Harold found a latch and pulled up the barrel's tight, sealed lid. It had hinges down the center and the top opened up, split down the middle, opening in a semi-circle. Inside was a roll of hide, Harold reached down and bent back an edge, he saw the same markings he had seen before upon the map which Telenstil had transported with his magic to the land below.
"So what is this? Another map?" the mage asked amused. "Do these giants keep all their plans in duplicate?"
"I don't know about that, but this has the same spidery scrawling on it," said Harold.
* * *
Above their heads the alarm kept sounding. Giants fought the fire which blazed and spread throughout the hall. The roof was damp and sent black choking smoke out into the sky. Nosnra would not be pleased, his sleeping chamber was afire, his trophy hall blackened by smoke and licked by flame. The iron door, magicked into place by Telenstil, glowed red, the wooden frame blackened and charred. Suddenly the crack of splitting wood resounded, the lintel parted, the burnt wood revealed its untouched heart, but too little was left to keep the iron valve in place. It swayed back and picked up speed then slammed against the floor with a boom heard throughout the hall. Flooring shattered revealing the stone beneath, and a cloud of smoke lit orange by the flames came rushing in. No one would notice the missing map, within minutes the chief's private meeting hall was covered in flames. The great chimney acted as the flue and the table, chairs and many tapestries burned for moments and then were gone, like a lantern wick. Out across the fields and still far off, Nosnra came walking home, his warriors still weak and dazed, even the wolves were silent and withdrawn.
* * *
"What was that!" several voices said at once.
"Sounds like the giants have breached that door," said Talberth. He had been waiting for the sound.
"Then they could be down here at any time!" cried Harold.
"Don't worry," Ivo called to him, loud enough for everyone to hear. "I can mask us all from their sight."
"What if they find us as they found the cave and our camp?" questioned Talberth.
"Then we will fight, and they will die," Harald answered him plainly and unconcerned. He had come up after shutting the hidden door. "But we'd best get those packs we left behind by the stairs."
"Too late for that," Talberth looked around the room, at its empty floor and doorless walls. "We're trapped."
"Nonsense," Telenstil spoke up. "Talberth you are too worried. The giants have not found us yet, but those packs might be a help to us, remember, they are all that we have left from our supplies."
"I remember," said Gytha thinking of her and the other's horses left back at the cave rather than any supplies. "I'll go, how about you Harald?"
"Telenstil, looks like I have nothing else to do here, and I can carry half."
"Good," said Telenstil. "Edouard, Derue, please go along as well."
The scouts looked first toward their master Henri who gave to them a nod before they followed the ranger and cleric out into the hall.
* * *
"Smell that smoke," Harald said.
"Yes, it is thick," Gytha replied.
They'd run down the hall and stood by the stairs which went back up to Nosnra's private meeting room. The smell of burning wood was overpowering but so far no smoke had come drifting down.
"I am going to go check on this," said Harald heading up the stairs.
"Harald, no! What if the giants are heading down?" Gytha called to him.
Harald sniffed at the air. "I don't think we have to worry about the giants, but I am worried about the fire."
The two scouts noted the ranger's words but said nothing. Each slung two packs over their shoulders and started back to the hidden room.
"Harald, you be careful. I will be back as soon as I have talked with Telenstil." Gytha ran after the departing scouts.