I was thinking on how we would next be challenged and may have missed a few things that Lilith said before I heard her suggest I lead us down the stairs since I had the best armor. Which, of course, was the most logical thing for her to do. Besides, I had the whole detect traps thing down to a science. Well, a hobby for someone with no true skills detecting traps, and more a history of triggering traps.
Remembering the horrible tomb experience previously, I was going to make sure that none of my friends got smacked with a swinging scythe, or dropped into a pit of spikes ever again. Perhaps I had gotten a bit compulsive.
I lead the way down the stairs, checking each one for traps with a thoroughness that made me proud, and made Lilith swear. After only thirty minutes I was on the third step, checking for trip wires, spring loaded darts and other known contraptions when Lilith asked me through gritted teeth if I had lost my mind. She was not happy about the progress, saying that the necromancers would either have their unborn children fighting us by the time we reached them, or perhaps they would die of old age before we got to the bottom of the landing.
I calmly explained what I was doing and she blew up at me, throwing her hands into the air and storming off. I made it down to the fourth stair when she started shouting at the others who had been lingering around the head of the stairs, waiting for me to progress further.
“Stand aside,” Lilith called and I instinctively moved, pressing my body up against the left wall, assuming she’d noticed some trap I’d missed.
Instead she flung a body down the stairs where it bounced its way to the bottom with a series of meaty thunks, squishes, and crunches. No traps were triggered, I’ll admit.
“Can we go now?” she asked. “Before we grow old?”
Then I casually pointed out that the body didn’t actually land on every step and that the risk of a trap was far too great.
I am thankful that she did not throw me down the stairs, and the mood she was in, I believe she may have been able to do it. Instead she slid another dead brigand down the stairs, this one with less force, and it rolled downward, getting lodged sideways about three quarters of the way down. Again, no traps were released.
When I didn’t move onward, she shoved me out of the way and stomped down the stairs, making a point of hitting each step more than once. She was making a lot of noise, but Liz pointed out that it was no surprise that we were here. They battle with the wyvern alone had been a good warning to any who could hear.
I grumbled a bit as I followed Lilith down. She kicked the second body loose from where it had gotten lodged and followed it down to the landing where two bodies now lay, tangled and broken.
When I mentioned that the blood and bile, among other noxious liquids, made the stairs treacherous, she punched me in the eye.
She has tiny fists, and a quick temper. I let the whole thing drop after that.
“She is a rogue,” Liz said as she passed me on the way down to the next level. “She said she and Ingrid had already checked for traps which is why you should go first.”
“Oh,” I said. “Is that what she was saying?”
Seriously, I needed to pay better attention. A wandering mind can sometimes lead to trouble, or a punch in the eye.
The room at the bottom of the stairs was empty — not even a dead body or anything. Off it were three doors. One was covered in some form of glowing green slime, which we opted to ignore. The second was open, but led along a passage that ended in a collapse about twelve strides deeper in. The third door had well maintained hinges which had seen use recently. Ingrid checked the door for traps, then Lilith double checked her work.
I did not point out that they were also concerned about traps, partly because Liz gave me a look, and partly because… okay, it was because Liz gave me a look.
There were four rooms off this corridor, each ending in a small barracks room, which were empty since the brigands were all either dead, or outside fighting pirates.
How often do you see the phrase, “brigands fighting pirates”? I would think perhaps that could be redundant in certain circles. I’m sure the fine folks at Skyfell University would have an etymological conversation about the true difference between those two words.
At the end of that passage was a large open banquet hall, then a kitchen, store room and armory. Here we had our first encounter. There were three men chained to the walls here, burly men with forearms like tree trunks, and chests broad enough to give Bob a run for his money.
These men cowered behind the cold forge and we offered to free them. They gibbered something incoherent and Lilith suggested we could free them on the way out. Not good to have crazy people at our back, and the brigands and pirates were not done fighting just yet. These poor fellows deserved not to die the minute they stepped out into the sunlight.
We travelled down another flight of stairs, through a few more barracks rooms, some nicer than the others, and a few private rooms which had to be for officers. Lilith and Ingrid were inclined to loot every room, but frankly I wanted to get this over with.
The next level down held stores and cells, each holding a dead prisoner. Perhaps we could’ve been quicker to get here instead of solving every problem between here and there.
Finally, after another long stair, three rooms filled with ghouls (which we killed), six skeletons (which Brindle personally killed) and a handful of small chests that held coins, we found the double doors that opened into a great sweeping staircase down to an enormous room filled with burning torches, two necromancers, half a dozen prisoners on altars and a summoning circle where a black shape writhed and twisted, sparks of fire flashing within the magical container. Oh and priests, there seem to always be a cadre of nefarious priests.
“Finally,” Aoibhell said, and we all turned to look at her and she shrugged, saying a string of words I could not comprehend.
When she pointed at the necromancers below, I saw that Jared made a motion and the summoning circle was shattered. The smoke creature flowed out into the center of the room and the prisoners began to scream