8 Midsummer, 6107 RTR (Sep 18, 2005) The second, better equipped expedition into the underground realm begins.
(Amelia) (Axel) (Olivia) (Stonebarrow) (Sylvania) (Zahnrad)
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    Castle Sub-Basement
    The latest remodeling done to this former dungeon is apparent only to those who have visited it before. The door leading to the 'well room' has been further barricaded with the addition of sturdy wooden planks, and the open arch at the far end of the hall is being turned into a wall with bricks and masonry salvaged from ruined parts of the castle above, save for a door-sized opening in the center. Some of the rainbow-crystals that lit the hall have been removed, leaving it slightly dimmer than before.

A good servant anticipates the needs of his master, and Igor considered himself to be a very good servant. Thusly, he had constructed a second, smaller boat that could be towed behind the larger one in order to carry more people or supplies through the underground canal. With Zahn and Amy's heavy packs placed in this outrider, there was once more room for five people in the main skiff.

Despite his trepidation about being underground, Axel followed Olivia down the long winding stairs out of concern for her safety, even though she was accompanied by Djivan the Skreek. Once they arrived in the sub-basement, however, he began to feel better – more energized and clear-headed than he ever felt before.

That is, until he saw the canal and got a whiff of the brackish water.

"I still think an inflatable boat is a good idea. I mean, we can't exactly carry those things from the canal. What if someone steals them? With one that's inflatable, we just collapse it and carry it with us," Zahnrad points out reasonably. At encountering the usual putrid stench of the water, he digs in his pocket and pulls out a vial. He rubs a dab of the liquid under his nose.

Axel's reaction to the underground is noticeable. He looks left, right, forward with a head tilt and around again with a level of hyperactivity. Indeed, he seems more animated now than when he made the journey down, his wings fluttering with nervous energy. As his movements betray his strengthening, his nose betrays his reaction to the water. He wrinkles his nose, and does his best to not look at the water.

"What if a claw or something pokes a hole in it though?" Amy asks Zahn, her gaze shifting towards Axel, the only person who didn't bring any sort of supplies. "And… uh… what do you eat, Axel?"

Once in the sub-basement, Olivia eyes Axel with concern, wondering if all the wet, smelly stuff is going to make him unwilling to coax into a boat. "You going to be all right, Axel?" she asks finally.

"You carry a supply of patches," Zahn says, then offers Amelia the bottle.

Axel's head snaps to face Amy, then Olivia at her question, then Amy again, before tilting to stare at the squirrel with as much of one eye as he can manage. It looks terribly uncomfortable. "Fruitberriesmeatcakewater-" his he turns around to face Olivia suddenly, "-breadcheesetea- Fine!"

The Kadie girl takes a sniff of the bottle, then dabs a bit of the fluid under her nose to mask the stench of the water before passing it along to Djivan. "Oh, good, Axel… you should do fine with some of my rations then," she comments, and hopes the bird-man will at least stay still once he's in the boat.

"Vhee, ve back in de land of de stinky water and ugly monsters, eh?" Djivan comments as he adjusts the pack on his shoulder.

"It's just mint extract," Zahnrad remarks about the bottle. "I had been working on a breathing apparatus which filters air and shields you from inhaling nasty liquids. But, it kind of exploded and blew a hole in the wall. So, I swiped a bottle of mint from the kitchen as a last resort."

"Well, my plan was to establish a base camp in that grotto with the built-in homes," Amelia says. "Then we can explore from there."

"Great! I can spend some time and figure out how to take all the stuff from the cabins," Zahnrad says, beaming.

Olivia's brow wrinkles at Axel's hyper response and she decides to keep a good eye on him during the boat trip. Then she says to Djivan, "Well, this time I might be of more help against any monsters," she replies, patting her belt of knives. "The stinky water I can't do much about!"

Amelia doesn't respond to Zahn's notion, instead handing him the pole used to move the boat. "You get to be the 'engine', Zahn," she tells him.

With no one asking him further questions, Axel looks all around – except at the water. He flutters his wings, stirring the air, then stretches them widely without hitting anything except the ceiling.

"Okay, jus as long as vou no vant a head too, eh?" Djivan remarks and grins at Olivia, then heads towards the boats.

Olivia looks disgusted by this notion and just shakes her own head vehemently!

Zahnrad takes the pole and shrugs. "Yes, boss," he remarks dryly, then grins. He rests it lightly on his shoulder to wait for everyone else to board the various boats first.

With her halberd in hand and one of Dr. Pike's crystal lamps, Amelia takes point in the front of the boat, and advises, "Just put your stuff in the trailer, and use the scent from that bottle to block some of the stench."

Djivan climbs into the boat and extends his hand to Olivia. "Vell, shall ve venture into de dark unknown, face evil monsters and find treasure beyond our wildest dreams? Or … maybe we just find a cozy snogging place… "

Axel follows Olivia, drawing his wings in as he moves after her. Again, he makes a distinct effort to ignore the water.

Olivia takes the bottle from Djivan after he is finished with it, and dabs a bit of the mint extract under her own nose, then stows her strangely-puffy backpack into the smaller boat. At last, she takes the gypsy's outstretched hand and crawls into the larger boat.

Zahnrad nudges Axel with the pole. "Into the boat… " he says.

The bird man squawks lightly, then hops in using his wings to keep his balance.

Olivia leans over and whispers to Djivan, "I think I'm going to have to keep Axel calm on the trip, so sorry if I seem distracted… "

Djivan whispers back, "As lon' as it don' involve snogging 'im, das fine." And now with everyone on board, Zahnrad twirls the pole and leaps onto the back of the boat, making it rock and bob slightly.

The boat is flat-bottomed, since the canal isn't very deep. This gives it more stability, but it does ride a bit low in the water with everyone aboard. "Okay, pole away," Amy whispers back towards Zahn. "I think we pass three of the gargoyle markers before getting to the chalk-mine landing, so everyone be alert then."

Olivia nods to Djivan and turns back to Axel, the bottle of mint extract still in her hand. "Do you want to try some of this, Axel?" she asks. "It will help you from smelling the stench of the water too much. You dab it under your nose… but not too much, it's pretty strong!"

"Oh, are we going on a monster hunt there, then?" Zahnrad asks, then pushes off with the pole, easing the boat out into the canal and the darkness ahead. "If so, I didn't bring any sort of weapons… "

Axel hunkers down on his toes when the boat starts moving, flapping lightly, again, to retain his balance. When offered the mint, he leans forward to sniff it, perks up, then taps his nose against it. It's a bit roundabout, but it seems to get the job done for him.

As the mirror-smooth walls of the canal move past, broken now and then by an alcove featuring a crouching gargoyle statue, Amy says, "No, I don't intend to go after anything in the mines… but that's not to say something might not be curious about us."

"Us? what would be so interesting about us. All we are are some squirrels, a gypsy rat, a mouse, and a bird thing … er, right. Keep an eye out," Zahnrad remarks absently as the boat moves onward.

Olivia hides a smile and puts the stopper back in the bottle, then hides the bottle in the secret pocket in the underside of her rose-hat.

The boat landing passes by without so much as a puff of chalk dust billowing out. Next comes the elevator chamber, and the pulling of levers to drain out the water and lower the boats down to the next canal level. No Gorts or other creatures lurk past the doorway, and the group makes it safely to the intersection of four canals. A right turn down the Avenue of the Toothy Frog brings them once again to the grotto.

    Underground Grotto
    This natural cavern is huge, easily one hundred feet across and just as high. Large deposits of glowing rainbow crystal in the walls and ceiling provide light, as well as a general fairy-land aura. A hot spring bubbles forth from midway up the farther wall, the water cascading down in a series of small waterfalls to a central pool at the bottom of the chamber. Colorful, exotic mineral formations provide the illusion of plants of flowers, giving the entire room a garden-like air. Mists cling to the shallower areas, and hover over the central pond.

"I can unload and secure the boats," Amelia offers when they get to the dock. "Can you all get into one of the other homes? Preferably one without any mummies."

"Well, that was rather dull," Zahnrad remarks. "And dat is a bad t'ing?" Djivan counters, then peers around, looking for any recent footmarks in the dust to indicate the Gorts returned.

"Well … ah," Zahnrad says, caught off guard by Amelia's request. "I can try, I suppose. Last time we had Pike to listen to the doors, but I think one of the cups we brought should work in a pinch."

The best indication that Gorts have been here since the last visit is that the bodies of the dead Gorts are now gone, leaving just a few chewed on bones and dark stains.

Axel hurries off the boat, the better to escape the water. Once on the dock he repeats his hyperactive examination, looking all around in that peculiar way of his. When he looks up he suddenly jerks back, as if the ceiling had snuck up on him, and he gives it a wary stare as he steps backwards before turning to inspect some bones.

Olivia hops out of the boat herself and steps off the dock onto the crystal-laden ground, so as to give Amelia room to unload things.

Amy ties up the boats, and starts unloading things onto the dock, keeping one eye on Axel to see that he doesn't hurt himself. "Watch out for those… plants… Axel. They're sharp."

Zahnrad hops off the boat and takes one of crystal lanterns for himself. He peers around, looking at the various doors. "Right, flip for it… " he says, then digs in his pocket and produces some sort of pencil. He just tosses it i the air and it clatters to the floor quietly. "right, that one," he remarks, and picks p the pencil, then heads in the general direction it pointed.

"Is he usually so jumpy?" Amy whispers to Olivia, and tilts her head towards Axel. "Or is it a reaction to the stronger magic this deep?"

Djivan, meanwhile, is trying to work out a way to steal some crystals. "Bet dey worth somet'ing," he mutters to himself.

The winged man stares at the "plants" a moment more, fingers twitching as they seem to want to wriggle away and touch the forbidden item. Axel resists, however, and he's off to stare at a door seconds later.

Olivia whispers back, "It's mostly his reaction to water, I think… since he kept getting it dunked on him by people, he's probably a bit wary of it now."

"Okay," Amy says. "Try to keep him away from anything flammable though, if he looks like he's gonna explode."

Once at the door, Zahnrad pulls out a few tools, one of which is a cup. He places it against the door, then his ear against that. On a scratchpad, he sketches out the door knob 'pattern', then starts poking them in a rotating order, listening for clicks and snaps as he goes.

"Right," Olivia says to Amy, then trots off toward another of the doors, to look for a room for herself and Djivan… preferably close to Axel's chosen room, just so she'll be within call. (Or is that within caw?)

By the time the supplies have been unloaded, Zahn is still busy with the lock. Sitting on one of the packs, Amy asks Olivia, "So, if the new cave-house has two rooms, which one do you want? And what does Axel need as far as a bed?"

A few muttered curses can be heard from Zahnrad's direction. Djivan is still at trying to swipe a few crystals too. "Bet Liliana woul' love dis place," he remarks.

Curious, Axel reaches out and runs a finger down the door he's studying. The passage makes a bit of a friction squeak, a sound that briefly startles the bird man. After that, he begins puzzling over the door nob, poking, prodding, and staring at it in a haphazard fashion.

Olivia calls back to the Kadie girl, now looking over Zahn's shoulder at the complicated lock – but at a respectable distance, so he won't get mad – "Oh, anywhere that has enough of a place for two to sleep would be nice. And Axel slept in a cot when I had to watch after him that one time, so any bed-type thing will do, I believe."

A small tinkle is heard from Djivan's direction, followed by 'Ooops.' He whistles and seems to dust something off into the shadows, then walks away from where we was, trying to look innocent.

Through meticulous experimenting while listening through the cup, Zahnrad figures out the door combination. The lock opens with a click and the door slides open an inch.

Olivia sighs in relief and says, "Well done!" to Zahn.

"Ahah! I will be forever known as someone who unlocked a door," Zahnrad remarks triumphantly. He stands and opens the door. "Tada," he comments, and immediately looks for those light controls the other room had.

That his door doesn't open is no detriment to Axel. Indeed, its opening or not opening seems irrelevant to its use as an interesting (and shiny) distraction. The poking and prodding continues, with the occasional squawk.

"Oh! I did brin' soap dat don' dye t'inks pink dis time," Djivan suddenly remarks as he remembers the last little adventure.

Olivia turns to grin briefly at the Skreek. "Good thinking," she comments. "I'd hate for you to go through all that teasing from Lili a second time."

"Heh. Vell, she did quit after I threatened to tie her ears in a knot," Djivan points out with a grin.

The light controls are in the same place as before. In fact the entire layout seems to be the same: an entry hall opening into a large room with a similar glass-bead landscape wall. The kitchen area is opposite, and a side hall leads to two bedrooms flanking a bathroom. Everything that could be removed, has been, with no corpses or other surprises hidden behind doors.

After a brief search and no corpses are found, Zahnrad says, "We have a winner! Amy and I get the big room." He then heads off into the rooms to activate the lights and get the hot water system running and the box cooler thing working too.

"De big room, eh?" Djivan remarks, then grins at Amy. "Soun' like fun… "

The glare of light against his "toy door" catches Axel's attention. At first he peers at the reflection, seeming to puzzle over it, then it seems to sink in and he turns around peer into the now lighted room. After a moment, he wanders over to check the room out himself.

Amy dials up the light on the landscape wall to match the current above-ground time. "Keeping track of time down here will be tricky," she comments.

"Is that important?" Zahnrad calls from the kitchen.

Olivia follows Zahn inside and has a look around this suite of rooms, too. "Djivan and I can use one of the bedrooms, if one is larger, so two people can fit comfortably," she offers. Then she heads down the side hall to check that out.

"An Axel can sleep in de bathtub!" Djivan offers as he follows Olivia inside, carrying a couple of packs that Amelia unloaded earlier.

"Axel can have the other bedroom, you goon!" Olivia's voice is heard shouting back.

"Bat'tub!" Djivan insists in the distance.

"With no furniture, any room should be big enough," Amy notes, and watches Zahn turn on the appliances and get the air ducts working. "Do you really hope to take any of this stuff out of here?" she asks him.

There is a slight pause, then a whack and a loud "OW!" can be heard from down the hall.

Alas, teasing seems to fly over Axel's head like an airship over a canyon. He seems neither for, or against, a bathtub bed and indeed doesn't seem to register much of a reaction at all. The severe lack of reaction may be due to his newfound toy, however. As he walks in to the room Zahnrad discovered he immediately rushes over to the mosaic and stares at it with a slack-jawed and mesmerized expression.

"Sure. Why not?" Zahnrad remarks absently as he fiddles and gets the air circulation going again. "These things are great."

Amy just shrugs, and goes to show Axel the dial that controls the position of the 'sun' in the scenic wall. "I think Axel will actually want to sleep out here," she comments, then goes to bring in the rest of the supplies.

Satisfied that he had most of it running, Zahnrad sits on the kitchen floor and just starts diagramming everything. Djivan comes out of the back rooms, rubbing his arm. "So, when we goin' into the other caves?" he asks.

Once shown, Axel wastes no time in playing with the controls. The mosaic world experiences a temporal maelstrom as the sun shoots across the sky, reverses, then dives below the landscape only top pop up again moments later.

The entertainment of the display proves to be great fun for Axel, who squawks and flaps like a young Korv might over a carnival show.

Once the supplies are all brought in, Amy closes the front door for safety. "Did you get that cold-closet working Zahn?" she asks, taking a bag of fresh fruit from her pack.

"Sure did," Zahnrad remarks without looking up. "Old as it is, it all still works."

Olivia reappears from the hallway with a few packets wrapped in waxed paper. She hears Amy's question as she comes in and says, "Oh, just what I was wondering! I have some cheeses here that could stand to be in the cool."

"But, I be de coolest t'ing aroun'" Djivan protests with a grin.

The Kadie girl puts the fruit and any other perishables into the closet, figuring that's what it is meant for. "I guess we can even try to cook if we want," she says to Olivia.

Olivia merely rolls her eyes to the ceiling at the gypsy's comment, then goes to put her own parcels into the cold-closet. "We could do that, although I mostly brought just breads and cheeses and dried fruit and some sweets. Do you have anything that needs cooking?"

After the frenzied bit of artifact abuse, Axel calms down. He leaves the mosaic at exactly mid-day, the sun shining brightly and the blue sky looking quite peaceful. With a satisfied birdlike noise, he hunkers down on his toes, then drops back to sit down.

"I have some porridge mix," Amy says, pulling out a sack from her pack, along with another wrapped bundle. "And jerky rations. Uh… you and Zahn may not like them though," she tells the Skeek.

Zahnrad folds up his diagrams in progress now that the kitchen seems to be getting crowded and stands. "I didn't know either of you cooked that much," he comments. "And why not? What is it?"

Amy pulls a few dark, leathery sticks from the bundle. "Smoked Rughrat, rabbit and fish meat," she says. "Lots of protein and energy, if you're used to it."

Zahnrad winces. "You … eat … meat?" he asks, sounding aghast.

Olivia, who knows perfectly well what jerky is, wrinkles her nose a bit at the sight of it, but says kindly, "Not for me, thanks, but Axel might like it. He eats meat."

"I can tolerate it," Amy admits to Zahn. "It's a bit like chewing on tree bark. Everyone in the militia learns to get by on it, in case we have to travel long distances."

Zahnrad just shudders. "Uh, I think I'll go check the back rooms again," he notes and quickly exits the kitchen.

Offering one of the sticks to Axel, Amy comments, "Djivan might like them too… Skreeks will eat anything."

Axel turns his head to watch the others now, a reaction to hearing his name. When he spots the offered food he gets up, walks forward, glances back at the mosaic as if reluctant to leave it, then walks over to take the snack. "Thank you," he says, before gnawing on it.

"Dat not true!" Djivan protests. "For example, I never eat a sock."

"What, not even if it was boiled first?" Amy shoots back.

Ignoring this bit of by-play, Olivia stares back at the cold-closet again, then smacks her forehead. "Tea! I brought a few flasks of cold tea for the trip, I should put them into that thing!" Then she hurries off to bring back the flasks.

"No! Vou boil socks vhen you need a makeshift leak patch," Djivan remarks and waves a hand. "Duh."

Amy continues to unpack. She brought two bedrolls, but leaves one out for Axel, figuring she and Zahn can make do sharing one. She also unpacks a folded map of the Stonebarrow area, with some pencil marks sketching in where she thinks the underground canals are.

Even after all the arguing, though, Djivan does snitch a piece of jerky and gnaw on it. "So, we heading back out today to check de tunnels, or are ve just making camp an heading out tomorrow morning?"

Zahnrad, meanwhile, is in the back room pouring over all the walls and any closets, looking for any left behind messages or trinkets.

"Well, if everyone wants to explore a bit, we could do that," Amelia says. "And you all should take some jerky if we do. You can throw it at monsters to distract them." The walls of the bedrooms are smooth and unmarked in this apartment, with no signs of messages left in blood or any other form of writing.

As the most active (and thus interesting) person at the moment, Zahnrad gets singled out to be followed. Axel gets up, jerky in mouth, and proceeds to follow after Zahnrad as he inspects the place.

Zahnrad tries to ignore the person following him as he searches through each of the rooms. He actually looks disappointed that there are no more messages like the first place had. "Nothing bad happened in here," he laments as he enters the living room again. "No new clues."

Olivia again hears Amy's comments as she comes back into the room. Her ears go a bit pink. "Ooooh, then I'd better leave this here," she says, putting the flasks of tea into the cold-closet and taking out the vial of mint oil. She puts it near Zahn's things. "We don't want anything tracking us by the smell of that!"

Axel breaks off from Zahnrad once he stops his search, instead returning to settle back down near Amy and gnaw on his jerky.

"I think this is where we are," Amy says, pointing to a circle drawn on her map. "Somewhere under the eastern edge of the Chalk, if the canal runs south from the castle, towards the swamp. We know it connects to the chalk mines on the higher level, after all."

"We suspect it does. But, we've never actually proven that chalk cave connects to their mines," Zahnrad notes, "It's an important distinction. We shouldn't rely on things we've not proven." He still peers over the map and asks, "How did you determine that position? Rough guess or was the distance calculated somehow?"

On the map, the location of the canal crossroads appears to be near the intersection of the Milk Run Road and the Rootrunner Road. "Well, the Chalk is supposed to end at the Milk Run, and I'm pretty sure of the distances. But the directions are just a guess. It could be going more southeast than south. If that's the case, then the canal of the two-headed Skeek should go under the old Manor."

"We should have taken steps to watch directional changes better, such as mapping variations in wall curvature," Zahnrad comments to no one in particular, then shrugs. "Still, it's a good working hypothesis and sound, Amelia," he notes and pats her on the back. "You'd make a good Wingnut, you pay attention to details."

Axel cocks his head, maneuvering to trying to peer at the map as well. He doesn't offer any useful commentary, unless "rrk" is a complex cartography term in some other language.

"I guess if I looked at the elevator in the castle, I'd have a better idea of direction," Amelia admits.

Zahnrad leans over and lightly kisses Amelia's cheek, commenting, "No worries. Hindsight is always better. We can check when we get back and compare." He then taps his chin, thinking. "Say Axel, you're weird. Can you sense direction or anything?" he asks Axel.

Olivia snorts at this and mutters to Djivan, "Rather like the pot calling the kettle black… "

"Sense? Sense … " Axel peers at Zahnrad blankly for a moment, then he looks around the room curiously.

"Vell, vou haf to admit he as a poin', no?" Djivan whispers back.

Olivia sighs. "Well… yeah, I suppose. It's just he has no room to talk when it comes to weirdness in others!" she murmurs to him.

After a bit of looking around, Axel returns his gaze to Zahnrad and says, "I like it here," as an answer. He then gives the distant water a suspicious glare, as if suggesting to Zahnrad that he should be careful of the water.

"Ah, right, well, that wasn't very helpful," Zahnrad comments. "Well, whoever built this place seemed to have a logical mind. So … maybe the corridors will also have directional markers and such. "Maybe the pedestals are all positioned in a particular direction."

"Well, coming down the canal from the castle, all of the gargoyle statues where on the left side, and the boat landings on the right," Amy notes. "So… gargoyles always facing west, maybe?"

"Good working concept. How many were in the roundish room we came into down here that had the far branch that came here?" Zahnrad asks. "Was it three or four?"

Amelia points to the map, and says, "The one we came out of had the gargoyle over it, and straight across it changed to a saber-toothed rabbit. Going crosswise is the toothy frog, where we are now, and opposite that is the two-headed Skeek."

Djivan appears to be following the conversation and is also looking at the map. However, that might be a deception because something pinches Olivia's bum.

As he listens, Axel fluffs his feathers out and begins to preen them with his hands.

"Four statues, four basic directions," Zahnrad notes and nods. "So, shall we go check out the saber-toothed rabbit statue? Or maybe more passages off the grotto?""

"Well, we could check the other homes here easily enough," Amelia says, and then taps at the short stub of canal she's drawn heading east. "If the two-headed Skreek really does lead under the Manor though, I suspect it's where we'll find Gorts or those ghouls."

Olivia, now seemingly used to this after a month on the road with the gypsy, merely reaches over casually and digs her fingernails into Djivan's bum, making him squeak in surprise.

"Do we want to find the ghouls?" Zahn asks Amelia.

"Bloody butt-pinchin' gnomes," Djivan grumbles.

"Ghouls," Axel repeats ominously, like a much larger Gaspode.

"And now that you mention it, we ought to check out all the other homes here. There may be useful information," Zahnrad admits and nods. "Great, more lock picking. Axel better not have jammed that one he was messing with."

Amy chews on her lip for a bit, then says, "They're a lot more dangerous than the Gorts, because they can see and are probably smarter. The one Pike's great uncle or whatever had chained up got free and killed him, too."

"Did he? Maybe he was rescued," Zahnrad points out. "We assumed he got free… "

Axel looks at Zahnrad. It's not an innocent look, but rather a very blank look. The bird man might be good at poker – assuming he didn't try and eat the cards or something.

"It left its arm behind in the manacles," Amy reminds Zahn. "That doesn't seem like a rescue."

"They could have taken an already dead body away to eat," Zahnrad notes, then shrugs. "We know something killed her great uncle, but we don't have the exact circumstances, is all I'm saying. Let's go check the other homes here before we head deeper. Maybe one left behind a map or something."

Amelia nods and folds the map up. "I'll go stand guard while you work on the locks," Standing up, she gets a look on her face and asks Djivan, "Are you any good at combination locks?"

"Vho told vou?" Djivan asks suspiciously. "Vhatever it vas, I didn't do it."

"Well, maybe you can start at the other ramp, and work on those doors then Djivan," Amy suggests. "Just remember to write down the combinations that work."

"Oh, righ. Sure. I kin do dat," Djivan agrees and stands up. Zahnrad stands up as well and glances to him. "Bet I can pick more than you," Zahn says. "Vou're on!" Djivan retorts.

Olivia grins at this. "So what does the person who picks the most locks get if he wins?" she asks, amused.

Axel gets up, too. "Locks," he asks Olivia as he peers at various locks around the room.

Taking up her weapon, Amy says, "I'll stay down by the dock, so Axel, you stay close to Zahn and Olivia can watch over Djivan in case anything happens."

"Vell, kin I have Amelia?" Djivan asks, grinning mischievously.

Amy turns to Olivia, and asks, "Do you want to hit him, or should I?"

"In your dreams," Zahnrad growls. "It's merely a matter of pride. I should be a lot better than some sneak-thief."

"Well, we could both hit him… " Olivia muses, her left hand twitching.

"He won't be able pick locks if he's knocked out though," Amelia notes.

While this little discussion is going on, Djivan has sneaked out the door…

"Ack, no fair, head start!" Zahnrad yells and runs out the door now. It appears the little game is on.

Olivia catches his movement out of the corner of her eye and follows him. "Then I'll do it, I'll just whack him harder than usual for you!" she calls as she goes.

After watching the byplay, Axel seems to forget his question in favor of following Amy's orders. The winged man wanders after Zahnrad and, once reaching Zahnrad at a door, begins to pace with excessive energy nearby.

Amy heads down to the docks, and focuses her attention back down the dark canal while the others work.

Zahnrad starts on one side of the grotto and Djivan starts om the other. True to his word, Zahn appears to be the faster of the two at least with the first door, as he gets the lock opened faster than the earlier one. "Hah, told you so," he says smugly. He stands and opens the door, then turns the light control on.

Axel stops to peers in to Zahnrad's opened room when the lights are flipped on. He makes a sudden, very agitated, squawk – and then reaches to shove Zahnrad away.

Another identical hallway is revealed, devoid of any markings. At least, that's how it appears to Zahnrad. Looking over the Kadie's shoulder, Axel sees a few extra details, such as the bloody handprints on the walls and the crazed-looking, knife wielding Skeek that stands poised to leap upon Zahn…


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GMed by BoingDragon

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Today is 20 days after Candlemass, Year 25 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6124)