“First we Dig a Tunnel with a Spoon…”

After hours of scraping and kneading clay and Mana droplets into a ball, Lady Ira fashioned a crude but effective spell tablet, covered with sigils carved by Ira’s fingernails. She gingerly placed it in a ray of sunlight leaking through the window of her cell. With a clink of her chains, she learned against the wall, waiting.

“Why are you waiting?” Corax mumbled, words slurred by the muzzle around his snout.

 

“It needs to dry before I can use it,” Ira said. “We don’t have time to make another one, so we need to make sure it works.”

 

“What if the guards come in and see it before it dries?”

 

Ira’s mouth quirked u. “Then we’ll be punished horribly,” she said.

 

Corax swallowed audibly, deciding not to ask more questions.

 

Ira and Corax waited. The sky shining through the cell windows grew brighter. Occasionally Ira would reach out and nudge the drying clay tablet back into the slowly shifting patch of sunlight.

 

“Is it ready?” Corax asked.

 

“Almost,” Ira said.

 

They waited some more.

 

“What about now?” Corax asked.

 

Ira touched the spell tablet. “It’s still a bit moist.”

 

They waited some more.

 

“Now?” Corax cried out in frustration.

 

“Just a little longer,” Ira insisted. “Be patient…”

 

The cell door slammed open: two Gnashers in bright yellow lion pelts strode in, glancing around Corax and Ira’s cell.

 

“What did I tell you, Skerg?” One of them said in an annoyed tone. “This cell’s too small to store the new guy!”

 

“It’s not that bad, Phalin!” The Gnasher named Skerg insisted. “If we bolt in some new chains–big, thick chains–we can cram that buffoon in easily!”

 

“He’s a big buffoon, though,” Phalin muttered, gaze drifting down. His eyes settled on Ira’s makeshift spell tablet. He froze. “What’s that?”

 

“Now?” Corax screeched.

 

“Yes, now!” Ira replied, shattering the spell tablet with a stomp from her foot.

 

The spell-tablet crackled with purple Mana sparks. Ira held her breath.

Nothing happened. Phalin coughed into his closed fist. “Is that supposed to do something?” He asked.

Grey and yellow smoke erupted from the cracked tablet, filling the cell with choking smog.

 

“Hidden…Gods!” Skerg the Gnasher cursed between coughs. “What is this?”
Ira strained against her shackles with a grunt. The chain links rattled, but held firm. The gas swirled around the bronze chains; streaks of green tarnish spread across the metal. Ira pulled at them again.

 

The chain links cracked and shattered. As the Gnashers stumbled around the room, Ira crept through the metal-tarnishing smoke towards Corax. She kicked aside the incense lamps and started pulling off the restraints binding Corax.

 

“Come on, Corax,” she urged, smashing buckles and tossing leather straps to the ground. “Put your tail into it!”

 

The grey-yellow smog leaked out through the cell door. As the air cleared, the two Gnashers turned and focused their gaze on Ira.

 

“Stop right there, prisoner scum!” Skerg the Gnasher snarled, drawing his mace from his belt.

 

His bronze mace’s tarnished head fell off, leaving him holding a tiny wooden stick. Skerg stared at his broken weapon. “Captain Zarth gave me this mace,” he said numbly. He fixed Ira with a fierce glare. “You guys are dead!”

 

Ira charged Skerg and tackled him by the waist. She pushed him into one of the cell walls, letting out a defiant cry.

 

“Fury Seal, Lift!” Skerg declared. Ira felt Skerg’s muscles swell and harden in her grasp. She felt a coarse hand seize her neck and throw her across the cell.

 

Ira bounced off a wall and struggled to rise. In the corner of her eye, she saw Corax tear free from his restraints and seize Phalin’s neck in his jaws.

 

Skerg, face flushed red, swung his fist at Ira. Ira ducked left. Skerg’s hand smashed through the cell’s brickwork, sinking deep into the wall.

 

Ira jabbed her thumb into Skerg’s eye. Skerg howled and staggered back, his fist scattering mortar across the ground as it tore free from the wall. Behind him, Corax shook his head back and forth until Phalin’s neck snapped in his jaws.

 

“You think you’re winning?” Skerg the Gnasher howled, clutching at his eye. “You’re all gonna die in this dungeon! You’re all gonna die, and no one will remember you were even alive–!”

 

Two tanned, burly arms wrapped around Skerg’s waist. A familiar wrestler wearing a familiar mask appeared over Skerg’s shoulder.

 

“Your hospitality is most unsatisfying, Gnasher,” Dragon-Face whispered in Skerg’s ear.

 

Skerg’s eyes widened. “Wait–“ he said.

 

“Platinum–!” Dragon-Face bent backwards at the waist, smashing Skerg’s face first into the cell floor. “–BUSTER!”

 

Dragon Face released Skerg. Skerg twitched on the ground, his spasms reminding Ira of the pet spider they’d almost crushed to death.

 

Dragon Face wiped his hands clean. “Lady Ira,” he said with a nod.

 

“Dragon Face,” Lady Ira said quietly.

 

Dragon Face adjusted his copper mask: with a pang of guilt, Lady Ira realized his mask had picked up green streaks from the gas created by her spell.

 

“I…should have come sooner,” Dragon Face said quietly. “I am sorry.”

 

Ira let out a deep breath. “You’re here now,” she replied. “Uuco and V’vendy are in the others cells. A hunter named Rintha too.” Her back straightened. “The Lady Ira,” she announced, “demands you set them free!”

 

Dragon Face smiled and bowed more deeply. “As you command,” he declared, “the Great Dragon Face shall see it done!”

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