Barrett darted across to the next cell. Jack wasn’t there… but there were more to check. The next few had more prisoners, but nobody Barrett realized. He tried not to think about the fact that Jack might not still be alive.
The next cell had an old man that looked like a corpse. Maybe he was a corpse. He wasn’t sure how often they cleaned out their cells.
There was only one last cell. The torchlight barely illuminated it… but Barrett saw enough to hack open the lock. This time, he used enough power to cut through in a single swing. “Jack!”
The figure crumpled against the wall moved slightly.
Barrett hurried over, quickly feeding him a few pills to help stabilize him, and checking him for any bleeding wounds. There had been some, but they seemed to have already scabbed over. “Hold still.”
Jack probably couldn’t have moved if he wanted to, but Barrett said it anyway before chopping at where the chains met the wall. Jack collapsed into Barrett’s arms, and Barrett carried him gingerly out of the cell.
Barrett breathed out heavily, and muttered to himself, “This might be a problem…” He could carry Jack… or Clara, or even both. Their weight wasn’t a big issue, but moving quickly with them or fighting would certainly be an issue.
“Ahem.” A voice came from the corpse- no, the old man, “Perhaps I can be of help? I may not look like it… but I can carry a person or two.” The head of the old man lifted to reveal a haggard face under some wisps of scraggly grey hair. He grinned a toothless grin.
Barrett spent just a single second- perhaps less- thinking, before gently putting Jack down… and chopping open the lock. He went into the cell and chopped at one of the chains… only to have his axe rebound. Only then did Barrett notice the chains were thicker, but also shorter, allowing very limited mobility… and of a different material. They were also connected to the wall more securely with metal plates attached somehow he couldn’t see. In fact, even the walls were a higher quality, made of strange, reddish bricks.
“Ah… that won’t work.” The man shifted to look at a piece of wall above where one of the restraints connected. “Magically enchanted adamantine bindings, with enchanted corundum molded around plates further in the wall. You can’t just chop through it… at your strength. Except… two bricks up… there’s a slight crack in the mortar there.” The old man grinned his toothless grin again, “Just chop in there and do a little prying and you can pop it out…”
Barrett looked, and indeed saw a slight flaw. Gathering berserk energy, he chopped into the mortar which was still harder than any rock he knew… However, the axe loaned to him by Master Hykel cut deep enough. He hoped it wouldn’t hurt it to be used as a prybar… But fortunately he didn’t have to put a terribly large amount of pressure before a strange brick popped out. That left an opening in the wall that let him pop out a second one… the section connecting to the old man’s right hand. “There. That’s one hand, but… “ He looked over the wall. “It will take a long time to get your other limbs free. Someone will probably come before then…”
“Ah… that’s alright. One good hand will do.” He reached down toward his right ankle, grabbing onto the manacle with his thumb inside and index finger outside. His whole arm trembled, but the manacle suddenly deformed with a screeching sound, bending away. He slipped his ankle out. “See here?” He indicated the edge where the manacle had popped open, “A structural weakness. I was working on weakening it without being too obvious…” The old man breathed out heavily, “I didn’t expect to get to this point though.” He did the same thing with his other ankle, but by the time he was done he was dripping with sweat.
“Umm, I could help…” Barrett pulled out a pill.
The man shook his head, “I’m in a bad state. A food pill might give me a short burst of energy, but it would mess me up after that. It’s alright…” The old man looked up at his left hand, still trapped in the manacle attached to the wall… and his arm trembled. Then, there was a popping sound as his hand came free.
“You can just slide your hand out?” Then Barrett looked more closely, “You… broke it?”
The old man smiled one more toothless grin, “One good hand is enough for now… and that manacle was stubbornly tough… and I’m tired. No more bending adamantine.” He looked down at Barrett’s belt, “Say, can I have some of that water?”
Barrett handed him the waterskin, then realized it would be hard to open with one broken hand and uncorked it for him, “Go ahead.”
The old man drank a few swallow, “Ah, thank you. Now then… you might want to get out there. There’s someone coming, and they sound angry. I’ll pick up this guy… and that other one you left a few cells down.”
“Ah-” Barrett was about to respond when he heard the sound of boots on stone, and moved out into the corridor. Within a few moments he could see- and feel- the person coming down. The fluctuations of fiery energy he gave off indicated he was at the third tier, though Barrett wasn’t sure exactly what part. All he knew was that this person was quite a bit stronger than Ruben.
“Oho. It looks like we almost fell for the distraction. Good thing I came by to check.” The man readied his halberd, then coated himself in flames.
Barrett readied himself. Flames were still somewhat unpleasant to deal with, but he was stronger than he had been when he fought Ruben. Perhaps not a whole tier, but perhaps his weapon and armor would help bridge that gap. He edged forward enough that he was past Clara’s cell so that the man would have to get past him to threaten either her or Jack. The two faced off, almost daring the other to make the first move.