Chapter 2: History.. Page 15

Posted: July 6, 2007 in Good Reads

Chapter 1: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, Page 7, Page 8, Page 9
Chapter 2: Page 10, Page 11, Page 12, Page 13, Page 14
 

They continued their slow progression for another three hours or so. There were a couple of junctions. Max consistently chose routes that took them uphill.

‘Halt!’ the dwarf cried.

‘Now what?’ Eladred said.

‘There’s a door, some twenty feet beyond the light.’

Eladred squinted into the gloom, ‘So there is.’

‘All right,’ Paplo satd, clicking on the catch and slighing his crossbow around his shoulder. He removed his set of lockpicks from his pouch. ‘Time for the professional to do his work.’

‘Wait,’ Max said, restraining the youth with a firm hand. He then pulled out three wooden rods of around three feet in length from his backpacks, joining them together to form a nine-foot-pole, ‘Better be safe than sorry.’

Wykka and Paplo watched, mystified, as the dwarf approached the door with a large shield strapped to his left hand, and the pole in his right. From as far as possible, and shielding himself as best he could, the dwarf used the pole to prod the door and the area around it.

‘All right, go ahead,’ Max finally said.

‘What was that all about?’ Paplo asked.

‘Just checking for traps – from a safe distance,’

As he went for the door, Paplo noticed that none of them followed him. In fact, they were taking cover behind a bend in the tunnel, while nodding encouragement to him.

The youth stopped just in front of the door, immobile.

‘What is it?’ Eladred asked, his bow at the ready.

‘I need more light to work on the lock,’ Paplo said.

‘Oh,’ Wykka mumbled, from where he was peering anxiously, behind Max. He sheepishly carried the lantern to Paplo, placing it on the ground near the former thief.

‘Come back here, quick!’ Max instructed Wykka, as Paplo went down on one knee, to work on the lock. The former farmer dashed back, as if his life depended on it.

‘Gee, you guys are really freaking me out,’ Paplo said, ‘Do you really have to be so… frightened? Come on! This place has been deserted for a thousand years! Any traps would have rusted solid by now. I feel like a guines pig, out there!’

‘Listen, boy,’ Max lectured, ‘I’ve been to many of the Old Places, like this one. You know why they are deserted? Because by some arcane skill long forgotten, all the traps are still working! That’s why we only send the most qualified member to unlock the doors, while the rest  of the party get the hell out of the way! So if something does happen, at least we’ll still be alive and capable of going in to save his arse! Now do your gawdem job!’

‘I feel so much more comforted,’ Paplo said, sarcastically. ‘Oh, wait…’

‘What, what?!’ Eladred almost screamed.

The youth looked over his shoulders, at them, ‘The door isn’t locked.’

Before Max could say anything, the youth swung the door open.

‘Wait! Don’t go in!’ Max shouted. ‘What’d you see?’

Paplo shone the lantern in, ‘Nothing. The passage continues into the darkness.’

‘Come back here,’ the dwarf ordered.

‘But there’s nothing…’

‘Come back here!’ Max repeated, insistently.

‘Do as the dwarf says!’ Eladred roared.

Paplo reluctantly adhered, muttering to himself about stubborn dwarves and jittery elves.’

Once Paplo was beside Wykka, Max advanced once more with pole and shield. He moved with the pole jutting before him. The tip of the pole passed through the door…

 

                                                                to be continued…

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