“I think it’s an ‘E’,” said Jandyr.

“Maybe it’s a ‘J’,” said the Wizard.

“Well, what have we got so far, maybe we can figure it out?”

“Brzkw Ilghrut”

“Definitely an ‘E’ then. Right, next one looks like a man holding a pineapple.”

Trogdar was bored. The Elf and Wizard had been puzzling away at the runic door for quite some time. Both of them were absolutely sure that if they just said the magic words, the doors would swing wide open and let them through. Both had obviously overlooked the massive iron bars firmly fixed across the door each with its own huge lock at either end of the frame.

He had tried in vain to get them to move on and retrace their earlier steps to see if they’d missed something. In his darkest moments, he’d even tried the secret knock, but the Dwarf kept checking on him. Here she came again.

“You alright, manling?” she asked.

“For the fifteenth time, I’m fine.” Trogdar muttered. He was not fine.

“Look, they’ll get to the last letter soon and realise it says, ‘The way is shut to those that don’t have the keys. 2 bottles of milk please.’ Then we can go back and have a look, OK?”

“Why don’t you just tell them?”

“They wouldn’t listen, they see a thing and think they have to solve it. Dead loss those two.”

Short-arse was interrupted by a muffled thumping noise.

“What was that?” she asked.

“Just my stomach, I’m starvin’, it’s been doing it for ages,” replied Trogdar.

The thumping came again.

“I’m not sure it’s coming from your stomach,” she said, looking down at where Trogdar was seated.

“Now hang on a minute…” started Trogdar.

“It’s coming from under the trapdoor, there’s something in there.”

Trogdar stood up slowly and listened. The thumping repeated and a small cry for help could be heard.

“There’s someone in there!” exclaimed Trogdar.

“That’s what I just said,” answered Short-arse gruffly. “Stand back and I’ll smash it with my axe.”

“Don’t kill them!” Trogdar said, “might be a damsel in a dress.”

“Distress,” corrected Short-arse.

“Why would it be wearing your dress?” enquired Trogdar. “Here we go look, I’ll slide my sword under the door and we’ll lever it open. CROUCH DOWN IN THERE WOULD YOU!?” he called into the general direction of the trapdoor.

Trogdar gently slid his sword between the door and recess and tried to pull the trapdoor open. As he did so, the tip of the blade snapped clean off. The trapdoor remained firmly closed.

“That’s my best sword! That’s my only sword!” he whined.

“Look stand back manling,” said Short-arse, hefting her axe above her head, “let a Dwarf show you how it’s donnnn-aaargh!”

In her haste, Short-arse had stood on her beard and fell head-first into the trapdoor, smashing it to pieces as she fell onto the occupant below.

Trogdar hastily leant down into the aperture, “You alright?”

“I’m fine thank you,” Short-arse replied, her head buried in a box of flour.

“I meant our lovely captive,” said Trogdar, who had spotted a long-flowing gown and thin, slender legs. His mind raced at the vision of loveliness he was about to see.

“I’m ok too,” came a thin, reedy, quite obviously male voice.

An old man dressed in tattered robes pulled himself out of the shadows and threw out his hand to Trogdar.

“Could you help me out please sir?"