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Return to In Search of the Unknown part 4 "Don't open the trophy door."

by Greywolf-ELM

A wave of nearly tangible malevolent evil washes over the warband gathered around the door. The Orcs look questioningly at Sharraxtharkhul, who steps forward to investigate the small room. The floor is smooth black slate, with a pit in the centre of the room, about 5 knucks across and 3 deep. Figured prominently on the wall across from the door, is a rock carving of a horned head and vile visage. It is 4 knucks wide, and 6 high. Runes and fell religious symbols are carved into the rock around it. He moves in to investigate the pit, and the carving and quickly returns to the door.

"Nothing for us here Gorga. A pit for sacrifice to a demon or devil of some kind."

Orcs start laughing, and Tyco runs in to show his bravery by relieving himself in the sacrificial pit. Others soon join him as Sharraxtharkhul quickly makes his exit, muttering about Orcs and lack of brains getting everyone killed. Gorga nods at the Orcs and grins, the same instincts that drive them to defile a pit for sacrifice, are the same ones that will send them to fight for him.

With this door investigated, Gorga is ready to call for a rest and gives orders for Gilnak and Hobna to take watch. Rhgl and Sharraxtharkhul check out the rest of the room. It may have once been a throne room, with two large stone chairs and a raised platform at one end of the great hall, and two rows of stone pillars leading away from it to the west. The two Orcs take up positions at a juncture of hallways at the northwest, and southwest areas of the room. The Orcs use the nests for the Dire Weasels, and settle down for a much needed rest. Shar and Gorga move from Orc to Orc making sure that all have water, or bandages and poultices that can be applied. This would soon become a regular ritual for the Goblin and the warband leader. Shar as it is his duty to the warband, and Gorga to know the strength and disposition of his troops.

Rhgl makes his rounds, checking out weapons and binding or repairing any that he can. Time drags by and Shglsnor and Scrag take the second shift of guard duty. Ierkh keeps himself occupied knocking over one of the large stone chairs to see if anything is underneath. The rest sleep when they have a chance.

Gorga calls the warband together and prepares to move out. The goblins are in back with the wolf, and Scrag jumps forward to open doors again. There's one more door to investigate before this area of the stronghold is left behind. The door is stuck, and it takes Ierkh to muscle his way through, leaving a shattered doorframe behind. This room is covered in a fine layer of dust. Covering most of the north wall is an immense dragon's skin. At the west end of the room is a statue of a large six-legged lizard of some kind, of which none can tell, even Sharraxtharkhul. On the east wall is the skeleton of a Dwarf suspended from the ceiling by manacles, giving the whole place a dark feel that does not bother the Orcs.

Gorga moves in beside Ierkh, and they investigate the room. Hanging on other walls are found, a pair of gigantic moose heads, four dragon paws with claws extended, a stuffed bird of some kind with the head and body of a *****erel, bat wings, and the long tail of a lizard. Of import to the Orcs, especially Ierkh, is a large Black shield sized right for him, and a pair of crossed swords. Other items of note are an entire door, frame and all bearing religious symbols of a dark and foreboding nature.

Sharraxtharkhul waves Rhgl over, and the rest of the warband moves into the room, to see what is happening. Before anyone can start picking trophies off the wall, Sharraxtharkhul looks to Gorga.

"Wait, let me ask the spirits if there is magic here." The warband leader nods his assent and everyone steps back, as Shar takes a cross-legged seat in the centre of the room. Pausing to gather his senses, the Goblin begins muttering in a guttural tongue that none of the Orcs understand. With a few passes of his hands and a shake of his spear, he begins to look around the room with sight attuned to magic. Looking around the room, the Goblin stands and approaches the large black shield on the wall.

"This has good magic. Ierkh should take this, it will make him mighty in battle."

Walking by the door etched with runes, he carefully avoids it. "This is magic as well."

Something catches his eye, and he moves around behind the strange stuffed bird. With a yelp of triumph, he pulls a leather mask hanging from the back of the creature.
"This good magic too, for Sharraxtharkhul."

As he let's the magic fade, Gorga inspects the two swords and discounts them as not sturdy enough for Orcs to use. He motions for Ierkh to take up the shield. Hesitantly the big Half Ogre takes the shield off the wall, and hefts it on his arm. Magic is not to be trifled with. Unless you are Tyco and Scrag, who are messing around near the door covered in runes.

"Open it Scrag, It is magic, it could make you stronger." Hearing this, Sharraxtharkhul quickly makes his way out the door; others take notice of this, and make a hasty exit as well.

"What is inside?"

Tyco looks at Scrag and shrugs. "Wogar knows. Open it."

As Scrag reaches for the door, A group of heads is watching from the door to the hallway on the south wall. Tyco quickly back-pedals and gets behind the statue of the 6-legged lizard. Scrag yanks open the door from the frame, and there is an audible intake of breath from the rest of the warband, which is quickly drowned out by the explosion that ensues, hurling Scrag backwards a good 7 knucks. The report leaves a ringing in everyone's ears and most are dazzled by the sudden brightness.

Scrag sits up and shakes his head. "Boom, heheheheh."

Tyco quickly makes his exit past a glaring Gorga, and immediately spies Ierkh who has taken time away from the spectacle to heft his shield and inspect what might make it magical. The Orcs move back into the room, and pick Scrag up off the floor, some clapping him on the back in appreciation for the entertainment.

"Ierkh, your shield is magic, my cloak is magic, but I do not know how. Maybe it protects from shields. Hit me with it."

Ierkh, never one to miss a chance to smack an Orc, and Tyco surely needs it, winds up with the shield, and takes a swing at the Orc with a wild look in his eye. Both have a rather wild streak in them that is not soon to be tamed. Having never used a shield before, Ierkh swings wildly and to the dumbfounded look of the goblins, misses the Orc who didn't take a step to avoid it.

"Magic against shields." Declares the Orc. "The cloak protects me from shields." The goblins snicker and laugh together, and no one notices, probably to the benefit of their health. Ierkh looks puzzled at his shield and begins to wonder how he can use it with his great club.

A blackened Scrag emerges from the trophy room, followed by the rest of the warband, it is time to move on, and Gorga gives everyone a look as if to say, "I will not tolerate more foolishness now."

The next few doors are opened without incident, and few are able to hear anything beyond the ringing, and the occasional chuckle from the Orcs behind. All open into hallways, and one is followed around to a door that seems to throb beneath Scrag's fingers.

"Gorga this door is strange." Gorga moves forward, and looks back at the warband. It is difficult to see much of anything beyond the Half-Ogre, but he calls for Rhgl anyway. Putting his ear to the door, Gorga can only hear the ringing in his ears. Nothing beyond.

"Rhgl, get up here." Soon the goblin has pressed past Ierkh and the rest of the warband to stand at the door.

"What do you hear beyond the door?"

Rhgl reaches out and feels the door throbbing beneath his touch. Leaning down, he can hear what sounds like the beat of a living heart. He jerks back away from the door, wondering what can make a door shudder like this, and be alive.

"Something is there Gorga, alive, I here the heartbeat, very big, yes, very big it must be."

Gorga shoos him back, and looks to the warband. "Prepare for battle."

Scrag looks with trepidation at the door, and grinning with mischief, Tyco comes jogging forward.

With a grin that says he knows Gorga is not pleased, "I will open it Gorga."

Scrag thankfully withdraws a few feet, and prepares his Orcish Double Axe.

Tyco opens the door only to find a hallway heading left for 8 Shins to another door. The hallway pulses as if alive, and the Orcs feel as if they are entering a living creature as they move down the hall. The feeling is oppressive at the next door, having slowly increased as they moved down the hall. A puddle of unrecognisable slime is on the floor at the door, and seems to seep down through any crack in the door. No one wants to put an ear to the door. Nothing but the presence filling the hallway would be heard in any case. Tyco braces himself to open the door.

Next Up: Return to In Search of the Unknown part 5 "What's that smell?"