"Who is it?" Harold asked as the ranger pulled the rope up the chute as quickly as he dared.
"I can't tell, they are still too far down," Gytha replied.
Harald didn't say anything. He just gave a grunt as he raised arm length after arm length of rope.
Ivo bumped across the wall, he used his feet to buffer himself from the jarring contact, but there was nothing else he could do. It was a long ride up and he had no more control over his ascent than a sack of grain being hauled up to a storage loft. The gnomes of the Kron Hills had delved deep into the Oerth and in his youth Ivo had explored the shafts and the caverns that his kind had found. It had been years since he had gone caving but he remembered the old ways, at least enough of them to be safely pulled up a rope, and if he was old himself, he was tough as seasoned wood. There was a dim light showing above him, a small square that grew and grew. He saw a huge form bent over the edge and recognized the ranger Harald drawing up the rope.
"Here take my hand!" Ivo called.
The ranger held onto the rope with one hand then reached down and grabbed hold of the gnome's arm. When he had a firm grip he let the line drop and with both hands lifted Ivo up and over the wooden lip of the garbage chute.
"The Saint be praised!" said Gytha. "I'm glad to see you safely with us here Master Ivo."
"I'm glad to be out of that pit," Ivo replied. "What has been going on, oh and Harold, I think this is yours," he handed the halfling the pouch which had been dropped down the shaft.
"It takes someone of proper stature to notice the finer things," the halfling said, taking the empty pouch and slipping it back in his belt.
"Where are we?" asked Ivo.
"In the giants' kitchen of all places," answered Harold.
"So Telenstil was correct, that is good to know," Ivo looked around. He saw the huge tables and shelves, noted the body of the orc on the floor, the blood, now congealing around it and the bloody tracks leading off to the north and around the corner. "This does not seem to be a good place to stay, too exposed."
"We still need to bring the others up," said Gytha. "Harald how is it coming?"
"I'm waiting for the signal, ah! There it is!" the ranger felt the line grow taught and the two sharp pulls telling him to draw it up again.
"Where did the scouts go?" asked Ivo.
"Around the corner. I think they have found another way back down," said Harold.
"And they have both run off?" Ivo could not imagine why.
"I think it was that magic sword, at least for the first one." said Harold. "The other went after his brother. Small loss."
"I do not care for them, but we cannot abandon them either," said Gytha.
"At... the... very... least..." the ranger grunted out as he pulled up the rope.
"Save your breath," Harold told him. The thief felt better having three of his trustworthy companions with him, but, like Ivo, felt too exposed as well standing in the middle of the giants' kitchen.
* * *
"Talberth, what are you doing?" asked Telenstil.
"I'm tying this chain onto the rope," Talberth said. He laced the end of the line through several metal links making a large bundle of the black iron chain.
"You should go up next, they may need you up there," Telenstil told him.
"Do you want to go next?" Talberth asked him. "I don't want to leave this chain behind. I think we may need it."
"We may. Send it up," said Telenstil. "We can gather the packs and send them up next. We still need to get Henri up as well."
Talberth gave a noncommittal grunt, if the Pholtite stayed behind it would be a small loss to him. He gave the line two tugs and was happy to see the chain rising in the air.
"Who is it?" asked Harold.
"Can't... tell... stop... ask... ing," the ranger answered.
"Harold, why don't you take up watch at that corner," Ivo said pointing to the south, "and I will watch the other. We can be of little help here."
Harold nodded to the old gnome. "Sounds like a good idea, but if something comes I won't be able to do much more than shout."
"Just giving us the warning will be enough," said Gytha. "Master Ivo, is there anything that I can do?"
"Keep an eye on Harold, I have some magic I can use, but our thief has already done much more in regards to fighting than I had expected from him."
"I will, may the Saint watch over us as well," Gytha prayed.