“Man, this place looks like a dump!” Rose exclaimed, disgust clear in her voice as she and Alex finally entered the clearing that held the hideout they would be staying in for a while. Despite the setbacks during their first night, the second day of travel had passed without issue and they arrived on schedule, near night of the second day.
“Yea, for sure.” Agreed Alex. “We were told it might need some repair, but surely it isn’t normally THIS damaged.” He said as he studied the outside of the building.
The outpost was a single story wooden building in the shape of a large T with the doorway sitting at the bottom of the T. Just from where they stood now though it was clear that the roof had collapsed in several sections, the front doors were missing and there were various holes in the walls. It looked as if something had tried to tear the place apart.
“Well, I guess we’d better go see what we are working with…” Alex said with resignation as he began walking towards the hole where the front doors should have been. Rose followed and they entered the building cautiously, ready for any possible monster attacks.
The first room appeared to be a sort of common area with couches that had seen better days and a few tables with cards scattered across them. Along the walls were alcoves, a few of which looked to have some worn gear, and ahead of them was a long hallway that seemed to stretch the length of the building. Every inch of the room was coated in a layer of dust, showing how long it had been since the place was last taken care of or used. Spiders had taken up residence in most of the corners and various other places like between chair legs and so on. The lack of front doors surely did not help with the condition of the room.
Several of the tables and chairs present had been smashed by someone or something as well and sat around in various states of destruction. Overall, the place was a mess, and this was only the first room.
The two of them continued through the building and down the hallway, still on alert. There were five visible doorways with two on each side and one at the far end. “Looks like it’s set up just like the barracks back home. Except… covered in dirt.” Rose commented dryly.
“Makes sense to design it the same as the ones at home if this is for training.” Responded Alex. “That means the doorways on the sides there should be three bunk rooms and a storeroom and the far room should be the kitchen and eating area.” As he finished speaking Rose nodded her head in agreement. Alex continued and said “It’s late and we are tired, so why don’t we just check out each of these rooms and then try to camp in whichever is in the best condition for now?”
“Sure, that sounds like a plan,” Rose said as she approached one of the doors. She unsheathed her sword in case there was something in here, while Alex mentally prepared himself for a spell. They looked at each other, nodded, and Rose threw the door open and jumped inside in an attempt to catch any unsuspecting creatures off guard.
What they found was an empty bunk room. There was a broken window across from the door and four beds in varying states of disrepair, each with a small wooden trunk at the foot of the bed for the occupant's personal belongings. It seems they took the blankets and such back to town with them however as the beds were just wooden frames, which made sense if they expected the place to get damaged from such rare use. No point in ruining good bed materials every time and it gave the recruits another thing they had to carry during the march here.
The room was just as dusty and covered in spiderwebs as the first room along with obvious animal droppings here and there. “Doesn’t look like there is anything dangerous in here but also nothing of use. We should continue quickly before it gets too late.” Alex said and the two of them retreated from the room.
‘Well, that was anticlimactic.’ Said Alice.
‘Anticlimactic, yes, but that means safe.’ Replied Alex. ‘I am all for this place being empty and boring so we can get a good nights rest.’
The next two rooms that they checked were more bunk rooms and all in similar states to the first. Both of them had a large hole in the roof and mold on a lot of the objects. Some of the non treated wood inside was beginning to rot from the rainfall as well so they decided they would ignore those two rooms entirely while they stayed here and just seal up the doors later so nothing could get into the rest of the building through the holes in the roof.
“This is the last door apart from the kitchen and eating area so it should be a storeroom if this place follows the usual design,” Rose explained again even though she knew Alex was already aware. “It’s doubtful they would leave a terrible amount here but there are some things just not worth carting back and forth each visit, so hopefully we can replace some of what we lost the first night.” She continued, voicing the hopes of them both aloud while they stood in front of the door.
“It’s now or never,” Alex said as he stepped forward and opened the door dramatically and…. Was greeted with darkness. ‘Of course, this room wouldn’t have any windows, they wouldn’t want anything breaking into it easily.’ He chastised himself silently as he conjured a small flame to light the room.
With the room properly lit the two of them could clearly see that this was the most well-preserved room so far. The lack of a broken window or hole in the ceiling like most of the other rooms seemed to be suffering from had helped quite a bit for sure. The walls were lined with wooden shelving and it was large enough for two of the beds that were in the other rooms to fit in comfortably.
About half of the shelves had various items on them to the delight of the group, Alice included, and they decided to close the door and continue to the last room for now and finish their sweep of the building. They would come back and inventory any useful supplies sometime tomorrow.
“Ok, one more room to go!” Alex said excitedly and pumped his fist in the air. “I can’t want to get some food in me and go to sleep after all this travel.”
‘Although you have a lot of work ahead of you in the coming days to make this place livable even in the short term.’ Alice said with a hint of amusement.
Alex grimaced. ‘Don’t remind me.’
Rose, unaware of the silent exchange going on without her, opened the final door and carefully entered the large room. It was dimly lit due to the quickly fading daylight and the size of the room so Alex conjured a few fireballs again while they walked around the room.
What they found caused both of them to let out an audible sigh of relief for this room was clearly the best preserved so far. There were four windows in this room, one on each of the left and right walls and two on the far wall. A large metal fire brazier sat in the center of the room and several smaller ones were placed around the edges of the room. The ceiling was intact thankfully and none of the wood in here looked to be rotting nor could they spot any visible mold.
There were, of course, a few spiderwebs still but much less for sure which they were both quite thankful for. There was one large table off center on the right side of the room with 12 chairs around it, just enough for the number of beds that the place was meant to hold. On the opposite side was the cooking area and this section was made of stone rather than wood so that they could cook better without worrying about a fire.
Visible was a large wood oven, many shelves and plenty of counter space as well as another smaller table for food preparation. Still within the cooking area but furthest from the other furniture was a table covered in butchering supplies.
“Well…” Alex said and sort of trailed off, turning to look at Rose.
“Yea, a bit worse than I thought it would be as well. At least this room is suitable, but we have a lot of work to do on the rest of the place. It’s better than sleeping outside again though at least.” She said while trying to sound optimistic.
Shuddering at the memory of his encounter with the slimes Alex agreed wholeheartedly with her sentiment. “Since nighttime is falling and we have been traveling all day let’s just board this room up and get some sleep for now.” He suggested.
Nodding in agreement Rose went to see what she could do about the door while Alex gathered some of the wood from the cooking area and filled the brazier in the center of the room. Having no windows was a bit of a problem and they wouldn’t even have moonlight to fight by if there was trouble so he wanted to light at least the largest brazier to give them light to work by. After piling enough wood to make a large fire burn for a while he lit the stack and most of the room was quickly illuminated.
Some of the corners remained shrouded in shadow but that was to be expected as he hadn’t lit the surrounding braziers. It was plenty for them to work with though and Alex made sure to move plenty of wood from the cooking area to be closer to the fire for restocking during the night.
While he was doing that, Rose had taken the smaller table and pushed it against the door with the top of the table flat against the door and wall. She then carefully piled the chairs against it as well in a way that let her fit as many as she could in a small space to make it harder to push through. It obviously wasn’t a surefire defense but this was plenty to give them some preparation time in case something did try to get in here during the night.
With both of their respective tasks completed the two of them met back near the fire in the center of the room. “That should do for the night,” Rose said while nodding at the fire and door.
“For now, yes. We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow though.” Alex said with a strained smile on his face while he laid out his bedroll. “I’ll take first watch?” He offered and gave Rose a questioning glance.
“Sure, thank you. Since we don’t have the moon to go by just wake me when the fire needs stoking. It should burn for a good portion of the night.” She responded as she also began laying out her bedroll. The two of them shared a quick dinner of dried meat and bread before Rose drifted off to sleep and Alex began another long night of keeping guard.
‘At least I have you to keep me company, right, Alice?’ He said happily in his mind. There was no response however and he worriedly said ‘Alice?’
What he heard in response was some very badly faked snoring and then Alice bursting out giggling. ‘Of course Alex! I will always be here.’ She said when her giggling had subsided.