Michael, Torunn, Lilly and Little Patrick quickly whittled down Ogrim’s health. Their increased numbers, along with Lilly’s healing proved to be too much for the totem-less ogre. Even Little Patrick, who was able to recover from his super belly flop of doom, thanks to Lilly, got some of the action. Ogrim swayed as his health bar reached zero. Slowly, the ogre fell to the ground like a large tree. Cheers echoed through the chambers and reached new levels when the loot Ogrim dropped lit up with the light of different colors. Everyone held proud but tired looks, exhausted from their accomplishments. Everyone, except Michael.
James watched from within his cage as his brother refused to celebrate and dove into the pile of loot. When he resurfaced, Michael ran over to James’s cage with a key in his hand.
“We need to get out of here. Someone from below is on the way to escort all the prisoners down to the lower levels,” Michael said as he struggled with the key. “If they catch us they will deliver all of us to the Lich King. The Lich King has the power to steal our souls, making us unable to respawn.”
James’s jaw dropped. Now it all made sense. That was why Torunn and Lilly came. James, Patrick, and Alex were at risk of actually dying. James swallowed. This meant he should have put more faith into his party. Of course, Torunn was smart enough to remember that James could respawn. James should have never doubted that. Still, that didn't change his desire to become a better leader, it just changed how he would go about it. He still thought he needed to get some sort of training regimen together, but he also needed to grow as a leader. Hopefully, Dreng could help him with that part.
Michael swung the cage door open and helped James out with an outstretched hand.
James took his brother's hand, “We need to free all of these prisoners.”
Michael looked aghast, “There is no time.”
“They are all from Earth,” James sternly said, “We cannot leave them here.”
Michael froze for what seemed like an eternity before uttering an expletive and running to the next cage.
“Free Patrick and Alex first, they can help us in a fight if it comes to it,” James instructed and pointed to the cages that held the rest of the party.
James then turned to his party and instruction them to take up defensive formations by the portal while a portion of them helped shuttle prisoners out of Ogrim’s cavern. Many of the prisoners had trouble walking, or were completely unresponsive. The party did it’s best to corral the prisoners, but James’s ended up having to slowly cannibalize his defensive formation to get more of the prisoners carried to safety. Panic grew within the party for every second they were in the cavern.
“I need some help carrying this guy!” Alex yelled.
Little Patrick grunted as a prisoner socked him in the face.
It was chaos, but eventually, James got everyone out safely.
“Go through the portal first and tell Dreng what is happening. We will need his help,” James said to Patrick as the party and the prisoners stood outside the tan portal in the spirit battleground.
Patrick looked at his shoes and said something that James couldn’t hear over the yelling and screaming of the prisoners.
“Hurry! I am going to start sending them through in 2 minutes!” James yelled over the noise.
Patrick solemnly nodded and disappeared into the portal.
James whirled, instructing his party to not let any of the prisoners run. The irony of his command caused him to wince. They weren't prisoners anymore, but most of them didn’t know it yet. Most of them were so broken that they couldn’t tell they were being saved. Some of them only noticed they were free of the cage that held them. Those people were apt to run, and James couldn’t have any of that. If they ran they would be captured again. James swallowed and accepted his position as he tied the hands of one of the prisoners that had tried to run on numerous occasions. James would become the jail keeper now. At least until the prisoners were healed and could make sound decisions for themselves.
“Okay, Alex and... Little Patrick... go through next. I am going to send some of the other Earth humans in after you. Make sure they don’t destroy everything. I will meet you in the center of town!” James commanded.
Alex and Little Patrick disappeared, and James led the troublemakers to the portal first. He would send them through the portal in the first wave. At least if they tried to run in the village they wouldn’t be re-captured by the Lich King. James sent one after another through with a shove and hoped that the entryway built into their stone wall of his village was guarded. The prisoners would only be able to escape the village through that entryway.
James sent a member of his party through for every bunch of prisoners. In total, 19 prisoners went through the portal. 19 people that they would have to heal and find homes for. 19 new mouths to feed. James let out a sigh of relief. His job wasn’t over yet, but he was happy that he was able to rescue the prisoners. He had no idea how much danger the prisoners, or himself for that matter, was in until Michael told him about the Lich King’s powers.
“This could have gone much worse,” James said to the empty air within the spirit battleground. He was the last person that needed to step through the portal. He hesitated from stepping through. Something told him to stay, that he didn’t want to go back home. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he had the feeling something bad was waiting for him on the other side. James doubted his town was under attack though. He sighed again and chalked it up to dreading the task of settling the 19 people they saved. James stepped through the portal.
Just like last time, stepping through the portal was anti-climactic. One second he was in the spirit battleground and another he was in a cave on the cliff of his village. James stepped out of the cave and ran past his cabin, halting at the edge of the cliff. What he saw made his breath catch in his chest.