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Spinning on a Dizzy Ledge

The rough and twisting wormhole deposits me on the ground. I quickly roll to one side as my sparse lunch of apples and cabbage cover an unsuspecting lad near the portal's exit. "What the…. Oh, god!" The youngster, smelling my thick puke covering him, tries to control his upchucking reflexes. He turns to me, a face of anger, "You sick son of a reedshark! I ought to drag your fat ass to the Alter of Bael'zharon and teach you some manners!" Before I could apologize he jumped through another portal nearby.

I bring myself to my feet, brush off my brown pants and look around. I stood in what looked like an underground building. The walls and floor were wood, no windows led to the outside. Near me, behind a rusting iron gate was a portal, the one my new bile-splattered friend used. From the ruddy glow of the torches perched on the walls, I could see another door across the room. If this mysterious building was near Holtburg, I have never seen it before.

Another being appears in the dungeon next to me, probably a user of the same portal. He is festooned from head to toe in gold platemail, a massive blade held in one hand and a tower shield of pure pyreal in the other. He looks towards me, and his strong face turns to confusion. "You must be of a high level my portly friend. I am unable to determine your stats." The golden knight says in a rough voice.

Ah, my specialized deception skills are truly an asset. "35, you flaxen Neanderthal. A skilled vagabond and a VERY dangerous man. You should've seen me drop the drudge out by Teth, and saving the life of a meager mace wench. Oh, she lusted me then, but I was in haste. I'd like to see a lumbering moose like you handle both beast and bink like I did."

"I will ignore your twisted tongue, for I need you to advance me within this dungeon. Standing between my destination and me are 3 doors, locked from the other side. I would like to hire you to compromise the locks so I may pass."

The word "hire" sang in my ear like the soothing voices of angels. A strong man as this enrobed in pure gold must have a heavy purse. Thick drool salivated from my mouth and dripped past my quivering lip and chin, noticeably soaking the front of my shirt. Thoughts of me lying in a bed of feather pillows, wearing nothing but a thin loin cloth, while attractive femmes fed me grapes and thirsted me with cool wines. "Hire, eh? The thoughts of me rubbing ripen grapes on some harlot's naughty bits appeals to me. What are you offering?"

"Uh, definitely not ripen grapes." The warrior shakes his head in confusion. "Gain me passage to the underground portals and I will fill your satchel with pyreal and an item from my packs."

"Well lead on then, my rich Mongoloid friend. Time is wasting, and time is something I have little of." I follow the brave combatant to the first door, the one directly across from where the portal deposited me. I examine the lock carefully, it seems much more intricate than the empty chests in the buildings of Holtburg. I fish out a ring of keys from an inner pocket and thumb trough each one until I find the right key. "This looks to be the one." Gently I insert the key into the lock and turn. I can feel the resistance of the hasp opposing the lock opener's form. With a quick wiggle and a steady turn, the lock pops open. "Hoo hoo!" I dance around the room on one foot then the other. Facing away from the lock, I bend over and shake my backside at it, then turn and make movements as if I'm making love to an invisible woman hovering in mid air in front of me. I turn to the knight and hold up one hand, waiting for a high five.

"Please stop your odd movements, the rolls of flesh covering your robust frame are making me sea sick. You act as if this is your first lock compromised, yet it is a fairly difficult one to pick."

Too embarrassed to explain that my high pick skills come from identifying rings of keys at the shop, I spin another well-thought lie. "Uhh… I uhhh… My first picked lock? Ha! Uhhh… Yeah, I've picked the locks of the chastity belts of many virginal young women. Yeah, many belts." Damn, I'm good.

"Yeah, ok. Well, let's move on to the next door, stud."

The door opens to a long dim hallway. The distinct smell of death fills the air, causing an uneasy churn in my stomach. "Ready yourself, lover boy. The undead still walk these halls." I draw out my practice knife and hold it in front of me. "What the hell is that?" The warrior looks down at my blade. "Just get behind me, and try and not die, will ya." Without question I move behind the fighter.

Just as we step into a side passage from the main hall, a rotting figure jumps in front of my golden hero. Its eyes droop in the festering sockets, skin dangling from it's face and arms. The vision reminds me of the day a leper entered Holtburg begging for money and I punched him. The zombie turns his attention to me and charges. I scream like a slapped pig and drop to my knees, covering my head with my shaking arms. A pool of steaming urine forms around my body as I wait for my death. I peek out between two stubby fingers and see a decaying pile of flesh before me and the warrior looking down at me, shaking his head in disapproval.

"Look at you! Along comes a little zombie and you piss all over yourself. Pathetic! Just stay behind me, my little fat pissy pants." He chuckles to himself then begins snorting and laughing hard. "And try and stay down wind." His belittling laughter leads us down the hall and to another wooden door. As easy as before, I pop open the lock, but hold myself back from doing a victory dance.

"Wait here." The knight runs ahead and I hear the gurgle of death. He returns and leads me past another pile of flesh to an iron gate. "This is the last lock to pick."

After passing the iron gate, the fighter turns to me with a serious look on his face. "The pathway here gets dangerous. A long spiral staircase lies ahead of us and the lich of this dungeon guard its steps. In case we get separated, here's payment for the locks." He hands me a heavy purse jingling with coin and pulls out a dagger. Giving me the dagger, he says, "Throw away that god awful knife you use now and carry this." Then he runs down the passage. "Just run as fast as you can, don't stop to fight anything until we reach the ledge."

I follow him down the stairs and into the path of a waiting lich. I go to drop to my knees again, but the momentum of my forward movement mixed with my excessive weight causes me to summersault down the stairs. I roll like a bowling ball of coagulated grease past the lich, bouncing off the wall and down the next flight of stairs. Battered and bruised, I reach the bottom. The landing seemed unusually soft. I pull myself up and see what it was that broke my fall. Before me is a heap of rotten and rancid flesh, mixed with pieces of bone and held together with a thick slime. The sight and smell were too much for me and I empty my stomach contents all over the front of my clothes.

"It appears that the bodies of these lich softened your travels down the stairs. Well let's get to the bottom and into the hub." I follow him to the other side of the room. The chamber ends at a ledge, 250 feet above the floor below. I feel a rush of dizziness flood over my brain and I fall backwards and onto my butt. "To gain access to the portals, we must jump down here."

The blood rush intensifies and my vision begins to narrow and cloud, then blackening totally. My body collapses.

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