There seemed to be an endless supply of pockets in Telenstil's dark, wizard's robe. He had no sooner put away the now shrunken orb in one pocket than he reached into another and pulled out a flat glass flask. Soundlessly he unscrewed the cap and with great care poured out a viscous green jell across a square of roof. From yet another pocket he removed a small leather case, inside was a crystal rod flat on one end and with a scalloped spoon on the other. He spread the jell till it was even, a single layer in a four foot square. The rod he set aside then drew out a tinder box, set flint to steel and set a twig aflame. This he touched to the jell. It hissed and smoked and turned to grey and spread out. Suddenly the square of roof was gone, a grey powdered ash rained down onto the floor below.
Edouard and Derue stepped up, they had come prepared. A coiled length of rope in hand, they tied one end round a jutting beam at the roofs eastern edge then dangled it down the gaping hole. They played it out as if in a pantomime, cautious not to make a sound below the holy Saint of Gytha's faith had silenced the roof above.
Edouard saw the rope's end reach the ground and looked below into a huge and furnished hall; he shook his head and tapped on the elven wizard's arm. Telenstil nodded then looked down himself and grimaced at what he saw. He drew out an ivory tube and pulled from it a small rolled map, then glanced down into the room again. His shoulders shrugged and he motioned for Edouard to descend, but with both hands he gestured for the scout to take great care.
Several torches burned along the walls and in a fireplace big enough to roast a horse, a bed of glowing embers cast a hazy light. The rope lay across a giant table, wide and round and tall, like some stage that actors could use to give a play.
Edouard moved the rope aside so that it would reach the floor, seven or eight feet more below the table's edge. Before he dropped further down he gave the rope a tug and held it still so that his brother Derue could make a quick and safe descent.
Telenstil touched down, he'd followed close behind his two scouts, unwilling to let them face alone what might appear. He looked around the hall and silently cursed the one-time merchant, lately slave to giants, who'd drawn this useless map. The light was dim, but this was no kitchen's larder as he'd been told, instead they stood within the chief's own trophy hall, the gruesome heads upon the eastern wall said as much. Monstrous chairs and tables were scattered about, across the western wall were a row of giant shields, each painted in great detail and crafted as a wedding gift. The giant maidens would take their betrothal year and paint them with what love and care they felt for their future mates. Telenstil knew well the ways of his foes.
Henri descended last. He heard his heart beat once again halfway down. It had been an effort to restrain his desire to dispel the pagan's spell, but the true God blessed this work so he set his distaste aside and accepted the harlot's magic tricks. The Holy end justified the use of such godless blind creatures as these.
All nine stood beneath the giant table, not even Harald needed to stoop to fit, they looked like children playing dress up and make believe.
"Master Telenstil," Talberth began, "What is our plan? This is not where we were supposed to be."
"Obviously my friend," Telenstil said unhappily. "It is a lucky plan which survives intact beyond the first few steps, but yes, we have gone far astray. First we must hide our entrance and our rope. Talberth, please assist our master gnome to ascend." He then asked Ivo, "If you will be so kind, please take the rope and make the roof appear once more to be as it was before we came."
"A simple thing," Ivo replied. "Talberth, if you will."
Talberth took out a length of leather strap and with flick of his wrist tossed it toward the roof, "Oki-Var-os," he said and the strap vanished in the air. He pointed to the gnome and said "Epe-no," and Ivo rose slowly to the roof.
Ivo placed the rope atop the roof and quickly cast a minor spell, the gaping hole became wooden beams once more, but as he stood above the chief's trophy hall he felt fresh drops of rain. His illusion would not hide the leak, still, better to have it appear solid than as a great star-filled gap, he thought.
Ivo dropped back down but floated near the ceiling top. He waved a hand to show he was ready to descend.
"Ca-to." Talberth pointed again and Ivo wafted to the floor.
"It begins to rain up above. That will fool the eye," he told them all, indicating the now whole roof, "but it will not keep the water out."
"It will do," said Telenstil, then holding out their map, "I do not know if we can trust any of this map, but at a guess it has simply been drawn backwards, right is left and left is right."
"Or it may all be wrong," said Talberth.
"Even so. But if it is right to any small degree, then that way," said Telenstil pointing north, "should take us to Nosnra's private chamber and the giant chief's map that I have come to see."