BA glared at Vic as they were pushed into a square stone hut at the base of the cliff, the thick wooden door closed tightly behind them. Frenzied dust motes danced in the slanted light from the barred windows. "Well," muttered BA, "this is a load of crap."
It took little time to study the room, which was only ten or twelve feet on each side. A raised stone circle sat in the floor in the middle of the room, square holes spaced evenly at two feet from the center. A small stone stopper at the end of a pipe fed cold, clean water into a narrow trough beneath the window. Another stopper allowed the water to flow into an open drain in the floor near the corner, too small for anything except insects and rodents to use. The room smelled faintly of old sweat and hot stones, though the interior was chilly. The walls echoed slightly when they spoke.
"Indoor plumbing with a sink and toilet, probably fed from the glacier above the city, if Haggard was accurate." Vic was seated on the floor in his underwear, diligently cleaning the stain from his cargo pants with the plant extract. "You know, this stuff works really well."
BA sat in the center of the room on the round platform, staring at the door. "Glad you're pleased, brother, because I'm not. The first guy who pokes his head through that door is going to lose it, and we're out of here." BA's jaw muscles were clenched.
Vic stopped cleaning his pants and looked at BA. "Too many in the city, even for you, BA. We'll think of something else." He scrutinized his pant leg. "There." Vic rinsed the pant leg in the running water and examined it in the fading light. "BA, I think that plant extract worked perfectly." He held the small flask and shook it. "And it only took a few drops."
BA still stared at the door. "Toss it here so I can take a look," he growled. Vic gave the vial an underhanded toss toward BA, who deftly snatched it from the air without moving his eyes from the door. Vic finished putting his pants on while BA smelled the liquid. "Not much of a smell, either." The vial disappeared into a leg pocket of BA's pants.
The door opened and Kobo stood there, unarmed. "Gentlemen!" His deep voice boomed. "We will send food, and furs to sleep on. We were not expecting company." He leaned against the doorway casually. "Of course, we never expect company here. We are isolated, as we prefer it."
Vic moved a step closer to Kobo. "So the issue is isolation, I take it?" He surreptitiously tried to wave BA into a calmer state. BA simply ground his teeth and didn't move.
Kobo's grin widened. "Precisely. We like our lifestyle. We would not have others speak of our city."
"We understand that."
"And yet you are Adventurers, so no doubt feel you must tell others of this place." Kobo's grin was not as broad.
"As you pointed out earlier, Haggard already advertised your existence, so anything we say would add little to the original narrative."
Kobo pondered Vic's statement. "Ah, but Haggard is considered fiction. You two most certainly are not."
BA glanced at Vic and shrugged. "Go ahead," he said. "It doesn't matter at this point. I'll either kill them all or they let us go."
Next part, next Wednesday.
Author commentary (if I have one)