Bitter 104

Britta was alone. The seal across the tunnel in front of her was slowly rising and whatever was behind it would probably try to kill her. And most likely succeed.

The grunts and growls were intimidating. The rock slab was obviously very heavy so maybe the monster would be too tired to do anything once it managed to lift it up. Maybe it would fall on the monster’s head and crush it. A desperate hope.

“What is it?” called out Stan from behind the slab covering the west tunnel. “Can you see?”

He had run through and tripped the wire accidentally. Probably. She couldn’t think of a reason why he would intentionally trap her in here by herself, it wasn’t like it gained him anything, but he could have done it just to troll her. There were people like that in every game, people who liked ruining it for others. She wasn’t sure if Stan was one of them or not, but it didn’t really matter. She would be dead in a minute.

Britta still had the torch Stan had given her so she had light and he didn’t. Unless he had more torches, which he probably did. She bent down to look under the gap but it was too dark to see anything.

She threw the torch under the slab and there was a cry of surprise. It sounded almost human. The slab of rock slid down and crashed to the ground. Just before it had slammed shut, she’d seen a pair of feet. In boots.

Unlike the kobold who had been dressed in ragged clothing, the boots had looked very well-made. Heavy and solid, and about the size you’d expect of a normal person. Could it be a player? Or an NPC?  She might even be able to talk to it.

She listened for any sounds.

“Hello? Are you still there?”

She wished Stan would shut up. She tried to focus on the north tunnel. Had the monster run away. There was a long, chilling howl. Nope, still there.

She was in the dark, but at least she could fix that.

“Glamor, passive on.” She pointed her finger and a tennis ball of light shot out and bounced off the wall. It rolled along the floor and stopped at her feet. She picked it up.

The room filled with a blue light. It would be even more useful if she could stick the ball to her hat, or if it could be made it float overhead. Possibly it could at higher levels. Until then, she had to carry it.

She checked the walls for a lever or button that might unblock the tunnels. She was safe for the time being, but she was also stuck in a tiny room. Not exactly a fun game experience. There had to be a way out.

The trap wasn’t designed to cause damage, it just split up the party. One person goes through releasing the sliding wall, now they have to find a way to get back to the others. A nice, simple problem for low-level characters. They wouldn’t put any really deadly monsters in here if they planned on separating people. That would be mean.

The slab over the north tunnel began rising again. This time the grunting sounded even more determined. She calmed herself. Whatever it was, it was obviously meant to be appropriate for a low-level beginner like her. She could handle it.

It was dark under the slab. What had happened to the torch? If the monster had put it out, perhaps it was sensitive to light.

She gripped the ball of light in her hand and gently rolled it through the gap.

There was no exclamation this time. The slab kept moving up. The boots were finely crafted with intricate laces. Was that a sign of intelligence? Did beasts have the ability to tie their own shoelaces? Was she being prejudiced against other lifeforms?

The slab was about halfway up when she realised it was, for the lifter, all the way up. He was about the same height as her, but much wider and stockier. He had a very big beard and was surprisingly smartly dressed in leather trousers and jerkin, and a fancy belt with a shiny buckle.

He looked exactly how she imagined a dwarf to look, apart from the foaming mouth, gnashing teeth and red eyes. There was definitely something wrong with him. She thought about opening a dialogue, but she really didn’t want to attract his attention.

He had the slab over his head now, his thick muscular arms locked like a weightlifter. Slowly, he began walking forward under the slab, walking his hands across the bottom of the slab at the same time.

The effort showed in his taut, corded muscles along his arms and neck and shoulders. The muscles flexed and bulged. He looked like he could smash her to pieces quite easily, but he did have his hands full at the moment.

She’d been looking for a way out, and here it was. She ran straight at the dwarf, turning sideways at the last moment to shuffle past him as he stretched his neck to try and bite her, spittle flying, and then she was in the tunnel.

The dwarf began to slowly turn around while still supporting the huge weight above him. If she could figure a way to tickle him from a distance, he’d be in big trouble. But this wasn’t the time to be a smart alec. She picked up her ball of light and ran.

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