Friday, October 9

Within the Slaver’s Pit… (Original Fiction by Xan)

Solcloud takes the lead and walks right up to the proprietor of the inn. “My good man, I heard there is evil within this labyrinth under your inn?”

The innkeeper, shocked that a Paladin of St. Cuthbert would enter a contest such as this, turns to face the party. “Yes, there is evil down there. But take a look at this board.” He points to a large pegboard with small rings with numbers on them with other numbers scribed underneath them. “These are the ‘good men’ who have also ventured down into the labyrinth as well. Just look at our current leaders, they have been down there for close to nine hundred days!” The innkeeper shakes his head. “At least we think they are still adventuring down there. Their treasure must be a heavy burden not to return yet.”

“You mean they haven’t been up in almost three years?” Solcloud was shocked.
Mayvn gulps. “Why don’t you send down a rescue party?”

“What do you think these other rings are?” The innkeeper scoffs, “Ornaments?”
“You mean all that go down don’t come back?” Beasley cringes but continues. “What is the sport in that ‘game?”

The innkeeper leans over the podium to look down on the small man. “The ‘sport’ is exactly that. What you find down there, you keep and the longer you are down there, the more renown you get as a competitor of the labyrinth.” The innkeeper smiles an evil smile. “So, will I be entering your names into the contest?”

The party looks at one another. Zander shrugs his shoulder as he clenches his hammer’s head tightly as it swings on his belt. Beasley pulls out a dagger and twists it in his fingers to test its sharpness. Solcloud looks to Mayvn and smiles as Mayvn’s knees begin to knock together.

“I sense great evil down there, innkeeper.” We will go down, we will enter the contest.

“Very good! What shall I name thee?” The innkeeper dips his feather pen in its reservoir to write the party’s name in his ledger.

“Call us…” The paladin ponders a moment.

Nevertheless, before he could sputter out an answer, Mayvn jumps in. “Call us, the Silent Scales of The Singing Storm!”

The party winces, the innkeeper look up at the thin man in the obscenely large hat with a bewildered look on his face. “I don’t know where you came up with that rubbish, but by the sounds of your little party there, it should win you some favor, or some humor.” The innkeeper chuckles as he pulls out a ring with a number on it. “You are number thirteen hundred ninety-five. Your time begins after you reach the bottom of the pit and ring the bell signaling you have arrived. Now step on the platform please.” The innkeeper ushers them over to a small platform, with Zander’s large size everyone had to hug in close to fit. The innkeeper then went to a small-notched winch, unhooked the safety lever, and began to crank. The platform slowly edged its way into the unknown. Some time later, the cavern began to grow darker and darker. A few more minutes seemed to pass by and then the party was engrossed in total darkness, the echoing laughter of the innkeeper could be heard as he reminded the party, “Don’t forget to ring the bell!” His words echoed into the blackness.

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