FF: Enter the Halfling - Episode 4

Enter the Halfling - Episode 4

Prison Break...or Not

by Orogurath

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 surface…maybe. Act sick and hope they opened
the gate…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 …five…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

“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

“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.

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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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