“Let’s have a look at this place then,” said Trogdar, shining the lantern around the hallway. Two archways led off into rooms either side halfway down, and at the far end was a large wooden door.
“Something strange about this place,” said Short-arse, “It doesn’t follow basic Dwarven design principles.”
“How’s that?” said Trogdar as they walked towards the door.
“Well where’s the smooth stone walls, the high vaulted ceilings, the empty corridor leading to a T-junction at the end? It almost seems human this place,” she muttered, condescendingly.
Trogdar had reached the door and found it shut tight. “I dunno,” he said, listening at the door, “maybe you built on top of an old human settlement?”
“We were here long before your kind, manling, and at the rate you’re going we’ll be here long after,” Short-arse said in a patronising tone.
Trogdar regarded her before turning back to the door. “I think it’s just stuck,” he said, barging his shoulder against it and displacing a layer of dust. There was a click and an audible flutter of wings from whatever was on the other side.
“Nope, definitely locked,” said Trogdar, turning to the others.
“You’ve got a dart sticking out of your neck,” said Short-arse.
“A what?” asked Trogdar, incredulously.
“A dart,” replied Jandyr, matter-of-factly.
Trogdar reached up to the left side of his neck and pulled the dart from his skin. “Oh, so I haA-aaA-AAaa….” He slowly collapsed down the wooden door as the Dwarf and Elf rushed to catch him. Straining against his bulk, they managed to drag him into the chamber on the left-hand side of the hall.
“Can you do anything for him?” asked Jandyr to the Wizard.
The Wizard smiled and nodded enthusiastically, his eyes beginning to cloud over white.
“Ok, I’ll leave him in your hands. Don’t read that book,” Jandyr warned, pointing an accusatory finger at the Wizard, “and don’t steal his Gold.”
The Wizard frowned and stared at the Elf as he began to coat the Barbarian’s neck with ice. As Jandyr turned away to find the Dwarf, a sharp yell of pain told him that the ‘treatment’ was working.
In their haste to get Trogdar out of danger, Jandyr had not surveyed their surroundings. The antechamber they had entered was small with no other visible entrances or exits. Amongst dusty crates and shelves were statues, well-carved, showing goblins in mid-flight with terrified looks upon their faces and some with perfectly proportioned throwing axes sticking from their backs. Their silent screams were blood-curdling, and Jandyr smiled in faint amusement at their imagined predicament.
As he circled the room, he found Short-arse knelt reverently in front of another statue near the entrance. This one looked to be carved in the form of a great Dwarf Warrior, holding an axe aloft and charging towards the Goblin statues.
“It’s Lord Grimcrag,” said Short-arse as the Elf approached, wiping away a tear.
“A magnificent carving,” said Jandyr in as comforting a tone as he could manage, “the sculptor must have been shown great inspiration to get so dynamic a pose.”
“Aye,” sniffed the Dwarf, and rising from a knee, “even in death he was still an inspiration to others.”
“You think him dead then?” asked Jandyr.
“Have you ever seen a statue of a living Dwarf?” replied Short-arse.
Jandyr nodded in acknowledgement and walked back towards the dusty shelves.
“There is no way out of this room,” he remarked, looking over the nearest shelf,” it appears to be some sort of supply store. There may yet still be something we can use in here, maybe something valuable if we’re lucky?”
The Dwarf let out a small chuckle. “You still think of Gold, Elf? Our quest is over, Lord Grimcrag dead and buried, the Grunsson axe long gone no doubt. There shall be no reward for us when we return. If we can return.”
“What of the Star of the Dawn?” Jandyr asked, looking further into the room in the crates.
“What of it?” replied Short-arse, following him in, “we have no idea how Ungrun thought to find it, no leads to follow, the Shaman has vanished. The only thing we can do now is get out of here and go our separate ways, seek to reclaim our honou…”
The Dwarf’s voice trailed off as a faint muttering was heard near the entrance. Jandyr and Short-arse turned and started to walk around the nearest shelf, peering round to see Trogdar stood talking to the statue of Grimcrag Grunsson.
“…’n’ they’re all fightin’ ‘mongst each other now, I don’t like it Lord Grimcrack…” he slurred, still woozy from the effects of the dart, “…I thought we were all getting’ along, but the Wizzzard took a book ‘n’ now the Elf’s mad at him, ‘n’ the Dwarfsseses fambily lost some star called Dawn belongin’ to the Elfs, ‘n’ now they’s mad at each uvver, it’s all gone to pot.”
Jandyr and Short-arse stood in silence, listening to the Barbarian’s utterances.
“…I just wanted a kick-ass group of adventurers to go adventurin’ wiv, y’know? Why’ve they ollus gotta argue?”
At this, Jandyr and Short-arse walked over to Trogdar who was now slumped against a crate facing the statue. Short-arse put her arm reassuringly round the Barbarian’s shoulders, looked up at the Wizard who was idly thumbing through the book and the Elf who was looking at him with disapproval and said, “Because we hate each other.”