The heroes had snuck into the court yard of the Mayor Gargen Stonefellow’s mansion via the servant’s entrance. Arien had cast an invisibility spell on Roman while she disguised herself as a roaming dancer. Nolofinwe cast a spell he called, “Pass without Trace,” which allowed all of them to silently move on any surface. Maggie used her professional skills to stay hidden in the shadows.
Maggie attempted to unlock the back door that entered into the mansion. Arien and Nolo stood by her side while Roman stayed a few feet back, keeping an eye on the court yard. Suddenly, the door flung open with a large, shocked and angry dwarf on the other side.
“Uh, I can explain this,” Maggie meekly said, still holding her thieves’ pick.
The dwarf growled and pulled out his halberd. Arien cast a quick fire spell but missed. This was the moment Roman feared most. They needed to take the guard down quickly before he could raise the alarm. He had to act.
Roman rushed forward, leapt over Maggie, jumped through the doorway, and clothes-lined the dwarf to the ground. Roman’s invisibility disappeared. With the dwarf prone, it was easy pickings for Nolo to smack him across the face with his staff. But it wasn’t enough to shut the guard up. Maggie drew her rapier and stabbed the dwarf guard, incapacitating him. She didn’t kill him, but used a secret technique she learned that knocked people out.
“We are committed now,” Roman whispered.
The heroes, with the unconscious guard on the floor, stood in a hallway. There was a door in front of them, and to the left and right of them. Both ends of the hall turned in the same direction.
Roman and Nolo quickly started to tie up the guard. Roman had to stop Nolo’s knot-tying.
“Where did you learn to tie a knot?” Roman asked in a gruff whisper. “An eight-year old could tie better than that.”
“I’m nervous. I’ve never…”
“Give that to me,” Roman forcibly took the rest of the rope away from Nolo and finished tying up the guard.
“Arin and Mags, each of you sneak down one end of the hall and look around the corners,” he whispered his orders.
“You want me….”
“Shhh,” Roman interrupted Maggie. “Quiet, everyone. Speak in whispers and keep your eyes and ears open. Quickly now.”
Arien casted an invisibility spell on herself and snuck towards the left-side of the hallway. Maggie snuck down the opposite side. Arien came to a dead-end with closed doors. Maggie saw that the hall continued and made another turn. She returned to Roman as he was lifting the dwarf’s body over his shoulder.
“What do you want me do to,” Maggie asked in a mousey voice.
“Keep looking around,” Roman snapped under his breath. His face was turning red with the heavy weight of the dwarf.
“Right, right. I’ll go.” Maggie raced back down the hallway.
“Nolo, check the doors,” Roman ordered.
Nolo went to the door in front of them, placed his ear to it, and listened for a moment.
“I think I heard people behind that one,” Nolo whispered.
Roman snarled. “What about that one over there,” he gestured to the door on the right.
Nolo listened, but heard nothing behind it.
Arien decided to investigate the doors, starting with the furthest one first. She slowly turned to knob to make sure it wasn’t locked. It wasn’t. She then carefully and gradually opened the door, but only a couple of inches. Inside she saw a mid-size dining room, with a long table in the center. Two posh-looking Halflings sat at the table, both of them complaining about their meal. A servant stood at the opposite side of the Halflings, listening to their complaints. He turned and noticed the open door. His eyes narrowed. He casually walked over and closed the door in Arien’s face.
“Okay, slowly open that door,” Roman whispered to Nolo. “You better be right about this.”
Nolo opened the door, which was unlocked, and peered inside. He saw three beds – two on the far end and a single one to the right, occupied.
“There’s a woman sleeping in there,” Nolo said a bit too loudly.
“Back up,” Roman snapped. “This is what you’re going to do, Nolo. You got a knife?”
“Yes, a knife.”
“No, I don’t have a knife.”
“What do you mean you don’t have a knife?”
“I only have a Shilelagh.” Nolo held up his staff with pride.
Roman was not amused. “Here, grab that knife from the guard’s belt. See it there.” Roman positioned the guard’s body so Nolo could unsheathe the knife more easily. “Now, you’re going in first.”
“You need to sneak in and right up to that sleeping woman. I want you to just stand over her with the knife ready.”
“Don’t wake her. Don’t touch her.”
“Just watch her. If she wakes up, you need to grab her, gag her with one hand, and hold that knife to her throat with the other. That should keep her quiet until we can deal with her then.”
“Then repeat what I said.”
“Go in there and stab her.”
Roman was not amused.
Nolo chuckled. “I got it. This is a piece of cake. Don’t worry. I got this. It’s not like I’m going trip and fall or anything.”
Arien, miffed by getting a door closed in her face, returned to Roman and Nolo. She saw them go through one of the doors and quickly rushed towards them. Once she reached the room, she saw Nolo sprawled out on the floor, his left leg pinned under his right and his rear end arched upwards.
Roman was not amused.
The woman in the bed was slowly getting up, rubbing her eyes and confused as to what was happening. Roman tossed the dwarf’s body across the room, nearly missing Nolo, leapt towards the woman and grappled her, one hand around her mouth shut, one hand holding both her wrists, and his body pinning her down. She flailed and wiggled, trying to get away.
Nolo slowly stood up.
“Tell that bitch to be cool,” Nolo said.
“Bitch be cool!” Roman intensely whispered.
The woman flailed more.
“Tell that bitch to be cool!” Nolo almost shouted.
“Bitch! Be cool!”
“Tell that bitch to be cool!”
“I said, bitch! Be cool!” Roman showed her his fangs.
Arien closed the door and left back down the hallway. She returned to the previous door she investigated and weighed her options. Suddenly, the servant from inside came out with a tray of food, grumbling to himself. He walked down the hall and passed through another door. A minute later, the servant returned with a new tray of food and walked back to the door that led towards the dining hall. Still invisible, Arien snuck into the dining room along with the servant.
Maggie explored more of her side of the hallway but found very little of interest. She discovered another hallway that led towards a couple of doors but not much else. She narrowly escaped a passing servant by hiding in the shadows and found herself petrified in fear. She was alone and lost. Maggie started silently crying, missing her friend, Mortimer.
Inside the dining hall, Arien hid in a corner, invisible and listening to the Halflings as they ate. Most of their conversations consisted of bland and purposeless topics, mostly of complaints about the food and drinks. They were acting liking petulant, bored, rich kids.
They demanded different food and drinks.
“Yes, of course, my lord and lady,” the male servant bowed. He turned and walked to the door that led out to the hallway where Arien came from. For a second, she thought about tripping the servant, but reconsidered it as that would probably end her invisibility spell.
“I’m tired of this food,” said the male Halfling when the servant left the room. “I’m tired of this place,”
“We have to wait until Vermelda tells us otherwise,” the female Halfling said.
“But the food here is so horrible. How are we suppose to live on this dung they call food? ”
“I know, but soon we will get what we want. We just need to be patient and do our part.”
Maggie heard the sound of a bell ringing, which came from behind a door she stood close to. She listened to the door but heard nothing more behind it. She opened the door and stepped out into another hallway with several more doors around her. The end door opened. Maggie jumped into the shadowy corner of the hall and stood very still. A Halfling guard came out in the hall and yelled back through the door, “If you see Bouldbast, tell him I went to do the rounds.” The Halfling hurried along towards Maggie. He completely ignored her and walked through the door Maggie came from. She sighed in relief. She wondered where her friends were. And thought about making a run for the exit and forget the whole operation.
The bell sound rang in the hall again. This time, Maggie could tell it came from behind one of the doors right next to her.
Roman and Nolo stepped out of the servant’s bedchamber, silently closing the door. They left behind an unconscious, naked dwarf tied to a bed and covered with sheets and blankets. The woman was naked and tied to her bed underneath the bedcovers. She was fast asleep but when she woke up, she would have the worst headache of her life.
The two decided to sneak down the hall towards where Arien went. They had hoped to meet up with the ladies.
They heard a bell chime.
“What’s that?” Roman asked. He stopped moving.
“I don’t know,” Nolo shrugged. “What do you think it is?”
“If I knew what it was, would I be asking you?”
“Sounds like a bell.”
“Oh really?” Roman sarcastically spat. “What else can you tell me about it?”
“I think it came from down the hallway.”
Maggie listened to the door. The bell rang from behind it again. She leapt back, slightly surprised by the sound and readied her rapier. No one came through that door.
Behind and to her right, the door began to open. Maggie was surprised this time. She tried to leap back into the shadowy corner, but it was too late. The servant from the dining hall stepped out into the hallway with a full tray for fresh food and drinks. He looked up and eyes widened.
Roman and Nolo turned a corner around the hall and saw Maggie standing over and unconscious body of a human who appeared dressed at a servant. A plate of food and drinks were scattered across the floor. Maggie, holding her rapier, was trying to close the door in front of her and lock it.
The Halflings in the dining hall were becoming impatient. The male Halfling got up and headed towards the door where the servant left. Arien had a feeling that something was wrong. Her friends were somewhere on the other side of that door. She knew that whatever was happening to them, having the Halflings involved would not be a good thing. She quickly rushed towards the door on the other side of the dining room and opened it. It led out into a large lobby with a statue in the center and a flight of stairs to her right. The stairs lead up to the roof of the three-story building. At the second floor was a single door as well as only being a single door at the third floor. Arien saw several murals of underground images hangings from various spots of the wall. She also noticed a lone Halfling guard standing next to the statue. He became aware of the open door, straightened his back, and waited, as if expecting someone to walk through.
The female Halfling gave a start when she saw the door mysteriously open by itself. The male Halfling stopped and stared at the opened door, scratching his head.
“That’s odd. How did that happen?” he said, while walking towards the invisible Arien and the open door.
Maggie was struggling to keep the door closed while attempting to lock it. She then realized that someone on the other side was trying to open it. Before she could react to that realization, the door slammed against her head, knocking her back and on her butt.
Roman was standing next to a door down the hall from Maggie. He had positioned himself ready to attack anyone that came through. He thought he heard someone in the room behind the door and figured it would be prudent that keep watch on that door while Maggie did her thing with the lock. But he had not expected Maggie to fall and knew he couldn’t get to her fast enough to deal with whatever knocked her down.
Nolo started to rush forward towards Maggie, but she showed her true abilities to the new member of the group. Within a blink of an eye, Maggie hopped up on her feet, kicked up her rapier into her hands, and whirled her body around like a dancer towards the woman who forced the door open. With her right arm, Maggie hooked under the woman’s right arm, bent her forward and over, and stabbed her in the side. As the woman fell, unconscious, the rapier withdrew from her body but very little blood was spilt.
From inside the room, which Maggie quickly realized was a kitchen, came a scream.
“What was that?” the female Halfling asked, clenching a dinner knife.
The Halfling guard, in the lobby, came rushing to the dinner hall.
“Is everything alright, my lord and lady?”
“Well, bloody no,” the male Halfling snapped. “We haven’t gotten any proper food or good wine yet.”
“But the screaming…”
There was another scream behind them, coming from the lobby. Arien had snuck out and went up the stairs. When she reached the second floor, she screamed. It was enough to grab the attention of the two posh Halflings and the guard.
Upon hearing the scream, Nolo felt adrenaline course through his body. For a brief moment, he felt invincible. He felt as strong as Roman, as fast as Maggie, and potent as Arien. He wanted to prove himself to these new companions. He wanted to show Roman that he was not a bumbling boob but a powerful and wise druid. He continued running forward, using his momentum to jump over the unconscious bodies and move around Maggie to pass through the door. He was going to stop the screaming one way or another. He was going to be a hero to his new companions.
The scream came from a fat woman in the center of the kitchen. She held a knife in one hand and the head of a rabbit in the other. Nolo knew exactly what to do:
He grabbed a bag of flour from the table and threw it at the face of the screaming woman. A huge poof of flour dust burst all across the room, making her cough instead of screaming. He rushed forward, zigzagging back and forth to create the illusion of a ghost cloud of flour and knocked her out cold…..
Or so that is how Nolo wished it had happened.
Nolo grabbed the bag of flour and it slipped from his hands and exploded in his face. He was blinded for a second and coughing with flour going down his lungs. The woman stopped screaming to stare at Nolo’s stupidity. That moment gave Maggie to rush forward and knock the woman out.
“Roman!” Nolo shouted in as loud of a whisper he could. “You better get in here!”
Roman lumbered into the kitchen with an unconscious man over his shoulder. He dropped the body and surveyed the scene: four unconscious servants, Maggie breathing heavily with her rapier drawn, and Nolo covered in flour from head to toes.
Roman was not amused.