Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “Scourge of the Slave Lords”
Well…we left the slaves barricaded in the storerooms, and the three merchants in cages, guarded by a fake wyvern. (Ezekiel insists it’s not “fake,” it’s “spiritual.”) So…they should be fine.
The door at the top of the stairs needed Heiron, Agnar, and Raven all working on it to get it open. Sure enough, on the other side stood an aspis guard – which Heiron and Agnar carved up with their swords.
Then the way branched once again. This all seems a bit incidental given later events, but I should record everything as fully as possible.
To the west, we found a small room with a row of levers along the wall, with a slit above each lever. Raven peeked through the slit and played with the levers, and through the doorway to the room beyond, we saw a huge piece of floor rise up into place. He hit the lever again, and it dropped – like a trapdoor.
The whole room beyond was a grid, with narrow beams running up-and-down and side-to-side. Apparently the beams support these huge trapdoor panels that serve as the floor – or would, if they were all levered into position.
Below each trapdoor is a cage…or in other words, the whole “room” below is divided with bars, and the ceiling of that room is hinged to flap down or lever up into place.
Personally, I don’t see the point of it at all. The slaves are already captured when they arrive here…there’s no need to trick them into a cage. There’s no real government out here to speak of…the orc clans aren’t going to “raid” the Slave Lords’ operation – unless they want a piece of the action! I suppose that is a mystery for another time.
Ezekiel told Heiron and me to head down the corridor to the east and see what was there. Yes – SPLITTING THE PARTY. As Master Otis says: if you don’t push yourself, you’ll never grow…but speaking of growing –
I’m getting ahead of myself. Heiron and I headed down the long corridor to the east, until we came to a door. (Why didn’t Mikael send Agnar with us? Physics puzzles are not what he’s interested it! I digress…)
I couldn’t hear anything behind the door, so we opened it. What a sight should greet us! A wide staircase led down into the room, which curved away to either hand. Opposite us, the circle met at a desk – where a man sat, surrounded by giant weasels. (Again – like the one that almost killed me in Explictika’s lair.)
A moat separated the central pathway and a walkway running around the outside of the circle, manned by orcs with crossbows.
I shot down one orc as soon as I saw him, and then…then the weasels leaped the moat, darted up the stairs, and snapped their huge teeth at us. I’ll just come out and say it — those buggers move fast!
The first one latched on to my arm, and another grabbed Heiron. I tried shooting it off him, but I declare those beasties are enormous…and the orcs raining crossbow bolts on us didn’t help. One bolt came within an inch of snapping my bow!
One of the weasels was worrying something behind me, but I really couldn’t see what it was. My arm was throbbing – and feeling weak – and I knew we couldn’t lose much more blood.
Heiron had two weasels chewing on him by this time, but he still managed to shoot the weasel latched on to me (being close must have helped).
As soon as it dropped off, I grabbed him and started dragging him back – out of crossbow range – and calling for back-up. (Raven says I was “yelping” for back-up, but for once I can’t be mad at him.) Just in time, too – one last bolt bounced off Heiron’s helmet, and he had to blink and shake his head for a minute to clear it.
Within moments, Raven was there – punching weasels. With my arms free, I drew my bow and killed one of the weasels sucking the life out of Heiron.
By that time, Ezekiel had run up, too (huffing and puffing), and I could hear Agnar at the other end of the corridor – clanging and banging and yelling, “Save some fer meeee!”
Raven smacked the weasels so hard they sat down to blink and shake their heads – which made them much easier to kill. With the shift in the fight, I could finally glance around and see what we had backed into…
Mikael stood there…but he seemed…different, somehow. All the blood running down him didn’t help. Ezekiel cast a healing spell, and that seemed to revive him – at least enough to step forward and cast faery fire.
And that’s when it hit me, like a heavy thing. Mikael only had one arm.
With faery fire glowing, we could see the orcs more clearly – and the figure of man, floating around in the air behind the desk. He must have turned himself invisible.
Raven took off after him while Heiron and I plinked orcs. Agnar had finally shown up – puffing and swearing and waving his sword wildly. He rushed past me, almost knocking me off my feet, and charged down the stairs – slipping and tripping and taking crossbow bolts to the breastplate, but never stopping his stream of threats.
I tried to leave him a couple orcs. I mean, he’s had a rough day. Not as rough as Mikael, but still – he’s been itching for a good fight, and somehow he keeps missing them.
Raven came back before long, and reported that the tunnels loop around and connect to one another, so he thinks the man fled up to the mausoleum in the “cemetery” (the iron door is locked now, so it seems someone went that way).
There’s also a ladder in front of the escape tunnel that will have to be explored some time…and Raven says he thinks he figured out to open and close the trapdoors we want, but we still don’t know what they’re for.
And on top of all that, Mikael lost his arm. He says when the weasel grabbed him, all he could think of was to turn into a bird and fly away…but unfortunately the weasel still had a grip on his bird-wing…and, well, the rest is history. Namely, his wing-slash-arm is now history.
I asked if we could cut it out of the weasel, and then Ezekiel could use his spiritual-magic-superglue to put it back on. Ezekiel got all tuttsy and huffy that “that’s not how it works!” which is why I said it.
Raven remembered the one-armed druid we met in the mountains, and theorized maybe he was just Mikael from the future, but about then Ezekiel clapped his hands and started laying out a plan, so we had to go back to work.
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