“Final Release?” muttered Iricah. “What could this mean?” She had finally deciphered the title of one of the last books she had found in Melf’s laboratory. She set it upon the bar counter. Zy’an poured from one of Melf’s many magnificent bottles.
“Seriously,” he said impressed, “If the Kasillians made gin this good, I honestly don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want them around!”
“To the Light, Goodly Celns!” they cheered, and downed their drinks.
“Shall we?” said Areia. As usual she wanted to get on with it, her way of combating the fear she would never admit to.
“Shall we, what?” said Thrak. He was spitting out the terrible liquid. He never could understand these human things. They always turned their little noses up at the good stuff, and instead swallowed the things his people would never put near their snouts!
“It’s time to Escape from Enceladus,” said Frank.
Before long, they once more stood before the teleportation circles. Without a word, each stepped around, and as Areia counted down from three, they stepped on together, learning from their past mistakes. Instantly, the light went away, and they found themselves standing in a dark place. It smelled old.
“It smells like a…,” began Iricah, but Zy’an finished it for her.
“It smells like a laboratory.”
“Yes,” said the bard, “Indeed!”
“Swords up,” grunted Thrak, “We have company.” He pointed an axe to a figure beyond a long hallway. It was running, or looked like it was running towards them. But it wasn’t moving. In fact, it was frozen solid. They moved closer, cautiously.
“Is it a statue?” asked Frank. He was walking around the little figure of a long robed man, a tiny man, perhaps a gnome. He wore odd clothes, the likes of which they had never seen before. “It looks so lifelike!”
“Final Release Initiated, release key operated,” spoke a voice from all around them, it echoed down the hallway, and corridors and drifted down to dark areas beyond.
“Hey, wait a second!” Shouted Areia to the voice, turning in a circle. “No one operated a key! No one did that! Did you operate a key, Thrak?”
Thrak looked in his sack for a key, and then nodded no.
“Thrak didn’t operate a key! Did you operate a key, Zy’an? Frank?” They too nodded no. But neither was really watching her anymore. Instead, they were staring at the statue of the running little man. “Now, see! I didn’t operate a key either. Nobody operated a key, so you can just take that back creepy little ancient voice!”
She had spun to Iricah. Iricah was holding the book she had found in Melf’s Lab. She stuck it in one of her bags. “Uh….” she began.
“Iricah, Iricah, what did you do, Iricah?”
Iricah tried to answer but her voice was drowned out by large clankings and clinkings deep from within the bowels of this place. She imagined many different doors swinging open, and impossible things, like the nightmare beasts they had fought in Melf’s lab, slinking out of their entrapped prisons. She was going to say something like, “You see, I think this book is actually a key, Melf’s key he kept to use when he needed,” or something like that, but her words hung upon her lips.
Then, in between a distant roar that raised their brows, and something slamming, it was suddenly quiet. That’s when the little statue fell upon the floor. Now suddenly, a very real person, he put his hands out to lift himself off the floor, and looked around at them.
“My, you all wear the strangest fashions,” said the little old man. His hair stuck out in weird ways, as if he had curled them that way on purpose. He kept staring at their garments, “Why are your pants so tight around the cro…”
“Listen Old Timer,” quipped Areia, “I’d love to talk latest fashion with you more, but for now, we’ve got a whole Kasillian factory full of baddies loose on us. Can you help us out a bit here? We’re trying to escape.”
“This is the way, you were looking!” remarked Zy’an. “Can you remember why you looked to be going that way? Were you going somewhere? It’s sort of important.”
“I…I…,” stammered the little man, “I….can’t remember!”
“Can’t you remember anything, friend?” asked Iricah trying a different approach. She stared off in the direction of the growl. Dark and deep down the corridor, something was coming. “Let’s start with your name?” She spoke politely, but friendly, being systematic, “What’s your name, my friend?”
“Oh, well that’s an easy one!” cried the little man, dusting himself off and looking up at the bard. He stuck out a hand in a very strange way with his thumb facing her and his fingers turned to the side. “My name is Lood, and I humbly…”
“Again, weird handshaker!” growled Areia. “Just tell the nice lady how the Ketian night to get out of here, k?” She ran a bit down the corridor ahead, her daggers flashing. She peeked around a hall.
“But you were looking this way! Were you not?” Zy’an thought out loud, as the noises all around them told them more and more of the deadly foes of Enceladus were released. “Staying here is our death. We must find a way out! Perhaps, despite your apparent amnesia, you were thinking the same thing when Enceladus was put into stasis!”
“Perhaps he was facing his attackers?” said Thrak.
“Perhaps, he had amnesia then too,” said Frank, “Oh wow! This is really trouble. I say we pick a tunnel randomly and start stabbing things until we see daylight? Anyone in say ‘aye'”?
Everyone laughed except for Thrak who casually said “Aye,” his tongue lolling around to the side of his mouth.
Areia was running now from the corridor, and the look on her face, told them all to run with her. “Something wicked this way comes!” She yelled. “Move it, move it, move it!”
“Bottleneck the bastards!” yelled Zy’an. “Now, we stage ourselves here, or we die!” He turned in his stance, his fists raised. Behind him the others knew he was right, they turned, weapons drawn and waited on bated breath.