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4.

It’s not a quiet night in the hotel room. In fact, it’s probably day outside. We take four watches, and each watch sees something try to get into the room. I get the last watch, with Zelin, but since it’s my lock, I wake up every time someone tries to break through. It’s dismal, but somehow, in spite of some goblins, a couple of ogres and what must be a smallish, youngish dragon, I get enough slumber to restore my incredible wells of magic power, which were in fact more than half depleted just by using two Lock spells.

And then I wake to the pleasant sensation of Yanos prodding me with his boot, as if I might be dead. I roll away and then up to a kneeling position before he can prod me further. I hear him and Zelin and Janet talking. I open my eyes and see Gurth lying on his back, his hands under his head on top of his pack, smiling at me.

“Morning, sunshine,” he says.

“Or whatever,” I reply.

“I’m gettin’ up, I’m gettin’ up,” I head Fred or Ed saying. I stand up, then look down at Gurth, who sort of shrugs and starts to make himself vertical too. He seems very cool about the whole thing except that he had his cloak over him for a blanket, and it slides off as he stands, revealing that he’d taken off his pants, and, I guess, he really needs to pee or something.

“Gurth, jeez,” says Jan, coming up next to me. I find I’m staring.

“Oh, uh,” he says, bending to grab for his pants. This takes several tries. I’m so tempted to spank him on the rear end. I resist, and am rewarded by the sight of him corralling himself into those pants. I’d forgotten or not noticed how tight they are. He giggles nervously and says, “Um, I kind of need to step out in the hall.”

“Yes, well, sorry,” says Yanos with authority, “we don’t have a latrine as such.”

“It’s okay,” says Zelin, “he knows about the facilities.”

“As in, there aren’t any.”

“As in,” says Zelin, “unlike you, he doesn’t carry his facilities around with him and pee his pants when he gets a good fright.”

While the elf and the archer glare at each other—one thought they were such good friends, too—Ed says, “Come on, dude, let’s go water the hall.”

“Check it first,” Yanos admonishes. “Daisy. Are you awake finally? We need you to let us in and out, you know. So we can use the facilities.”

I sniffle at him and go to the door. Laying my hand on the handle, I feel my magic in the door. Ah, yes. This could get addictive.

I pull the door open a little and peek out: left, right. I look down. I turn around and look at the others, leaving the door open. “Only mind the dead goblin outside.”

Gurth, Yanos and Fred all have to look, of course, and then they all sort of shrug—this is the sort of thing one sees all the time, you know—and go out in the hall. Ed follows them after a moment spent fighting with his second boot.

“Need to pee?” Zelin asks.

“Me? I’m fine.”

“Got any more of those cookies?”

“Of course I do.”

A few minutes later, we’re back out in the hall and headed onward. Gurth and Yanos lead the way, me and Zelin behind with the light, then Fen and Jan with the map, then Fred and Ed. Yanos has already filled in the necessary details for Janet, but she still needs to correct it in places. We follow the hall we’re on to the right, passing several doors on either side, no doubt luxury suites from the old days. Presently another way opens out of the left wall. This new hallway runs about thirty feet and then turns right at a right angle; in another twenty feet or so it turns left. It continues zig-zagging about, with occasional doors, until it opens into a large, dark room. Yanos stops in front of a door maybe fifteen feet before the opening.

“What’s in there?” I ask, pointing toward the larger room.

“Maybe something we don’t want to wake,” he says.

“Wokay. Fen? Door opener?”

“Ready,” he says. “Sure this is the one?”

“I’m sure,” Yanos hisses.

Fenric shushes him, then puts his ear to the door. He goes through his whole stealth routine, slipping through and then flinging the door open from within. It’s a square room, twenty-plus feet on a side. As with most of the rooms in this place, it’s got a matching floor, walls and ceiling of stone patched with plaster and stone. The exception is a round inlay of rough wood in the middle of the floor, with a leather strap nailed onto the middle of it. Nothing else is in the room, not even a corpse. We all get inside and Ed pulls the door shut behind us.

Fenric advances and takes the strap. “Shall I?” he asks.

“Of course, you dope,” I say, before Yanos can.

He pulls the strap and the round hatch comes up with it. We all gather around the hole. There’s a dark room below us, and a ladder is visible in my wand light on the floor below.

“Great,” says Gurth. “I bet I’m going to have to jump down and get that.”

I say, before Yanos can, “I bet you’re right.”

 

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