The steps ended, but the corridor did not. It continued just ahead, after only a short gap. An easy jump for those of average stature. Eggledorn, alas, was a gnome, and didn’t see how he could make the leap with any degree of success. Looking back, he decided he should figure out a course of action, develop a plan. Whatever was making those noises didn’t seem like it was going to let him back out the way he came in. Not in one piece, anyway.
Eggledorn estimated how much time would pass before the noisemaker was upon him, and decided it was enough to properly formulate an optimal course of action using his typical methodology. He removed his pack, and laid out his possessions in an orderly grid on the floor. Small items on the left, moving gradually to increasingly larger items toward the right. Top-left to bottom-right. Just enough space between items to keep things orderly.
He had a selection of small gems; they wouldn’t help. They wouldn’t fly him across the gap and there weren’t enough to pay off the noisemaker, if the noisemaker could be paid off. Not enough information to form a definitive conclusion. A pouch of gold; still not enough—he’d spent most of his coin on the map to bring him to this place—and would probably weigh him down in the jump. Perhaps leave it behind altogether, then. There was a small bundle of travel rations, but they were only suitable for a gnome’s palate. No chance to distract the noisemaker with such a meager offering. Pots of ink? Perhaps a last message scrawled on the wall, but Eggledorn wasn’t ready to give up just yet. The coil of rope was on the right of his inventory grid, but…no. Not enough. He’d used bits and pieces here and there and now there wasn’t enough remaining to span the corridor much less close the gap in the path ahead. A quick glance showed that there wasn’t anything to which he could tie it, anyway.
The Noisemaker—it deserved a proper name now, it was so close and intimate in Eggledorn’s ears—would soon be upon him. Nothing. He had nothing. No time. No solution. His fate had finally caught up to him in a way that he couldn’t think his way out of. Worst of all, Eggledorn was unprepared. He was never unprepared. Until now.
A peace settled over Eggledorn. He knew that even though he wasn’t prepared to get out of his current situation, he was prepared for whatever would happen as a result of being unprepared. He was prepared for being unprepared. The Noisemaker was louder, closer, imminently within sight. Methodically but with focused intention and alacrity, Eggeldorn replaced all of his things into his pack. He slung it back over his shoulders, cinching the straps and making sure it was adjusted properly for action. He turned around, his back to the gap, his front toward the Noisemaker.
Eggledorn prepared himself for what came next.
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