Chapter 25: But It's Not November...

Andraste stood at the entrance to the cave and stared out. The snow continued to come down and showed no signs of stopping. She rejoined the others. "We have a problem."

"What is it?" Niemand asked.

"It's still snowing. We're going to have a very difficult time getting back. If this blizzard lasts long enough, we might even be too late. And let's face it, this place is abandoned, so there's a good chance the blizzard will last that long."

"Give me a good topic and a few hours. We'll see about that," Salmon said.

"No, we're definitely not putting up with that." Drew pulled out his Orders of the Silver Wossname and began pinning them all to his coat.

"Wow. That is a lot of medals, Drew. How many do you have?" Goldenking asked.

"37."

"But you've only been playing for a few months!" Jewels said.

Drew shrugged and pulled out a flaregun. "I'll be back soon."

"You're calling pirates to help us? But we're nowhere near the sea," Jewels said.

"Some of them have airships."

"And so we're just going to get our stuff and fly out of here? What about Iffy?"

Drew shrugged again. "We'll leave a note. If he's still alive, he'll have to find his own way back to Spiderweb. Shouldn't be too hard for him to do, really."

---

The Ratt was peeling potatoes when Ephesos and Iffy entered the mess hall.

"What... what are you doing here? Actually, who in the world are you?"

"Feeling up to an escape?" Ephesos asked.

The Ratt looked around nervously. "Shh! Coleridge could be hiding nearby."

Ephesos shrugged. "We looked before we came in and didn't see anyone nearby. We'll just have to chance it. Now, do you want to escape or not?"

"You're... you're just going to chance it? I mean, of course I want to escape but... but if we get caught, which is very likely to happen, I'll be chained up like the rest of you. I'm sorry, but I don't want that. So unless you have a really, really good plan..."

Ephesos shook his head. "Actually, we, uh..." He staggered slightly. "Sorry, got a bit light-headed there. Iffy, why don't you tell him our plan?"

"I thought our plan was to hope he had some way of distracting the yetis?"

"Yes, that's the really, really good plan I was hoping to hear about. What's Plan B? Telling the yetis that you broke into the storerooms and drank all their booze?"

"Wait... could we break into the storerooms and distract the yetis by doing something to their supply of alcohol?" Ephesos asked, "Are there any guards?"

"There aren't any guards around the storerooms. Duwithia is afraid the yetis might try to break in. But they're locked and she's the only one with a key."

"We can deal with that, right Iffy?"

"I think so."

"Then let's go."

The Ratt picked up a large frying pan. "Wait. I'm coming with you."

---

Drew waited just inside the main cave until a large anchor crashed down just outside. Two pirates slid down the rope.

Drew stepped outside, making sure all the medals were clearly visible.

"Yarr! Be ye the one who hailed us?"

"I am."

"Fer what?"

"I'm requesting emergency transport. I have seven other people and a load of barbed-wire that need to get back to the mainland quickly."

The pirates stared at the medals. "An' these were all awarded t' ye?"

"Yes."

"Arr! Then 'tis an honor t' meet such a swashbuckler. Introduce us t' the others."

There was a crash and yells from deeper in the cave.

"What be that?"

"I don't know." Drew pulled out his sword and ran back inside. The pair of pirates followed.

Coleridge and four of the yetis from the party last night were attacking the others. Salmon had been knocked unconscious. Niemand was just barely parrying Coleridge's dagger.

Andraste jabbed a yeti in the stomach with her club, then bashed her over the head repeatedly. She staggered back, tripped over Salmon, and fell. Andraste knocked her unconscious with one more hit.

"Aura of--ahhh!" A yeti grabbed Goldenking's upraised hand and snapped his wrist.

Marlenny managed to shoot one of the yetis in the chest, but he ignored it and yanked Jewel's axe out of her hands.

Drew and the pirates arrived. "Arr! It be a ninja! Get her!"

Coleridged waved her arms. One of the yetis grabbed the unconscious one and they all transported away.

"What was that all about?" Drew handed Goldenking a red oyster egg. "Here. This should fix your wrist."

"I don't know. They just appeared and attacked us." Goldenking ate the egg quickly.

"'Tis the new recall crystals the ninjas be havin'. It lets them go anywhere they be havin' been t' befere. We don't know where the crystals be comin' from, but we're takin' heavy losses in the war because o' them. We haven't seen ninjas team up with yetis befere, tho."

"Drew, are you sure the yetis don't work at Crystal Mountain for the ninjas?" Andraste asked.

"No, there was definitely no mention of ninjas. But the ninjas could be working for the priest or mage too, I guess."

"The Cap'n will want t' investigate."

"That's fine. The barbed-wire is at Crystal Mountain anyway," Drew said.

---

In the slave compound, most of the slaves were resting until dinner.

Attorukkip paced impatiently. "There has to be a way out somehow."

ScurfFiend peered through a crack in the wall. "You'd have to get by all the yetis too. That's the hard part."

There was a very large explosion from somewhere in the mine.

"wut wuz dat?"

"Could it be Duwithia trying to open that tunnel again?" Dikiyoba asked.

Toby-Linn shrugged. "Possibly."

"I don't think so. There's someone running towards the compound. The Ratt, or whatever his name was. He looks terrified," ScurfFiend said.

"Help! Explosion in the storerooms! Help! Please don't tear me apart, I'm just the messenger!"

Attorukkip pushed ScurfFiend aside. "Let me see."

The Ratt threw himself to the ground and shielded his head as the yetis stormed past him. "Please don't kill me, please don't kill me..."

When all the yetis were gone, Ephesos and Iffy stepped out of the shadows. Both of them were staggering slightly, Ephesos from tiredness and Iffy from the weight of all the mining tools that could serve as weapons he was carrying.

The Ratt stood up. "I can't believe it worked."

"Yes, well, we don't have much time. Iffy, pick the lock," Ephesos said.

Iffy hurried over as quickly as he could and fumbled with the lock.

"Come on, everyone, wake up! It's time to escape!" Attorukkip kicked a sleeping noob awake.

Another tine on Iffy's spork snapped off in the lock. "Shoot."

"Hurry, Iffy. Duwithia and Coleridge could be here at any moment."

"I'm trying, I'm trying."

The lock finally opened. The slaves quickly hurried out. Iffy and the Ratt handed them shovels and pickaxes.

"Iffy, what are you doing here?" Dikiyoba asked.

"No time for that. Let's just get away from here while we still can," Ephesos said, "Would a few people go to the infirmary and--"

"60?!!1"

"We can't just leave. If we do, Duwithia will go get new slaves and be in business again by the end of the month," Toby-Linn said.

"Besides, it's snowing hard outside," Iffy said, "It'll be really cold."

Ephesos sighed. "All right, fine. Is there any way we could bring down Duwithia?"

"Dikiyoba has been to her office. There's no way you can break into it, so unless we can get her out somehow..."

"You don't have to worry about that," Duwithia said.

Everyone whirled around. Duwithia and over a dozen yetis were watching them. Ephesos quickly stepped in front of Iffy to shield him from view.

"But I must ask, exactly what do you think you are doing? You can't leave, because none of you have the right attire to survive long in the mountains during a blizzard. You can't stay here, because it won't be long before the rest of the yetis recover enough to attack and none of you are strong enough to face a yeti. Also, because some of you got the bright idea to blow up all the food, whether you plan to stay or go, you'll soon starve. So put down your weapons and get back into the compound."

"Never!" Attorukkip charged forward.

"Lightning spray!"

Attorukkip collapsed and clawed at her forehead when she was hit. "Arghhh!"

"I repeat, put down your weapons."

Several noobs, hippies, and a wanderer set their shovels and pickaxes on the ground.

"You... you make a very convincing argument," Toby-Linn said, "But I... I have a better one. You see, whatever happens from this, it'll... it'll be worth it. Because... because a life of being enslaved in this... this pit isn't worth living. As someone famous once said, 'Give me liberty or give me death (citation needed)'. Since... since this is the best chance we've ever had, we must... we must take it." Toby-Linn dove out of the way of a lightning spell. "We... we must... we must, er, take, um, take our... oh, forget it. FREEDOM!"

"FREEDOM!!!"

"FREDEOM!!!!!!!!1"

Most of the slaves charged.

Duwithia sighed. "Fine. Yetis, kill them."

The first slaves to reach the yetis were killed within moments.

The Ratt was clawed by a yeti. He looked at the deep gashes in his chest. "Suddenly, I don't think this was a good idea. Gah!" He rolled out of the way as Coleridge appeared right beside him. "Please don't kill me, please don't kill me..."

Coleridge fought her way over to Duwithia and gestured frantically.

"Pirates? Coming here? They must have figured out where the ninjas get their crystals, then. Yetis, hold the slaves back for another five minutes, then retreat." Duwithia and Coleridge vanished.

The yetis and slaves took several steps apart.

"Like, what happens in, like, five minutes, man?" a filthy hippy asked.

Ephesos shook his head. "I don't know."

The answer was another explosion from somewhere. The yetis promptly ran off.

"Dikiyoba thinks that explosion came from her office. She must be making sure no one gets their hands on all her information."

"iformatonn on wat?"

Dikiyoba shrugged.

"Doesn't matter. The pirates can deal with them. We have to focus on escape," Ephesos said, "Iffy, you and Diki head to the infirmary. Rescue Murrrhal and Faylander, and bring back whatever supplies you can. Everyone else, bring the injured to me. Does anyone have more than a few points in first aid?"

---

The airship dropped anchor beside the tree that had the barbed-wire underneath it. Niemand, Riibu, and Jewels climbed down a rope ladder. They were bundled up as much as possible and carried shovels.

"Do your best to get the barbed-wire uncovered. We'll be back soon, I hope!" Andraste called down.

"Got it!" Niemand yelled back.

Several pirates hauled up the anchor and the airship took off. The pirate captain flew the airship around the mountain as closely as he dared. Several pirates stood on the deck with spyglasses and binoculars, looking for a likely entrance to the active mine.

Drew and Andraste waited in the control room with the captain and a few other pirates. A pirate ran in from outside. "Yarr! We found an entrance worth investigatin'."

The captain brought the airship to a halt. "Harharr! Prepare the lan'in' party then, we're goin' in!"

Andraste ran to the guest quarters where Salmon, Goldenking, and Marlenny were. "Is everyone ready? We're about to land."

"About time," Salmon said, "I was getting bored."

---

Murrrhal and Ephesos were overwhelmed. Despite the fact that the hippies didn't trust "unnatural" medicine and so tended themselves, there were still more injured slaves than first aid supplies.

Dikiyoba ripped up a relatively clean blanket for bandages. "Are you sure we should even bother treating the noobs and 1337 h4x0rs? There are still wanderers who could use help."

"In case you haven't noticed, the noobs and 1337 h4x0rs outnumber the rest of us by a lot. I'm not going to do anything to upset them. Could you bring me more water, please?"

Dikiyoba picked up a bowl and headed for the exit.

Toby-Linn and a few lolcats returned. "Storerooms A and C are completely burnt out. There's nothing useful left. Storeroom B is still locked. We couldn't get into it. Also, we didn't see a single yeti. They must have all left."

"Well, that's good to know, I guess." Ephesos bandaged a 1337 h4x0r's shoulder. He was desperately tired and more than a little dizzy.

Dikiyoba reached the exit and scooped a couple of handfuls of snow into the bowl. Then Dikiyoba realized that a group of pirates were fighting their way through the snow towards Dikiyoba. Drew, Andraste, Goldenking, Marlenny, and Salmon were with them. "Hey! Over here!"

The captain halted. "Do ye know who that be? Or be it some kind o' trap?"

Andraste looked surprised. "Diki? What are you doing out here?"

"Dikiyoba was just going to ask you that same question."

Iffy stepped beside Dikiyoba. "Ephesos wants to know what taking so lo--oh. So that's where you guys went. How did you know I needed help?"

Drew looked uncomfortable. He nudged Goldenking. "Don't say anything."

"I won't."