‘Shut it!’ Hissed Twitcher.
Lifter having been the first into the room, who as per usual had entered and immediately stood to the side of the opened door; all the better to backstab if he had the need. He’d been doing this or something like it since he was a child living the life of a cutpurse in the streets of Hathaldron. As a lithe halfling, he most definitely did not have the bulk or strength of Thug the fighter, so this was simply how he did things.
Thug had come in last, following up the back as per their standard practice; Lifter searching forward, Twitcher the Wizard in the middle as he was useless in a fight, useless in that he couldn’t punch a bail of hay without drawing blood. Also, he had to be able to wave his hands around to cast spells, finally Thug at the rear to protect them from attacks from behind.
Standard practice in that they had been in this damn citadel for days. They’d learned the hard way to move through the citadel with caution. On the first day, Thug was thumping along at the front, being as noisy as ever, clanking and creaking in the hodge-podge outfit he called armor, iron greaves, hardened leather breastplate, dragon bone helmet, metal plated leather gloves and bracers.
Stomping and then not, he’d disappeared, one-moment Thug was there, the next he was gone, Lifter had run forward with the torch and almost fell into the 10-foot deep pit trap that thug had walked into. It was then that they realised they needed to switch around.
‘OK, this looks like as good as any a place to rest’ Said Thug as he started to remove what he had to, to be able to sit or lay comfortably. First, he lent his short sword against the wall, grasped the ax handle over his right shoulder and removed it from its hooks, leaned the three-foot long battle-ax against the wall, pulled his baselard from his belt, threw his gloves to the floor and placed his helmet on them.
Lifter, simply sat on the spot, his soft leather armor allowing him to sit straight into a cross-legged, comfortable seat; not having to steady himself against the wall although he did sit with the wall at his back out of habit, nothing would do to him as he had done to so many others in the past.
‘There’s nowhere clean to sit?’ Twitcher in his purple robes stood looking about for something, anything to sit on. The room they were in was Spartan. There was a broken bench for sitting, two large heavy oaken doors on opposite sides of the room. There was a tapestry rod on each of the doorless walls. The evidence of the actual tapestries being all but gone.
‘This must have been an anteroom of some sort’ stated Lifter ignoring his preen-a-donna friend.
‘Why do you think that?’ mumbled Thug through a mouthful of hardtack.
‘Just look at the place. The door we came through has nothing but a latch, that one, it has a keyhole and the doorknob in the center, that’s going to be complex; seat, tapestries it’s all got the feel of an anteroom’
‘Well thank god we’ve got you.’
‘Yeah, yeah. Problem is I’ve broken three lock-picks already.’
The two of them sat, quietly eating their hardtack, washing it down with water; watching Twitcher fuss about trying to find a seat. ‘Hey Twitch, are you sure there’s treasure in here? We’ve found nothing but threadbare tapestry rods.’ Observed Lifter.
‘Yes, it’s in the Ruby Tower like I said’ he sat gingerly on the angled end of the broken bench.
‘Were running out of food. You said to pack light, it’ll be a quick three days, you said. We’re on our third day.’ stated Thug as he stood, tying the large pouch containing enough hard tack for one day at best closed on his hip.
‘We are nearly there, I swear’
‘How do you know? You don’t seem to know much else about this place’ Lifter to had also finished eating and had moved to the door with the key lock and was inspecting the challenge in front of him. Running his hands over the door, around the frame, no signs of traps ‘SHHH! I hear something’.
Lifter, lent his ear to the door; gesturing for Thug to approach. Thug stopped what was he doing, grabbed his long baselard and stepped as quietly as quietly as he could.
Lifter whispering ‘There is definitely something moving on the other side, doors locked though. I’ll pick the lock, then when you’re ready I’ll open the door and you throw a torch through’
‘How do we know that whatever is on the other side isn’t already waiting, it will have seen the light from our torch under the door.’
‘You’re assuming it’s intelligent, surely it would have already attacked if that was the case, we’ve been here for a good ten minutes, and we’ve not really been quiet’
Lifter looked back at Twitcher; he was onto it, Lifter could see that Twitch had already stood and taken the first steps in forming the fireball spell. Kneeling Lifter pulled his last Lockpick from his thieves pouch on his belt. Leaning to look into or through the lock.
It didn’t go right through, it was a one sided lock not dissimilar to a cell door. Suddenly his left eye stung like he had sand or class in it. His vision in his left eye fading immediately, his right eye following fast. Then his brain was on fire. Pushing the ball of each hand forcefully into his eyes, not making a noise. A moment later he fell unconscious to the floor.
Thug and Twitcher both looked at each other, they could not work out what had happened, they heard nothing, Lifter made no noise, yet he was unconscious on the floor.
Twitcher was the first to realise what had happened ‘Damn, he’s taken a dart to the eye, running to where his friend lay, kneeling Twitcher put his cheek over Lifter’s mouth. ‘I can feel his breath, he’s alive!’