Fantasy, mystery, thrillers, horror, historical. . .I write it all, and review it too!

Jun 12, 2011

Short Story Competition: Down in the Dungeon

I need your help. I've written a collection of short stories inspired by old-school roleplaying games. Down in the Dungeon offers four short stories and a novelette of swords and sorcery adventure, and I want YOU to finish one of them!

The story is below. As you can see, the adventurers are in a wee spot of trouble. Can you get them out? The story can be any length (within reason) but must have the feel of a fantasy dungeoncrawl. Send it in the body of the email to me ajwalkerauthor (at) The winner will get $10 via Paypal and be included in the collection to be published by Writers Exchange E-Publishing!

Entries Close 15 August 2011.

by A.J. Walker

We never saw it coming. The dwarf walked a little ahead of the group, keeping a sharp eye out for any irregularities in the floor or walls. With every step he prodded the floor, using a ten-foot long wooden pole. He also waved the pole up and down to catch any tripwires. Brodor was careful, all right. He'd saved us from half a dozen traps on the first level of the dungeon alone.

But now we explored the second level, and the traps, it seems, had gotten a bit more clever. More clever than Brodor, at least. I saw it all happen. I'm Eirik, expert archer and swordsman, the main fighter for our group. I was covering Brodor with my longbow.

The trap gave no warning. One moment we were proceeding carefully down the hall, and the next Brodor just disappeared. The floor opened up and he dropped into a pit. His pole hadn't helped at all; the trapdoor had been set to give way to the weight of a man. Brodor may only be three and a half feet tall, but put him in plate mail, give him an axe, a shield, and a heavy backpack and he's heavier than the average human. Good thing, too, otherwise it would have been me instead of him setting off that trap.

He fell out of view. Then he fell back into view. He appeared right below the ceiling before falling straight down into the pit again. I blinked, not sure what I'd just seen. Then it happened again. Brodor popped into view a few inches below the ceiling above the pit, a startled look on his face, then plummeted right back down.

We rushed up to the edge of the opening. Interlocutor, our sorcerer/sage, and Zerzan, our hobbit thief, called out to Brodor, urging him to grab the edge of the pit the next time he fell past. He must have heard them because when an instant later he appeared above the pit, he splayed out his arms and legs, desperately trying to reach an edge. One hand caught the lip on the near side, but Brodor was going so fast all we heard was a sickening crack as his wrist hit stone. He didn't even slow down.

On the contrary, he sped up. With each successive fall he gained speed. The fourth time he went past he appeared as just a streak of armor and beard. The only thing we heard, besides the rush of air, was a long "Heeeeeeeeelp!" and something that sounded like a string of Dwarven curses. His appearances and disappearances came so close together that he turned into a single blur, a lightning-fast column of dwarf from ceiling to floor.

Interlocutor peered cautiously over the edge of the pit, careful not to get in the path of the meteoric midget. He scratched his balding pate and muttered to himself.

"It seems to me," he said after a moment's musing, "it seems to me that our friend has become the victim of a very cleverly placed teleport spell. The bottom of this pit is completely featureless. Brodor disappears just an inch from the bottom, only to reappear just an inch below the ceiling. A teleport spell at the bottom of the pit is always on, awaiting unwary adventurers such as ourselves. When someone hits it, they are teleported above the pit, only to fall again and be teleported once more. Thus they fall forever, gaining speed as they go."

"How are we to get him out?" I asked, watching the ever-quickening blur that was our dwarf.

"That," the sage declared, "I haven't quite figured out yet."

"Why don't we catch him with a net?" Zerzan asked. "I have one. Great for catching kobolds. They make a fine pie, you know," the hobbit added, rubbing his belly.

Interlocutor shook his head and turned to the little thief.

"That won't work, I'm afraid. He's going so fast we'd probably cut him into a dozen pieces. No, we have to think of something different. If only I knew a 'slow' spell, or a 'dispel magic'. . ."

He trailed off in thought. Zerzan and I stared at the blur, unsure what to do.

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