"That was not here before," Harald pointed at an open door where only stone wall had been.
"Looks like they may have found us another way out," said Talberth.
"Perhaps only another way further in," Telenstil replied.
"I thought I was the one with the gloomy thoughts," Talberth said to his old mentor.
"I hear voices," Harald interrupted them. "Sounds like Harold but I can't make out what he is saying."
The ranger stepped around the half open door. The halfing stood upon a man-high wooden chest against the eastern wall and looked toward the south, which was out of Harald's sight, while the red-haired cleric, Gytha, stood nearby. Someone spoke from where the ranger could not see then Harold spoke again.
"Hey!" the ranger called. "Have you found a passage out of here?"
The halfling turned and with wide eyes shouted for the ranger to stop. "Don't Move! You Fool! Don't Move!"
Harald paused his foot lifted, about to take a step which might have been his last.
* * *
Harold dropped to the ground and ran down the hall.
"You big buffoon, one more step and you would have been in it."
"In what?" Harald asked. "I don't see a thing."
The floor looked to be made from solid stone. The entire area seemed to be resting on a single slab of rock.
"Our holy Henri spotted it. He has a great talent for seeing hidden things," Harold explained. "It's some sort of trap, though what kind I do not know."
"Is there a way around?" Talberth asked as he stood in the doorway.
"Of course," laughed the little halfling. "How do you think we got across? Just hug the wall on either side. The giants have left a space big enough for us to pass."
"Harald, please help shut the door before we proceed further," Telenstil asked the ranger for his help.
"Sure, you go on, I can shut this by myself."
Harald walked over and grabbed the edge of the giant's door. One side was made of wood. The other looked and felt like stone but weighed far less. The hinges, which Harald could not see, made no noise, and the door clicked as he closed it shut.
"Telenstil!" Gytha called pleased to see the mage.
"Gytha, Ivo, what have we here?" the elf asked.
"Is there a door?" Talberth looked around the corner of the room. His hopeful smile disappeared. The room ended in a long southern wall, the priest Henri stood there among a covering of yellow-colored mold and pulled forth a spear, its blade shinning like polished steel.
"Where did that come from?" Talberth asked surprised.
"These giants are craftier than we had thought," said Ivo. "They have cloaked their treasure with magic spells."
"Henri here can see right through them with that golden mask of his," Harold said irreverently.
"We haven't opened up those chests over there," the halfling pointed to the eastern wall and the many wood and iron chests.
"Are they trapped?" asked Telenstil.
"Not as far as I can tell," Harold shook his head.
Telenstil watched as the cleric handed the spear to Edouard. The scout bowed his head and said some word of thanks that the mage could not hear.
"Henri," Telenstil walked over and called out. "Your faith stands you in good stead. Do you see an exit to this room?"
"No." Henri turned his gold masked face to Telenstil. "I see no hidden doors only these weapons hidden beneath a spell."
"And those chests, where we see broken boxes?" added Ivo. The old gnome went to the southeast corner of the room and waved his hands and spoke a powerful word. The broken barrels wavered as if seen through heat above a fire, they faded and were gone. In their place a large black box made of stone and next to it a barrel bigger than a man.
"Harold," Telenstil waved a hand toward the box and the barrel. "Please be so kind."
"My pleasure," the thief replied. Harold walked around the chest and examined it with care.
"I do not like it here," Talberth glanced around the room. "We are trapped if the giants come."
"Yes," Telenstil agreed. "Yet this hidden room bears searching out. Can we spare the time, Talberth; who can say, or even if it is worth the risk. No we won't rest here, not yet."
"Is this place on your map?" Talberth asked the elven mage.
"No, and it was never mentioned by the one-time merchant, more recently Nosnra's slave." Telenstil reached into his robe and removed an ivory tube. He took out the copy of the escaped slave's map. "As you see, somewhere below the steading there is a holding cell, a smithy, and orc pens, but no sign of secret rooms or treasure chests. Not surprising."
"The two ways may not even connect. How did this merchant escape?" Talberth asked.
"Somewhere there is a stream. See it marked here," Telenstil pointed to a roughly drawn symbol on the map. "The merchant was lowered on a rope and had to unclog the giants' garbage chute. The rope broke and by luck and fate he survived his ride along the stream and washed up on the banks of the White Oyt river. Hunters found him half-alive and when his tale was told he was brought before the duke where the first copy of this map was drawn."
"Telenstil!" the thief almost shouted, "This barrel! You won't believe it but I've found you another of those giant maps."