“The hard part?” said Magus. “I thought this was the hard part.”
“Oh no,” responded Ærin. “The hard part is where law enforcement chases us in an attempt to have us executed for being dangerously competent and contributing to the public order. Trust me, I know how this goes.”
“This is the police!” shouted a voice from outside the guildhall. “Get on the floor and put your hands behind your head!”
“See what I mean,” said Ærin. “Come on, into the basement. We’ll figure out what to do from there.”
The basement was a place made out of stone, entered by a steel door at the end of a logn passage. Said passage was full of fortifications and arrow slits that couldn’t be used from that side. This, along with the dwarvish lock on the door, made it obvious the basement was a panic room.
The bunker was filled with iron rations, weapons, and barrels of water. It was obvious that Bromad had been planning to hold out in there for a long time. There was a patch of mud in one corner with huge, purple mushrooms growing out of it, starkly contrasting with the rest of the room.
“Look!” shouted Petrov. “Plump helmets!”
“Plump helmets?” said Magus.
“Ve had zese back in old country!” replied Petrov. “I didn’t know zat anyone knew about zem here!” Petrov then sat down, plucked one of the mushrooms, and started to eat it with every sign of enjoyment.
“Petrov?” said Magus. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
“Oh, yes,” said Petrov. “I completely forgot about you guys. I’m sorry. Here you go.” And with that, he threw them each one of the vile fungi.
“No Petrov,” said Magus. “I meant the cops.”
“I didn’t forget about them,” replied Petrov. “I just wanted a snack first.” Petrov then got up, shoved the rest of the plump helmets into his pockets, looked over at the wall, and said “This place ought to do.” He then wacked the wall with the spike on the rear of his axe.
“Petrov?” said Magus “What are you doing?”
“Mining our way out.” replied Petrov. “Everyone and zeir mother have basement these days. If we mine through and brick up behind us, no-one will know!”
Petrov got into a steady pace, and soon they got through into the wine cellar of some other building three blocks down. The place was cool and damp, with shelves and shelves of wine bottles, going back to the eight hundreds. Petrov took a sip of the oldest one, spat it out, and said, “Foul human rubbish. I’ll take vodka every time.”
“Does it matter?” said Ærin. “Anyway, where are we?”
“Some rich guy’s place,” said Abda. “Only a nob would have a wine cellar this big. An army of dwarves would take fifty years to drink all this stuff.”
“Why the yebut vould ve vant to!” responded Petrov.
“Look,” said Abda, “it vas a figure of speech!”
“Can we just get going?” asked Ærin. “If we stay here someone’s bound to find us.”
“And?” said Petrov.
“Well,” said Magus, “the sane thing to do right now would be to leave.”
“SANITY IS FOR THE VEEK!”
“Here, I’ll make this simple,” said Magus. “We leave this wine cellar or I kill everyone in it.”
“Ha!” shouted Petrov. “Vizard boy, you couldn’t hurt a fly.”
“Really? Ardens gaudendum!”
As Magus spat out those words, a ball of flame burst out and hit a small casket of brandy, causing it to explode, scattering burning alcohol everywhere.
“Vhat the hell’s wrong with you!” shouted Petrov.
“I’m sorry; I couldn’t hear you over the sound of being surrounded by several thousand gallons of ethanol.”
“Hey, vizard? What say we go upstairs?”
So, they went upstairs, passing lots of racks of elderly wine bottles as they did so. The upper half of the house seemed to emanate wealth, with floors made out of mahogany and walls coated in plaster.
“Vhat a dump,” said Petrov. “Vhy, back in the old country—”
“No-one cares!” said Magus. “If the old country was so good then why did you have to leave?”
“I fell out of favor with the Tzar.”
“The who?” asked Abda.
“The Tzar. It means king. He and his nobles rule over our realm with an iron fist, squeezing all money he can out of peasants.”
“This coming from someone who obviously used to be a peasant squeezing noble,” responded Magus.
“Well, you see—” said Petrov, but then, in the middle of his sentence, a rough voice shouted out “Oy! Don’t you know it’s illegal to develop the plot in other people’s homes! That’s breaking and narrating that is.”
As the source of the voice walked into view, the fellowship saw that it was a guard wearing the uniform of the empire. His face was—
“Hey! That goes for you too mister. If you want to narrate, go do it somewhere else.”
Did you just say what I think you just said?
“Yes, I did. Now get out or we’ll have you in chains.”
Really… *Ahem* FOOLISH MORTAL! HOW DARE YOU ATTEMPT TO ARREST ME! I AM THE MASTER OF LIFE AND DEATH! I RULE ALL!
And so, as the guard stood there dumbfounded like the insipid little mortal fool he was, a bolt of purple lighting burst down from the sky and hit the guard right in the chest. His body flopped around in agony for several seconds as the eldritch flame burnt through muscle and sinew, until there was nothing left but bones, and soon even these were consumed, leaving nothing but a gray powder. As the heroes watched, somehow they knew that despite the fact that the guard’s mortal form had been destroyed, his spirit was still alive in some nether-hell, soon to be eternally tormented by a foul demonic being that would leave him wracked in pain for what would be a unnaturally extended life.
“Wow,” said Magus. “Great job. I really liked that glowy text effect. Next time maybe you could work on the insults a little though. Insipid seems a bit cliché. Be a bit more original next time. Maybe try something with maggots. That bit at the end was good though.”
“Don’t mention it. Anyway, can we get back on the road now?”
Oh all right, if you insist. Anyway, the fellowship went onward, sneaking, with nothing but the sound of their boots to tell you that they were there. Well, the sound of boots and armor. But the armor wasn’t that loud. Just sort of a CLANG BANG CRASH BASH BOING BOP PITING. See? Not that loud at all.
“Hey!” said a guard. “Who are you? You can’t be thieves, or at least not good ones. I could hear the sound of your armor from a mile away!”
Magus thought quickly and shouted, “Surprise inspection! Quick, where are you?”
“The baron’s house,” replied the guard.
“Good,” said Magus. “Now, what are you supposed to do when you find a bunch of intruders dressed up as surprise inspectors?”
The guard thought for a bit and said “You’re supposed to shout ‘GUARDS, GUARDS!’ and then—ARGH!”
That last bit there was not so much something he said voluntarily as much as it was something that you say when your internal organs have turned into kittens. Just in case you were wondering.
“Now what?” said Ærin. “We can’t do that to all of them.”
“Why not?” responded Magus.
“Because, there’ll be more people with them, and they’ll probably notice the corpses,” said Ærin.
“And? We’re the heroes,” said Magus. “Winning when we’re outnumbered ten to one is what we do.”
“That sort of thing only happens in stories.” responded Ærin.
“Exactly!” said Magus. “Look down there! A page number! This is a story.”
“So was ‘The Horror at Insmouth’,” said Ærin. “That didn’t have a happy ending.”
Suddenly, a voice came out of the darkness! Again!
“Oy!” it said. “Wot the ‘ell are you doing in ‘ere?” Rather like the previous voice, this one belonged to a guard.
“Surprise inspection!” shouted Magus. “Quick, what you do when you find traitors disguised as surprise inspectors standing over the corpse of your comrade while contemplating how to kill you?”
“Well you’re supposed to—ARGH!”
After gutting the guard, Petrov turned back to Ærin and said, “Told you so.”