Bitter 103

“Here, can you hold this?” Stan offered the torch to Britta. “I need both hands for my bow.”

Britta took the torch. It was quite a disadvantage to need both hands when you were in a dark place. How were archers supposed to get around somewhere like this if they were on their own? Seemed like quite a big handicap.

They set off down the tunnel, Stan slightly ahead of her, bow drawn with an arrow ready to fire.

“Could be they’ve added some new monsters with the latest patch,” he whispered. The whispering made it feel even more tense. “Nice. New content.”

“It’s still a beginner dungeon, though,” said Britta. “So they won’t be anything really nasty, right?”

“No, of course not, probably just a…” Stan stopped and thought about it. “Actually, I can’t think of a low-level mob that howls like that.” He shrugged and kept moving. Britta didn’t feel reassured, but she was glad he was here to take care of whatever it was.

They entered a square chamber with a tunnel opening in each wall. Britta held the torch higher and moved it around. The tunnels looked more or less the same. “Which way?”

“Doesn’t really matter,” said Stan. “It’s all connected. Your map will fill it in for you as we go.”

Britta tapped her map icon at the top of her screen and it opened to show the tunnel they’d come through and the room they were in. The rest was blank—the north, east and west tunnels only extending a tiny bit into the dark. At least she didn’t have to draw a map by hand; that would have been extremely tedious.

Stan nudged her and then indicated the east tunnel with the arrow nocked to his bow. It took a second for her to see what he was pointing at.

There was a string across the bottom of the entrance. It wasn’t an invisible wire cunningly hidden in the near darkness, it was quite a thick vine with some leaves still attached. There was one across each tunnel entrance. She nodded at Stan to let him know she’d seen it, but his slightly confused look reminded her that he thought she was a rogue. He expected her to disarm the trap.

Time to reveal she wasn’t a fairly useful rogue but instead a rather useless illusionist.

There was another howl. It sounded like it was coming from the north tunnel. Running footsteps were headed towards them. Stan readied his bow, Britta held out her dagger.

“Kobold!” shouted Stan.

A kobold charged down the tunnel. It was smaller than a goblin, very hairy with straps of leather wound round its limbs like intermittent armour. It was quite ugly with a snub nose a bit like a bat’s and very large jug handle ears on each side of its head.

Stan’s bow twanged as he loosed an arrow. The kobold raised its weapon, which turned out to be a large iron skillet. The arrow ricocheted off it.

The kobold didn’t seem fazed by the attack. It rushed into the room and broke the trip wire. Behind it, a stone slab fell, screaming as the sides scraped rock against rock, hitting the ground with a thump and blocking off the opening.

The kobold wildly looked from side to side. “Run!” Then it sprinted into the east tunnel, tripping that wire, too. Another slab fell to block that exit.

Stan had another arrow ready to fire, but it was too late. “Did he tell us to run?”

“Yes,” said Britta. “Was he using a frying pan as a weapon?”

“Kobolds make do with whatever they can find. Never encountered one that gave players advice, though.”

“I think he was scared,” said Britta.

“Scared of what?”

There was another howl, this one right behind the slab covering the north tunnel. There was a scratching and clawing sound and then the slab began to slowly rise, accompanied by grunting and groaning. Something was lifting the solid rock. Something very strong.

“I’m guessing, he was running from whatever that is,” said Britta.

“Maybe we should leave,” said Stan.

“Good idea,” said Britta.

Stan turned and hurried through the west tunnel. A sheet of rock slammed down behind him.

“Shit! Sorry!” said Stan’s muffled voice.

Britta turned to face north. The slab was halfway up.

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