The black box, obsidian stone, smooth and sharp cornered, chipped all along its length, was heavier than the small halfling could budge. It took Talberth, Telenstil, Henri and the wiry old gnome to shift its lid. The top slid aside and smashed against the floor, a corner shattered into fragments and the lid itself split in two.
"What do we have here?" Talberth asked himself aloud.
Inside the box was a white, fur hide wrapped into a roll. The mage reached down and pulled, but it would not budge.
"Something inside," Talberth answered his own question, "heavy as this box."
"Can you unwrap it?" asked Telenstil.
Talberth gave it a half-hearted tug. "No, I will cut it away," he said and reached for his knife.
"Are you crazy!" the thief exclaimed. "That hide is worth its weight in gold."
"Not here it's not," said Talberth. "Here it is just in the way."
"Well, give it a chance at least," Harold climbed up over the tall sides of the box and hopped within. He grabbed the edge and gave the hide a pull with all his strength. He strained and tugged it back and forth till he had drawn some slack. "You can help," he said to the others.
Telenstil laughed and took up two handfuls of the furry hide, Talberth did the same, but Henri merely stood back and watched them work. Ivo would have climbed into the box, but, though it was large, there was just not enough room for the gnome and halfling both. When they had unwrapped a length that he could reach, Ivo grabbed hold and pulled as well. Soon the hide was hanging over the box's lip, part of it still weighed down by what lay within. A black metal chain, its links thick and finely made, with a huge scroll was tied around a section of its length. Talberth drew up the links and untied the scroll; a cured skin, the blockish giant script written across its face.
"Hah!" he said. "If this scroll speaks true then we have our door!"
* * *
The ranger coughed, the smoke was a hazy mist before his eyes but thick and dark above his head. He stood within the small room that held the giants' firewood, the door to Nosnra's meeting room was hot beneath his hand.
"Yes, as I thought," he said then quickly dropped back down the giants' stairs.
* * *
"What do you mean?" Harold asked the mage.
"This chain," said Talberth. "From what this scroll relates, it is a magical device of teleportation."
"Wonderful!" the halfling cried. "Can it take us to Greyhawk?"
"Hmmm, well no I don't think so," Talberth read through the scroll. "It gives instruction for its use but says nothing about the destination."
"Oh great. It probably'll take us back to Nosnra's trophy hall," moaned Harold.
"Yes," said Telenstil, "that does pose a problem. Talberth, that chain seems very heavy. I doubt that we can take it with us and I am loathe to use an unknown device."
"How else are we to get out of this pit?" Talberth asked with vehemence.
"We are not trapped just yet my friend," Telenstil said kindly. "If we cannot take that chain with us, or this other map, and we dare not use it yet, then perhaps we can hide it."
"In here?" Talberth said and looked around at the empty room.
"I can render it invisible," said Ivo.
"Yes, but not insubstantial," Talberth replied. "The giants already are using illusions to mask these things in the first place. I can't see them believing just their eyes if they find them missing."
"Hey!" called Harold. "The others are returning."
The concealed door opened up and Gytha came running in. She quickly passed by the trapped floor and ran up to Telenstil.
"We smelled strong smoke back at the stairs and Harald has gone up to see how the fire is spreading," she said in one long breath.
"That big fool," Harold shook his head.
"Harald is no fool, but your concern speaks well of you," Gytha chided. "I do not think we need worry about the giants coming down from those stairs just yet."
"Good, then we have a bit more time," said Telenstil.
"To do what?" asked Talberth.
"To hide the chain and map," Telenstil replied. "You are correct, just masking them with invisibility is not enough. And I want a chance to study that map at the very least."
The two scouts returned while the others spoke. They dumped the packs they carried to the floor although they were more careful with their own.
"Where is mine?" Henri asked them.
"Oh," Gytha said and smiled at the haughty cleric. "I brought it for you."
Henri looked aghast. He stood there with his hands at his side and Gytha, seeing that he would not take the pack from her, let it fall to the floor.
"You're welcome," she said and turned her back.
"I have an idea," said Harold. The thief looked back down to the trap set in the floor. "I'll spring that trap and we can hide them inside."
"I don't like it," said Talberth. "We don't know what that trap will release; poison gas, set off some alarm, who knows."
"Harold, is such possible?" asked Telenstil.
"Sure, anything is possible, but giants aren't normally so subtle," the thief argued.
"No, and they don't normally use illusions to hide their treasure," said Talberth.
"I agree with Talberth," Ivo spoke up. "Best thing to do with a trap is to avoid it, not set it off."
"Well, it was only a suggestion," Harold crossed his arms and looked a little peeved.