Field Trip to the Ancient Dwarven Prison Camp
Part X of the Terrence Saga
Part X of the Terrence Saga
The party descended the ancient stairway, and their lights revealed an old, crumbling room. Of two stone columns in the center, only one remained standing. A section of wall to their left had fallen away, revealing dirt and rock behind the masonry. A simple iron door to their left was unadorned, and in front of them was a set of stone double doors with a nameplate in Dwarven script. Chomsky, drawing upon his time spent at the university, translated the Dwarven markings: “Processing.”
Confused as shit by this nameplate, the group turned to a third door, to the right of where they entered. The door itself was barely visible underneath the pile of rubble and large slabs of stone that had been placed in front of it. It seemed that someone (or several someones, given the size of the stones) had barricaded the door against intrusion from the other side.
Lacking the desire to face what was beyond the barricaded door, the group turned towards the first door, the plain iron one. About to open it, Derfin once more held up the group to point at the wall to the left. “Tracks,” he said. Upon close observation, everyone was indeed able to see footprints in the dust - footprints that seemed to disappear into the stone. Additionally, there was a path in the dust where it looked like something had scraped by. It looked as if the wall had been opened.
Gavin suggested that everyone stand back. He and the others took up places on the other side of the room. Gavin uttered an incantation and pointed a glowing digit at the wall, which promptly ground open, dragging several pots and pans along with it with an unholy cacophonous clatter. Unseen by the party, every living creature in a thirty-mile radius awoke.
As the noise subsided, the group ventured carefully towards the door. A piece of ordinary twine with several cooking implements tied to its length was secured to the other side of the door, and had fallen from a shelf at the door’s opening. The group readied their weapons and entered the passageway, scouting ahead with their glowing genitalia.
The secret passage (for of course it was a secret passage) wound its way past a pair of slits in the wall - spyholes, perhaps, or possibly arrow slits. Through the room on the other side of the holes came the scent of cooking meat and woodsmoke. Derfin, with his elf eyes, looked through the holes and saw campfire embers glowing in the middle of the room beyond. In his expert opinion, the fire had been doused only moments earlier. Nobody was visible in the room.
The group advanced towards the end of the passage, and opened the door at the end. They found themselves in a smallish room containing a bed, a desk, a chair, and evidence of a catastrophe. The chair was blown apart; remnants of the seat were fused to the floor. The stone desk was charred and even melted in places. However, parts of the desk were entirely untouched, including a small stone tablet.
The tablet turned out to be a map of the ruins, and it displayed several rooms: “Commander,” the room the group was currently in. “Barracks,” the room directly beyond. “Storage.” “Questioning.” “Processing.” “Incarceration.” “Temple.”
Chomsky read each one out loud to the group. The gang came to a quick consensus, which was that they were in a fucking dwarven murder prison. After a few minutes of hard introspection, everyone agreed that they should take anything that wasn’t nailed down, and they headed towards the barracks door.
The barracks was empty. You know, apart from the beds (scorched, melted, and blown apart like the Commander’s chair), the campfire (sending its last bits of smoke into the air as the embers died out), and the packs of traveling gear against the wall (which looked like they had been hurriedly opened). The party’s map showed a small room directly in front of them, and a slightly larger room to their right. NGE opened the far door to find two bound and gagged people! Heavens me!
Everyone clustered around the room (the stench of which revealed it to be a lavatory) to help the people with their bindings. As soon as one of them was ungagged, she yelled, “Behind you! The room behind you!”
The group whirled around, and sure enough, a group of hard-looking people were emerging from the unexplored room. From the back came a cry: “Thrash, Slip, take ‘em out! Rook, stay with me!”
NGE sped towards the frontline combatant, a half-elven woman wielding two nasty-looking daggers. They traded blows, and both came away wounded. NGE, however, felt something coursing through her veins, sapping her strength.
As NGE and the half-elf faced off, Gavin spied a brutish half-orc in the doorway, raising a two-headed axe. Thinking quickly, Gavin zapped him with another muttered spell. The thug stopped in the doorway, reeling slightly. Before anyone else could emerge, Chad shot a magical ball of grease through the doorway. It covered the floor, and the greataxe-wielding half-orc in the doorway slipped and fell flat on his stupid, stupid face, still uncertain as to what was going on. Behind him, a bow-wielding half-orc retained his footing and loosed an arrow, but a clatter of armor heralded the falling-over of another enemy in the room.
The battle was pitched, but ultimately short-lived. Between NGE’s slicing sword, Chad’s greasy gesticulation, Gavin’s frosty fingers, Chomsky’s crystallized commentary, and Derfin’s absentminded arrow-firing, the attackers were soundly defeated. Thrash, the axewielder, never even hit anyone. Slip, the rogue, lay unconscious against the barracks wall. Chain, the ranger, slumped in the room he had attacked from, his bow and hand-axe by his side. Only an armored dwarf, who called himself Rook, remained conscious.
The party allowed Rook to tend to his wounded cohorts, on the condition that he drop his weapons. With NGE watching Rook carefully for any sneaky moves, the others in the group examined the room where the attackers had hid.
The room was marked “Armory,” according to Chomsky. As they entered, the party was met with a sight similar to what they had seen in the Commander’s office and the barracks, only on a much larger scale. Melted weaponry laid everywhere. Tubes of metal (which looked strikingly similar to Plug’s “gun”), one end blobby and distorted, were scattered across the room. Chomsky picked one up and examined it, noting that the melted portions had tiny crystal shards embedded in them. The others found similar slivers of red crystal scattered everywhere - fused to ruined swords, stuck in axes and hammers, and strewn across the floor in glittering, razor-sharp fragments.
The walls and floor of the armory were ruined, as well. Thick swaths of floor and wall had been melted, as if furrowed out by a plow made of lava. Or something. Everywhere the party looked, the walls were scorched, pitted, melted, and ruined. Chad spoke up. “Anyone find anything valuable?”
Gavin, Chomsky, and Derfin replied in turn. “Nope.” “Nuh-uh.” “Team alpha is in position. We’re coming up on Charlie’s flank right now. Where’s that air support?”
“Well shit,” said Chad, clapping his hands together, “Why are we hanging around?” And the group left the room as it was.
Everyone emerged back into the barracks, where Rook had finished tending to his comrades. The villagers sat on a bed, glaring at him.
Our heroes were determined to get to the bottom of the situation. “Alright, you damn dirty dwarf, what’s going on here?”
Rook said, “Kidnapping?”
The freed prisoners nodded their assent. “We have a ranch outside the city! These four bastards just broke in, tied us up, and carried us here! They said they were going to sell us to the orcs in the hills to the northwest!”
The group turned to Rook. “So, kidnapping and slavery?”
Rook shrugged. “Yeah, pretty much. I mean, it happens all the time anyway, and the orcs up there need extra labor. Mostly because they kill the slaves they already have, which is just stupid, but hey, I’m not–”
Chad interrupted. “Okay, slavers. You’re bad people.” He turned to the party. “Take all their stuff?”
The rest of the group agreed that stealing everything the slavers owned was the best course of action. Vials of poison, healing potions, and gold were split by all, but the party was left with a tough moral decision: what to do with the slavers now? Take them back to town? Try them for their crimes? Execute them here?
After literally seconds of hard thinking, the group agreed that the most humane thing to do was shackle them all together and make Rook drag them all away. And so he did, under threat of further bodily injury. As he made his slow, painstaking way to the Commander’s room to leave through the secret passageway, the group turned to the kidnappees. Chomsky addressed them. “Sooooo… we’re going further in. If you follow us, you will probably die.”
Chad and Gavin chimed in. “Yep.” “Almost certainly.”
The villagers decided in the end to remain in the barracks and use the slavers’ supplies to get themselves back home once morning came. The party graciously left them the slavers’ weapons, as well, in case the two decided later that they’d prefer to murder their kidnappers. A touching gesture, truly.
As the party walked out the far door, Chad called back to them. “Hey guys, you should probably lock this door behind us! But we might come back, so…how about a password?”
“Sure, I guess!” replied the man.
The villagers exchanged confused glances. “The hell is a swordfish?”
“Don’t worry about it!”
And with that, the party walked into the dark hallway before them. The door shut out the friendly glow of the newly-lit campfire as it closed, leaving our heroes with only glowing dicks and balls to light their path.