Metal collected a coating of rust easily and quickly in the damp environment of the steading. Hardly a day went by without a light rain or a cloudy mist sweeping across the hilltop, and the air within the hall always had the smell of damp earth, firesmoke and mold. The hinges on the giants' door were eaten with the stuff, dull red on grey-black iron. They ground open with a banshee's cry as Talberth pulled the door aside. The mage had to lean and put his shoulder against the edge and strained to open the door wide enough for the party to pass. Harold put his hands against his ears and clenched his teeth at the sound. Surely any passing monsters would hear that noise like the warning cry of some undead guardian, thought Harold.
Talberth peered down the corridor revealed by the open door. There were torches set beside it and another pair much further along where the passage narrowed, between them the hallway was dim, but also empty, much to the mage's relief. To his left the hallway turned and went around a corner, he took a step outside the kitchen and crept toward the turn. A small hand pulled at his robe and Talberth nearly jumped.
Harold put a finger to his lips then gestured for the wizard to stay back. The little thief took a small wooden pipe from his pocket and lowered himself to the floor. Creeping on hands and knees he dropped flat at the corner then placed the pipe to his eye. Inside were set small mirrors that let him scan the corridor around the corner without putting his head at risk. A quick check and Harold was on his feet, he looked back toward the mage and waved for him to bring the others, the way ahead was clear.
"The hall is clear," Talberth said to Telenstil.
"Good, then let us be on our way," the elf replied.
He left the pantry followed by the gnome, behind him came Harald and Gytha then the orc called Boss by his fellows. Four orcs followed, they held the senseless Derue on their shoulders. They'd tied him to a pair of spears and carried him like a carcass being taken home to the tribal cooking pot. Last came the shadow of an orc, a thin emaciated runt, called Little Rat by his brethren. The orc was but a child, grown old in the slave pens of the giants.
There was a door along the bottom of the turn, but no other nearby, only a huge set of double-doors at the north end of the corridor.
Harold listened at the nearby door, he heard nothing, the passage was silent, but the smell of smoke was stronger, and high above the little thief there was a growing haze, dark near the upper beams, still clear at a human's height, but drifting down, a dark cloud descending. He waited till the others appeared, then spoke in a hushed voice to Telenstil. "I'll go on ahead, you might as well follow, no place seems safer than another and I may need you if there are giants behind that door."
Telenstil nodded to the thief, Harold set off, the three mages, human, elf and gnome right behind him. The passage was long, but they were eager to be free of Nosnra's hall and soon were standing at the door. Harold listened, he could hear some sounds, but distant, not just shrouded by the wood but loud voices and noises that were far off, or so he thought.
"Talberth," Harold said to the mage, "you need to get the latch."
Talberth felt his mouth go dry, they had run into few giants within the hall, they must be somewhere, maybe behind this door, the thought went through his head. It felt like the world had stilled as he reached for the latch, the click it made was like the clash of swords, and as he pushed against the wood, the hinges screamed, the banshees howled again.