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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“There's a hole leading up through to the next level,” Nellise informed him. “I think
they're trying to see if we can get out that way.”
“Well, I ain't found any way out from down there yet, but I did find the throne room.
If I can just hold me breath a bit longer, I can get in there and see if the K ing's axe is still
there.”
“Wouldn't it have rusted away by now?” Colt asked.
“It woulda if'n it were made 'o steel mate, but it was fashioned from precious mithral,
and immune to the ravages of time and water.”
“Mithral?” Pacian called down to the dwarf. “Isn't that stuff worth a fortune?”
“Aye, and don't think fer a second that yer gonna sell it, ya greedy bastard.”
“I was just curious,” Pacian protested.
“Alright, this time I'll make it all the way down,” Clavis declared, almost to himself.
He exhaled as much as he could, and then inhaled a mighty breath before plunging down
into the depths.
“Give me a boost would you?” Aiden asked his old friend, having figured out the
best way to climb up. Pacian complied, managing to push him while maintaining his
precarious perch on top of the crumbled buildings. Aiden managed to get a hold above
the edge of the stone, and pull himself up high enough to peer over the edge.
It was completely dark, but there were also no signs of glowing eyes looking back at
him either. His heart racing, he continued to climb all the way, heaving himself over the
edge to sit on the stone floor to get an impression of his surroundings.
Although he couldn't see, his hearing gave him a sense of an enclosed space, as if
he'd climbed in to one of the buildings they'd passed on their way through. Despite his
desire to remain inconspicuous, he motioned for Pacian to throw the torch up through the
hole so he could see where he was exactly. The torch flipped through the gap with ease
and landed across from Aiden.
He was underneath a vast pile of fa llen rock that was hollow around the hole he sat
next to. The rocks made an almost perfect dome shape overheard, peaking at the front of
a building roughly fifteen feet away. The door to the building was still intact, though it
appeared to be blackened in places, and the bones of several dwarf-sized individuals were
scattered and broken around it.
But what really caught Aiden's attention was the gap in the surrounding rock just
behind him, at roughly chest height, that opened out into the main thoroughfare – the hole
he himself had made only hours ago.
Aiden could barely contain his excitement, for he had stumbled into the laboratory
he had sought, right under the noses of the insane occupants of Ferrumgaard.
Thinking quickly, Aiden took off his longcoat and draped it over the gap in the wall.
Then, he poked his head down through the hole in the floor and raised a finger to his lips
to call for quiet from the others. Ignoring their curious looks, he limped over to the torch,
picked it up, and then cautiously approached the area near the blackened door.
The stone around and above him was too perfect to have happened by accident.
Combined with the scorched door and the broken bones, it was clear that this doorway
had some rather serious eldritch protection upon it.
 
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