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Advanced Dungeons & Dragon 2nd Edition: The Scar Session One

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Monday, June 27, 2016

(After playing the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition scenario “The Scar” by Ray Winninger from Dungeon Adventures #80 on Sunday from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. with Kyle Matheson, Nathaniel Steelmen, Logan Scott, Collin Townsend, Aaron Scott, Hannah Gambino, and Ashton LeBlanc.)

On the last day of Needfest, 592 Common Year, two new prisoners were brought into cell holding slaves of the orcs led by Skarg and tossed into the darkness. They would begin their labors the next day.

Arthelion the Enlightened was a mage. The man had shoulder-length brown hair and bright blue eyes. He was trying to grow his wizard’s beard but it was still scruffy. He was achingly handsome and wore white robes with black trim and a matching pointed hat. He had come to the Flinty Hills in search of the orcs, wanting to be captured. He had heard of other people being taken by the orcs and thought if he got captured, his notoriety would go up. He had run into an elf and asked about the orcs.

Rome was an elf priest of Corellon Larethian. He had grey hair that was teased back and muttonchops, very unusual for an elf; many had commented that there must have been some human blood. He had gold eyes and was wandering in the wilderness when he had met the wizard Arthelion. Moments later, they were surrounded by orcs and taken prison, blindfolded and dragged away.

The other prisoners’ muscles ached from the long hours of manual labor and their backs stung from the lash. They’d been prisoners of the orcs for more than just a day. Just after they were captured, the orcs brought them there, the ruins of an ancient underground temple located in a barren wasteland of the Flinty Hills known as the Scar, not terribly far from the Nyrond border.

The orcs were looking for something. Their leader, a ruthless animal named Skarg, drove them onward and they in turn, drove the slaves. The prisoners spent 14 hours of every twenty four digging and hauling rubble, opening the passageways that would soon allow Skarg to find his prize. Those who defied Skarg fell beneath the slavers’ lash - or worse.

It was unlikely that Skarg would be even this hospitable once he had achieved his objective. The slaves’ only hope was escape. There were 25 of them, most of them peasants, captured merchants, a few women, and a few children. However, in addition to the two who had just been captured, there were also five more of a different sort.

Helius Wik was a hedge wizard. The man wore robes that looked like they’d been patched together from other robes of dark earth tones. Twigs and beads and dried leaves adorned his dark brown hair. He had only a little scruff of a beard on his chin and he was young, having seen only 21 summers. He was pretty dirty. He’d been captured by the orcs a week before while gathering herbs to make the beers he brewed. They had thrown a hood over his head and dragged him into the terrible underground temple.

Tarmak of the Winding Road was a priest of Fharlanghn. The man was average-looking aside from his brilliant green eyes. He had brown hair, bleached by the sun, and was average height and weight. He had the beginnings of a beard only because the orcs allowed them no blades, even to shave their faces. He wore a tunic. He had been captured by the orcs a week and a half before when he had been camping out in the wilderness and had seen their shadows. Thinking they were fellow travelers on the road, he invited them to his fire and they jumped him.

Kilb Bronzescale was a kobold rogue. He was small, standing almost three and a half feet tall, and had bronze colored scales. His eyes were deep purple and he was 15 years old, a young adult in the kobold tribes. He had been traveling from the Bone March through the Flinty Hills towards Nyrond to rob the humans when he stumbled across some orcs who snatched him up three days before. He had kept to himself and the other slaves had left him alone.

Noiree Fragginth was a dwarf woman. Half of her head was shaved and, though her hair was brown, the top of her hair that was still long was dyed orange. She also had an orange braid that came down longer than the rest of her hair. Many of the dwarves in her stronghold were not happy about it as they said it went against dwarven tradition. She had been there the longest: a slave for two months.

Her isolated stronghold stood in the Rakers where it met the Flinty Hills, and had always, it seemed, been subject to humanoid attacks and subjugation. The dwarves had eventually capitulated, giving tribute of gold and sometimes even slaves to certain humanoid tribes to keep them away. However, two months before, the orcs who had come had taken more gold and slaves than usual. Noiree had gone after them but found herself surrounded and captured by another group as she pursued the first.

Elriya Warrick was a Halfling rogue. She went by the nickname “L” in her hometown. She stood just over three feet tall and had short black hair and piercing blue eyes. She normally wore a cloak with a mask that covered the lower portion of her face as she had very crooked teeth. She had seen a caravan of orcs moving towards the part of the Flinty Hills called the Scar 11 days before and decided to try to rob from it. However, she found the caravan full of slaves so she tried to free them but the orcs had captured her. She had been enslaved ever since.

The room the slaves were housed in was about 30 feet deep by 50 feet wide. There were two large piles of straw for the slaves to sleep on in two corners while a pile of rubble filled another corner. The doors in the complex were unusual. Each was eight feet tall and arched at the top. Rather than swinging inward or outward, they rose into slots in the ceiling when opened. Rusty chains used to hoist up each door were found on the right side of the doorway. They made a great racket when they were pulled and anyone nearby could hear them, making sneaking through the place problematic. The door to their quarters had no chain on the inside.

Additionally elaborate friezes illuminated by strange writings that Helius Wik and Tarmak had recognized as ancient Flan, were in some of the rooms. They ran in a continuous strip across the uppermost two feet of the walls and depicted various things. They had briefly seen the one in their prison at one point, though light was only rarely brought into the room. It depicted the construction of a hearth and its chimney with the caption “The great hearth was built in the western wing of the complex.” In another room they passed through to get to the area they worked in was a frieze of construction of some kind of hall with statues that read “A great hall of honor was constructed in the south wing of the complex. A great weapon was placed in Cameron’s hands.”

The underground complex was lit sporadically with great brass lanterns with thick wicks made of hemp rope. They burned brightly enough that they illuminated an area some 60 feet across. One was near the place the slaves worked to clear rubble and was the only illumination they had in that area though another light came from a nearby corridor they noticed each time they passed.

They were fed at the end of the long work sessions and given water breaks during them. Sometimes orcs came in after they bedded down each night to search them for contraband. They also occasionally searched their quarters.

* * *

The next day, the first day of the month of Fireseek, they were all woken by nine orcs, as usual.

“Happy Fireseek everybody!” Helius Wik said.

“Quiet you!” one of the orcs said.

It was pitch black and those with infravision were forced to help those who could not see to navigate the corridors until they reached the part of the complex illuminated by one of the huge brass lanterns. Then the orcs, as usual, split off about a quarter of the slaves, including Helius Wik and Noiree this time, and headed off into the complex in a direction none of those who had been slaves had yet seen.

Each of the orcs carried a spear and a scourge. They wore leather armor and had heavy black cloaks.

“Get to work!” another orc said to those who remained.

They were all given crude shovels and started working on moving debris from a pile that blocked the corridor.

“What do we do?” Arthelion asked.

“You’ll figure it out!” an orc said, slamming the mage in the back with his spear.


The slaves knew they were move the debris to clear the tunnel beyond. There was a lot of it there and it would probably take a couple of days work to clear it, even with the number of people there. Arthelion looked around. There were some bones on the ground that were somewhat fresh. Otherwise there was little on the area of the corridor beside a few closed doors.

“Yeah, we got fresh meat for dinner tonight,” one of the orcs said to another in common.

He laughed and looked at Arthelion.

“Hey, I like that goat,” Arthelion said. “Please don’t─”

“We’re gonna like him too!” the orc said and laughed again.

“He’s … uh … he’s poisonous.”

“Oh, we’ll let the captain eat him first then.”

The orc laughed again. He probably thought he was making a joke.

“I’m going to tell the captain,” Arthelion said.

“What’d you say?” the orc barked.


“I thought so.”


“Get to work!”

* * *

Helius Wik, Noiree, and a handful of other slaves were taken down a long corridor, past a deep room with a statue, and then down another corridor where yet another large lantern illuminated the area. They were pushed into a room nearly buried with wooden debris. It appeared to be the remains of a library and a frieze went around the top of the room depicting the construction of a hall with statues within it. Helius Wik could tell the writing said “A great hall of honor was constructed n the south wing of the complex. A great weapon was placed in Cameron’s hands.”

They were not told what to do but one of the other slaves said they were to find books and papers. Helius Wik found a scrap of parchment and hid it into his long hair.

* * *

Arthelion tried to persuade the orcs to find some other work for him as he was very weak but the orc merely growled for him to get back to work.

“I’m not very strong,” Arthelion said.

“I don’t care,” the orc replied. “Get back to work!”

“This is all I can lift.”

“That’s something.”

Arthelion lifted the meager amount he could and moved it.

“Good job,” the orc growled.

Arthelion walked over to the other adventurers.

“You don’t look like peasants like the rest of them,” he said. “How’d you get captured? How long have you been here?”

The kobold just glared at him and continued working.

“Are you racist against elves?” Rome asked.

“No,” Arthelion said. “Are you all special?”

“Yeah,” Rome replied.

“This guy’s an idiot,” Elriya said to Kilb in kobold. “Don’t talk to him.”

Kilb’s eyes opened wide. He was surprised she could speak his tongue.

“I don’t speak it, but was that the kobold language?” Arthelion asked. “I can speak dragon.”

He looked at Kilb.

“Do you speak common?” he asked.

Kilb just glared at him and kept working.

“Don’t worry,” Arthelion said. “I’ll get us out of here soon.”

“I’ve only been here for one day,” Rome said.

“Oh yeah.”

“And I could break this place with a straw of hay. I didn’t mean to rhyme but … that’s what happened.”

The elf looked around him and guessed the place was some kind of orc stronghold that had been taken over by men as they were too lazy to build their own. He guessed the orcs had merely retaken it. He told the rest of his hypothesis.

“Huh,” Arthelion said.

Arthelion kept talking to the orcs all day, trying to convince them he was not strong enough for the work.

“This will make you stronger,” one of the orcs said, swatting him with his spear.

“All I have is a staff and a goat,” Arthelion said. “My life sucks.”

“You don’t have either now.”

“I … I mean, you’re going to die if you eat him. I’m just telling you that. He cost half of my fortune so … if you could not eat him … I really love him. I mean, as much as one can love a goat, I love him.”

The orcs ignored him.

“Okay, I have a proposal,” he later said. “I’m really good at dancing. And it must be really boring guarding.”

“Get back to work!” the orc told him.

“Don’t eat my goat and I’ll dance.”

“Get back to work.”

“I can do a dancing lights spell.”

“Wait … you’re a caster?”

“Oh yeah. I’m so smart.”

“Don’t cast spells or we’ll cut your fingers off so you can’t cast.”

“I might’ve already cast one, I’m not sure.”

Displeased with that, they knocked the mage around with their spears.

At another point, Arthelion put his back to the orcs and cast a charm person spell, turning at the last moment and focusing on one of them. The orcs didn’t notice he’d cast the spell. However, Tarmak, Kilb, Rome, and Elriya all saw his casting. He walked over to the orc he cast the spell on.

“So, do you want to watch me dance or what?” he asked.

“No!” the orc said. “Shut up! Get back to work!”


The spell hadn’t worked.

“Well, they’re not willing,” Arthelion said to the other slaves. “You want to watch me dance? I’m pretty good.”

No one seemed to. He told the orcs he needed a very private area to pass his water but was told to piss with the rest of them. The orc hit him with a spear.

“Where?” Arthelion asked.

The orc pointed to a corner.

“I’m kind of shy,” Arthelion said.

The orc took the scourge off his belt and started swatting it against his leg.

“You are getting on my last nerve, boy,” the orc said.

“I have something really cool in my pouch, if you want to see it,” Arthelion told the orcs.

“We’ve seen everything in your pouch,” the orc said. “We took it.”

“I made something invisible in it though. You want to see it?”

“You a wizard? You try that crap with us and we’ll rip your tongue out.”

“I need my materials to cast spells. I can’t cast spells.”

“Bullshit! My uncle was a shaman. You don’t need no materials. I bet you already wizzened me! Didn’t you?”


“I should rip the beard off your face. You ain’t got much. Go piss over in that corner with the rest of them.”

“Can you make sure nobody sneaks up on me?”

“I’ll whip the shit out of you! Get over there and piss.”

The orcs started to watch the wizard more closely after that. Kilb dug away with his shovel but kept an eye out for sharp rocks he might use as a weapon. He didn’t find anything he could use that day. Rome started to shovel the rocks more efficiently in an attempt to get onto the orcs’ good side. He had a plan for an assembly line that would speed up production and keep everyone busy. He decided to do it himself in the hopes the orcs would notice, which they did.

“Elves, I hate ‘em,” he said. “But he’s really working hard.”

Before he finished for the day, he asked the orc for his medallion so he could pray to his god. The orc told him to piss off.

They continued work and were brought water three times over the workday. Elriya volunteered to bring water but they refused to take a volunteer to do it. They were all finally taken back to the slave pen. Arthelion, remembering the straw from the night before, felt his way to the pile in an attempt to call dibs on a place to sleep.

* * *

In the library, Helius Wik crept into the side of the library the orcs couldn’t see from their place in the corridor. He cast a spell to detect magic and looked around but could not see anything magical within his field of vision.

A slave was sent off three times that day to bring water to the others. They were very tired by the time the orcs took them back to their room.

* * *

A half hour or so after they were brought back to the slave quarters, the orcs brought them gruel and a tough piece of meat. That was all they would get in terms of food and it really wasn’t enough. A half hour or so after they had their food, they started smelling cooked food and heard the orcs start their loud revelry, as they did nightly.

They might be drinking my beer! Helius Wik thought. Those bastards!

Arthelion, Rome, Noiree, and Elriya all thought they smelled roasted goat.

Oh well, Arthelion thought. I’ll have to buy another goat.

They bedded down, the adventurers all finding themselves in the same pile. Elriya tapped on Arthelion’s shoulder.

“Hello?” he said.

“Did you try to spell those orcs earlier today?” she asked.


“I saw you waving your hands around and chanting.”


“And you looked at ‘em.”


“What were you trying to do?”

“I have the tremors. I get hand tremors when they hit me with the spear more than seven times. They hit me a little more than I was hoping today. I was shaking a little bit.”

“Well … I know you’re new here but, at night, only one orc comes to check up on us.”

“Oh. That’s pretty cool. Maybe he’d like to see me dance. You know, nobody took me up on that today.”

“I wish I could see you dance,” Helius Wik said from the darkness.

“Who said that?” Arthelion said. “I’ll dance for you tomorrow, stranger.”

“Awesome. The name’s Helius.”

“My name is Arthelion.”

“Nice to meet you, Arthelion. What kind of dancing do you do?”

“I can do all kinds of dancing. I prefer … have you ever seen the taps?”

“I’ve only heard of the taps.”

“I can taps it real good.”

“Yeah, I’m not a very good dancer myself but get a few beers in me and I’ll try anything. At least once.”

“That sounds like an opportunity.”

A little girl on the edge of the pile of straw was crying.

What a baby, Arthelion thought.

“So, you gave me that information about the lone guard coming at night,” he said. “Have you got a plan, friend? What do you want to do about that?”

“Yeah, I’m trying to get out of here,” Helius Wik said. “You guys trying to get out of here?”

“Why would you try to get out of here?”

“I’m just … I’m just saying … you guys look like wizards,” Elriya said. “If you can a spell on the orc, that would be a good time to do it.”

“I kind of need to rest before I can perform a spell, personally,” Helius Wik said.

“Well, you know, if I could cast a spell, I’d probably couldn’t now,” Arthelion said.

“It’s not like we’re going anywhere,” Elriya said.

“It’d probably have to be later. If I could.”

Rome walked over to the little girl and sat down next to her. She was startled in the dark but he comforted her and told her about his god, Corellon Larethian. She snuggled up to him and asked him to tell her more stories. She finally fell asleep.

“So, everybody,” Noiree said.

“Who is this?” Arthelion asked. “Who’s talking?”

“Who is that?” Helius Wik said.

“My name’s Noiree Fragginth,” she said. “I’ve got an idea. So, I’ve been here for a little bit.”

“How long,” Arthelion asked.

“Two months.”

“That’s a long time.”

“Yep. I hate it.”

A couple others chimed in they hated it too.

“Guys, it’s not that bad,” Arthelion said.

“Well, I plan on trying to get out of here soon,” Noiree went on. “Now, I still have my clothes from when I was captured. And around my waist I have a band that wraps around. I’m thinking, I’m a strong person. I’m a strong dwarf. I think─”

“Strong, independent woman,” Helius Wik said.

“Yes, thank you,” Noiree went on. “I think that if we, a few of us, get to the sides of the walls, when they come in, I take my wrap, hold it, and I can take them down from behind.”

“I don’t mean to burst your bubble, Noiree,” Arthelion said, “but they’ve got some pretty good armor and might scream out in the night.”

“We also outnumber them,” Elriya said.

“If I get them around the neck, they won’t scream,” Noiree said.

They knew most of the common people would be useless in a fight. Helius Wik also said he was not a good fighter and would prefer to stay out of battles.

“Why don’t you just keep hyping up how good of a dancer I am,” Arthelion said. “Tell ‘em you saw me. And you’ve heard of me. And the orcs should really watch me dance.”

“Hm,” Helius Wik said.

“Well, there’s got to be something we could do,” Noiree said.

“I could distract them … with my dancing,” Arthelion said.

“They’re going to whip you,” Noiree said.

“This might have nothing to do with the escape plan but … in the room that I was taken to today, I saw something on the ceiling, something written down about the great hall in the south complex and a great weapon in Cameron’s hands,” Helius Wik said.

He remembered the route he’d taken to the library and described it to the others.

“There was something written on the ceiling about Cameron’s hands and a big weapon,” he went on. “Does that ring a bell with any of you guys? Even to the people who have not been here long.”

Arthelion remembered a legend he’d once heard or read. It was about a people who worshipped one of the world’s nature gods who had made a huge underground temple somewhere in the Flinty Hills. They were apparently trying to create some powerful magic. He remembered the elf who had been on the chain gang with them had mentioned the place being an orc lair, but he didn’t think so.

“Story time,” he said.

He described the story as best he could remember it.

“So, you think that this is the same hall?” Helius Wik said. “You think this might be where that magical weapon might be kept?”

“Oh, most definitely,” Arthelion said. “Without a doubt.”

“Maybe if we find this magical weapon before the orcs, we can take them out,” Helius Wik said.

“If we do find said magical weapon, I would consider it a great honor if you all would bestow it upon me,” Arthelion said.

“Oh, you would consider it an honor,” Helius Wik said.

“Hm,” Noiree said.

“Yeah,” Arthelion said. “What you will see of my dancing will be enough payment for whatever this item is.”

“Would you even know how to use said weapon?” Helius Wik said.

“If I could use said weapon … yeah, I could probably figure it out.”

“Well …”

Helius Wik laughed.

“But I’m really thinking that I could distract them tomorrow,” Arthelion said. “So … you can formulate the plan from there but I’m going to give them a show. I’m going to give them the what’s up.”

“We’ll try anything,” Noiree said.

“Distract them with your dancing skills?” Helius Wik said.

“Yeah,” Arthelion said. “So, I mean, I don’t know if you noticed but you all look different. All the rest look like peasants that are going to die here.”

“Hey!” one of the other prisoners said.

“No offense,” Arthelion said.

“Okay, no offense,” the other man said.

“I can’t tell in this darkness,” Helius Wik said. “I can’t even tell how you can tell.”

“Is he really a wizard?” someone said.

“But I’m thinking if I can distract them, what would you like to do?” Arthelion went on. “Just get to that library?”

“The orcs took me to a room where they were looking for a magical artifact or a magical book or something,” Helius Wik said. “I feel if I had more time, I might could find this magical artifact. And I remember the way to get there, past a couple hallways, a few doors.”

“Do you think this distraction idea’s good? Then you could get back there unseen possibly? Or do you even know if they’ll take you back there tomorrow?”

“I have no idea if they’ll take me back to the library tomorrow. But if we can hold a big enough rabble where you guys are digging, maybe I could … maybe me and a few other people can do some investigating and track it down.”

“It sounds like, to me, what you’re proposing is they need to make sure they don’t take you there tomorrow, and you’re there with the bigger group so you can lead us there. When I perform the distraction.”

“I could lead anybody to this library.”

“Is that man going to dance?” someone muttered.

“So, for all of you who want to get out of here, there might be an uprising tomorrow,” Arthelion said.

“All right,” Helius Wik said.

“I don’t wanna die,” someone said.

“The signal will be my tapping,” Arthelion said.

“Well, we need to find our weapons and stuff if we’re going to have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting out of this place,” Helius Wik said.

“Can anybody here hold their own? I mean is anyone here a fighter or something?”

“Not me.”

“Not I.”

“Those shovels suck,” someone said.

“But we do outnumber the orcs,” Arthelion said.

There was some dissent among the commoners. Most of them were scared. However, they didn’t give the impression any of them would betray them to the orcs. Everyone was afraid of the orcs.

“I’m pretty strong myself,” Noiree said. “I can pull my weight. Help out. Strangle a few orcs.”

“It will have to be a quick attack,” Arthelion said. “And we will all have to fight at some point.”

“Oh gods,” Helius Wik said.

“But I will try to get the orcs to turn their backs on the digging,” Arthelion said.

“Well, as long as I get a good night’s rest before all of this goes down, I think I can help out,” Helius Wik said.

It was about an hour later when the door opened and a single orc came in and looked around. Only a few of them could see him. He left fairly quickly however. It was several more hours before a single orc arrived to search the room for contraband, but he did it very quickly and inefficiently.

* * *

They were awoken early on the 2nd of Fireseek when the orcs opened the door to their room. They were led out of the room once again and to the place where the digging was taking place. The orcs took Tarmak, Rome, Kilb, Noiree, and Elriya, as well as the little girl, to work in the library. Rome memorized the route as they walked. Six orcs escorted them and kept watch outside the door of the room.

Noiree was really, really angry that they’d been split up in such a way that the plan was wrecked.

“Hopefully those idiots don’t spend their spells while we’re gone,” Elriya muttered.

They got to work searching for papers and books. Kilb continued to look for a something sharp to use as a weapon. Tarmak recognized the language of the frieze as ancient Flan and was able to read it.

* * *

The others, including Arthelion and Helius Wik were put to work on the pile of debris once again.

“So … it does look like our plan has failed,” Arthelion said to Helius Wik as they worked.

“Partially, yeah,” Helius Wik said. “Though I’m still here if you still want to dance. You were talking it up last night.”

“I mean … I was going to dance to distract while you took the other people, so … I don’t think you and me can overpower these orcs.”

“I can’t take anybody in my condition.”

“So, I guess we’ll just have to wait until they get back. But hey, did you hear a door open last night.”

“Yeah, I heard it open twice. Those are the guys. They go through and make the rounds, you know. They check up on us.”

“Seems like they only send one guy.”

“Yeah, you know, after partying, he’s probably boozed up. He’s probably not all there. You know what I’m saying.”

“If you could cast a spell, do you think you could cast it when he shows up? I mean, if you could.”

“I know a few spells. You know.”


“I can throw my voice here and there.”


“I got some jubilee fireworks.”

“I’ve possibly got something I could do that might make him our friend.”

“Oh yeah?”

“I say, tonight, why don’t me and you, if we can cast spells, why don’t we try it? You know?”

“Okay, so … I guess I won’t …”

When it came time to give water to the slaves, Arthelion was picked to go fetch it.

“So-so what do I do?” he asked.

“Come with me,” the orc said.

He led him in a different direction than those who went to the library had been led, past a pile of rubble and by a large lantern before going through another chamber with rubble in the center. They came to another large lantern and turned left where a wide corridor led off some ways. The orc led him to the second door on the right, which the orc made him open. Further down the corridor, Arthelion could see a large fire with four orcs standing guard near it.

The room itself was painfully bright. A number of small holes were in the crumbling ceiling overhead. Sunlight streamed down through the ceiling holes, brightly illuminating the room and making Arthelion’s eyes sting. Four large tuns half-filled with water dominated the center of the room where the holes were. The orc pointed at two buckets, told him to fill them, and then follow him back. When he gathered the water, he looked up and could see a blue sky high above.

“These are some pretty big buckets,” Arthelion said. “Are you going to help me carry them?”

“No,” the orc said. “Fill them. I heard about you!”

“Have I not met you? You all look the same.”

“Do we?”

The orc walked over to the man.

“Yeah, you’re all very beautifu─” Arthelion said.

The orc struck him with the scourge and he stepped back.

“They call you ‘Mouth,’” the orc said. “I don’t wanna hear it any more. Fill ‘em and let’s walk back.”

Arthelion filled the buckets and the orc escorted him back. The slaves drank the water but quickly emptied both buckets.

“You know where it is!” the orc growled at him. “Just go. You’re not back … then I’m going to come looking for you.”

He swung his scourge at the man.

“I don’t know,” Arthelion mumbled. “I’m pretty fast.”

“What was that!?!” the orc said.


“Thought so.”

The orc pointed and Arthelion walked back to the water storage room. He noticed a corridor in the wall next to the room and saw light coming from that direction. It looked like lantern light. Further down the corridor, near the large fire, the four orcs continued to stand guard. He dropped off the buckets at the water storage room and started to head down the corridor next to it.

“Hey!” one of the orcs down the hall shouted. “Where are you going?”

“I’m getting water,” Arthelion called.

“The water’s in there!”

“Oh, that’s right. Whoops.”

He walked back into the water storage room and got the water, heading over to the four orc guards.

“Are you guys thirsty?” he asked.

“Gimme that!” one said.

He grabbed the bucket and drank it. Another grabbed the other bucket and drank from it as well.

“How are you guys doing?” Arthelion asked.

One of the orcs poked him.

“You’re awful skinny,” he said.

“Have you guys heard of me?” Arthelion said.

“Iunno,” an orc said.

“They said you guys had heard of me,” Arthelion went on. “You call me ‘Mouth.’”

“Mouth,” the orc said. “That’s Mouth.”

“Hey. What’s up guys?”

“You got purty teeth,” an orc said.

“I’ve offered this to everybody; nobody’s taken me up on it. You want to see me dance?”

The orcs looked at each other.

“No,” one finally said.

“Man, the─”

“No no no no.”

“Why not?”

“Ain’t … ain’t there no … we … no.”


“Get some human women. They can dance.”

“So, I made a bet with this one guy that this is the way out. Is it? I just want to know if I’m going to win the bet.”

“Back here?”

One of the orcs pointed at the area beyond the fire near the barricade they stood by. A pile of rubble was there and the next chamber opened into a larger area.

“You wanna go back there?” the orc asked.

“Why is it barricaded?” Arthelion asked.

“Yeah! You wanna go back there?”

“There something cool? To see?”

“Yeah! It’s real cool.”

The orcs looked at him.

“You know what’s back there?” one said.

“I mean … I’m a little curious, but …” Arthelion said.

“You can go look.”

“Well … are you gonna come with me?”

“No. Gruumsh no.”

“How bad is it? Tell me. What’s going on?”

“The Gnasher’s back there.”

“The Gnasher?”

The orc moved forward and got in his face.

“That’s where we throw people that talk too much.”

“Well, I feel like I talk about the right amount, so …”

“So, you don’t want to go see the Gnasher?”

“I don’t guess so. If you don’t want to see it, I don’t want to see it. But if we hold hands and go look at it …”

“Get back to work.”


Arthelion returned to the workers so they could slake their thirst. The orc told him to take the buckets back to the water storage room and he did so, returning with all due haste. He noticed a couple of orcs in another room he passed through before he returned.

* * *

Both Tarmak and Elriya found pieces of paper in the library. Each of them depicted one of the friezes. Tarmak’s displayed construction of what appeared to be an armory. It read: “An armory was established near the northwest wing of the complex.” Elriya found one that depicted a council of priests. She could not read what the script read but noticed Tarmak reading a piece of paper. She handed it over and he saw it read: “The high priests come together to set the stage for the new order.”

They knew they were supposed to hand over anything they found to the orcs.

“Can you conceal these?” Tarmak asked her. “At all?”

“Probably,” Elriya said.

She hid them on her person as best she could.

* * *

Helius Wik took the time to examine the lantern that lit their area as best he could. He saw it was made of brass and very large with a wick that almost appeared to be a thick piece of hemp rope. He guessed it was filled with lamp oil and probably weighed hundreds of pounds.

He also overheard a couple of orcs talking. Unfortunately, it was in their own language. He didn’t understand a word of it.

* * *

They were returned to the slave quarters after several hours, exhausted. Most of the slaves flung themselves down on the straw to get what rest they could. A half hour later, they were brought gruel and meat.

“Can I get some more?” Arthelion asked.

“No,” the orc, hidden in the pitch blackness, said.

“Hey, have you seen the Gnasher?”


“What does he look like?”

“I’ll let you go see him if you want.”

“Will you come with me, though. Because the other guys─”



“Because I don’t want to die, idiot.”


“Shut up Mouth. You’re the mouth, aren’t you?”


The orc slapped him in the face and walked away, leaving shortly after giving them their food. They knew it was a little while before the orcs began their revelry and possibly an hour before an orc might go in to inspect them.

“Hey, so I’m pretty tired but I think we should stay up tonight to maybe do some spells,” Arthelion said. “Maybe.”

“Yeah,” Helius Wik said. “Except I would have no idea what we would do once we get out of this room.”

“Full disclosure, if I was a wizard, I would probably have a spell to charm somebody, maybe. That’s if I was a wizard.”

“Okay, but you don’t─”

“I need to see them though and I can’t see shit.”

“How old are you, man?”


“How old are you?”

“What’s my age matter?”

“Because you look like a pretty young wizard. You can probably only cast one spell a day.”


“I know, just from experience, that your spells won’t always work, man.”

“‘Cause they won’t work,” a voice out of the darkness said.

“Whoa, who’s that?” Helius Wik said.

“Who was that?” Arthelion said. “I wonder if he’s a wizard.”

Noiree, Rome, and Elriya all saw it had been the little kobold who had not spoken to any of them previous to that very moment. Elriya smiled and gave the little creature a high five.

“You tried to charm somebody yesterday and it didn’t work,” Kilb said.

“No, I didn’t!” Arthelion said, still unsure exactly who he was talking to in the darkness.

“We all saw you. You didn’t even hide it that well.”

“I wasn’t hiding it from you. I didn’t try to cast a spell. When I cast a spell, it always works.”

“Oh yeah?” Helius Wik said.

“Yeah,” Arthelion said.

They couldn’t see Elriya put her face in her hands but they did hear her sigh very loudly.

“It may not work instantaneously, but it does work,” Arthelion said.

“I just know from experience that they don’t always work and we might need more than just spells to get out of here,” Helius Wik said.

“Well, yeah.”

“We have to work as a group. What does everybody else have to offer, besides spells?”

“Well, possible spells.”

“Possible spells.”

“This is all hypothetical. If we were wizards.”

“My strength’s my strong suit,” Noiree said.

“Who said that?” Arthelion said.

“I,” Noiree said.

“How much can you lift?” Helius Wik asked.

“I can lift a lot,” Noiree said.

The others were silent.

“So, is that all we have, two hypothetical spells and some strength or are you pussies going to start talking?” Arthelion said.

“I know how to appraise gems,” a voice said.

“I mean, unless you guys want to live here forever, which is cool,” Arthelion said. “I get it.”

“I … I kind of want to get to my wineskin,” Helius Wik said. “I’m kind of hurting for some beer right now.”

“I kind of want to get back to my goat,” Arthelion said.

“Your goat’s dead,” Noiree said.

“We don’t’ know that. There’s a lot of things that smell like goat.”

“Like what?”

“Like other goats. They didn’t kill my goat. I asked them not to.”

“How many goats were there? Yeah.”

“I dunno. I didn’t see ‘em.”

“I think there was one goat.”

“Well, we’ll see.”

“Good talk.”

“The idiot has a point, though,” Elriya said. “Even if we get out of here, how do we get out stuff back?”

“One of those papers I found earlier that I gave to you said there was an armory to the northwest section of this fortress or wherever we are,” Tarmak said. “And I might be able to get us there if we can get out of this room.”

“Do you know which way northwest is?” Elriya asked.

“Yes, I do,” Tarmak said.

“Nice,” Noiree said.

“Well, that’s a start,” Arthelion said. “Why don’t we all sleep next to the door and try the spells. If they do fail, which it won’t, but if they did fail, then we can just overpower the one guard.”

“So, are you just trying to persuade this guard to help us out or something?” Helius Wik said.

“Aw yeah. He’s going to be our best friend. And if, if he does become out best friend, then him leading one of us around won’t look as suspicious to the other guards.”

“But him leading all of us around would look pretty suspicious.”

“Yeah, him leading one person.”

“Well, who would that one person be?”

“Me, of course.”

“But you would … hypothetically you would already have used your spell.”

“Naw, I just came up with this today.”

“So …”

“Trust me. This is a brand-new plan.”

“You know, we might not need the charm spell. There’s a pile of rubble over there. Why don’t we just knock him out when he comes in to look in on us tonight.”

They realized, from the description of the few in the room who could see in the dark, the pile of rubble was large enough it might even cover a door or something.

“I have a sense there might be more to this pile of rubble,” Helius Wik said. “I might not have any night vision or anything─”

“I’m going to be completely honest with you,” Arthelion said. “I didn’t even know there was a pile of rubble.”

“It’s pretty dark.”

“We’ve got digger extraordinaire in the room,” Kilb said, thinking of the work he’d seen Rome do.

“Who’s the digger extraordinaire?” Arthelion asked.

“Yeah,” Rome said.

“Who’s talking?” Arthelion asked.

Helius Wik felt his way over to the rubble and started to dig around, trying to get a sense for how large some of the stones there were. Arthelion noted that as he couldn’t see the pile, he was going to just lay there, but to let him know if they found anything. Noiree, Elriya, and Kilb helped with the rubble, moving it a little bit and looking for large rocks.

“What was the Gnasher?” Rome asked.

“I don’t really know,” Arthelion confessed. “The orcs are scared of it so, I think we should be scared of it.”

“Maybe we could use it to our advantage.”

“Yeah, I was … it’d be really cool if I could let it out or something.”

Helius Wik found a good-sized rock in the pile.

“I found a giant rock we could crush some heads with,” he said.

“I like that idea,” Noiree said.

“Right? You could probably be more efficient with this rock. Where are you? I can’t even see you right now.”

She walked over and took the large rock from him.

“I have a belt,” Kilb said.

They discussed what to do and Helius Wik asked if Noiree wanted to bash the guy’s head open with the rock when he came in. They made a plan wherein Noiree would stand near the door with the rock.

“Guys, if you charm him, then he’ll lead us out,” Elriya said. “And probably to our stuff.”

“But we’re not entirely sure the charm will work,” Helius Wik said.

“I’ll have to kill him,” Noiree said.

“Some of us are pretty sure it’s going to work,” Arthelion said.

“Well, mouth is really good at aggravating these guys so we can have him stay near the back of the room and say something,” Rome said. “When he steps into the room, they can be ready to bash his head in.”

“The order that you’ve got to think about is we’ll try to charm him and if that doesn’t work, we hit him,” Arthelion said. “But if we hit him and we fail, then charm’s not really going to work.”

“Do you have any magic tricks besides charm?” Helius Wik asked.

“Possibly,” Arthelion said.

“Okay,” Noiree said.

“What are they?” Tarmak asked.

“Well, what if we don’t need charm right now?” Helius Wik said.

“I don’t want to reveal everything right now,” Arthelion said. “I’ve got some things.”

“You should hold off on your magic until you absolutely need it. I feel. Speaking as a magician myself.”

“Well, I mean, if you’re just going to hit him with some rocks then I’m just going to go to sleep. Okay?”

“But we need you─”

“But we need you because your mouth is pretty magical,” Rome said.

“Your mouth is magic itself,” Helius Wik said. “When the guy comes in, you should try your best to get him to slap you in the face or something. So that we have time to take him out.”

“Lure him in,” Noiree said.

“Or perhaps we lure him in the room and then we go out and slam the gate back on him,” Rome said. “There’s no need to take the risk of knocking him out.”

“The opening apparatus is only on the outside of the door,” Kilb said.

“He’ll scream,” Arthelion said.

“But they won’t hear him,” Kilb said.

“I’ll kill him,” Noiree said. “It’s okay.”

“They can’t hear us scream,” Rome said. “We scream every night.”

“You just have to promise me that, if you do hit him with the rock that it’s going to work,” Arthelion said. “Because if I do aggravate him and you try this─”

“I-I won’t be hitting him because I’m a weakling over here,” Helius Wick said.

“Okay, I’ll get him to come in and come after me, I guess,” Arthelion said. “You guys just make sure he doesn’t hit me. Make sure you get to him before he gets to me.”

“Well …” Noiree said.

“My face is kind of sore,” Arthelion said.

“He closes the door behind him,” Kilb said.

“I thought we were knocking him out,” Arthelion said.

“Once we get him inside, we lock him in the room,” Kilb said. “That way if he yells or anything, they won’t hear it.”

“Why don’t we try screaming now and see if they come?” Arthelion said. “I bet they come.”

“But there might be more than one,” Helius Wik said.

“I’m pretty sure they can hear us.”

“We only have one rock and we know that only one guy comes at certain times.”

“What’s the worse that’s going to happen?” Rome said. “Scream tonight and see if they come.”

“So are you going to knock him out?” Arthelion said. “You going to do it?”

“Yeah,” Noiree said. “I’ll do it.”

“But where do we go from there?” Tarmak asked.

“Yeah, that’s true,” Helius Wik said.

“Trapped outside of our cell.”

“Well, you mentioned an armory, right?”

“Yes, to the northwest.”

They discussed, at length, everything they had seen in the place, putting together a rough map in their heads of the layout. With what Arthelion had seen on his water run and those who went to the library describing the way there, they all had a rough idea of the layout of the place, at least as far as any of them had seen. They also discussed the Gnasher and whether or not it was even real.

Arthelion said he’d be in the hay and try to lure the orcs back.

“What should I say to ‘em?” he asked.

“You just be you, Mouth,” Helius Wik said.

It was about another half hour before the door was loudly opened.

“Line up!” an orc voice came from the darkness of the doorway. “We’re searching you.”

Only those with infravision could see the lone orc. He stood there, spear in hand, and glared at them. Noiree had put the rock down behind her foot.

“Who’s ‘we?’” Arthelion asked.

“Me,” the orc said. “Shut up.”

“Aw, this is horseshit.”


“I ain’t lining up. **** this. I’m trying to sleep, dude.”

The orc walked over to where Arthelion lay in the straw. Those who could see in the dark saw the orc take the scourge off his belt. Kilb and Elriya crept up on him. Kilb got close but the orc turned towards him. Elriya got close enough to throw one of the rocks she’d picked up.

“What’d you say?” he growled.

“I said eat my shit!” Arthelion said. “You want to eat my shit?”

“You son of a …” the orc growled.

Tarmak tried to head towards the orc while looking like he was heading towards the lineup. Then Elriya flung a rock at the orc, hitting him in the right hand.

“Ow!” the orc shouted.

Rome moved towards the open door in the pitch blackness. His elvin sight allowed him to see and he slipped out the door. The orc was too busy looking around for whomever threw the rock at him. He glared at Elriya. Then Arthelion started chanting. The orc looked back at him and raised his scourge but then suddenly stopped.

“Hey man, how you doing?” he said, putting his arm down.

“Well, it’s about time you got here,” Arthelion said. “This guy was about ready to whip me.”

Then the orc turned towards Elriya.

“You!” he said. “You!”

“Hey, hold on there, bud,” Arthelion said. “She was trying to hit me. It was an accident. I talk too much. You know that.”

“You do talk too much,” the orc said.

The orc glared at Elriya but also kept an eye on Kilb, who stood near him.

“Can I have that scourge though?” Arthelion asked him.

“No,” the orc said. “Can’t give it to the prisoners.”

“I’m not a prisoner. We’re buds.”

“You’re still a prisoner.

“Well, can you give me something?”

“No, I’m not allowed.”

“Okay, how about─”

“I’ll give you some extra … meat. There’s some goat left over.”

“I thought we were good friends. What is this?”

“We are good friends!”

Tarmak was struggling to figure out where he was in the dark. The rest of them watched Arthelion and the orc.

“These are all friends here, man,” Arthelion said. “There’s no need to be hostile anymore.”

“They’re slaves,” the orc said. “You’re a good slave.”

“I agree with you. But … I got this bet with this one guy that one corridor leads outside. Can you at least confirm that for me.”

He described the corridor next to the cistern room that had light at the end of it.

“No, it’s all blocked up,” the orc said.

“Oh,” Arthelion said.

“Hey, get over there!” the orc said to the others. “Get in line.”

“Yeah, get over there.”

“Get in line!”

“So, we gonna search these guys or what?”

“You’re human. You can’t help. Just relax.”

Arthelion leaned towards the orc.

“All right, between you and me,” he whispered.

“What?” the orc said.

“How do we get out of here?”

“There’s an entrance.”

“Where though?”

“It’s in the middle. In the middle.”


“It’s in the middle! This is an old stupid temple. Skarg’s got all this stupid crap. I’m so sick of this place!”

“Hey. Take me there.”

“No, I can’t. I gotta search these people. Wait here.”

“All right.”

The orc started to search the others, starting with Kilb and then moving on to Tarmak. Arthelion started sneaking as best he could towards the door.

“You’re next!” the orc said to Elriya. “What’s this? You hiding these pieces of paper? This could be important!”

He grabbed the Halfling by the shoulder and shook her, shoving her against the wall.

“Stupid stupid slaves,” he muttered. “Always causing trouble. I hate you people.”

He turned to Noiree and searched her as well, finding nothing. She glared at him and he glared back.

“Hey guy,” Helius Wik said. “It’s the second night of Fireseek. I haven’t had any beer. Can we just get to my wineskin?”

The orc searched him roughly. Helius Wik noticed he stank of beer.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Arthelion called.

“My wineskin has a gallon of beer,” Helius Wik said.

“You’re awesome,” the orc said to Arthelion. “This guy …”

He slapped Helius Wik in the face.

“Aw, c’mon guy,” Helius Wik said.

“You all stay in line,” the orc said.

He started to search the other slaves.

“Arthelion, tell him how great my beer is,” Helius Wik said.

Arthelion had made his way, finally, to the door in the complete blackness. In the hallway, Rome saw the man slowly making his way out of the room.

“Hey,” Rome whispered to the wizard. “What information did he give you?”

“Nothing, man,” Arthelion whispered back. “I’m just trying to get out of here.”

“Arthelion, tell him how great my beer is,” Helius Wik said. “Tell him how great my beer is.”

“His beer’s amazing,” Arthelion said.

“I don’t care,” the orc called over his shoulder, still searching the other slaves. “He’s a filthy human. No offense.”

“None taken,” Arthelion said.

“None taken,” Helius Wik said.

“I wasn’t talking to you, you filthy human!” the orc growled.

“It’s in the middle,” Arthelion whispered to Rome.

The elf was suddenly gone, heading for the other door.

* * *

Rome pulled on the chains and opened a nearby door. The orc didn’t seem to notice. He fled, going through the room with the frieze along the ceiling and pulling the door there open as well. Light streamed in from the great lanterns not far away and it was dazzling after being in the pitch darkness. He moved through the next area and past a pile of debris, heading to his right and past another large lantern. As he entered the next open chamber, he saw three orcs standing in the archway to his left. They didn’t seem to notice him and he slipped back around the corner.

* * *

Arthelion waited in the hallway.

In the room, Kilb waved at the others with infravision. He pointed at Tarmak.

“Get that guy,” Elriya whispered to Noiree in dwarvish. “I’ll get him.”

“Take him out,” Noiree said.

“No …”

“Take them out.”


“Take them outside.”


Elriya walked over to Tarmak while Kilb snuck to the door and waited there. The orc glared at Elriya.

“I know it was you!” he grunted. “Shrimp.”

Then he went back to searching the other prisoners. Elriya grabbed Tarmak by the wrist and started leading him towards the door. The orc didn’t notice. Noiree headed towards the door and Elriya got her attention and pointed again at Helius Wik. Noiree nodded, remembering, and went over to the man. She hit him lightly on the arm.

“Come here,” she whispered.

He moved blindly towards the voice, going the wrong way. She just watched him.

Elriya pushed Tarmak out the door and then crept to Helius Wik.

* * *

After watching the orcs for a few moments, Rome crept back down the corridor that he knew led to the library. Aside from some statues in the long hall to the south, he saw nothing of interest. He wanted to make his way to the northwest side of the place where Tarmak had said the armory lay. He made it all the way past the next lantern before he stopped to peek around a corner and saw another set of orcs on guard.

One of them saw him.

“Hey!” the orc yelled. “Hey! Get over here!”

“****,” the elf muttered.

* * *

Elriya grabbed Helius Wik by the wrist and led him to the open door. He was completely blind in the darkness but could feel people around him. Tarmak was outside the door and bumped into someone.

“Who are you?” Arthelion’s voice whispered to him.

“The cleric,” Tarmak said.

“What kind of clothes were you wearing?”

“A tunic.”

“Okay. What are they waiting on?”

They were all clustered around the doorway by then but the orc, still busy searching the other slaves, hadn’t yet noticed. Another person bumped into Arthelion and he asked who they were. Everyone was out of the room and Noiree followed, leaving only Kilb in the room with the slaves. The kobold slipped out and then grabbed the chains and started pulling down the door.

“What the hell?” the orc yelled. “Sons of *****es!”

He ran for the door as it slid down. He went down on all fours and crawled through the opening, trying to punch Kilb. He missed the kobold completely.

“Hey, beau, what’s going on?” Arthelion said.

“Get this door open!” the orc said to him.

“Well, you’re under it.”

“Open! Open the ****ing door!”

Noiree walked over to the orc and kicked him in the face. He let out a shriek. Helius Wik leapt away from the fight as far as he could. Kilb continued to pull on the chains, bringing the door down. The orc screamed as the door crashed down on his back.

“Whoa, don’t kill my friend!” Arthelion said.

“We need to know where our stuff is,” Elriya said. “Ask him where our stuff is.”

“Give me the whip and I’ll take these guys out!” Arthelion said to the orc.

“Yes!” the orc said. “Okay.”

The orc pulled the scourge off his belt and slid it towards the man. It went about halfway. Noiree saw it and snatched it up.

“Hey!” the orc cried. “No! Give it to him! No!”

“Oh no, he’s defenseless,” Elriya said. “If only had his staff, he could beat us.”

“Get this door off me!” the orc cried, trying to get up. “Go get your staff! It’s in that room! By the cistern. Across the hallway from … go get your staff, stupid!”

“Okay,” Arthelion said.

“Okay, so we have what we want?” Noiree said. “We have what we want? Can I finish him off to the face?”

“Hold on, hold on, hold on!” Arthelion said as she raised up the scourge.

“Let’s get out of here,” Elriya said.

“I want his armor,” Noiree said.

“We don’t need it,” Arthelion said. “We’re going to go get our stuff. Let’s go. We don’t have much time.”

Noiree brought her arm down, intending to hit the orc just once. She did so, striking him in the face with the scourge. The orc let out a scream and his head dropped down.

“You feel good?” Arthelion said.

“Yeah,” she said.

“You feel good about yourself?”


“You probably just killed him.”


“Where’s the other priest?” Elriya asked.

They looked around and those who could see in the dark realized the elf was gone.

“I don’t know,” Arthelion said. “You guys spent so much time dicking around in there, I don’t know where he went. Plus, I can’t see.”

* * *

“Come over here!” the orc called again.

“Just the people I’d like to see!” Rome said. “The gnasher has been released! Yeah! Run!”

“Shit, get over here!” one of the orcs said, looking behind them.

Three more orcs ran over from the that darkened area. Then all six of them headed up to the north where three more orcs stood near a bonfire. Rome turned and headed back the way he’d come. He noticed a secret door in the wall as he ran back but ignored it.

* * *

“Can somebody take me to where my stuff is, please?” Arthelion asked.

“Everybody hold hands,” Elriya said.

They headed out and could soon see light as they passed through the room with the friezes along the ceiling. They bore right, now all of them able to see. They passed the rubble pile and continued north. As they reached the second lantern, they saw Rome come running down the other corridor at a dead run.

“What happened?” Elriya asked.

“I’ve been compromised!” Rome said.

“Where did you go?” Arthelion said.

“I guess we’re turning right then,” Elriya said.

“Yeah, let’s go right,” Helius Wik said.

“Wait, are we going that way?” Rome said. “No, there’s three orcs there. I saw them. We don’t want to get caught.”

“There’s seven of us,” Arthelion said.

“What about the other direction?” Tarmak said.

“Yeah, how many are that way?” Elriya asked.

“There’s six the way I just came from,” Rome said. “But we haven’t explored that yet.”

“The cistern’s this way, though,” Helius Wik said.

“It has all our stuff,” Elriya said.

“There’s guards everywhere,” Rome said.

“Let’s go there anyways,” Arthelion said. “Maybe they left.”

“Yeah, maybe they did leave,” Rome said.

Kilb crept up to the corner and peeked around it. He returned to tell the rest of three orcs on guard there.

“Nah, they’re still there,” he said.

“I think we should just sprint for our stuff,” Elriya said.

“Not back the way I came from because those guards told the other guards,” Rome said.

“Why?” Arthelion said. “Do they know we broke out?”

“We could throw a rock or something and distract them,” Kilb said.

“I could distract them,” Helius Wik said. “And get them to go to the Gnasher.”

Everyone just looked at him but he nodded confidently and then crept up to the corner. He pulled one of the tiny scraps of parchment from his hair and rolled it up into a cone. Speaking a few arcane words, he cast his ventriloquism spell.

“The Gnasher’s escaped!” he said, trying to imitate an orc voice and using the magic to fling his voice behind the orcs.

“What?” one orc yelled.

“The Gnasher!” another yelled.

“Shit!” the last said.

They ran across the room ahead of the group to three doors on the opposite wall and worked the chains, getting the door open and rushing inside before slamming it shut again. They could hear voices within. Helius Wik motioned for them to come to him.

“Wait,” Arthelion suddenly said. “We need to let the other peasants out.”

“Too late for them!” Helius Wik said. “Let’s get our materials and then─”

“I’ll go with him,” Elriya said. “Because he can’t see in the dark.”

“I’ll say a prayer for them,” Rome said.

“Right now the way is clear for them,” Arthelion said. “They won’t be able to fight.”

“We won’t be able to either,” Kilb said.

“You get our stuff and meet us back here,” Arthelion said.

“Yep, we need to meet at the middle anyhow, because that’s the exit,” Elriya said.

“All right,” Helius Wik said. “I’ll grab as much shit as I can carry.”

“What did you guys come in with?” Kilb asked.

“Just grab it all,” Arthelion said.

“We’re just going to grab our stuff,” Rome said. “You guys can be weaponless.”

Arthelion and Elriya headed back while the rest went north, to the next lantern and turned left down the wide corridor. They spotted a group of orcs at the far end, but the orcs didn’t seem to notice them. They ducked into the corridor next to the cistern. The orcs were close enough that they would probably notice if the group got any closer.

“Can you do your voice thing again?” Kilb asked.

“I can only do it once,” Helius Wik said.

“A ways back there, there was a secret door,” Rome said, suddenly remembering the door.

* * *

Arthelion and Elriya returned to the prison cell. The orc lay on the floor, still unconscious. However, he seemed to have stopped bleeding. Elriya pulled on the chains and opened the door.

“Let’s go,” Arthelion said.

Elriya told the peasants to all hold hands as they were going to lead them out. Once she saw they all had done so, she took the first peasant’s hand and started to lead them out. The peasants were quietly thankful and worried.

“Arthelion has returned for you,” Arthelion said.

“Yes,” someone said.

The peasants thanked various gods.

* * *

“We need to get in there,” Noiree said.

“You think we should just rush it?” Kilb said. “They won’t see us until we start opening the door.”

“I think we should. I have a weapon.”

“They’ll hear the door even if they’re not looking,” Rome said.

“As soon as we start opening it, we should all run in,” Kilb said.

“I could … I don’t know …” Rome said. “There’s no orcs back in that room we came from. Right? And there’s no orcs through the way that I ran. I could go back, all the way back around and say ‘Hey stupid orcs’ and then run into the secret door. I can try to figure out how to open it.”

“We don’t know how long those orcs will be stationed there,” Kilb said. “Once they realize the Gnasher isn’t out, they’ll go back to their station.”

He pointed out they were on a time limit. Rome said he could go figure out about the secret tunnel.

“What if we don’t hear from you?” Kilb said. “What if you get captured?”

“I’m equipped with my brain,” Rome said.

He headed back the way they’d come.

“What’s the plan?” Kilb said.

“I want to open the door that we ran past,” Helius Wik said.

“It’ll still make as much noise,” Kilb said. “All they have to do is look down the hallway and they’ll see us.”

“Well …” Helius Wik said.

He searched the floor for rocks and pebbles. He flung one of the rocks past the orcs but they didn’t pay it any attention.

“Well shit, I’ve tried everything,” he muttered.

* * *

Rome reached the secret door and tried to figure out how to open it.

* * *

“We’re going to be safe,” one of the slaves said when they reached the room with light beyond.

“I sure hope they have our stuff,” Arthelion said.

“What?” the slave said.

“Surely they didn’t just stand there the entire time.”

“You’re heroes and adventurers, right?”

“Well …”

They passed the first pile of rubble and passed the lantern near it, then went north to the other light in the wide tunnel. Elriya slipped down the side where the orcs had been guarding earlier and spotted three more orcs further down on guard duty.

* * *

Kilb slipped further down the corridor they were hiding in. It ended in a chamber some 20 feet deep and fifty feet wide. Another corridor on the far side was blocked with rubble and doors stood on either side of the chamber. It didn’t have a frieze or any decoration. One of the huge brass lanterns sat in the middle of the room. Helius Wik followed the kobold. He wanted to try one of the doors but Kilb warned him of the noise.

* * *

Elriya caught up with the rest as they reached the wider corridor. Arthelion stopped them all as he had seen orcs on guard duty at the other end of the long passage. Elriya quickly made her way to the corner and peeked down that way. Arthelion saw Noiree in the passageway that ran perpendicular to the wide corridor.

“Stay there,” Elriya whispered to the villagers.

They were terribly frightened.

“I don’t suppose any of you know where the exit is,” she said. “Or speak orc?”

“I think ‘Bree-yark’ means ‘I surrender’ in goblin,” one man said. “Right?”

Arthelion, meanwhile walked up the corridor towards the passage where Noiree stood.

“Which one of you has my stuff?” he asked.

“Hey!” one of the orcs down the corridor called. “Hey you! What are you doing?”

“What the **** do you want?” Arthelion said.

One of the orcs headed down the corridor towards him.

“Wait a … you’re supposed to be locked up!” he said. “What’re you doing out!?!”

“Getting water, *****,” Arthelion said, confident the others had gotten their weapons. “What are you doing?”

The orc changed his spear to his left hand and took the scourge off his belt.

“I’m about to beat down a mother ****er!” he said.

“I’ll beat your ass!” Arthelion said, trying not to seem scared.

“Son of a *****!” the orc yelled.

* * *

Helius Wik heard the conversation in the corridor. He pulled on one of the sleeves of his robe and tore it free. He lit one end of it on the lantern.

Further down the corridor, Tarmak lined up behind Noiree and got ready for the fight that seemed to be coming.

* * *

The orc walked directly towards Arthelion, taking his time, a terrible glare upon his face. Arthelion strode towards the orc, sparing a glance up the narrow corridor where the others were. He noticed none of them had weapons or armor except for the scourge in Noiree’s hands.

“Come get me, big boy,” he said as bravely as he could.

* * *

Kilb headed down the narrow corridor towards the others slowly. Back down the corridor, Helius Wik started to swing his burning sleeve around his head like a sling and then jogged down the corridor to where his friends stood. Then Arthelion turned and ran into the narrow corridor.

“Son of a *****!” the orc yelled.

He ran into the corridor and stopped suddenly when he saw the group of people.

“Aw!” he cried out.

He tried to whip Noiree in the face even as she swung her own scourge at him. The orc, however, tripped and fell, crashing into the floor with his face, stunned. Noiree brought the scourge down as Arthelion tried to grab her arm but missed.

“Don’t do it!” he barely had time to hiss.

She brought the weapon down on the orc, cutting him badly. Helius Wik dropped the lit sleeve on the back of the orc. Kilb grabbed the orc’s spear. Tarmak chanted and reached over the kobold, casting a spell and touching the orc. The orc let out a tiny cry and jerked before he stopped moving.

* * *

Elriya, seeing the orc fall and her companions fall upon it, sprinted from the corner towards them.

* * *

“Prisoners are out!” one of the other orcs cried. “Prisoners are out!”

The two orcs near the bonfire at the far end of the corridor ran down towards them. Noiree ran out of the narrow corridor to the door of the cistern. She grabbed the chains and started pulling on them. The door noisily rolled up into the slot in the ceiling above.

In the hallway, Tarmak stepped forward but stayed in the corridor, hidden from the orcs.

Elriya ran down the corridor to the door they thought held their gear and started to pull on the chains. It rolled loudly up into the ceiling.

In the corridor, Arthelion picked up the burning rag. He walked out into the main hallway.

“You guys ready to be incinerated?” he said to the orcs.

He started chanting. The two orcs stopped, their eyes wide.

* * *

Rome heard an alarm being shouted somewhere in the distance. He gave up on the secret door and turned to run down the corridor nearest him that led north. He hoped the battle was going on between the party and the orcs near the bonfire he’d seen before, near the lair of the Gnasher. If that was the case, he hoped to get behind them. As he got to the area with the archway where he’d tricked the orcs before, he saw they were back. They saw him as well.

“It’s one of the prisoners!” one yelled. “Stop you son of a *****!”

“There’s escaping prisoners!” another cried out.

* * *

They all heard the orcs yelling elsewhere in the place.

Helius Wik ran back to the lantern in the empty room, tearing off his other sleeve. Kilb brought the spear down on the orc lying on the ground, hurting him badly. Blood started to pour out of the creature. Then Helius Wik ran down the narrow corridor, swinging the burning sleeve over his head.

Tarmak ran out of the corridor and into the room Elriya was opening. He was dismayed to find two more orcs in the room, rousing themselves due to the noise outside. He could see several spears leaning against the wall, a few suits of leather armor, some black orc-cloaks, a shield, a broadsword, and a sling and pouch of bullets. He also spotted a pile of weapons and armor in the corner, probably those of his friends. He spotted his staff and so ran in and grabbed it.

“What the!?!” one of the orcs cried.

“Hey!” the other yelled. “Slaves’re out!”

Elriya ran into the room and grabbed up some of her items.

“You cooked my goat, now I’m going to cook you!” Arthelion said, slowly moving towards the orcs.

They didn’t seem convinced.

Just then Rome came running around the corner by the bonfire. He glanced down the corridor and then ran for the closed door next to the open one. The two orcs heard him and turned.

“What the?” one said.

“Son of a …” the other replied.

“You take these,” the first orc said. “I’ll get him.”

“Okay,” the other said.

Noiree ran across the narrow corridor and to the door Tarmak and Elriya had gone into. She saw two orcs in the room and moved towards them. Kilb pulled the spear out of the orc on the ground. He peeked out and saw the orcs discussing dealing with the elf so he charged in absolute silence and skewered the one with his back to him. The orc went down with a grunted shriek. His blood spewed and splattered on Rome. The other orc looked terribly surprised and turned to Kilb.

“*****!” he yelled.

He tried to stab the kobold but missed completely.

“The prisoners are escaping!” he cried. “The prisoners are escaping!”

Arthelion ran over to Kilb and threw the flaming rag in the orc’s face.

“Burn!” he yelled.

The rag hit the orc’s chest and fell to the ground ineffectually.

“Just wait for it,” he said.

The orc was unimpressed. Rome pulled on the chains and noisily opened the door he’d run to.

In the other room, Noiree ran to the corner, switched the scourge to her left hand, and picked up her war hammer from the pile in the corner. Elriya lunged at one of the orcs with her dagger but missed completely. Tarmak grabbed up his morning star in one hand and his holy symbol in the other. Then Helius Wik ran into the room and flung his burning rag into one of the orc’s faces. The orc batted the cloth away.

“*****, get those flames out of my face!” he cried.

The other one tried to run Noiree through.

In the corridor, Kilb tumbled back down the corridor, leaving Arthelion to face the orc alone. The orc tried to stab the mage but missed. Then three more orcs appeared in the hallway near the bonfire, tramping loudly their way.

“We should grab our stuff and run!” Elriya yelled when she heard them.

“What do you think you’re doing!?!” one of the orcs yelled.

“Suck me!” Arthelion yelled back.

That seemed to enrage them all.

In the tiny chamber, Elriya ran to her stuff and grabbed what she could. Then Rome ran into the room, having abandoned the room he’d just opened. He snatched up his long sword and his holy symbol. Helius Wik ran to the corner to grab his belt pouch and his wineskin. He was disappointed to find the latter nearly empty. Arthelion ran into the room as well, grabbing his staff. Then Kilb ran in as well.

Tarmak strode to one of the orcs in the room and swung at him but missed completely. Noiree grabbed the shield off the wall and ran at the other orc, swinging her war hammer. Unfortunately, the blow struck the orc in the side but didn’t injure him. The orcs tried to stab Noiree and Tarmak in return without luck. The one facing Tarmak dropped his spear.

“You ever use one before?” Noiree quipped.

Helius Wik rushed one of the orcs and splashed him with the last of his beer. It distracted the orc, who cried out. Arthelion picked up his pouch and looked over. He moved to Tarmak and grabbed up the orc’s spear. Elriya continued to grab things in the corner, getting her leather armor and her belt. Rome pushed between Noiree and Tarmak and stabbed the orc Helius Wik had splashed with his beer. Tarmak swung his morning star again, striking the other orc in the head. The orc dropped to the ground with a scream. Noiree’s next swing missed the confused orc covered in beer.

Kilb moved to one side of the door and readied himself to stab any orcs that came through.

Elriya grabbed her sling and ran towards the orc blocking the doorway, dropping and somersaulting under his legs. The orc looked down, confused as she fled down the corridor. Arthelion reached into his component pouch and took out the live spider he always kept there for his spider climb spell. He rushed the orc and flung it at the orc’s face. The orc shrieked.

“I hate spiders!” he cried.

Arthelion ran out of the room and down the corridor.

Noiree missed the orc again and then Rome stabbed him and he went down with a scream. Nearby, Helius Wik put a bullet in his sling and started swinging it, backing into the corner. Tarmak ran out of the room as well, but then stopped to attack the orc in the door. The blow struck the orc in the head and he went down with a cry.

Kilb ran to the corner and grabbed some of his things.

One of the orcs in the corridor rushed Tarmak but missed the man. Another ran to Arthelion and stabbed him in the side. Another ran towards Helius Wik and tried to stab him but missed him completely. Arthelion jogged down the corridor, bleeding badly.

“Tis but a scratch,” he called.

Tarmak ran back into the room and grabbed up more of his stuff. In the room, Rome picked up his chain mail shirt and started putting it on.

Out in the corridor, Helius Wik backed away and swung his sling. He fired a bullet at the orc that attacked him but missed completely. Elriya ran towards the corner where the villagers hid. One of the orcs ran to Helius Wik and tried to stab him. Another orc sprinted right past Arthelion and Elriya, turning to block their escape route.

Another orc ran into the little room and stabbed Rome.

“Surrender stupid slaves,” the orc said. “We need you to keep working!”

Noiree, still in the room, dropped her war hammer and snatched up her battle axe. She swung at the orc but missed him completely. Kilb picked up his short sword and tried to stab the orc but missed as well.

Tarmak fled the room, jogging down the corridor to the orc striding towards Helius Wik. He swung his morning star, striking the orc in the right arm. There was a terrible snap as the orc’s arm broke and the creature fell to the ground.

In the room, Rome stopped trying to put his chainmail shirt and backed out, leaving Noiree with the orc. She swung again without being able to hit it. Kilb stabbed at the orc but the orc blocked the blow with his spear, striking the tail of the kobold’s weapon, which broke off and fell to the ground.

In the corridor, Elriya ran around the orc blocking her way and headed for the villagers. Arthelion, meanwhile, turned back and fled towards the others in panic.

“Help!” he cried. “Help me!”

Helius Wik flung another bullet at the orc but it missed, flying down the corridor.

“You *****!” the orc cried.

The orc charged the mage and tried to stab him ineffectually.

* * *

Elriya got close to what she thought might be the entrance, but saw three more orcs on guard duty there. She stopped with the slaves, unsure what to do.

* * *

Tarmak ran over to Arthelion.

“Let me heal you,” he said.

“Please!” Arthelion said.

Tarmak chanted and laid his hands upon the mage, completely healing him. Arthelion turned and ran past the orc.

“You smell like shit!” he said to the orc.

Nearby, Rome pulled his chainmail shirt on. The last orc in the corridor rushed Helius Wik but the mage deftly ducked to one side, backing up and slinging a bullet at the orc, which missed.

“I thought you were slinging your bullet at me not at the wall,” the orc quipped.

In the room, Noiree struck the orc with her battle axe as the orc stabbed her with his spear. Neither of them fell but both were hurt. Kilb also tried to stab the orc but his sword just bounced off the orc’s leather armor.

Tarmak chased the orc that pursued Helius Wik. He shoved the morning star into his belt and swung at the orc with his staff, missing completely. The orc turned and stabbed the cleric in the side. Nearby, Helius Wik fired a shot at the orc but missed.

Rome came into the room where Noiree and Kilb fought the last orc there. He stabbed at the orc but struck the creature’s armor.

“I smell the stink of elf!” the orc said. “And I am hungry!”

The blow from his spear was turned aside by Rome’s chainmail shirt. Then Kilb stabbed the orc and he fell.

Noiree ran to the corner and found her chainmail. She started putting it on.

Outside in the corridor, Tarmak backed away from the orc and cast a healing spell on himself, chanting for what felt like a long time. He was still chanting when Helius Wik fired another sling bullet at the orc, missing completely. Tarmak finished his spell and cast it upon himself, healing his wounds.

Rome ran out of the room and charged the last remaining orc, running him through.

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