The slimes lay in puddles at the heroes’ feet.
“Are they dead?” Galendan asked.
Quantis poked a blue puddle with his sword. “I’m not sure there’s an easy way to tell.”
“Doesn’t matter,” said Eldarion, his mind focused on the mission. “They’re not trying to kill us anymore so let’s move on.”
A few weeks ago the half-elf learned his parents, whom he thought long dead, were alive, but cursed by the Book of Years. To free them, he and his companions needed to locate and destroy the four remnants of Bolvagon, an ancient beholder imprisoned in the Abyss.
One of the remnants was supposed to be somewhere in this abandoned Dwarven mine shaft but so far all they found were a few hungry slimes.
“Narullian,” Eldarion called to the small imp. “Are we on the right track? Do you still sense the remnant?”
The small pink imp furrowed its brow and closed its eyes. “Yes indeed. We are quite close.”
“No time to rest then,” grumbled Arygno following his companions along the shaft.
Valez called back to the group from where he scouted ahead. “We may have a problem,” the assassin said. “There’s a chasm in our way and I don’t trust the bridge one bit.”
“Are there any other ways across?” asked Eldarion.
“No. Too far even to teleport,” he replied.
“Well then, we’ll try the bridge.”
“Hold on a moment,” said Kitten upon reaching the chasm. “This is a long way down. I don’t think crossing this bridge is a good idea.”
“I didn’t come this far to turn around now,” Eldarion replied tersely.
Kitten and the companions exchanged glances. This quest was consuming the half-elf, but none had the heart to stop him. They followed him into too many impossible scenarios to quit on him now.
Galendan stepped in front of Eldarion. “Let me go first,” the Eladrin rogue said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to find a safe way to cross.”
Eldarion nodded. “Good idea, but take this rope. I’ll tie it around my waist. In case you fall, I should be able to keep you from plummeting into the darkness.”
Galendan looked over the edge and gulped. “Excellent idea,” he said.
“Well you guys have fun with that,” said Kitten. “I’m not as spry as some of you and don’t fancy a death plunge. So I’ll be climbing down and finding another way. I hope I don’t see you at the bottom.”
Galendan stepped upon the bridge, taking careful steps that showed off his incredible balance. He was about to get cocky when a slat on the bridge gave way beneath him. He attempted to grab hold of something, but could find no handhold and fell below the bridge. Eldarion grabbed the rope and tried to anchor himself, but the rogue’s dive was too much and the half-elf found himself being dragged to the same hole in the bridge. That’s when Kitten caught the rope, adding his considerable strength. Together, he and Eldarion were able to pull Galendan back upon the bridge. Kitten smiled and then dropped his own rope down into the blackness and slowly descended.
Arygno examined the slats in the bridge and was able to ascertain which parts of the bridge were likely to hold their weight. Armed with this knowledge, the group, minus Kitten, continued across the bridge, as careful as they could manage.
Slowly and with a few near fatal slips, the group had made it halfway across the bridge, when disaster struck. Quantis, trying to follow Galendan’s steps slipped and as he started to fall he managed to grab hold of the rope that kept the bridge suspended over the chasm. The sudden jerk on the old rope was too much, and the fibers tore rocking the bridge and sending it, and the heroes, plummeting into the depths of the chasm.
Kitten had just made it to the bottom, keeping his mind occupied with memories of playing with his fox friends in the Fey Wild. It sure was fun pelting Galendan with blueberries. His joyful reminiscing was interrupted by falling rocks and then a scream. Kitten looked up to see Quantis falling directly toward him, and right behind him the whole bridge and his companions. He instinctively raised his shield over his head and was rewarded by a heavy impact and a groan, heralding the uncomfortable arrival of Quantis. Then came the shattering of the bridge and more screams. A great dust cloud was kicked up, and once subsided Kitten was surprised to see that all had lived. Some were hurt, but they certainly couldn’t complain after a fall like that. They should have just climbed down the rope he thought, frowning at how the dust smudged his armor.
The chasm floor was covered in debris. While Eldarion planned to find another way up, Voren and Quantis took a look around. They discovered fresh tracks, belonging to some type of humanoid, and a hidden door in the rock wall. The door was covered in tiles with strange symbols. With a little help from their Dwarven escort, Gunner, they identified the symbols as an older Dwarven language. Each tile represented a type of stone. Eldarion figured the tiles were meant to be placed in a way that reflected the layers each was found in the earth. Once the tiles were slid into their appropriate positions, the heavy rock door swung open.
“What is that terrible stench?” Voren asked covering his nose and mouth with his arm.
Gunner sniffed the air and his hand went to his axe. “Troglodytes,” he said. “And nearby. Prepare yourselves.”
The adventurers readied their weapons. The room they were entering was very large and cut out of the rock. Gunner quickly explained that when dwarves fixated mining operations in a certain area it was common practice to mine out a temporary center of operations. Here miners would sleep when tired, eat when hungry, and generally spend all of their non-mining hours. This room hadn’t been used in years…not by dwarves anyway.
Once inside the room, the adventurers were ambushed by nearly a dozen troglodytes. Their stench was so overpowering that those who got too close found it difficult to engage in combat. The foul reptilian beasts proved quite capable in combat, but in the end they were vanquished.
Galendan found a door leading deeper into the rock. Narullian confirmed that the shard of Bolvagon was very close, and possibly watching them right now.
“Well I’m warmed up,” said Kitten heading to the door. “Let’s have another round.”
Before anyone could stop him, he pushed the door open…