The Caverns of Kildun Aalda--Chapter Fourteen Cage Traps and Flesh Crawlers
“Which way do we go now?” Eileena asked, standing in front of the first teleporting room.
George looked at the map. “There are a couple of rooms to the north of the second teleporting room. Then it seems that is the most northern part of the fortress.”
“We still have not even checked the west side yet,” Bard said.
“At least we have plenty of food, thanks to Eileena.”
The elf had cooked a delicious dinner of snake. Knowing which parts were edible, she removed all of the poison sacs.
However, George being the jokester that he was pretended to keel over after the first bite. He did not fool anybody. He even went back for seconds.
They found themselves in some sort of tool room. Britt went to look at a box of mining picks. He picked up one and but it back down. “Totally useless,” he grunted as the one he put down crumbled into rust. “Still there may be something that we can use.”
“These are in perfect shape,” Eileena said inspecting a box of arrows. She picked up several and put them in her quiver. “Mine are almost gone.”
Bard saw a length of rope lying near the far wall of the room. Even thought it was about fifty feet long, he recognized the weave. It was light enough to carry, maybe about ten or fifteen pounds put strong enough to hold two hundred pounds. This would come in handy if they had to scale a wall. He walked toward it. Britt spied more mining tools lying towards the rope and followed Bard.
George, who was examining some hacksaws glanced up. To his right and to the front he saw, hidden by cob webs a lever. He glanced at the ceiling and saw the bottom of what looked like a cage.
“Look out!” he yelled. “It is a…”
Too late, a grate with vertical bars dropped down to the floor.
“Trap!” George finished.
Bard and Britt were trapped on the other side of the grate. Balon had also recognized the trap and pulled Johanna to safety before the grate fell on top of her.
“George thanks for the warning,” Britt growled.
George looked pale. “This trap has no wires that I can see. This one is set underground. When you stepped on one of those rocks, it set off a spring. The spring tripped a wire and the lever released the trap.” He shuddered, thinking of what could have happened to Johanna.
“That is okay, son,” the dwarf answered.
“No, it is not,” the thief answered. “I should have seen the lever.”
Johanna went over to the lever and looked at it. “There is no way you could have seen this, George. It is totally covered with webs. It is also possible that the wire just got rusty and broke.”
Still George looked pale. “But you almost got killed. It would have been my fault.”
Johanna smiled, secretly. “I actually was practicing a spell that was putting a force field around me. I had succeeded in having one over my head, thought not the rest of my body. That is why Balon was able to pull me out of the way.
“You mean to say…”
“If Balon had not pulled me out of the way, the grate would have stopped five feet over my head.”
“I thought I was saving your life,” Balon said.
“You did and I am very grateful for it. Now we must see what we can do for these two. Now remember, George, do not feed the monkeys.”
“Hey,” he said, back in a joking mood. “That was what I was going to say.”
Bard had his hands on the bars, examining them. “We might be able to pull on these and break them.” However, when he pulled on them, even though they moved slightly, they did not give.
“Tie the rope around one,” Britt said. “It might give them more leverage.”
George ran back to the hacksaws he was looking at. Two were still in very good condition.
With each person taking turns sawing and using the rope to pull on the bars, they were able to create an opening big enough for Bard and Britt to crawl through.
“I think this takes care of the western part of Joban’s and Stephan’s humble abode,” Britt said. After sawing their way out of the cage trap, they needed to rest. Eating his iron preserved rations, George looked over Stephan and Joban’s map. “I think we missed two rooms,” he said
“What do you mean,” Britt asked.
George pointed to the map. “There is a hallway from the kitchen. I do not think we went down that one.”
“Isn’t that the hallway that led to that maze room?”
“No, actually this is the hallway, said pointing. “Remember how we followed this one from the library and came to the one with the teleporting rooms,” George pointed to another hallway. “This is the hallway that led us to the maze room and we are here,” he said, pointing again at the map.
“George,” Britt said, clapping him on his back, “I do not know what I would do without you. I think I could get hopelessly lost,” he added in a hearty laugh.
“This would be great if the elders ever set this place up as a tourist attraction,” Balon said as they stood in a large room filled with benches. George had walked over to what looked like a stage and climbed upon it.
“Does anybody want to hear a joke?” he yelled.
“Boo! Get off the stage!” Britt said, pretending to throw fruit at him.
George got off the stage and walked to the group. “Were Stephan and Joban entertainers?”
“It was rumored that Joban did demonstrate his magical abilities for an audience,” Balon said.
“Do you mean to say that he entertained here?” Eileena asked. “It is had to imagine with them not liking people.”
“According to legend, he did most of his demonstrations in taverns,” Balon said. “Maybe he just entertained here for his laborers. Then again, maybe they entertained for him and Stephan.”
“The door to the other room is over here,” said Johanna.
“It seems that this is the only entrance,” George said looking at the map. “I was thinking that there was a secret door somewhere.”
“Where are we?” George asked. “Is this some sort of tropical rainforest?”
“No this is where they, well most likely where Joban, kept his garden.”
Expecting to find the ground under their feet stone, like the rest of the upper level, Eileena was surprised to find out that the surface was soft, like grass. She reached down and touched the carpet-like growth.
“This is mold,” she said.
“I think it covers the entire floor of this room,” Johanna said. Sure enough everywhere they stepped, the mold made soft carpeting.
“If it was not so gross,” George said, “I would lie down and take a nap.”
“I wonder why it is like this,” Bard said.
“Nobody tended these plants for a long time,” Balon said. “It basically went out of control.
“Wouldn’t the plants die then?” Britt asked.
“I believe that some plants did die,” the magic-user replied. “However, the stronger plants have been able to thrive off from the weaker ones.”
Not only were the floors covered with the mold, the walls and ceilings were also covered.
“In a way, I think it is very pretty,” Johanna said. The molds formed a beautiful pattern of different colors including greens, pinks, blues and reds.
“I think we better turn back,” Britt said. “It is not healthy to breath in this mold.”
“I can’t see!” Balon yelled all of a sudden.
Johanna started towards the magic-user and she started coughing from breathing in some of the fungus that was in the air. She collapsed to the ground.
“Johanna!” Bard yelled.
With his hand over his mouth and nose he ran to her body. She lay there coughing and retching. Reaching into his bag, he pulled out his second bottle of healing potion. When the liquid was poured down her throat, her coughing fit ended. “We have to get out of here! Something is spraying mold at us! Where is Balon?.
George came up leading the magic-user by the hand. The thief had done the same thing Bard had done, by covering his mouth and nose. “Whatever it is, it is over there,” he said pointing.
Britt stood looking around, with his sword drawn and Eileena stood ready with her bow and arrow.
Ten feet in front of them a large brown grub-like creature rose in front of them.
Bard felt the flesh of his skin crawling.
Eileena shot the arrow and it sunk into its body. She shot three more and the creature fell to its side.
“Come on, Bard!” Britt yelled, running toward the creature. “Just do not breathe!”
Bard and Britt stabbed at the creature with their swords until they were sure it was dead.
“What was that creature?” Bard asked once everybody was out of the room. Johanna was sitting next to Balon, pouring a healing potion in his eyes.
“It is a flesh crawler,” the dwarf answered. “When you saw it, didn’t it seem like your own flesh was crawling?”
“Yes, it did.”
“I have seen more dangerous monsters and this one gives me the creeps most.”
“Thanks, Bard,” Johanna said coming over to him and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Bard blushed and all of a sudden he wanted to hold her and never let go.
Britt did not seem to notice and continued. “Flesh crawlers are like buzzards. They eat something that is already dead. However, they are tricky. They can paralyze their prey and think that the unfortunate creature is already dead.”
“Is that why it was blowing those spores at us?” Balon asked.
“Most likely it was trying to confuse you so it got close enough to stun you. It has to physically touch you to do that.”
“I hope we do not run it any more of those,” George said, nervously brushing himself. “That thing gave me the creeps.”