FF: Enter the Halfling - Episode 4

Enter the Halfling - Episode 4 Prison Break...or Not by Orogurath [Previous Episodes] "); //-- Cailag could hear the huddled figure muttering in the darkness. ...

Enter the Halfling - Episode 4

Prison Break...or Not

by Orogurath

Cailag could hear the huddled figure muttering in the darkness.  From the addled prisoner whimpered frequently, and often spoke about something called ‘the Seal of Shan To Kor'.  At first it meant nothing to the newly incarcerated Halfling; that all changed when he distinctly heard a cry for the name Arlos.

“Ka tal!  Wick abit oka oa?”  (Hey, you! What name was that?)

Surprisingly, the figure looked directly at him. The kobold guards seemed uninterested in the noise and carried on about their business.

“Arlos, get help! They plan to use the Seal!” The gangly prisoner sent spittle flying as he spoke, and madness had gripped him during his tenure with Clan Tunnelworm. Cailag could not understand much other than the name Arlos, as they had recently freed the man from Clan Gnashtooth's prison. Cailag concluded that this tortured soul must be the other missing guard but under the current circumstances, could see no possible way of freeing him. As it was, getting himself out alive was becoming a slim possibility. Testing the bars one more time, he grimaced. No such luck. For all of the ruddy construction the kobolds used, their prison was superb.  

For a moment Cailag considered other options. He could tunnel through the stone and up to the surfaceÂ…maybe. Act sick and hope they opened the gateÂ…possibly. Then, looking at the bars one last time, he gave up.  Something obvious was escaping notice, if only he could figure out what.  

~~ * ~~

Nord Kegbreaker stood near the rusted switch and shook his head.  The mechanism was obviously a stolen dwarven technology, and had been woefully neglected. Still, he was able to locate the lever mechanism and make it work, now all that remained was to wait for Preston and finish his bagel.  

“One thing at a time,” he thought, and took a big bite. “Mmmm.”

Preston was negotiating with a few of the kobolds that had taken up residence in the vicinity, trying to extract information about a new Halfling prisoner and a human named Venn. A minute later he rounded the corner, looked at Nord, and shook his knobby head in disappointment. Nord brushed crumbs off his plate mail (leaving a plentiful supply in his beard) and started down yet another nondescript waterway, hoping it would lead to Cailag and the missing guardsman. Time was not on their side, and Preston's short temper was beginning to boil over.  

As they crossed a series of iron gratings, waist deep in sewage, a sudden cacophony resonated from what appeared to be an ordinary offshoot of the sewer line. Preston neared, and realized that it was the door they had been seeking! The Clan Tunnelworm insignia was carved on the threshold, and behind it the two adventurers could hear the bustle of militant reptiles and their annoying barks. Nord uttered a prayer and called for blessing, while Preston merely opened the door and howled his rage!  

Kobolds were instantly at the opening and tried to overwhelm the pair, but Preston's twirling maul kept the portal clear. Nord brought his war hammer down on their tiny skulls one by one, reducing them to squirming masses of goo in short order. As the fight drifted into the room, a kobold chieftain cried out and his elite guards rushed the melee.  One, two Â…fiveÂ…they seemed to file out of the vents and fill the room. Nord began to separate himself from Preston, who was now a whirling dervish of destruction, sending kobold parts splatting against the wall in just about every direction. Seeing the chief try to slink away, he grinned and fired off a mighty spell that froze the coward in place with the bonds of magic!  Feeling that Preston had things well in hand, he decided to try his own hand at interrogation.

“Alright, chiefy. I'm gonna play a game with ye. An' if ye dinna answer me question, and quickly, we're gonna play rojambo. Do ye know what that is?”

The chief's eyes strained against the magic, and a palpable aura of fear rose about him.  “Where is the door to yer prison?”  

No answer. Nord smiled broadly. “Alright then, I'll be goin first, ye see.  Tell me if it hurts…”  With a rush, he launched his steel plate boot against the groin of the frozen kobold. There was a sickening crunch, akin to popping acorns, and a squeal emanated from the reptilian chief before the hold relaxed and he crumpled to the floor.

“I guess ah win then. Damn.”

On a second glance at the awkwardly sprawled body, however, Nord realized the chief's tiny finger was noticeably extended, pointing out toward the north wall. Sure enough, there was a minute switch next to a chest, and he pulled it. Over the sounds of Preston's battle, a metallic grating could be heard and the north wall opened to reveal a secret door.  He called to Preston, who decided to finish the lethal fishhook he was currently applying to his last victim and follow the dwarf. They were getting close, they could feel it.

Back inside the prison, Cailag realized Venn was dead. No more sounds eked their way out from his cell, and a bloody scrawl was all he could see of the opposite wall.  That wasn't good.  It was beginning to look bad for Cailag and if it weren't for the sounds of combat coming from nearby, he'd have thought the kobolds were going to kill him next.
Trying to get a view of the conflict, he craned his neck between the bars.  

“Agglebuk?”  (Anyone there?)

No response came and he stretched a bit further. It suddenly dawned on him that his entire upper body was on the outside of the bars, intruding on the hallway. He also realized the bars were wide enough apart that he could walk right through them. His cheeks flushed, he tightened his jaw, then let out a barrel laugh. He could have escaped this whole time!  Stupid kobolds!  Now he was ready to set things strai-...

The swipe of a gigantic club ended his reverie, and little Cailag bits went splatting into the cell he'd just left.  

As his spirit drifted back to Stormreach, he reminded himself once again to pay more attention to his surroundings.

About the Author

Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.
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