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The Caverns of Kildun Aalda--Chapter Nineteen-Entrance to the Lower Level
“I remember there was another hallway to the east of the throne room,” Johanna said. It was the next morning. They were awake with the effects of the ale worn off.
They left the captains quarters and headed back to the throne room. The hallway winded and they were in a room that had chairs stacked up against the walls.
“This must be a storage room,” Britt said looking at two tables that were stacked upon each other.
“It may have been used as a carpenter’s area,” Bard said. In the corner stood a table that looked like it was made for woodworking. A vise was attached to one end. Saws and other equipment were on the table. Woodchips and sawdust covered most of the floor about the table.
“Didn’t their mother tell them to clean up after themselves?” George said. Then he noticed that, like the other room in the fortress, a footprint impression was made in the dust.
A second door in the room opened into a small hallway. Just a few steps away was another room.
“A female stayed here,” Johanna said. They were staring at a beautiful walnut bed that had decorations carved through the wood.
“This is beautiful and skillfully made,” Eileena said running her hands over the bed’s canopy. The fabric was blue with many different designs embroidered of the cloth. Green tassels lined the entire border of the canopy. “I wonder if the female we saw in the picture is the one who lived here.”
“I believe she is,” Balon said. He spoke in a strange voice and stared in the corner of the room.
“What is wrong, Balon?” Bard asked. Then he saw her. A beautiful ghostlike female was standing next to the red cedar dresser. She looked at them and acknowledged their presence with a shy smile. She looked hopeful when she saw Bard, then, when she realized that he was not the one she was waiting for, her face became sad.
“She died of a broken heart, waiting for Stephan to return,” Johanna said. “I wish there was something we could do for her to help appease her.”
“I think I have an idea!” George said suddenly. “Britt and Bard, come with me real quick.”
“Where do you think you are going?” Britt gruffed.
“Back to Stephan’s chamber. I do not know if it will work, but there is no harm in trying.”
“We will be right back!” he called to the others.
“Her name was Michelle,” Eileena said, looking at the headboard. Her name was carved in it.
Michelle did not seem bothered that there were people in her room. She had been alone for so long, she welcome the prospect of company.
She floated to the nightstand. It was covered by a lace doily. On top were several bottles of perfume and silver combs. She smiled at Johanna, who was the closest to het. “Take them,” she seemed to stay.
She floated to the full length mirror in the room and looked in it. Unable to see herself she floated and stopped in front of a carved walnut plaque. It read:
I love you
You are beautiful,
You are king.
I have collected
Many great treasures
All my Entire life.
However, my best treasure,
The one that I will
Always cherish is you.
My beautiful Michelle
My love I give to you
Will be for eternity.
“That is so beautiful,” said Johanna.
“And so sad,” said Eileena.
“I believe I know why George went back to Stephan’s chamber for,” Balon said. “If it works, she will be happy again.”
Soon George, Bard and Britt returned, carrying the tapestry of Stephan and Michelle. They hung it next to the mirror. Michelle looked at the picture and broke into a beautiful smile. A ghostlike form of Stephan emerged from the picture. Smiling, he took her hand, and they both disappeared.
“A love story with a happy ending,” Eileena said.
“She knew that he would return for her,” Johanna said.
Leaving Michelle’s room they headed back the way they came. “This covers this part of the fortress,” George said, looking at the map.
“What gets me is we have not found any way to get to the lower lever,” Britt said.
“Maybe there is a secret door that we missed somewhere,” Balon said.
“We might even have to go back outdoors. There may be an entrance out there,” Johanna said.
By now they were just passing the trophy room that George and Britt had explored while the others were traipsing around the dance floor. “Wait!” he said.
“What is it wrong?” Britt said, drawing his sword.
“Oh, nothing like monsters to worry about,” the thief said. “Just when we went to the Captain’s chamber, we went down this hallway. There is another hallway above the trophy room.”
“There is nothing in this room,” Bard said looking around. It was just contained bare walls, with no sort of decorations on them, and contained no types of furnishing in it.
“It probably is a room that never was finished,” Balon said.
The group turned to leave. However, Britt noticed a large stone slab in the corner. A heavy chain was attached to an iron ring.
“Bard, help me with this,” the dwarf said.
Bard and the dwarf pulled on the chain. Even though it seemed heavy, the stone slab moved easily.
“That is a staircase,” George exclaimed.
“This must be the entrance into the lower level,” Britt said. “It is going to be dark down there. Get you lanterns ready. Oh you okay, George? You look pale.”
“I am fine, Britt,” the thief answered. For once there was no joking in his voice. George did not look like a joking and cocky adventurer; he looked like a scared teenager. He clasped his knife tightly in his hand.”
“We go down single file.”
The stairway seemed to descend forever. The group moved slowly, with Bard in the lead. With each step down, he tested to make sure he was on solid footing. Soon the light from the room above was gone, a rock outcropping was over their head.
“It should not be much further,” Britt whispered quietly.
Bard paused. He had felt a drop of liquid on the bare skin of his arm. Nothing unusual about this since there was always moisture in underground caverns. That was one of the reasons why unpreserved food went bad so quickly. However, where the liquid hit his, his skin began to burn. It was as if there was acid on his skin. He looked up.
A giant amoeba-like liquid creature fell from the outcropping. It wrapped its liquid tentacles around his body and constricted.
His one arm holding his sword was free. He cut through the liquid. However, the amoeba was not killed. Its body was spilt into two living forms. Now Bard’s body was entirely consumed. Bard screamed. The acid was eating though his armor. His bare skin was already burning.
“Bard!” George screamed. He ran up and sank his knife into the liquid. His knife melted away. The last thing Bard saw before he passed out was the amoeba striking George away with one of its tentacles and the thief crashing against the walls of the cavern.
“No!” Balon, yelled as Britt ran up to Bard with his sword. It will only eat metal. Johanna! Get ready to pull him away!”
“Fire!” Balon yelled and fire surged out of his fingers. The omega stopped constricting and started to burn.
“You are going to burn Bard alive!” Johanna cried.
Balon stopped the fire. “See if you can pull him from the jelly.”
Johanna reached into the substance, grabbed Bard’s arm and pulled. Even though, she felt a slight tingling from the jelly, most of the acid was destroyed by Balon’s fire. “I cannot move him!” she yelled.
“Britt, stand by with you hammer! Johanna, let go of Bard! Freezia!” he yelled as ice now shot from his fingers. The omega was frozen into a giant chunk of ice.
“Break Bard free!” Britt, Eileena started hitting the ice around Bards head with their hammers. George grabbed his knife and started chipping.
Soon Bard was free from the ice. However, he was unconscious. His exposed skin was burned beyond recognition. George ran to his bag and pulled out his healing potion. “Here you go buddy. You gave me yours so you can have mine.”
“Do not expect me to kiss you,” Bard said weakly.
“Let him rest,” Britt said. “He nearly had a close one. Bard’s damaged skin was almost healed. While the acid could have dissolved the armor, the amoeba was removed in enough time to save him.
“George, let me look at that burn on your face,” Johanna said, taking about the mark where the amoeba had struck him.
“It is only a scratch,” George said. “Let’s save the healing potions for emergencies.”....
Balon once again used his fire spell to melt the remains of the Ochre jelly. As the ice melted down he noticed several stones fall away from the ice. He picked them up and returned to the others.
“It appears that while the acid eats away metal and flesh, it does not harm rocks.”....
“That is why it was able to lurk over our heads,” Eileena said. “It did not eat the rock away.”
“Nor did the acid eat these rocks,” he said handing Britt several Amethyst and Peridot gems. Nor this one,” he added, handing the dwarf a giant Garnet.”
“These are worth over 1,000 gold pieces,” Britt said. “What we found so far is worth the trip here. We can return our findings to the elders and just call this mission completed.”
“What about this place and their plans for it?” George asked.
“We will just say that it is too dangerous,” Britt said.
Bard, getting stronger by the minute said, “We should all agree whether to give up. If one person wants to leave, then we all leave. I have the first vote. Not me.”
“Not me,” said George.
“Not me,” said Johanna and Balon together.
“Not me,” said Eileena. “That leaves you Britt. If you want to leave, we will respect your decision.”
“Not me,” said Britt. He looked around and saw that they were in what looked like a mining shaft. Even though there had been no work recently, the equipment was like it was just brand new. He picked up a pickaxe and handed it to Bard. “You are going to need this, since you lost your sword.”
“I can just hear Joe Smith when I tell him that a jelly monster ate my sword. He never let me forget about the rust monster.”