A chilling wind pushes out as you open the door. Almost as if the building had held its breath. You peer into a dark building, the interior walls looks to made out of stone with no visible furniture around. You need some light if you want to see any further in here.
“It’s dark”, says Putty.
“Really?” says Arnald and squints into the dark. “Is it really now? Dark? You’re sure?”
“Yes. Don’t you have any magic for that?”
Arnald sighs, and leans tiredsome against the wall.
“It’s just…” says Arnald and stares sadly into the distance. “I don’t like casting these petty spells. These hands were made for greater things! Light this, read that, flare those… It’s like doing the dishes, and you know my stance on that!”
“Not everyone can create light out of thin air”, says Putty. “I can’t.”
“Yes you can. You have torches.”
“That’s not the same.”
“Don’t make me flare that beard of yours! Again!”
Putty gives Arnald one dark look before pulling out flint and steel and one dry torch of his backpack. Seconds later the flames are dancing in the dark.
“After you, my little candle!” says Arnald. Putty doesn’t answer, and steps into the building.
When you have lit the torch you immediately take notice of a not so ordinary detail under you. Directly on the floor inside the building there is a mat with three words printed in quite big letters:
“Remember Keys, Money and Who you are”
You take some further steps in and are shown a quite clean interior and indeed some furniture can be seen here. A wooden bench with a table next to it is seen on the wall on the other side, some pillows are randomly assigned to the stone tiled floor in the corner to your right. Some books, opened and closed, are also scattered around the pillows. What catches your eyes attention, however, is that there is a valved opening to your right that bleeds soft flickering light into the room you are in. A distant clinking sound , like a maid cleaning the dishes, comes along with the flickering light.
Arnald signs to Putty to stay put and be quiet. Sneaking over to some books, Arnald picks one up at random and bounches back to Putty.
“HERE”, he whispers and holds out the book to Putty. “READ IT. IF IT’S MAGICAL, I’LL KEEP IT. IF NOT, YOU MAY HAVE IT AS A PREMATURE BIRTHDAY GIFT.”
Putty takes the book with his free hand and flips it open.
The book is old and has an eerie feel to it, however, not magic. There is a title on the book “The Future” and on the spine the author has proudly put his name “Tarragon Balm”,
Upon flipping the pages randomly Putty ends up with what seems to be a sub-chapter title in bold text saying “What will happen with the Undead?”
You hear a slow but not so loud bang from behind. When you look back you can see that the door you opened has now shut.
“DID YOU FART?” Arnald whispers and nods towards the now shut door. “OR DID SOME OTHER GASEOUS BEING CLOSE THE DOOR?”
Putty tucks away the book in his backpack, and inspects the room.
“Let’s take a look in there”, says Putty and starts walking towards the valved opening, torch first.
“YOU FIRST”, whispers Arnald, and follows after.
The book fits fine in your backpack. As you come closer to the valved opening you sense that the clicking sound becomes stronger.
You reach the valved opening and peak in. To your surprise, perhaps, you can see two men washing dishes over a big metal pot. One of them, a character with pointy ears, washes plates while the other, a beast or human you do not know, dries the plates.
You believe you have come to the kitchen of their house for here is a dining table with some left over food left on the table. A working bench with knives and other domestic tools is extending from where they stand washing the dishes. The light comes from a fire place to your right. A large cauldron is fitted over it.
Both of the characters do not seem to notice your presence.
“DID THE BOOK MENTION ANY OF THESE?” whispers Arnald, although his hoarse voice is rather easy to hear.
Putty shakes his head.
“Why do you believe that?”
“IT COULD’VE BEEN A DIARY. YOU KNOW, MAYBE AN ENTRY OR TWO THAT SAYS ‘TODAY I DID THE DISHES AGAIN WITH MY BEASTFRIEND, AND I LOVE THAT WE ARE BOTH VERY FRIENDLY AND EASY GOING AND NOT INTERESTED IN EATING INTRUDERS.’”
“Do people write like that?”
Neither Arnald or Putty moves, and continues to inspect the two characters in front of them.
You get to watch the elven man jump in surprise, throwing a plate in the air, as he turns his head a little just to see you two.“By the Powers, you almost scared the life out of me”.
The beast monster, slow as a snail, turns around some seconds later. He does not speak but manage to get out an “AAAooorr” painfully slow. Seeing his features more clearly now, you are quite confident it is a human but there seem to be a balm covering his entire body, except his hands which has tight leather gloves on them holding a cloth to dry the plates with. Underneath the balm you see a dull gray skin.
The elf addresses you further with a clear and bright but hesitant voice “What? When? Who are you? How did you get in here?” his face expresses thorough confusion.
“If you don’t know how we got in here…” says Arnald and points slowly at the elf. “…then how did you get in here? Hmmm!”
“We knocked”, says Putty.
“Several times!” adds Arnald. “And really hard! Not just knock, knock, but KNOCK KNOCKELY KNOCKETY KNOCK.”
“I assume you have the habit to assume that if no one answers your knocking you are free to open a locked door? I also assume you also were not taught to greet and introduce yourself before you ask the questions?” he smiles and shakes his head
“See!” Arnald says turned to Putty. He then turns to the elf and continues: “So stubborn these little fellows are, I told him just the same thing… Ah well.”
“My name is Putty”, Putty says and pulls up his leg, showing his iron cast foot. “I have an iron foot.”
“Not much of a swimmer either”, Arnald adds.
“And this is my companion Arnald. I’m sorry for our intrusion, elf. We seek only refuge until dusk.”
“And a nice meal of course, unless he’s the cook”, says Arnald and points at the beast.
“You are both forgiven. Refugees, you say! Have you escaped from something? Death perhaps?”
“Oh, I wish”, says Arnald and rolls his eyes. “Only dwarves, I’m afraid. And that wasn’t even an escape, more like a slow walk out of beardhood. And dice. And something-something. It’s difficult to hear with all that…you know…” He makes a circular gesture around his mouth.
“May I ask of your name, elf?” says Putty.
He turns his eyes to Arnald “Dwarves…hmm. I see.” and then to Putty “My name is secret. And, you , i assume are the dwarf here? Did you follow the taller gentleman here? I think not. You look to be companions of some sort. No details needed, please! But I have had enough of chit-chating. This is not a shelter for refugees and certainly not a restaurant but still I do not know why you are here. Pray tell.”
“Oh, he’s not a dwarf”, Arnald says and pats Putty on the head. “Not even remotely. He’s…my child. Yes. My beloved son. A com-ple-tely normal human child.”
“I’m not…” Putty starts, but Arnald interrupts him quickly:
“His mother was a whore. There, I said it! Don’t judge me, we all make mistakes!”
Arnald hides his face with his left hand, while stroking Putty over the head with the right.
“I’m not his son”, says Putty and brushes off Arnalds hand with a frown.
“He’s rejecting me!” shouts Arnald and turns away, with one hand stretched out back. A second later he turns back again with his usual look on his face. “Alright, he’s not my son – and will never be!”
“We’re not refugees”, Putty continues, ignoring Arnald. “We’ve just arrived here in Neverwinter, and waiting for the Moonstone to open. But we will take leave now.”
Putty turns around and exits through the valved opening. Before Arnald does the same, he whispers hoarsly: “SHE WAS A WHORE, YOU KNOW!”
As soon Putty utters “Neverwinter” the elf puts his hands on his ears and sings “lalalalalala” monotonously. His helper stares as blankly as his balmed skin. When you leave the kitchen they do not try to stop you.
You arrive out in the darker room where you first entered. The door which you came through is closed and likewise the outside, there are no locks nor handles on the door.
“That went well!” says Arnald and pats his friend on the back. “Out of two encounters we’ve made zero friends – at least we’re consistent!”
“I’d rather feel cold than to stay here”, Putty mumbles. “Please open the door.”
“Use your magic.”
“I can’t. These little sausages are all tired and need to sleep” he says and wiggles his fingers in front of Putty. “At least those who wishes to open locked doors.”
“Don’t you have anything else you can use?”
“Let’s see… Ah, yes! Stand back, or be forever engulfed in flames!”
Arnald stretches out both his hands towards the door, flips his head backwards and starts chanting: “GIBBELY GIBBELY HOBBELY HOBBELY GAMMA GAMMA HEY!”
He slowly lowers his hands again, sighs and says: “Of course, that was just crazy talk and not a proper spell. Ah well, can’t blame me for not trying!”
“I’ll ask the elf if he’ll let us out”, says Putty and goes back through the valved opening.
“I’ll stay here and guard myself!” shouts Arnald and stays put.
The elf spots putty and the question comes without much delay “Back again. What is it now?”. “AAAooommm” the other confirms.
“We do not wish to disturb you any longer, elf”, says Putty and sighs. “But we have a problem with the front door. It will not open.”
“That is because it is not meant to be opened. You want me to open it for you, I suppose? Yes? But before you inquire any further dear “mate-in-shackles”, allow me to know: WHY are you here?”
“Yes, I would like you to open the door”, says Putty monotonous. He breathes through his nose a couple of times, and adds: “Please.”
“I can’t open the door! I don’t want to open the door! You got in here, I am sure you can get out as well. Excuse me.” The elf then leaves rather annoyed, seemingly, to the right of the fire place and disappears behind a wall. The strange gray-skinned humanoid stays put.”
Putty sighs loudly. After a moment of settling his thoughts, he returns to Arnald only to find him flat on the floor.
“So?” says Arnald without looking at Putty. “Did the kind elf agree to let us out?”
“No, the elf didn’t. Nor did it seem like he would know how to.”
Arnald sits up as if pulled by an invisible hand, and says: “I knew it!”
“I suspected it the very second I laid my beautiful eyes upon him. I knew it!”
Arnald gets up on his feet, and starts wandering with his hands gesturing.
“You knew what?”
“He doesn’t live here either! Who locks themselves up so badly that they can’t leave? Hmm? Of course! He came in here a century ago, hungry, cold, young, naïve – oh, jolly youth with your ignorance, tripping through life with a childish smile! But of course! Peeking inside – who wouldn’t? We did! Peeking inside, a bit more, a bit more, a bit… BAM! Door closes, elf caught. History repeats itself, and again, and again…”
Arnald stops in front of the door with a big smile on his face. He stands upright, legs together, like a soldier waiting for commands.
“So who lives here?” asks Putty with a sceptical look on his face.
“Don’t know, don’t care! The sooner we get out of here, the better!”
“But we need…”
“As a matter of fact, we don’t. Seems I miscalculated earlier – there’s still some meat in my sausages!”
He wiggles his fingers, and turns towards the door. He starts whistling on a simple melody while waving his left hand. 3
As earlier, the door just opens and you get a glimpse of the falling snow again on a white city landscape. It is a fresh breeze that is sucked into the building, gently touching your pants so they make a slight flapping noise.
The door needs to be pushed open a little bit further.