Selythin nods at Page’s consideration and answers: “your magic was critical in the fight we just had, and will be missed in the upcoming ones. The choice is yours, but our chances of success will be less if you leave”.
With that, he winces from the pain as the magical energy strikes him when he opens the door. He then looks at why is on the the other side of the door.
(Nice save! Just to make it very clear, Steve, Page is a fey NPC from Alan's original story. She is human size and appearance. She might have more info on the castle as you go, but is a non-combatant.)
(Eovin, on the other hand, is a fey-pixie PLAYER. She was the one casting spells actually. She's a combatant and quite sassy. I believe she's still posting and I will assume she's flying along with Selythin, Alan, and Sirocco.)
(Going forward I'll keep playing Page and cousin Zenythin following the party. Ralph and the human NPCs are now outside.)
(Selythin, remember to take half damage from the save.)
The energy stung, but dissipated as it shot through the elven prince's arms as he wrenched the iron-banded door wide. Eovin the pixie's ball of light illuminated another stairway curving away into the darkness. A dank, cold wind blew up from the lower level, ruffling everyone's hair and prickling skin.
As soon as the door's long, loud creaking noise stopped there was an eerie silence. Page moved closer to Selythin and Alan, now at the newly opened doorway. Zenythin glanced back into the cellar behind them.
From above, echoing down the stairwell leading to the top of the castle, the heroes could hear cackling laughter. It was quiet and distant, barely audible over the faint whistling of the wind from the lower recesses of the castle dungeon.
Page clung to Alan's arm as they spoke in hushed tones, following closely behind Selythin as he lead the way down the winding stairs. "N-n-no! I don't know..." She made a grimace in the funky light of Eovin's magic. "W-who could it be? This kingdom...the queen...we never had any enemies before...Only old stories...Wait!"
Page stopped mid-step. "Maybe...oh deary...There's an old story, but I was never a good student...We always thought it was just stuff ADULTS made up to scare us KIDS...Long ago...uh..."
Everyone hunched together in the narrow stairwell.
She scrunched up her features, thinking hard. It was hard for her to keep completely quiet. "The story said...A long, long time ago the old king and queen...they made a deal with the Lords of Chaos...to create the kingdom...to BE the rulers of this land and that one day...at the end of the beginning...that the Lords of Chaos would come and reclaim their kingdom...but that's a STORY...so..."
The young elf handmaiden shrugged. "Sorry! I'm not good at story telling..." She gritted her teeth.
There was a moment of silence after the rapidly whispered tale.
From below the huddled group, through a partially open door, the sounds of snoring could be heard.
(As you proceed into the lower floor I need a STEALTH check from everyone.)
(Sirocco stumbles slightly in the narrow stairwell. Stealth 8)
Surprisingly, even though the bariur clip-clopped, Selythin clanked in his armor, and the little pixie yelped, the snoring from beyond the wooden doorway continued. It was laborious and loud with the quality of a whistling wind erupting into a violent storm every twenty seconds or so and then a soft return to the whistling again. The cycle kept repeating.
It seemed the cautious adventurers were still undetected.
Creeping closer to the slightly open door revealed a small, dimly lit room, about 20 feet by 30 feet long, with a low ceiling and all made of dark stone. A torch sputtered low on the wall. There was a door in on each of the three walls. All had a small barred window and a key-hole. Prison cells, no doubt.
There was a splintered wooden table, barely still standing, in the center of the dank space, and a chair occupied by the snoring fella, who appeared to be a hobgoblin in splint mail, in his cups, as they say. (Drunk.)
An empty jug rolled across the stone floor, kicked by the loudly sleeping hobgoblin guard. He tossed and turned, lying sprawled on the broken table. A ring with four keys dangled from his belt. He grumbled in his sleep.
Selythin turns to Alan and whispers “I’ll draw my sword and you gag him if he screams”. He then proceeds to the hobgoblin, points his sword at his throat and kicks it in the leg to wake him up: “Make any noise and you die” He says with a dead serious tone. He then adds: “Tell us who you are and who else is here, and you may live to see another day”
The hobgoblin fell to the floor but was caught by Selythin and gagged by Alan with a bit of torn cloth.
Zenythin came around the side, sticking the point of his sword into the hairy prison guard's back.
The drunk hobgoblin, now surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, put his hands up. After a moment of wide-eyed staring he tried to choke out words through the dirty rag, although it was hard to make them out.
"Shtay qu-quiet or phalk? I gibbup! Ish jush me!" He continued mumbling through the cloth. "Epheryun is gophne! Ish jush me! Ugh...am tha pwisowner..."
He gestured to the cell opposite the door the party entered then pointed at his ring of keys.
"Jush un pwisowner...thee visher."
He cringed at Selythin and Alan's intimidating glares.
A small voice came from the rear cell:
"Hello? Is someone there? I'm awfully thirsty... These chains are a burden, indeed..."
The hobgoblin guard, reeking of moonshine, attempted to crawl a few inches away toward the corner, but Selythin held him at sword point. "Jush one prishnoer...Thee visher..." He mumbled. He continued to stare and sweat, but went quiet.
Alan moved to the rear cell window.
A tiny voice spoke out of the darkness again: "It is so hard to move. These chains are a damned weight, indeed...It seems you're not here to torture me...Are you? You don't look like the others...Could it be I recognize you...young maiden? Could it be you're here to rescue old Oovin? I'd honestly lost hope of that ever happening. Chaos seems to have won the day...No? Yes...And here, I'd always thought the chaps weren't too bad...but this...what's a grand vizier to do when his queen is dead and he hasn't had anything proper to eat in days...grand...grand..."
He was rambling, tired, delirious.
Alan squinted into the darkness, realizing that he could see plainly in the dim light. He saw a small figure, bound with a large chain that connected to the wall. He saw a slight bend of wing, a pointy ear, then glanced up at Eovin. They shared a certain resemblance.
The tired old pixie in the dank cell spoke again. "I do add again, I am awfully thirsty...Awfully...Perhaps a spot of tea? I wouldn't mind a nosh as well, you know...But terribly thirsty, dear..."
Page gave out a weird screech and ran over to the small opening to the door, grabbing onto the bars and trying to scramble up to see inside. "Grand Vizier Oovin? Is that you!?"
Cousin Zenythin sheathed his sword, putting up his hands and stepping aside.
The bariur wanderer, Sirocco, clip-clopped between the two other doors. "These cells are empty," he grumbled.
The chained pixie continued rambling. "Page dear! So good to see you...Do be a sweet-heart and get an old man a spot of tea...I'm terribly thirsty..."
Alan swallowed thickly, and then looked around for a key to open the cells. "Okay, we have a little food we can share. I'm not going to abandon you. I'll get you out. And then you can tell me what is happening to me..."
Alan looked around, desperate, for keys, a release mechanism, or barring that, any kind of hammer to shatter the stone walls, undo the prisoner's chains, and get them out of the cell.
The hobgoblin attempted to back into the corner to no avail. He spat and sputtered. "Jush one! Jush one!" He had his hairy hands up and dared not make any sudden movements.
Alan grabbed at the guard's belt and snatched the metal ring of keys, selecting one of appropriate size and fitting it into the lock. It opened with a click.
After another moment, and another key, the bent little man was free. He stretched his thin appendages and some crumpled looking wings stretched in the back as well. "Ohh, my achin' wings...And so thirsty. I do hope we haven't run out of thistle tea, I do like it so..." The little pixie slowly hobbled out of the cell and into the crowded little room.
"And a crumpet...Do you think we've any yuckle-berry jam left?" He turned and looked at the cowering jailer, then back at Alan, Selythin, and Eovin. "Oh my...it's just now dawning on me who you all lot....yes...must be...I had hoped this would happen differently...I'm Oovin." The old pixie took a slow, wobbly bow. "I am the queen's Grand Vizier...her advisor....WAS...before she died..." The old pixie looked sad, resigned.
The old guy coughed, glancing up at Eovin. "And you, dear. I was hoping this would be all done differently as well, but times is as they are..."
He sighed, took a seat on the little broken stool, took a little sip of water from Alan's canteen.
"Ahem!" He cleared his throat. "You've all found your way here, even though chaos intervenes...In another age those beasts would've brought you here with bells on...And there would have been a celebration!"
The pixie started to cough uncontrollably. Paused. Took another sip of water. Smiled sheepishly.
"Forgive a doddering old fool...Ahem...Eovin, dear, I'm getting too old for this. This was all supposed to happen under better circumstances. Alas! The queen is dead. Long live the queen!" He bowed at Alan.
He started coughing again. He looked a little more green than he should, panting and wheezing.
"And I, for one, am out! Old Oovin wants to find a nice tree to sit in and whittle...Maybe a rocking chair too...Those damned brutes beat me to my last pulp...No more fighting for this pixie. No more advising...I leave that to you." He pointed at Eovin.