“Good instincts to expect this trap, Feldard,” whispered Hasan, who admired but did not share the dwarf’s braggadocio underground. “Now, though, the survivors would surely think they are safe, no? If they are not here, they must know another exit to the mine and are making quickly for it. We need to take up our own speed.”
The opening was too narrow for the group to pass through, so the dwarf’s engineering knowledge was required. As he rearranged the rocks to widen the goblin-sized passage, Feldard grunted. The lack of response had the dwarf concerned, but he moved with a beautiful controlled power amid the ruble. For his own part, Hasan stumbled over a loose stone. He joined the dwarf and waited for the humans to pass through. The elf munched on an apple taken from Susikyn’s store and tasted the land above. “It is an unhappy forest,” he thought, “but it is good apple country. They should grow grapes.” He could nearly smell the thick, sweet, straw-colored wine that the Elyan made from grapes grown near their apple orchards. Then Stephan began his clatter through the narrow passage, and Hasan’s reverie ended.
Stephan eyed Hasan contentedly munching on an apple. The elven folk, he’d witnessed over time had a strange penchant for nonchalance at the strangest of times. Here we are, he thought, just entered into an unknown darkness of gripping rock and the elf sees fit to have a snack. I’ll bet he’s dreaming of quaffing some of that thick elfin vintage.
Looking at the magically illuminated stone, Stephan was visibly pleased. “Thank you, Miklos. Once before, I had the fortune to use a stone such as this but lost it in battle.” He happily doused the stinking lantern, placing the stone in it instead. The cowl on the lantern allowed the light from the rock to be shut off or narrowed if needed.
“I’ll not keep it in the lantern but it does allow some degree of control over the beam. I wonder…” and Stephan popped the stone in his mouth. Closing his lips shut off the light. Opening them created a stunning effect of streaming light that wavered at the control of his lips. He soon stopped this behavior after noticing some odd looks from his new companions.
Depositing the stone in his hand, “Well, curiosity killed the cat ,but it also lead the great Mensha to discover the lost City of Gold. And this mouth light could stun an enemy at close range.”
The dwarf ignored the antics of both the elf and Stephan and focused his attention on picking his way through the passage.
The elf had a point—the survivors likely were headed to an alternate exit. Feldard may not have been to this mine before, but he was well familiar with mines were laid out. Once out of the caved in passage, Feldard headed for where he guessed the other exit would be located.
Miklos scrambled through the fallen masonry. “Is it still stable?” He muttered to the deftly retreating back of the Dwarf. “I guess its no time to wait to find out.” He scrambled out the other side, picked himself up and followed the others.
Not speaking Dwarven, Maruc had no idea that his services were being freely offered. Not that he would have minded, provided they recipricated with some service to the spirit of King Halav Reborn, naturally.
He looked doubtfully at the narrow hole the others had squeezed through. Well, Stephan had got through so there must be enough space. Maruc elbowed off his shield and thrust it through the gap and then as an afterthought slipped off his backpack and shoved that through. He clambered though himself. “Well I’m glad we’ll not be retreating in a hurry.”
“Why is that pray?” asked Miklos.
“Because you’ll end up with a goblin spear up your posterior if you try to rush through here.” grumbled Maruc.
“You might.” Miklos brushed down his figure hugging robe. “Hurry up, I fear we are being somewhat tardy.”
Maruc grinned. He shouldered his backpack and shield and the two friends joined the others.
On the other side of the rock collapse, on the ground they saw some goblin weaponry on the ground. Nearby, they found fragments of webbing. Hasan bent over to examine it. Touching a stand of the stuff, Hasan’s hand and arm felt numb. He put the webbing back down and the sensation went away.
The path of the dwarves continued down the tunnel, which veered to the left after about 20 feet. There was less dwarven blood on the stony ground—apparently they took some time to staunch their wounds here before moving on.