“I just run my finger along this stone…” muttered Short-arse to herself, “…turn this one clockwise…”
There was a loud click and a section of the wall began to swing outwards.
“Aha! You never lose it!” Short-arse proudly walked around the open doorway to peer within. Her eyesight was naturally good in the dark, but even she couldn’t make out what lay in the passageway beyond.
“I’ve found the way forwards!” she called back to the others.
“That’s great!” said Trogdar, bounding along, “That’s really, really fantastic. You’re fantastic.”
Trogdar’s wide-eyed stare terrified Short-arse, who recoiled as the Barbarian fixed her with a cheery grin. He continued his bouncing stride as he walked on down the corridor beyond.
“What the hell was that about?” she asked Jandyr.
“Oh, I gave him one of my herbal remedies,” said Jandyr, “seemed to work quite well. Even the Wizard seemed to like it.”
The Wizard came wandering past, his eyes opened wide and with a beaming smile on his face.
“Would you like some?” asked Jandyr.
“No thank-you,” said Short-arse, relieved that she had packed a stash of stonebread.
“Very well,” said Jandyr, following on after the bedrugged humans.
Short-arse shook her head and walked off after the others. As she passed the halfway point of the corridor, she felt a sense of unease crawl along her spine.
She stopped and slowly turned towards the left-hand wall, feeling the stonework beneath her gloved hands. As she ran over the rough and ready stones of ancient builders, she found a symbol carved into the rock.
An image of blood and death flashed into her mind and she recoiled, withdrawing her hand. She thought for a moment before returning to the carved stone, feeling 8 distinct points around a circular centre.
She pushed the circle with her thumb, and the wall retreated into an alcove, beyond which was a great brass idol of a demonic form holding a sword and whip.
“Guys?” she said, looking for the others who had gone into a chamber ahead. “Guys, there’s something you should look at here.”
She ran past the Wizard into the chamber beyond to see Trogdar bent over, staring at a rack of weapons and making soft cooing noises. A large pit lined with spikes was in front of him, with a great wooden door at the far end.
“What on earth was in that stuff?” she said to Jandyr.
Just some herbs I found along the way that relieve pain,” said Jandyr plainly.
“Try half-strength next time,” said Short-arse as the Wizard walked past her, his eyes still wide-open and with the same vacant smile on his face.
“Where’s he going?” she asked as the Wizard continued shuffling along, paying no notice to the pit beyond and falling head-first into it.
A great cheer of high-pitched voices wailed, and fires along the edge of the pit burst into light. The great wooden door began to open vertically, and a bellowing roar came from beyond.
“Oh dear,” said Short-arse as the bellowing grew louder and a hiss of air was heard. A giant figure loomed out of the doorway and into the pit, it’s brown fur and white horns covering a bull’s head atop the frame of a man. It bore a large axe in both forepaws and walked atop brazen hooves.
“Who’s a pretty bear then?” said Trogdar, staring into the pit.
“It’s a bloody Minotaur!” said Short-arse, incredulous.
“Oh!” replied Trogdar. “Who’s a pretty Minotaur then?”
“We’ve got to save him,” said Short-arse.
“Agreed,” said Jandyr, quickly knocking an arrow.
The platform overlooking the pit burst into life as a horde of Goblins charged out of the walls, surrounding the Dwarf and Elf and driving them to the floor.
“Don’t worry!” said Trogdar, swaying, “I’ll save him!”
Trogdar leapt into the pit, landing heavily on his injured foot which collapsed beneath him.
“Ow!” he said, oblivious to the damage he continued to cause.
The Minotaur was now crouched down, readying for the charge. He gave a final bellow before running as fast as possible towards the injured barbarian and Wizard, who was buried beneath his fine robes.
As the creature drew near, his horns lowered and head braced, the Wizard managed to unfurl himself and pointed the ring he had been gifted by Grimcrag Grunsson at the Minotaur.
Lightning leapt from the ring towards the creature, burning through its eyes and setting its fur aflame. It roared in pain deafeningly and collapsed to the ground, its charred flesh stinging the air and bringing Trogdar and the Wizard to their senses.
The Goblins on the upper platform fled as their captive burnt, releasing Jandyr and Short-arse.
“Can someone help me up please?” came a pained wail from the Barbarian below