Eoghan opened one of the two double-doors on the eastern wall, across from the stairs that they had come down. It was heavy iron-bound darkwood, ten feet tall, with an iron latch that made an ominous click. He peered into a dark hallway with a buttressed ceiling, that led forty feet forward before angling off diagonally to the north-east.
By the smell, colour, and viscosity, Tenibor was convinced that he had discovered a Potion of Water Breathing. The giant sized jug was so big, he was sure that it could be shared among four or five elf-sized people.
Quinn follows Bible down the row of cells. He checks each cell and talks quietly to whomever is in the cell.
"We will get you out of here shortly but you must remain quiet. The holding upstairs is not cleared and to much noise will alert the remaining giants. We also need to secure our position here before we can free you."
Quinn then moves down towards the end of the row of cells. He looks around trying to determine how the apes managed to get around their position. Once confident that there was no threat from here he waits for Bible to be done before moving to join the others.
~<What is the plan? We are quickly depleting our resources and have not completed the task we were hired for. Plus we can't just leave the prisoners here. >~
Valda will assist Tenibor and Jack with the treasure they discovered, with little complaint. She was used to being the pack mule in previous adventuring parties at times thanks to her physical strength.
Working with Tenibor and Valda, Jack stows the sacks and jug into their packs.
"Hearing" Quinn's question, Jack responds through the mindlink. ~I can scout upstairs to see if it's clear to get back to the kitchen and chimney. How many prisoners are there? And are they hale enough to climb the rope? Do we have any magic to help cover our escape?~
Is the PwoT still active? Even so, it would not cover the prisoners, so escape through the kitchens and chimney could be risky, but our choices are limited.
Quinn moved westward, and found that the cellblock circled the stairs, with more cells and more prisoners.
When Bible opened his cell, Zandor peeked out as if he was uncertain if it was safe to leave, saying, "What if they catch us trying to escape? Maybe we should just stay here until you've killed them all?"
"Well, I'm not goin' back in there! Nossir." answered Cordit flatly.
Other prisoners had quieted down, but there was a general dissent among those who had overheard the frightened man's suggestion.
"Let me out, and I will help you to destroy them all." came a voice from the south-westernmost cell.
~<There is a long passage here -- I do not know where it leads but it goes far, and it is underground. Perhaps it is a secret exit from this steading, or leads to a treasure room or other hidden lair.>~
Bible and Quinn were letting prisoners out of the western cells, so Tenibor started by taking a look at the eastern cellblock, past the doors to the barracks, where the bugbears had mustered. It was a hall with four cells. With Bible still holding the ring of keys, Tenibor did not open any doors. Instead, he listened at each door and spoke softly with any occupants.
The first was occupied by a human man named Olwen who sounded somewhat elderly, and badly treated, but he was in good spirits (as he would soon be freed). The next was empty. Olwen told Tenibor that his neighbour Halmed had been seized and taken to "pump the bellows" - more evidence that the loud banging sound from the south was the work of a forge.
The third cell gave Tenibor an uneasy feeling. He touched the door, and it was cold. He called out to any occupant, and a hollow voice responded, "I am Telvorn, and I should like to be freed."
It was a very old name, and the voice didn't have quite the urgency that Tenibor expected. Before promising anything to Telvorn, he moved to the last cell. It was unoccupied, but Tenibor could feel a draft from under the door. He suspected that the cell would be open at the back. Either a false-cell that hid another passage, or someone had escaped by digging out the back wall.
Quinn had Bible use the keys, and opened the door to the cell in the south-west corner. Over the incessant pounding, he heard the sound of a scream coming through a pair of small doors directly south of him. Then there was the unmistakable laughter of a hill giant, and the sound was muffled again by the clang of the forge.
The cell door opened and there was a proud elf chained to the wall. In spite of his many injuries (it seemed that he had been tortured), he looked up defiantly and said, ""I will follow your lead, of course. I swear it. I am Tamanar Ez'Kailion, a Knight of Aluesia."
Animate Objects is Concentration up to a minute. I'm assuming the exploration has taken more than the remaining rounds on it.
~<I've got little in me to call forth magic, but what I have left is among my most powerful. Twice I could either Charm one of the giants, and I still look like an orc, or polymorph one of us. Or use it on lesser magics such as the Hypnotic Pattern you've seen me use before. While polymorphed it matters not the wounds on your body, you will have a new body for the time, much like the druid wardens of the forest primeval. Bible has said he does not wish to become a beast, which I respect. Is there anyone else who would want to avoid this if near dropping, tell me now so I don't accidentally use it on you?>~
~<Also are we scouting to retreat as we came in, going after the the forge where there are more prisoners, checking out the drafty cell, or this long underground corridor? I myself would suggest a quick look at the drafty cell for possible escape for the freed ones, then rescue more from the forge if we think we can.>~
Eoghan spoke as the group continued to gather prisoners out of their cells. The western cellblock contained the elf knight, two humans (who had been caravan guards), and five orcs. The orcs, who were badly beaten, explained that they were slaves who had tried to stage an escape some weeks past, and had been defeated. More of them, they said, had been put into hard labour somewhere in the cellars to the south, "digging for lost treasures."
Tenibor's drafty cell was locked like the rest, but he got Bible to open it as the sailor moved to let prisoners out of the eastern cellblock. After opening it for the elf, she turned to opening the other cells there, starting with the furthest one from the drafty one, freeing Olwen.
Sure enough, Tenibor had discovered a cell that had the back wall broken open. It led into a dark natural cavern.
In case you don't have enough troubles to sort through as a group... here's another way you could go. I also may have glossed over a set of doors to the south-west (not shown here) through which Quinn heard laughing giants and the scream of at least one more prisoner.
No. Sorry about the usual confusion of PBP. Tamanar is an elf knight that was found by Quinn in the furthest cell away from where you are now. Tenibor has probably only just become aware of his presence. What with elves being rare in our micro-setting, this is probably a big deal. Telvorn is a voice from the unopened cell directly next to the 'breezy' one, that makes Tenibor uncomfortable for some (as yet) unknown reason. Tenibor also discovered Olwen, who is the latest to be freed. (I'm trying to balance pushing us forward with giving you options).