It was a long tunnel. Longer than I had expected. But it was all lit by nearby small torches, making sure that there’s at least dim light everywhere. First we ran, but finally, we walked. We needed to save as much energy as possible. Plus, we couldn’t hear anyone behind us. They were probably gathering the fighters to send after us. And taking into account that those fighters were still trying to get through our created firewall, we probably did have the time.
“I have a question,” Bill began, looking at me and Alice. “And since you two are our party brains, please, tell me, how the hell Thomas knows where to search this elder's brain?”
“The Elder Heart,” I said immediately, looking at him.
“Yeah, whatever. Can you explain?” he asked.
“B-but he doesn’t know,” Alice muttered, head slightly raised for a moment, looking at Bill. “I-I can-”
“Just stay still, rest, and drink this,” I said, stopping. “Bill, take a potion from the left side-pocket on my backpack and give it to her. Please?”
Bill sighed, walked behind my back and did so. But as he took out the potion, he released a slight gasp, giving a blue potion to Alice.
“I-is that essence recovery potion?” she asked.
“T-they’re like super expensive. W-why do you have one?” Alice asked. I just continued walking forward. “I’m an adventurer. I wanted to be prepared. For anything. I thought I was going to be a huge wizard, you know?”
Arryn chuckled. “Maybe not a wizard. But you ain’t half bad, you know?”
“Anyway, you were saying, Alice?” Bill said, slightly squinting at me and Arryn.
Alice opened the bottle and gulped the potion down. It wasn’t a potion that gave her magical essence per se, but it did boost the recovery speed a lot. “H-he only had some ideas or general location. T-that’s why he had mined to every direction at the very end.”
“How does he know that he has finally hit the right spot?”
“We don’t know, Bill. These are just our assumptions. There were definitely a lot of problems he had to solve as well,” I said, looking down at Alice, who was once again snoozing off against my shoulder. “To be honest, Thomas is quite amazing.”
Bill opened his mouth a few times but closed it soon after. “Name me one problem,” he said, finally, looking at me. “Just for fun?”
I sighed. “How do you get this place full of oxygen? This whole place is connected to outside with a single tunnel,” I said.
“Probably someone can do air magic,” Alice said, coughing few times.
“You’re sweating a lot,” Arryn said, suddenly, taking a few steps towards Bill. “Your shoulder!”
“I’m fine!” Bill said.
“Like in the hell you are!” She walked next to him and began to remove clothes on his shoulder, revealing a wound that was still slowly bleeding. “What the hell, Bill? This is dangerous! It’s a pretty deep wound as well! You would’ve bled to death!”
She immediately took out an arrow and began to whisper something. The tip of the arrow turned into smoldering red. Bill’s face turned pale.
“I know what you’re about to do, and I-”
A moan echoed throughout the chamber as the wound finally stopped bleeding. “You’re right. You’ll be fine. It’ll be a sexy scar. Story to remember. A nice battle-scar.”
I couldn’t help but giggle, slightly.
“Hiro!” Bill hissed, pulling his shirt over the injury. “Fucking fuck. I fucking hate this place. I fucking hate this adventure. I fucking hate this all.”
Everyone else smirked once more. We did smirk and smile a lot. But this was the only thing that kept us alive, stopping us to become desperate. We knew that soon there were maybe hundreds of goblins following us. We knew that if the goblin lied, we were fucked. All of those past moments could’ve been our last moments. But none of that didn’t matter. We just had to smile and push forward. This was our party - the smiling adventurers. Not that long time ago, we were probably called the weakest party in Kirkwall. Yet there we were, alive, and still struggling.
“Do you think the guild will send help?” Bill asked, looking ahead of us. We could finally hear noises ahead. It wasn't pickaxing noises, but more like they were using a spade, shoveling dirt away.
“They will...” I said, finally letting Alice down, who immediately pushed herself against now seeming dirt wall, supported by wooden pillars. “...I know that!”
They had to send help. After all, the receptionist knew that it was the hero who allowed such a message to be sent. And that meant, it was very serious business.
“Don’t let the hope die, huh?” Arryn whispered, looking at us.
“W-what? Y-yeah! Yeah!” I said, for a moment confused. “Hopes and dreams,” I said, giving her a fake smile.
I opened my backpack, searching for the final two oil bottles, giving them to Bill.
“What are these for?” Bill asked the ultimate question that I was already expecting.
“Oil the wooden pillars up as much with as little you can, and start making a trail towards us.
Arryn quickly took a few steps towards me. “You want to burn the pillars and trap us in?”
“Or keep them out,” I said, sighing. “You see, there are two options. The first is that we let them catch us and we are fucked. The second is we burn it, we stop them, force them to get spades, to dig the path once more and get to us. So, if we don’t figure things out on the other side, they’ll save us.” Of course, the last part was more sarcastic if anything. “But otherwise, we’ll figure things out.”
Arryn sighed. “Shouldn’t we talk to those goblins first? Before we trap them in with us?”
I nodded. “That’s why I said to make the trail. Just get to it!” As I said my peace, I continued walking the path, seeing few goblins digging, and having a small talk. They didn’t even seem to see me coming.
“Hello there,” I said in Goblin, raising my hands already, to show that I wasn’t planning to attack them. All the Goblins pointed their spades at me, immediately.
“Human? But not master. Still speaks our language. What’s going on?” one of them said, looking at me.
“Yeah, Thomas said that you might be saying that. Listen. There are some problems in the main chambers. Every goblin is needed. We are here to keep an eye on this place and maybe do some… things. To speed it up,” I said.
All of the goblins looked at us suspiciously.
“Master said that we need to finish this last part as soon as possible!” the goblin continued.
“Come on. I’m new, so I’m nice. Don’t make me say it twice,” I said, keeping up my beautiful fake smile. None of them still moved. “Fucking move!” I shouted.
All the goblins immediately began to move away.
“Leave your spades!” I said, making them all drop their spades and continue walking further away. As they all had walked past the oiled up pillars, suspiciously looking at my companions, I walked few steps closer to them, nodding at Arryn.
“Stop,” I shouted, getting their attention one last time. “Tell what I just told you to Thomas as an excuse. Then find a place to hide if you want to live. Good luck!” The goblins were utterly confused. But as Arryn placed her firey arrow against the oil, the fire began to spread, blazing the pillars and the ground on fire. Goblins immediately took many steps back as they realized what was really going on. I only hoped that they appreciated the fact that we decided not to kill them and gave them a chance to survive. I could see how Bill and Arryn didn’t like my approach, but at least they didn’t protest.
We began walking away, quickly. Only Alice stayed behind, looking at the fire.
“The moment it collapses, put the fire out on our side. We need every bit of air as possible. Alright?” I said to Alice. She gave me a long nod, finally crouching down.
The tunnel wasn’t that long from the burning point to where goblins were digging. But we immediately picked up a spade and continued the goblin’s work.
“So, depending on our luck, we either finish goblin’s work before they reach us, or we are fucked?” Bill muttered.
There was a moment of silence. “Pretty much,” I finally said. “There’s also a hope that the fire will spread further behind our back, as well.”
“Or we might’ve just now killed ourselves,” Arryn whispered.
We dug for a short while, that is until we heard a collapse not that far behind of us. A moment later, Alice - who was breathing heavily - came back to us, ready to pick up a spade as well.
“Rest,” I said immediately. “You need to rest. That’s the best way for you to recover your magical essence.” The other two nodded as well. Alice didn’t even try to fight, seating herself against the nearby wall.
“We have a moment now,” Bill said after a few minutes of silence - besides the digging sounds, of course.“What’s up with the Elder Heart?” he asked.
I knew it would come up. I just had forgotten about it. “Before I’ll tell you the story, let me remind you that it’s just a legend. A story that happened even before the great wall. Some think it’s a myth. Others think it’s hidden away for a reason. But there are very few stories and songs left about it. Well, mostly songs. But there is one story, and I am very lucky that I got to read it.”
“How did you get to read it?” Bill asked.
I shrugged. “I found it in my father’s study.”
“Y-you have a father?” Alice asked.
“I had a father,” I responded.
“O-oh. I-I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright,” I said, only focusing on the dirt. “But I think there’s some truth behind this legend.”
And perhaps it helps me to learn about my father, I thought.
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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