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After considering her options for the period of time it takes to extract a massive booger from a massive nose, Hilda decided to go for the metal door. While there was always the danger of the room being filled with just mundane arms and armor, Hilda felt the risk was worth taking: her experience with the rat showed her that she needed a greater choice of weapons to beat this dungeon. Her hammer was great, but it was so damn slow!

The dwarf gingerly pushed the heavy door with the tip of her weapon and peered inside. The room was indeed no ordinary dungeon room. It was at least twice as large as either of the previous rooms she’d seen and obviously lived in. It had a nice bed with stylish black linens, a plain table surrounded by stools, and a handsome stone coffer. The room smelled quite poorly, like a kitchen where an unscrupulous cook tried to hide the lack of freshness with an excess of spices. A wide opening in the west wall led to a corridor decorated with red and orange hand prints.

Something seemed off about the floor, so Hilda crouched to study the entrance before entering the room. Dwarfs had a natural affinity with stones. Some theologians claimed this was because they were made of stone and had stone in their souls. Her mentor in the temple maintained that the first dwarf was created when a meteor crashed on a distant planet, making the dwarfs a race of stone-based aliens. Hilda herself thought that dwarfs were so good with stones because stones were the only thing they had an abundance of. However, that was a discussion for a trip with Gloin. Right now, the important thing was that the slight unevenness she sensed was definitely a trapdoor covering a pit trap.

Smiling victoriously, the stout paladin cast Lunar Step and effortlessly leapt over the trap. She landed in the center of the room and instantly fell down a second trap door, identical to the first. As she floated down, she cursed whatever entity had created this trap. Probably a demilich or some other crazy, bored asshole. Who puts two identical traps in a row? That’s just poor interior design.

The bottom of the pit was studded with sharp spikes, probably coated with some non-lethal but highly noxious poison. Hilda carefully steered herself to land on a clear surface. She rolled her eyes and sighed. These traps barely did any damage and any idiot could climb out of them. Why put them unless… Oh!

Excited, the young dwarf started pulling, pushing and twisting the various spikes sticking from the ground. If her intuition was correct, one of them would trigger a secret door, revealing the room’s hidden treasure. The fifth spike she tried triggered something alright. It triggered a large metal cage that dropped through the ceiling and trapped her inside the pit.

The dwarf rolled her eyes and sighed. “You’ve got to be shitting me…”

She then quickly made the sign of the moon, because Paladins weren’t supposed to use such language (they weren’t supposed to pick their noses either, but whatevs). “I mean,” she went on, “if you wanted to trap me, why not just have a pressure plate or a taut string or something?”

Yeah, like somebody was going to answer that.

Hilda sighed. The only way to get out of this idiotic trap would be to waste her last spell slot, after which she’d be forced to take a long rest. A whole day wasted to win a single measly treasure and disarm a room for the next looter. Great start.

Blinking away tears of frustration, Hilda cast Meteoric Smite and threw her hammer upward, stepping aside to avoid the drizzle of molten metal from the devastated cage. Like an obedient dog, the hammer flew back right into her hand, its head still glowing with divine might.

Hilda lassoed a rope and started the tedious task of throwing it up in the hopes of catching something sturdy enough to support her weight in full armor. She hated climbing! Hated it! Naturally, by the time she grabbed something sturdy, her Lunar Step was over and her weight was again… nevermind.

“Hey,” a female voice speaking Common with an odd accent came from the passage of painted hands, “are you a moon cleric?”

“Paladin.” Hilda grunted while struggling with the rope, nostrils flaring and arms shaking. Climbing wasn’t her forte. She wasn’t a damn elf!

“Oh, I love astronomy! Do you want to come over and talk about astronomy?”

Hilda fell down on her butt and growled. If only she didn’t waste her lunar step to jump over one pit trap straight into another. “Um,” Hilda licked her lips and wiped sweat off her grimy brow, “I’m stuck here!”

“I can pull you out!” the voice announced cheerfully. “I’m very strong.”

Hilda frowned. “You aren’t a goblin or an orc or something like that, right?”

“No, no!” the unseen speaker laughed melodiously. “I’m just a girl!”

A girl what? After Hilda was silent for a few moments, the voice added cheerfully, “I’m coming! Don’t shoot!”

Hilda heard the pitter patter of bare feet, first down the corridor, then inside the room. The rope shook as someone took hold of it. “Okay, just cling to the rope, fatty,” the newcomer giggled. “and I’ll pull you up.”

Bare feet, extra strong… must be a monk. Gah. Monks were even worse than paladins! They had like eighteen vows each and wouldn’t shut up about them. Elven monks were the worst of the lot. At least with dwarfs you knew what to expect: they all worshipped the moon. Elves worshipped all the stars in the sky and so their beliefs were as diverse as all the stars of the sky. Even worse, because they had telescopes now (thank the gnomes for that!) and were discovering new stars on a weekly basis.

Basically, each elf had his or her own religion. Sometimes several. Thankfully, elves didn’t proselytize like humans did, but they sure liked to talk about their spirituality. In excruciating detail. Ah well, Hilda sighed, beats spending the night in a pit full of spikes coated in feces and mushed bugs. I think.

Hilda clung to the rope with all her limbs while the newcomer effortlessly pulled her up. A few jerky heaves and the dwarf was over the edge.

She gulped. The girl who pulled her out was indeed an elf, but she was no monk. Her skin was the color of a spoiled eggplant and covered with infernal symbols. Except for decorative chains tied around her waist, neck, and hips, and some very bold piercing in some very bold places, the girl wore nothing at all. Her eyes were a pair of black pearls, her claws were obsidian daggers and her teeth were very much like the spikes Hilda just escaped.

In short, the girl was a ghoul.

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About the author

Urikson

Bio: I like going to cool places and then making up stuff about them.

Criticism is very welcome! :)

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