Myntilly stared at the three doors in the round room. “Which one? Where do we go?” Acgar peered at the drawing on the doors. “This one looks innocuous. It’s got to be a sleep spell.”
Ian stood beside her to look. “What’s that noise? Behind the door — there’s a noise. Water, maybe?” I walked over and put my ear to the door. “Yes, I think you’re right. It’s a hissing sound.”
Terrem came over and laid his head against the door. “That’s fire.”
I shook my head. “It can’t be fire.”
“No,” I said firmly. “It isn’t.” He folded his arms. “How do you know. How can you know for really?” I rolled my eyes. “Terrem…. OK, the door. The door isn’t hot. If there were fire in that room, the door would be hot.”
“Maybe it’s cold fire. Did you think of that?”
Before I could answer, I felt a hand on my arm. Softly Acgar said, “He’s seven. And we don’t have a lot of time. Let’s open the door.”
“Um, there are people in there.” Sadi was at my elbow. “I can’t see anything! Are you sure.”
“Oh yeah. At least two.”
OK. I thought. Ice shield. And suddenly I was wreathed in a ring of cold. I remotely heard Ian say: “I’ve got quench prepared. Maybe I can put out a few of these flames.” And I walked into the room. The cold shield kept me feeling just fine. I advanced another two steps and suddenly a gush of water poured over me and the flames around me. When the water made contact with my armor, the ice shield froze it solid. I suddenly weighed an extra 50 pounds.
The others followed me at least as far as the water had put out the flames.
I heard a voice say “You have come to pay tribute? What is your name, cold one?” I saw a female figure that was flame and flesh combined. Beside her was a dwarf, a fiery dwarf. He and I exchanged curt nods (it’s a dwarf thing) and I bowed low to the female.
“My name is Indira Burningwood.”
She nodded. “That is a good name. You bring tribute to my beauty?”
I fumbled with my pouch. I had diamonds left from the resurrection spell. It was probably less than 10,000gp.
“Indeed.” And I opened the bag and poured a few diamonds on to my hand. “These baubles are nothing compared to your beauty. Will they suffice?” My hands were wet from the melting ice and the diamonds looked even prettier.
The dwarf came forward to take the pouch from my hand. “Burningwood? What mountain are you from? I don’t know of any Burningwood dwarves.” Before I could answer, the female demon coughed and the dwarf bowed and backed away to her side.
“They are sufficient. You may go.”
I heard my fellows bristle at that. “May I ask your beauty a question before we go?”
I could hear the flames crackle in the ensuing silence.
“Why are you here. In this place?”
“I am a flame warden.” I nodded. “So this is a sacred space.”
“No. I was hired to guard this place.” I heard a rustling behind me. Myntilly piped up: “We’re lost. How do we get out?” The flame warden cocked her head. “The way you came in should work.”
“How did you get in?” Myntilly persisted.
“You would not survive the way I travel.” She paused. “I am done conversing. Be thankful that I was bored and that you were charming, otherwise I would have killed you.”
An anger I didn’t know existed reared up inside me. I bowed low. “I feel exactly the same way, madame.” And then, realizing what I’d just said, I backed up quickly, pushing the others out the door.
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