By the time the sun reached the horizon, we had come to the end of the swamp path…and our presumed destination.
Sheltered by a circular dyke, a staircase led down into a hole in the ground. It didn’t look as much like a “cave” as I had expected, but you didn’t have to be a genius to assume we had arrived.
Settling down in the relatively drier area inside the dyke, we arranged watches and prepared to rest through the night.
Tomorrow, well-rested, uninjured, and with prepared spells, we will descend into the Dungeon!
What a busy morning!
Right after breakfast, we headed down the staircase – Lancell and Ezekiel first. Master Ramne cast a Light spell on the shield for our leading man, so it would shine out in front – and Raven and I would carry torches in the back.
The wooden steps were very muddy and wet…and Ezekiel lost his footing and took Lancell down to the bottom – bump, bump, bump!
We could hear Ezekiel yell, “Hey, guys!” as he descended into darkness.
Ramne, Mikael, and Jill rolled their eyes and started down – only to lose their footing and join our leaders on their backsides.
Raven and Kelsier (no surprise) kept their footing as they followed, and I stopped laughing long enough to also not make a fool of myself.
As we took our time down the creaking stairs, we could hear the clangs and shouts of combat. By the time the three of us in the back had reached the bottom (about sixty steps later), our companions had killed four guards armed with spears.
The guards had nothing on their persons. Jill commented that they never tried to run away, even when Lancell leveled one with a single stroke.
The room was dirt, about ten feet high, shored up with wooden beams that didn’t look too healthy. Given the option, I wouldn’t trust my head to this place, but what choice do we have? We have to get to the bottom of this.
Three corridors led off from the room. Ezekiel picked the western corridors and hustled us into marching order, bustling Lancell into the front with him.
(Probably he’s just excited to finally be in action, close to solving this thing, but he doesn’t have to act like everybody’s big brother. I mean, come on, we know how to do our jobs, Ezie.)
At the end of the passage stood a wooden door. It was hard to see from way in the back (and having the front of Lancell’s shield shining with light throws weird shadows) but I could hear the two leaders breaking it down.
The people in front shouted in surprise. Frogs!
Lancell, Ezekiel, and Mikael killed them, but they whacked Ezekiel with a tongue before they went down.
The group moved forward so Raven could examine the room with his torch, letting me get a look at the frogs. They were bigger than Kelsier, and lived in a pool that filled the room beyond.
Raven waded into the pool, and found it about waist-high. He reached a muddy ledge over to the left, and called, “There’s a door here, but it’s hard to tell if it goes anywhere.”
Kelsier (obviously) wasn’t excited about traveling through the pool, and neither was I. Who knows what’s in there? After all, where did the frogs come from? Who keeps a pool of giant frogs around?!
We returned to the entryway and took the east corridor.
Four wooden doors opened off this passage, and Lancell listened at the first one. He and Ezekiel whispered and gestured dramatically, and then Lancell eased the door opened and rushed into the room.
At the thumps and clangs of combat, Raven followed the leading duo into the room, while Kelsier and I kept our eyes on the rest of the passageway and the two magic users stood against the wall and talked about some brainy thing I didn’t understand.
“Intruders! Intruders!” yelled a woman’s voice from the room, while the thumps and cries continued.
Two of the doors farther down the passageway burst open, and men charged into the corridor, gripping short spears.
While I shoved my torch upright into the mud of the floor and readied my bow, Kelsier let loose an arrow and felled the first man with a single shot.
The corridor quickly crowded with people. There were eight men altogether, and they pressed forward while Kelsier and I riddled them with arrows.
Mikael backed away from the door where our companions were, and Raven emerged, bleeding.
While the two of them fell back and made mud balls, Lancell and Ezekiel charged out of the room and engaged the spearmen.
Maybe the frog spit did something to Ezekiel’s head. The whole thing would have been over quicker if he didn’t keep almost dropping his mace, or missing his opponent and smacking Lancell’s shield.
Of course, Lancell also missed a blow and cut Ezekiel pretty badly. Remind me to stay in the archery division.
Mikael and Raven lobbed their mud balls at the enemy. Raven nailed Lancell in the back of the head (maybe that’s why Lancell accidentally slashed Ezekiel?). Mikael wasn’t so unfortunate, but neither of them hurt the actual enemy, so they fell back to watch with the magic users.
Well, it takes a long time to describe, but the whole thing was over in a matter of moments. All eight spearmen lay sprawled before us in a muddy mess…not even when they saw their companions decapitated with a single stroke did they try to flee, or parlay.
Raven and Ezekiel were our only injured. While Lancell “laid hands” on Ezekiel, and Ramne supervised the first aid, Mikael and I searched our fallen enemies.
The first room had been occupied by four young women with spears…all dead. All twelve were all dressed very simply, and none of them had any personal effects or something to identify them to their relatives.
I’m not a nobleman warrior like Lancell, and I’m not a former man-at-arms like Ezekiel. The smell of human blood and brains does something to me. We have to stop this Evil Explictika Deflias character. Who knows how many deaths are at her door by now? How many villages has she plundered and bewitched?
I can’t wait to get out of this sticky death-trap, but we have to hole up for now. Raven and Ezekiel need to recover strength.
We barricaded ourselves in two of the barracks rooms. Ramne has the wounded and Lancell with him across the way. When Ezekiel mentioned barricading the door, Ramne looked a little smug, and I heard him mutter some strange words after he shut it.
I’m not a wizard, so I’ll lock our door the best I can.
We’ll have some lunch, and ponder out our next move. Taking out eighteen enemies without losing anyone to unconsciousness is pretty good (especially considering our record), but we’re kidding ourselves if we think it’ll all be this easy.
We will end this snake-lady witch if we die for it.
May Ehlonna protect me…protect us all.
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