The Adventures of Rothus, page 45 [D-824]

The dwarven caves, outside the Room of Truth:

The Room of Truth seems to not want to show us anything else, so we return to the forges. Aeryn and Lily go to sleep. It is so hard to keep track of days down here. I think the dwarves are always up. In shifts, maybe. Someone is always awake down here. I’m not tired, so I take this time to work on my maps.

Did we make a deal with the king? I know Evan is forging a sword and all, but I don’t remember any agreement....

As I’m wandering around, Durn calls out my name. I turn around and see that the rest of the Tarenvale Travelers (plus Lotech) are assembled. “The King is ready to see you again,” he says. Uh, oh. I look at Travis to see if his face has a look of guilt from a second catastrophe. Instead, he looks as confused as the rest. It’s just way too soon to see the king again. Did he forget to tell us something important?

We walk past the columns that reach up into the stone above. I must say, it is just as impressive the second time! I wonder if the dwarves made it so that everyone feels small like they do.

When the doors open, we are ready for the blinding light, so it does not catch our eyes like before. We look up at the throne and see Evan standing there with a very expensive axe. Oh, Evan, the dwarves aren’t stupid enough to think that you forged that axe in the last few hours. They will know that you stole it and tried to pass it off as your own. Then they’ll surely punish all of us. Destroying the library was an honest accident, but open theft wont fly.

We all walk up to Evan and the king, kneeling as before. “Where have you all been for the last two weeks?” Evan asks.

“What do you mean? It’s only been, like, two hours!” we protest. Did the Room of Truth distort time? That would be unfortunate if we leave the mountains and find out that three years have passe! Or some such. Or maybe Evan is on drugs? Or we are? Those mushrooms from the previous meal...? I doubt it.

“It has been two hours. And it has been two weeks,” King Horthgar explains. Or, I guess that’s not really an explanation. “There is another room, like the Room of Truth, that does not show visions, but speeds up time. I heard the urgency in your voices the last time we spoke and thought Evander here would do well to hurry.” Oh, well, at least we’re not crazy. That’s a comfort. A Room of Time, a Room of Truth... so many possibilities! I want to be king. Wait, that means Evan produced that impressive blade! Wow! Mr. Smith would be stunned.

Then, King Horthgar summons the axe. Evan formally presents it to him. Lifting the weapon, the king calls out Durn’s name. Durn walks up the steps and draws his own axe. They both heft their weapons and swing at each other! Are they totally insane?! Is Durn going to kill the king? He said he likes duels to the death, after all! No, the king is definitely going to kill Durn! This is not going to end well!

I look around the room trying to figure out how to stop this. But every dwarf in the chamber is smiling at the battle. They are totally relaxed, not a one of them readying a weapon. Wait, that guy’s even taking bets! I bet 1 gold piece that the king’ll win. He’s got the better blade and, well, he’s the king.

Danged, Durn is actually doing pretty well. He’s faster than the king, if only slightly. Also, even though his blade doesn’t looks at good at the king’s, it is plenty sturdy to parry blows. Durn quickly gets a clear shot on the kings neck, but pulls it at the last heart-beat. Everyone holds their breath for a moment, then the king surrenders with a chuckle.

King Horthgar lowers his axe and turns to Evan, “A fine blade you’ve made! This will make a fair trade for my bracers.” He then carefully removes the bracers and hands them to a very relieved Evan. “Now, Durn will see to it that you are safely led out of the dwarven holds. Fare thee well.”

We exit the throne room with a rush of adrenaline. Mission accomplished! And we’ll get out of here before Travis breaks something else! Durn guides us back to the forges and offers us one last feast before we leave. We all gladly take the hospitality.

As we wait for the meal, I ask Evan to assist me with some experiments. He is to stand still with the bracers and I walk away from him, then towards him. It seems that when the amulet is about sixty feet from the bracers, the amulet stops glowing (the bracers don’t glow at all). I ask Lily if she has a small pouch that I can use to cover the glow of my amulet. The last thing I want is to be hiding in a shadow and then have my amulet start glowing! She says she doesn’t have a pouch, but will start making one.

After the feast, we still aren’t sure if its been two hours or two weeks in the real universe. I mean Horthgar can say what he likes, but we want evidence. Evan, Lily and Aeryn ask the white robed dwarf if they can visit the library. Travis and I are not allowed. Aeryn returns with a huge tome and says the library is still a mess. That means it’s been only a few hours.

We all gather at the forges with Durn. We’ve collected all our things and follow him down the twisting tunnels. It takes us several hours, but we eventually arrive at the surface. We look up into the sky and see that it is dark. Just like the tunnels. Great. Well, at least the air is easier to breathe.

“So, is this the entryway that we came into the caves?” someone asks.

“Well, I doubt it. I think you came in over there, about a hundred yards,” Durn answers.

And now, our time with Durn is at an end. The dwarves don’t leave the mountains, so unless we return here, this could be the last time we ever see him. With that heavy thought, we bid farewell to our dwarven friend and he returns deep into the mountain.

Looking at the starscape, Travis figures out which way back to the oracle’s camp, but we are too exhausted. We unroll our bedrolls and settle in for some sleep.

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