The infinite cosmos stretched before him. A thousand certainties collided with a million possibilities to create a billion futures. The fate of he and his companions was in the palm of his hand, all he had to do was reach out and clutch the strand of fate that would see them safe. 

But in the tangled web of the void, there was a gossamer-thin web of doubt. A single pull on that spider’s weave would unravel the very fabric of reality. What could one man do in the face of such overwhelming adversity. There was only one choice. There had only ever been one choice. He just hoped the others would understand.

 “I shall move forward and prepare to cast a spell.” 

“Well that was a complete waste of time,” said Trogdar as he trudged back through the Guard Room.

“I wouldn’t say that,” said Jandyr, “I found 80 gold lying there, just lying there behind a rock!”

“I put that there to shut him up,” whispered Short-arse.

“We walk all that way back there and the bloody thing’s locked,” cried Trogdar, “and next time, don’t block me in when I’m carrying the only light we’ve got. I don’t want to have to squeeze past you every time Jadryn.”

“Jandyr,” said Jandyr, “and I didn’t mind. Trust me.”

“At least what’s-‘is-face, err, Son of thingummy over there had a good time,” replied Trogdar, ignoring the Elf.

Son of Ixthod. Yes, that’s what he’d introduced himself as. He had another name, of that he was certain, but he couldn’t quite remember it now. 

He had volunteered to try the 4 bottles they had found after killing the small greenthings in their Guard Room. Maybe one could give him the buzz he was so desperately missing after the mushrooms had worn off. 

The first was rather sour, not something suitable for his refined palette. He thrust that one at the big muscly man with the fake bearskin. The second as bitter as a man who’s wife had just left him for his brother, the small badger would probably enjoy it most.

The third was so subtly sweet he could barely taste it – give it to Red Riding Hood over there, but the fourth... oh the fourth was invigorating. It made him feel like he could take on the World. He put it in his robes to save for later. 

He had looked at his companions then. Most of them had small wounds, the Barbarian and Dwarf in particular were suffering badly. 

Everyone join hands,” he spoke. 

“Pardon me?” said Trogdar, a little wary that the Wizard’s eyes had suddenly turned white, but even more so that he had managed to speak a full sentence other than his usual.

“Join hands,” said Jandyr, as he took Trogdar’s left hand in his right.

 Forming a loose circle, the Wizard began to chant.

“O’ Kaleth, Lord of Ice, hear my pleas and heal our wounds”

At this last command, the Wizard’s head snapped back and a thin layer of drool fell from the corner of his mouth before slowly freezing in place. 

“Ahhh, ahhhh, me bloody arm!” screamed Trogdar in a panic. Ice had started to form over his wounds and was slowly drawing them together. 

“MAINTAIN THE BOND!” commanded the Wizard, as the Barbarian and Dwarf either side of him fell to the floor in agony. The Elf stood tall, a faint look of amusement on his face.

After a few minutes, the Wizard’s head slowly returned and the chain was finally severed.

“Better?” asked Jandyr to Trogdar and Short-arse, who were still writhing on the floor. The only response was a moan of pain. 

“I shall move forward and prepare to cast a spell.”

“Right, there’s a light coming from over there, that must be the way forward,” said Trogdar, regaining his footing.

The words from his companion snapped the wizard back to the present. Lost in his reverie, the Son of Ixthod had not noticed that the party had now retraced their steps through the Guard Room and had turned down a small passageway which veered to the left. The hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stood on end, but the muscly man was already walking into danger. Was it too late?

“Errrrr...” he said.

As Trogdar stepped on the stone slab before the doorway, a huge iron portcullis slammed down and the slab fell away to reveal a spiked pit below.

“’kin ‘ell” said Trogdar as he fought to regain his balance. His arms whirling like windmills, Trogdar fell backwards, away from danger, and smashed his back against the lip of the pit.

“Well now we’re well and truly trapped,” stated Short-arse, bluntly.

“Look at these magnificent rocks I just found,” said Jandyr, who had missed all the excitement whilst searching for Gold.

Relieved that he had again saved the day, the Wizard leaned against the wall. With a loud grinding sound, the rock he had leant against started to depress and the Wizard fell sideways as he lost his balance. A large opening revealed itself in the wall to the side.

“Good work, Sonny Jim!” exclaimed Trogdar, picking the Wizard up and slapping him on the back.

“I shall move forward and prepare to cast a spell,” came the shaky reply.