|Conan was stiff when he awoke. The stone floor was cold and hard and
covered with only enough dirty straw to stick to his clothes. The square
cell was half again as long on a side as Conan was tall. The only light
came from a tiny window so high in the stone wall that he could tell it
was barred only by the shadows it cast on the dark, wooden door. He pushed
on the door and found it as solid as the walls. Through the keyhole he
could see the wall of the corridor outside illuminated by flickering torchlight.
There was no sound except for his own breathing.
Or was there? Conan held his breath and listened. From somewhere above
him came a faint sniffing sound. The source of the sound grew closer and
took a couple deep, "whuffing" breaths.
"Conan?" barked a familiar voice.
"Yes," Conan answered as a pointy-eared shadow fell across the wall.
"Oh, thank goodness," said Reynard, settling down outside the window
so that his front paws dangled over the edge and his nose poked through
"What happened?" Conan asked, rubbing a sore spot behind his ear.
"Not much. You just tried to take on an entire squad of the Wizard's
guard. With predictable results, I might add. Fortunately, nobody notices
a fox. The horse and I managed to slip away in the confusion."
"I remember now. The Y2K man."
"Yes. The Wizard of Shadows does not like reality intruding into his
realm of seeming. When last I saw your prophet of doom, the guards were
creating a "Back" link to return him to his own domain. Unfortunately for
you, the Wizard takes even less kindly to having his authority challenged.
It took me forever to find you. Do you know how many of these dungeons
"No. And I care now only about the key to this one."
"Oh, easily done." The ears of the fox's shadow relaxed to the sides.
"On the wall where the sunlight crosses just before sunset--that would
be right about now, in case you have lost track of time--the last glow
of sunlight will reveal a puzzle carved in ancient runes on the stones.
Solving the puzzle will tell you what combination of stones to press to
open the secret compartment containing the key."
Conan looked at the wall. Above the fox's shadow were a series of symbols
carved in the stone.
"I see them," he called.
"Splendid." The ears perked up. "What do they say?"
Conan read off the strange symbols.
Reynard gave a little yipping laugh. "Try pressing Y!,"
When Conan did, a stone in the row below slid to the side revealing
a secret compartment. He reached in a brought out a golden key.
"How did you know?" he asked Reynard.
"Simple," the fox replied, "I stole the hint book."
© 1997, by Hadley V. Baxendale