The Caverns of Kildun Aalda--Chapter Sixteen--Stairs That Go Nowhere and Pittraps
“Where do we explore next?” Britt asked the group the next morning after they woke up and ate a small breakfast.
“We should start from where we first entered the fortress,” Balon said. The lounge and the dining room are just to the east of there and the Wizard’s annex is to the north. Still there are other areas to the north and south of these. Then we still have the entire west wing.”
“Let’s get down to the main entrance,” Britt said. “Don’t worry George; we will not have to hear that warning again; we will not go outside.”
“I am so glad that we are now sleeping in the library. I was starting to get a headache from hearing that same warning each time we camped outside.”
Within a few minutes, they gathered their gear and were standing outside the kitchen. George was studying his map. “Let’s go north of the wizard’s chamber,” he decided.
“Here are some stairs,” Johanna said. “They may go down to the lower lever.”
“Good job,” Britt said. “I never thought we would find it.” They climbed down the steps. “The funny thing,” Britt said, “I thought they would be steeper and dangerous that these. I also thought it would be darker. It seems just like we never left the first level.”
By then, they reached the landing and were on the lower level. “Um, Britt,” George began.
“What is it, son?”
“We are still on the upper level.”
“What do you mean? We just climbed down a flight of steps. Maybe the lower level is finished. It was rumored that it was never completed, they were mostly caverns and hardly any rooms.”
“Britt,” George said, trying not to laugh, “over there is Joban’s chamber.”
“George, you are right, is this another teleporting room or something.
“Let’s try the stairs once again.” As they climbed, George looked at his feet while they were walking.
“I am sorry, George, for not believing you,” Britt said as they walked.
“Oh, I am not mad. I think I know what is happening.”
They were once again standing on the landing, not far from Joban’s chambers.
“It is the way the steps were constructed,” George said. “I noticed that they do start by slanting downwards when we first started climbing them. We were actually going down.”
“So how do we happen to still be on the upper level,” Bard asked.
“I did not notice it the first time we climbed the stairs,” explained the thief. “However, this time, I noticed that after about five steps, the steps started to slant upwards. This change is so slight, if you are not paying attention, you will not notice it.”
Britt barked out a laugh, “I would have been climbing steps all day and not getting anywhere if you were not here, George.”
A female’s scream pierced the fortress. Thinking it was a phantom, they were surprised to see Johanna grabbing at thin air as the floor under her feet opened up. She grasped with her hands and grabbed a corner of solid floor.
“Johanna!” Bard and Balon yelled and ran up to her. She was hanging by her fingers, trying to pull herself up. However, she was too weak.
“I can’t hold on!” she cried.
Forty feet below her was a pool of water that was about eight feet deep. If she fell, her equipment would weigh her down and she would drown.
“I got you!” Bard yelled, grabbing her wrists. Even though he was strong, he could not get enough leverage to pull her up. “Somebody help me!”
Balon ran to his side and lay next to him. Grabbing the cleric’s hand they slowly pulled her up. Britt, Eileena and George got behind the magic-user and Bard and pulled them away from the hole in the floor. Soon Johanna was safely in Bard’s arms. He held her until she calmed down enough to kiss him on the cheek. “Thanks Bard, I knew you would be my hero.”
“I wonder if this is the way to the bottom level,” Britt said. “George, you are the lightest one. Maybe you can rappel down on a rope and scope things out.”
“Sure. Now which one of us has the rope?” he asked. “Never mind, I think we have to find another entrance down below,” he said as the doors suddenly sprang back up and closed. George carefully tapped the area where the trap was with his foot, ready to spring back to solid floor if it sprung open. However, the floor did not open again.
“I bet my life this is where Stephan and his men did their training,” Britt said looking around the room
“This look like the room at the warrior school,” Bard said.
Against two walls were large archery targets. Eileena looked at the holes in the walls where arrows had pierced when their shots were off. “I guess they needed all the practice they could get.” She walked a distance away and put her arrow on the bowstring. The arrow took flight and made it mark, dead center in the bulls eye.
“Your shot are always on,” George said.
Bard walked over to some bars lying on the floor. Trying to pick one up, he gave up before he hurt himself. “These men must have been very strong,” he said.
“What is this bar for? Johanna asked. There was a bar attached, seven feet off the ground, between the east and west wall. Bard walked up to it, reached his hands upwards and jumped. Grabbing the bar with his hands, he started doing pull-ups and chin-ups. “This is more my style,” he said.
“This is for me,” said George. A rope was hanging from the ceiling that was twenty-five feet over their heads. He grabbed the rope and shimmied up it to the ceiling.
“We always knew that you were part monkey,” Britt called, when the thief reached the top of the rope.
Balon looked at different weapons that were lying around the room. “I guess they were also trained to fight.”
Bard walked over and picked up a shield and battleaxe. The shield was similar to the one he carried. However, it weighed twice as much. “This was an excellent way to build their arm muscles quickly” he said, as he noticed that the other weapons were just as heavy.
To the right of the training area were three rooms.
“This is pretty boring,” George said when they stood in the middle of the first room. Sparsely furnished it only contained a simple bed, table and chair. Even the walls were not decorated.
“Let’s go to the middle room,” Britt said.
Once again they were standing in a room that was a duplicate of the first one they were in.
“Is this another teleporting room?” Bard asked.
“I do not think so,” Balon said. “I did not have that feeling that I experienced in the teleporting room.”
“Me neither,” said Johanna and Eileena said at the same time.
They left the room and were standing outside the door of the middle room. The third room was identical to the other two.
“I am just wondering,” Bard said. “If Stephan and Joban had all these people helping construct this fortress and fighting in the Barbarian Wars, where did they all stay?”
“These look more like guest chambers,” Britt said. “There must be an area on this upper level that we have not explored yet. We should go back to the library and look at the map.”