw slammed shut on the lich and the undead wizard was partially crushed and then sent hurtling across the room like a rag doll as Leopold shook his head and spit the Viceroy out.

Before the Viceroy could get to his feet and gather his thoughts towards what spell he should invoke next, Leopold slammed the lich with his tail, which was well over thirty feet long. The Viceroy slammed into the wall of the room, and the distinct sound of breaking bones echoed in the chamber. This was followed by a deafening roar from Leopold, who spun around and with a solid backswing clocked the Viceroy with the flail-like ball of the thurible with so much strength that the lich was lifted off of the ground and sent flying into the vaulted rafters of the building.

That was more than enough for the battered Viceroy. As he was falling back to the floor he cast a spell, and instantly vanished. The door to the room had slammed shut, and all during the battle a poisonous cloud had descended from hidden holes in the domed ceiling. Leopold hadn’t even noticed this because steel dragons are immune to all poisons. Wielding the thurible the dragon smashed into the door of the room, sending it flying. An explosive charge went off and this had caused the dragon some discomfort, but it wasn’t enough for him to really worry about. He managed to squeeze himself down the hallway and into one room after another, setting off traps and having a myriad of annoying spells go off in a futile attempt to halt his rampage. On and on Leopold went, tolerating the occasional mild wound as he looted all of the lovely coins, pretty gemstones, and enticing artwork from the once formidable treasure hoard of the Viceroy.

This would all look absolutely smashing in the new home Leopold Voûteacier was going to have built.