All was dark, and all was smoky - the stench of unknown substances
burning and melting. It was impossible to tell exactly how much
time passed, but the absolute darkness was foiled by Lightbringer.
The sentient morningstar began to glow, talking at the same time,
and its voice jolted Ged out of his stunned state.
Ged: (sits up, looks around, then grabs the weapon's handle and pulls it from beneath some rubble)
Lightbringer: Ah! Free.
Ged: Whoa...what a blast.
The tunnel, as large and wide as it was, had been completely
collapsed and sealed by the explosion. To put it another way,
the way they had come was blocked, totally, by countless tons of
rubble. Ged noticed that there was no sign of the huge cylinders
that they had passed by before.
Ged: We've been blown down the tunnel...but how far?
Otto: Pretty damn far. (he shakes dirt out of his hair) There's no sign of the berserkers Mongo summoned, nor of those metallic tubes.
Ged: But...what caused the blast? That was no fireball explosion, but something far greater.
Belphanior: (sits up) Ow.
Otto: You okay?
Belphanior: Yeah. We'd better check on everybody else.
The others were found, one by one. No one was seriously hurt,
though everyone was cut and bruised in numerous places. Some of
them had been half-buried beneath rubble, and most of them were
bleeding from their ears - another effect of the great explosion.
Belphanior: I don't understand...why was the blast so powerful?
Alindyar: This is simply one possibility, but perhaps those metal cylinders contained something combustible.
Belphanior: Hmm, that would do it.
Ged: So now we're cut off from our only known exit...great.
Belphanior: Hey, you're the one who wanted to go this way. If we'd listened to me, we'd have been headed the other way...right toward the only known exit. But noooooo...
Ged: Now look here-
Mongo: (tosses aside his ruined gauntlet and faces the two, growing angry at this bickering) Guys! (he begins searching for Stormcrest, which he had dropped just before the explosion)
Bosco: (sits up, coughing) What's going on?
Peldor: (looks up) Bosco?!
They crowded around the halfling, inquiring as to his health and
memory of what happened.
Bosco: (shaking his head) Last thing I know, we were looking at some eggs...and then... (he scratches his head) Man, I'm thirsty.
Ged: (considers dousing the halfling with his decanter of endless water)
Peldor: (gives Bosco some water) Drink up, pal. Glad to have you back.
Bosco: (looking around) Hey, where's Tanya? And Rillen?
Lyra took Peldor aside while Belphanior filled Bosco in on recent
events. The halfling couldn't believe his ears...
Bosco: (his eyes wide) Dead? But...but...that's impossible!
Belphanior: Maybe, but it still happened.
Otto: And we're in a world of hurt right now.
Bosco: We'll find a way out. We always do. And when we get out, we'll get the dead people all fixed up. (he goes to try and comfort Peldor, who is visibly upset again)
Alindyar: (trying to recall a nagging doubt somewhere in the back of his mind, he regards Bosco)
Mongo: Well, I guess my berserkers are pretty much dead and gone now.
Gorin: They blew up in the explosion - I'm sure of it. They were right there in the middle of it all!
Belphanior: But then, so was that monster.
Songa: What unsatisfying revenge that was.
Otto: Hey, just count your blessings that the thing's dead.
Arnold: Now we can fogus on finding a way out of here.
Alindyar: (to Ged) What about digging our way through this rock and rubble?
Ged: (shaking his head) It could be a hundred feet thick, or more. I don't know if we'd have any luck. But... (he grabs his magical amulet) There is something else I need to try.
The grey elf's amulet was a powerful planar-travel device, and he
meant to use it to free them all from this place. After all, if
warriors from Valhalla could be summoned here, then the adventurers
could surely be taken to another plane.
Ged: (frowns) It's not working!
Otto: Why am I not surprised?
Belphanior: Are you sure you're doing it right?
Ged: Of course I'm sure! The blasted thing's just not opening its planar portals...!
Alindyar: So others can come here from different planes, but those in here cannot escape to different planes.
Lyra: A trap. A one-way trap.
Arnold: (thinks how he figured that out a long time ago, but sees no point in mentioning it)
Belphanior: We can get in, but we can't get out.
Ged: If that's the true case, one has to wonder if it was by design.
Otto: What, you think this place was designed to keep people in?
Ged: Something...maybe not us.
Belphanior: The monster.
Mongo: (turning over the mangled Stormcrest in his hands) I can see why.
The weapon's metal head was badly pitted, and its handle had broken
off entirely thanks to the acid. Mongo was visibly shaken by the
realization that the hammer wouldn't sail forth into combat, ever
Mongo: I can't believe this...
Belphanior: Look at the bright side: your blow, and Stormcrest's sacrifice, helped kill that thing and avenge those it killed.
Peldor: Please. Do we have to keep bringing that up?
Ged: Good point. Okay, the monster's dead, the exit's cut off, we can't get out of here via teleport or planar travel. Therefore... we need to get moving, and keep searching.
Otto: Now you're making some sense.
Ged: (looks offended)
Otto: Took awhile, though.
The party gathered itself, and its wits, and began marching once
more, again into the unknown darkness of an unexplored tunnel. None
of them happened to notice the dark form that lurked in the shadows
above...the fully-matured version of the tiny beast that had burst
from the dwarf Renfield's stomach about a day ago.