"Stand back, just in case," says Raúguey, hefting the crowbar and eyeing the bar-lined door at the end of the water-filled hall. When the others nod their ready state, he jams the bar into the gap by the lock, and heaves. There's a creak, and then a sudden SCREE-SNAP as the lock mechanism twists, then breaks in the rusted frame. The door sloooshes inward then grinds to a stop against the submerged floor.
Raúguey reaches in to give it a shove, but Rawon stops him with a touch to the shoulder. "That's far enough for us to get through. Let Maro and I take a look." The elves slip through the opening, and as quietly as possible step out of the water and onto the stairs. The others cover the lights so they can see into the darkness beyond. They return just a few minutes later.
"There's another door, open, and then a small room, ten by fifteen. Corridor and more bar doors beyond. It looks like it may have been a jail." says Maro.
"What about the scraping noise?" whispers Durego anxiously.
Rawon nods. "It's coming from this direction, somewhere."
"Let's move then," growls Raúguey, testing the edge of his blade.
The group rearranges itself into the usual order, and advances. The small room at the top of the stair contains a pair of stone tables and several wooden benches that have seen better days. The door beyond yields to Raúguey's crowbar, opening into a thirty-foot long corridor, five feet wide. As the group advances they peer into the small cells, five feet by eight, on either side, all empty save for rotted piles of straw and cloth that once must have been sleeping mats. "Not a place I'd like to stay," whispers Locky.
The door at the far end of the corridor is ajar. Beyond lies a ten- by ten-foot room, with another bar-lined door to the north. Rusted manacles hang from staples in the wall, and fragments of broken furniture are piled in the southeast corner. Ingivld raises a hand, "Listen." After a pause, everyone can hear the noise, scraaape, scraaatch, scraape, coming from the north door. Ingvild sidles forward and peeks between the bars. "It's a cave. Sounds like the noise is coming from the right. It's still kind of muffled though."
"Let's get in there then. Any traps?" asks Rawon. Ingivild shakes his head and nods to Raúguey, who applies the crowbar. The door pops open with ease, and the trio in front, Mordikarr, Maro, and Raúguey move swiftly into the chamber beyond.
It's a cave, a rough triangle about 25 feet across its widest point. Loose rock and boulders lie scattered around the edges, and there are two gaping holes in the floor, a single massive stone between them. "Watch your step," says Maro over his shoulder as the group moves forward.
Rawon and Raúguey move to the edge of the nearest hole and peer through the narrow opening, noting that the natural crevice has been chipped and shaped, creating a hole about three feet across. It leads to a pit-like chamber about fifteen feet deep and six feet wide. A rag-covered skeleton lies curled at the bottom. The northern pit is much the same.
"Oubliettes," whispers Ohwatoo. "I guess they forgot a couple prisoners when this place was abandoned."
"I don't hear the scraping any more," says Locky. "It seemed to stop when Raúguey opened the door."
"Quiet everyone. Cover the lights," says Dagmarten. Everyone stops moving around, and those in the room cover the glowing stones they carry, leaving only a trickle of light from the outer room. Five seconds. Ten. Fifteen. Durego shifts his position and Ingvild shoots him a warning look. Twenty seconds. Thirty. Then suddenly: scraaape, scraaatch, scraape. Ingvild cocks his head, looks at Mordikarr, and points. The wild man nods agreement.
"Whatever it is," whispers the thief, "it's under that boulder."