"Maybe there's another way in," says Durego. "I'm going to check out the wall here." The priest wanders along the northern wall, poking and prodding at the worked stone blocks. Almost immediately he stumbles over a third statue base half-buried in leaves. There's no sign of whatever statue it once supported, but the base is about the same size as the others.
Ohwatoo stations himself near the entry, and keeps his eyes on the surrounding woods, glancing inside from time to time to see what trouble the others are creating. He watches as Dagmarten starts cutting a few small saplings with a hand axe, and then trimming branches down to stubs. He puzzles over this a few minutes, then smiles, "Good idea Dagmarten. Jam those into the arrow slits and the branches will catch on the edges, making them harder to remove."
Meanwhile Ingvild and Mordikarr, having seen trees being cut and people tramping around, decide to investigate the statues further. Mordikarr lifts the thief up so he can check the details. The statues are weathered, but once the vegetation is stripped away, he can see that they depict humans, one male, one female, with aquiline noses, sharp cheekbones, and straight hair restrained by thin circlets that were once once silvered (but are now little more than tarnished black streaks). "Anyone recognize these faces?"
Ohwatoo studies the features. "They don't look to be Toresden or Hasuden. Maybe they were the people that lived here before Hembard arrived. Strom thinks this place is human construction, maybe they're the builders."
"Well there's no other way in I can find," says Durego, joining the others at the entry. "Did they try the portcullis yet?"
Inside, Raúguey, Grendor, Maro, Strom, and Rawon are gathered at the grate. Maro and Rawon slip through the gap in the bars and stand by the beam, ready to slide it under the gate, assuming the others can lift it. The three strongest brace themselves, and heave. After a few seconds, Strom releases his grip. "Ah laddies, we're not budging that with just three," he whispers. The others nod agreement.
"Leave two to cover, we'll look a little further in," whispers Rawon. "But be ready to get out, fast." It's a quick trip, and soon the elves are back out with the rest of the group. Everyone goes back outside to avoid making noise. Rawon reports: "One chamber, 25x35 or so. There are five sets of doors, three single, two double. One of the single doors looks like it leads to the arrow slits, one of the double door sets is slightly ajar. Looks like a passage beyond, but we can't really see inside. The smell is bad, something hasn't bathed in 10 years or so, aside from the Dwarf I mean."
"So we try to lift the gate with more, or we go through the gap in the bars," says Saurabh.
"OK, let's all go in, quietly," says Maro. "We'll jam the branches into the arrow slits so they're partially blocked. Ohwatoo, Saurabh, keep watch, Rawon and I will go through the bars and be ready to move the beam in place. Everyone else, grab the portcullis and heave. Agreed?"
Everyone nods and moves out. As Maro and Rawon slide through the bars, Mordikarr and Dagmarten jam branches into the arrow slits. Then move to join the others at the gate. There's not enough room for all, so Ingvild and Dagmarten slip through the bent bars and lift from the other side. "Ready, heave!" hisses Grendor.
Slowly the gate rises. Somewhere in the ceiling there is a mechanical clanking / grinding noise. "We shouldn't be able to lift this, must be counter-weighed," grunts Strom.
The bottom of the gate reaches five feet, and Strom starts to lose his grip. "Help with the beam," groans Durego.
"Now, heave again." One last effort and the gate is seven feet up, the limit of reach for most. The trio on the beam try to wedge it in, but it's a ten foot long beam. They get it wedged in, but at a steep angle. "We didn't plan this very well," mutters Rawon.
"A few inches higher... there!" The base of the beam catches in one of the holes cut in the floor designed to receive the vertical bars of the portcullis. Everyone staggers back, cringing a bit as the beam and gate creak and groan.
OOC: the bottom of the portcullis is about seven feet up. The beam is angled at about a 45 degree angle, now that it's wedged in, you're not sure you can actually get it out.
Thudding footsteps interrupt whatever Maro was going to say. The double doors swing open, a massive shape squeezes through the opening and lurches into the room. The... thing is humanoid, basically. It would be close to 20 feet tall if it were not hunchbacked and twisted, one leg longer than the other. One eye is thrice the size of the other, and a third eye peers from the side of its head. Huge, misshapen ears, one on the neck, one on the top of its head, and one in the right spot, plus two separate noses that flank the creatures broad thick-lipped mouth, give it an alien, half-melted appearance. It leans on its long, thick left arm, and hefts a length of chain, each link almost the size of Raúguey's head, in its short, two-handed right arm.
"WHO AT DOOR?!?!" the thing's voice is surprisingly thin and high-pitched for such a large creature. "WHO COME PLAY WITH STEV!?" It makes a happy burbling noise, and then mutters something that sounds distinctly like "YUM YUM."
"I guess we know who lifts the gate," whispers a pale-faced Saurabh.
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