Chapter 15 of 40 Days in an Elvish Prison (read chapter 1)

by Anta Baku

The Elvenqueen was coming with her army, and the dwarves were waiting for her. Newgate and Mo were ready with their swords, and the rest of them with whatever came to hand. Dannemora had given up his short sword to the King, and stood with his twin awaiting whatever came out of the shadows of the de-energized tunnels of the elves.

What came, or at least what came first, was not an army but a woman. Massei must have escaped capture in the control room, and had come seeking her lover, perhaps even to prevent him from doing something stupid and destructive. In that she was far too late. 

Alcatraz was still fuming over his argument with Branyeso, and Button wasn’t sure he should be allowed to talk to a woman anyway. None of the others were really any better. Button remembered that his original role in the group had been to communicate with outsiders, and after Alcatraz’ confrontation he was no longer willing to let the dwarves try to do it themselves. 

“I came here looking for a male elf,” she said. 

“He was here,” said Button. “We chased him away. A lot of this damage was his fault.”

“He doesn’t know anything about dams,” said Massei.

“That was the problem,” said Button. “He closed the spillway when he thought he was supposed to open it. We had already opened the outer door. If he had waited, the two of you could just have followed us out. Instead, well.” He waved his hand at the general state of things. “My experts say this dam doesn’t have much life left in it, and the Queen’s army will be here any minute. We don’t know anywhere else to go.” 

“There isn’t anywhere else to go,” said Massei. “But you can’t stay here and be captured by the Queen. She’ll execute you. She made up a story about you murdering an elf, one of Branyeso’s friends, to try to get the rebels back on her side. It didn’t work, but she can’t go back on it now.” 

“That bothers you, somehow,” said Button.

“Of course it does! It’s wrong to frame you like that. No one knows who killed Vendiku. She’ll have you executed to try to manipulate her subjects.” 

Button felt bad for letting her go on believing they had been framed, but this clearly wasn’t the moment for voluntary confessions. Besides, he supposed they actually had been framed. The Queen didn’t know who had killed Vendiku any more than Massei did. Her version of a convenient narrative just happened to be correct. “Maybe we can all find another way to escape together,” he said.

“If Branyeso’s gone I have no reason to escape,” said Massei. “All the elves know that I’ve become female without permission. Or they will when the rest of this is over. I have nowhere to go and no hope from staying.”

Button couldn’t deny the logic of any of that. Massei might escape with them, but he had no illusions about being able to offer her a better life traveling with them. She was truly, obviously female now in a way that could only inspire a constant running commentary from Newgate and his friends. Alcatraz would make her even more of a slave than she had been as a servant to the Elvenqueen. If she wasn’t willing to leave by herself, it was clearly wrong for her to leave. “I’m sorry,” he said. “We didn’t mean to ruin your plan.” 

“You have a right to escape yourselves,” said Massei. “More of a right than I have. There are fourteen of you and only one of me. And you never belonged here.” 

“But there’s no way out for any of us, now,” he said.

“There has to be,” said Massei. “Go look for it, all of you. I’ll hold off the Queen.” 

Button tried to dissuade her, but Massei was resolute. The Queen could deal with one source of chaos in her society, and while she was busy, perhaps the dwarves could find some means of escape. Massei was tired of running and hiding, anyway. She would face her former mistress, and take whatever consequences came with that. 

Button went back to the dwarves. 

It wasn’t just the army who were coming, though they were loud and many. At their head was the Elvenqueen herself, and Massei braced to face her. Massei was a woman now, but the Queen was the woman, the ultimate expression of femininity in an elven society where femininity was ultimate. Even Newgate was left speechless at the sight of her, though his eyes were drawn and locked to her form. 

Robben might have done the same, but his duties forced him to organize the other dwarves. He prodded each of them out of their amazement at the sight of the Elvenqueen, and tried to get them into some sort of order. Massei may have been standing between the dwarves and the army, but she wasn’t offering them any physical protection. Robben expected the other elves to just go around her in order to attack. 

But the army waited on the Queen, and the Queen was only interested in Massei. However much she might have found scapegoating the dwarves convenient before, and however much she might think executing them would help her restore order to her society, once there was an elven woman directly opposing her, the dwarves faded into irrelevance. Massei wasn’t providing them any tactical cover, but her conceptual cover was unbreakable. Button just wished they had some way to take advantage of that.

“So,” said the Queen. “You’re the one who has caused all of this. I knew there had to be a woman behind this somehow. But one who I never authorized to become a woman in the first place! What destruction you have wrought in our society from your selfishness!”

“It’s not I who have wrought your destruction,” said Massei. “You have brought that upon yourself. I see the failures of your rule, but so do these dwarves, so do the revolutionaries. They all want freedom for themselves.” 

“Clever words to get them to follow you,” said the Queen. “But your rule would offer no more freedom than mine has. The need for order and structure is inevitable.” 

“You call it structure,” said Massei. “I call it repression.” 

“Whatever you call it, even all the forces you’ve brought together won’t allow you to defeat me,” said the Queen. “The throne will never be yours.” 

“I don’t want your throne,” said Massei. “I have never wanted power. I just wanted you not to have power over me.” 

“Do the revolutionaries cheer you when you say that?” asked the Queen. “Do these foreign men you’ve swayed to your cause? Will they cheer you later, when you turn out to be just as much of a despot as you accuse me of being?” 

“No one will make me a despot,” said Massei. “I make no claim to leadership. But I understand why they reject your authoritarian rule. I reject it as well.” 

“And yet you’ve made choices for all of them. You’ve broken the dam, reduced us all to the power of fire and water. I can see from here we will never be able to repair it. Who are you to choose that future for all your kin?”

“I never intended to break the dam,” said Massei. “Branyeso did it, not because he wanted to, but because he didn’t know any better. Because you bred him to follow orders unthinkingly.” 

“I’m not responsible for the foolishness of males,” said the Queen. 

“Aren’t you?” said Massei. “You make them what they are. You keep them from being anything more.”

“We have to keep them safe,” said the Queen. “There are so few of them, and they are so important.” 

“So important that you never let them have a voice in their own lives,” said Massei. “So important that you’ve trained them to never make their own decisions. And not just the men, you do this with your servants as well. You keep us from growing into ourselves so that you have someone to do the work for you.” 

“Enough of this,” said the Queen. “I didn’t come here to argue politics with someone who has never had to make a difficult decision in her life. If you won, you would learn soon enough, but I have no intention of letting you win. Take her!” she commanded the army. “Take the dwarves as well.” 

“And then what?” sad Massei as the army began to move toward her. “What commands will you give them after, to bring back the world they remember?”

“We will figure that out once we’ve crushed your little rebellion,” said the Queen. 

Massei had clearly been hoping that her words would get through to the women and servants of the army, but while there was perhaps a little hesitation, there was no outright refusal of their orders. With the Queen right there, dominating the cavern with her presence, there hardly could have been. They took Massei prisoner with no trouble. The dwarves, though, they expected to fight back, and the army approached Button and his comrades with more caution.

Robben had formed them up on the slope of one of the shoulders of the dam. Newgate and Mo prepared their swords just below the top of the slope, waiting for the elves to come at them. Surely there was no chance of victory, but they would inflict a heavy toll on their attackers nevertheless. Perhaps, somehow, even with only elves as living witnesses, their story would one day be told, and sung in the halls of their forefathers. 

Robben and the twins were behind them, prepared to fight hand-to-hand, and behind them the King with his sword and his closest advisors. Button moved toward the back, where Quentin was standing at the shore of the lake gathered above the dam. Perhaps he was thinking that, in the final throes of battle, he could swim away by himself to tell the tale. 

“Guys?” said Quentin.

“We’re about to fight here, Quentin,” said Robben. “What is it?” 

“The water level back here is getting pretty high,” said Quentin.

“So?” said Robben.

“So I don’t think you’re going to be fighting after all.” 

As he said that, the water reached the top of the dam, and began to pour over. The elven army, below them, was unperturbed at first, but the channel below the dam filled quickly and the water was soon lapping at their feet. They began to show signs of nervousness, and the dwarves on the front lines were cheered, but Quentin was still worried. 

“There’s too much water backed up,” he said. “We can’t stay here.” 

“Where do you want us to go?” said Robben. “We’ve already taken the high ground.” he was right. Above them the water stretched all the way to the cavern walls. More of it was pouring over the dam, but it wasn’t reducing the level in the lake. 

The full width of the dam quickly became a waterfall, and the elves below them broke and ran back for their tunnels. Button wasn’t sure that would do them any good; the whole elven settlement was built below this point. But they either thought they had a path to safety, or were too panicked to care. They took the Queen with them, along with Massei, still their prisoner. 

Water was lapping at Quentin’s toes. “It’s going to come over here soon,” he said. “Unless the dam breaks.” All they could do was stand their ground and hope the dam collapsed before the force of the flood broke through the tiny ridge of ground above it. Once the lake had emptied itself into the homes of the elves, they could just walk out the upstream side of the cavern, and be free. But the dam held, and the water kept rising. Below the dam the former channel of the river was indistinguishable from what had been dry land only a few minutes before. All was chaos and wreckage, and water was pouring uncontrolled through the intakes that the elves had built to power the water-driven machines throughout their city. 

Desperately, the dwarves scanned the room for alternatives to drowning after being swept away. If the dam didn’t break soon, none of the land in this room would survive, and even the weight of a dwarf wouldn’t be enough to keep from being hurled downstream by the power of the flood. 

Chino spotted a collection of wooden barrels, secured against the wall by a net, not far from them. There was a shallow pool of water already pressing against them, but the net had kept them from being swept away.

“You want to use barrels?” said Alcatraz.

“I want to use the net,” said Chino. “We can crowd behind it and if it stays secure it will keep us from being swept away.” 

“And so we drown instead?” said Attica.

“We might not,” said Chino. “The flood has to pass downstream eventually. It might never even go over our heads.” 

“Do it,” said Folsom. “Unless someone has a better idea.” So the dwarves charged toward the barrels and the netting holding them down, Button with his shorter legs trailing behind them, as the water reached the top of the ridge that had been keeping it all directed over the dam. Then it was a race against gravity, as the flood came after them faster than they could run. It was a race they inevitably lost. 

Button was swept off his feet first, and bowled into Angola, who was the slowest of the dwarves. Angola managed to stay up and Button bounced off him in the flow of water and was past him before the force of the flood finally knocked the dwarf down. Someone grabbed his shirt, and it was Quentin, who had thought to anticipate the impact of the water and was able to maintain some control. 

All of them were swept directly into the barrels with an impact of bruising force. They tried desperately to cling to the net, the barrels, or the other dwarves, anything they could close their hands on. Quentin held onto Button and also to the net, and tried to get them organized, but the others were completely given over to panic, merely grasping at whatever came to hand. 

They still might have worked their way into the net if it had held, and made themselves secure if not in any way safe. But all the panicked yanking eventually pulled it off its moorings, and the barrels, net, and dwarves all tumbled downstream together. 

Eddies in the current flung them apart and drew them together again with bone-crushing force. They were left with a terrible choice: cling to the barrels and stay afloat, or let them go and try to avoid their devastating impacts. But the bodies of the dwarves were as dangerous as the barrels were. 

Quentin moved in and out, trying to help the others, still dragging the carroll along with him. The young hydrologist was skilled, but even he made minimal progress in the chaos of the flood. Button just concentrated on continuing to breathe when his head was above water, and not trying to when it wasn’t.

Quentin managed to make enough progress against the raging water to corral the King, and then to add Chino to their little group. But then, abruptly, it was over. A particularly-strong eddy propelled them, not into a barrel or another dwarf, but into one of the water intakes for the elven settlement. The four of them were alone with nothing left to them but to try to survive the moment.

Somehow, none of them drowned, or were stabbed through by barrel wreckage, or stuck forever in the pipe. Button wasn’t sure how long the journey lasted; it was just a jumble of imagery, desperation, and breaths, very distinct and vivid breaths. He had never thought of his breathing so thoroughly as he did in the moments when they were being driven through the elven aqueduct. There was no awareness left to spare a thought for where they might be going. 

Eventually they tumbled out of the pipe and into the open air, and Button had a chance to look around. More accurately, Quentin gave him a chance to look around. The youngest of the four had come through the flood the best, and assisted the others, if not to solid ground, at least to water shallow and stable enough for them to stand up and get their bearings. 

Button recognized this as one of the streams that fed the pond in the human portion of the botanical garden, but the garden itself was almost unrecognizable. The ground near the pond had been torn up to build a camp for the rebel army, a camp that was now waist-deep in water. Waist-deep for the elves, that is. The revolutionaries were in chaos trying to deal with the flood, and hadn’t even noticed the arrival of Button and the dwarves. On the roof of the garden it was raining heavily, though some light came through.

More water was flowing in past them, and from the other streams, but the level in the pond and the elven camp seemed to have stabilized. As much as was coming in was flowing out again, down through the gap the dwarves had dug in the bank to drain the pond just a few weeks ago, down through the channel that water had dug in the long slope to the larger lake below, expanding that channel as it went. 

Quentin led them downhill toward the lake. None of them questioned his assumption of leadership in this situation; none of them had enough composure to do much other than follow. They passed down the hill before the revolutionaries had a chance to notice them behind their own chaos, and that seemed like it was for the best. They avoided the channel that was hastily digging itself and stumbled down the slope on their aching legs to wind up at the shore of the lake, which was large enough the new water was vanishing into it without seeming to have any impact at all beyond making the water murkier where it entered.

“There’s nothing to do now but go down the lake and hope we find something,” said Quentin. 

“What about the others?” said Folsom. 

“There’s no way of finding them again,” said Quentin. “If they even survived. They probably didn’t. We were luckier than we had any right to be.” 

“I’m not comfortable with just leaving them here,” said Folsom.

“You can haul yourself back up the hill and surrender to the elves, then,” said Quentin. “The revolutionaries are up there. Maybe they will treat you better than the Queen. Or maybe they’ll blame you for the flood and chop your head off. I’m not willing to take that chance. I’m going down the lake, even if I have to go by myself.” 

“You don’t have to go by yourself,” said Chino unexpectedly. The old carpenter looked dejected, utterly beaten. “You’re right. We should all go with you.” Button had expected that Chino, of all the dwarves, would be the last one to give up on finding anyone. But he recognized what Quentin had seen first: they had overstayed their welcome in the tunnels of the elves. There would be no playing games of hiding and retreating after the flood, no time to recover ten dwarves who had been scattered by raging waters. And especially worthless if the dwarves they were looking for had already been drowned. 

Folsom’s new sense of responsibility wasn’t strong enough to stand up against Chino’s total despair. So the four of them set off down the lake, away from the revolutionaries, away from the elven civilization. Perhaps their fate was to be lost in the caverns forever, but they would take what came to them.

As they went, the lake lost the murkiness it had gained from the debris of the flood, and slowly became crystal-clear. The sunlight from the translucent ceiling of the human garden still penetrated somewhat down here, and the reflections from the water made it seem to glow. It gave them just enough to see by, but there was only darkness ahead of them. 

It got dimmer as they went, but their eyes adjusted so they could still see the lake, and the shore, and the walls surrounding them. They could see pebbles on the bottom of the lake, when they looked in the right direction to avoid reflections, but could spot no fish, or plants, or anything else living in it, no matter how hard they looked. Nor was there anything interesting on the shore. They felt like they were traveling away from all life as well as all light. 

Finally in the dimness a shape appeared before them, the familiar slopes of a wooden roof. They hurried toward it, only to find that it wasn’t on the shoreline after all, but well out into the water. The building it covered had long-since been submerged, and the wood was half-rotten. 

“The elves built here, once,” said Folsom. “I wonder what it was.” 

“It looks like a boathouse,” said Chino. “But why build a boathouse in the middle of a lake?”

“It might not have been the middle of the lake, then,” said Quentin. He had pushed farther down the shore to look at the ruined building from the other side. “Come down here. There’s a boat under the water.” 

So there was: a long, open wooden boat with enough holes in the bottom to put it on the floor of any body of water. Folsom recognized it. “I remember these from my childhood,” he said. “Sometimes, less than once a year, my grandfather would receive an emissary from the wood-elves. I was never allowed to see the diplomat in conference, but my friends and I would always go down to see her leave. She came in a boat like this.” 

“I remember that,” said Chino. “It might have been this very boat. If not, it was much like it. I built a model once, with, oh, what was his name? The one who wanted to be a shipwright.”

“I don’t remember that any of us wanted to be a shipwright,” said Folsom. 

“There was one,” said Chino. “One of your friends. But I can’t remember his name.” 

“It’s not important,” said Quentin.

“Isn’t it?” said Chino. “How long before we lose the names of those we lost here today? You’re young, you think you’ll remember them forever. I thought so, when we lost the dam to the Muskellunge. But now I know hardly any of them.” 

“If we all starve to death here because there aren’t any fish, it won’t matter,” said Quentin. “We have to move on.” 

“Maybe we could salvage something here,” said Chino. “Not the boat, but we could build a raft out of that roof.” 

“You want to take a raft into the dark down an unknown lake?” said Quentin. “And you said I was reckless.” 

“There’s hardly any current,” said Chino. 

“There’s hardly any right now,” said Quentin. “Which means the raft would be slow anyway. But if this boathouse was once on the shores of the lake, there must now be something keeping the water level higher. I don’t want to drift into that before I know what it is.” 

“If that boat once went to our dam, there must be an exit downstream,” said Folsom.

“Or there was at one time,” said Quentin. “The elves might have blocked it. Something else might have blocked it. All we know is that now the water’s higher.” 

“And you don’t want to know why?” said Chino.

“Of course I want to know why,” said Quentin. “I just intend to walk until I know what I’m up against.” 

“Quentin knows more about water than any of us,” said Button. And the two older dwarves agreed that they should continue to follow his lead. The boathouse quickly faded into the dimness behind them, as the reflected light grew thinner the farther down the lake they went. 

It was almost totally dark before they saw a new glimmer ahead of them. A ray of sunlight on the lake, perhaps; it flickered as they watched, as though ripples in the water were interfering with the reflection. Quentin pressed on toward it, and the others followed him. 

The opening in the cavern wall was not a large one, though it had been once. The flickering they had seen might have been ripples in the water, which was more turbulent here, or it might have been the rain still pouring down outside. What light came through illuminated a grand ruin, the water-wall of a high dam, with a wide fissure in the middle. At the bottom of the crack, the water rushed out of the lake into the outside world. 

“I don’t recall dwarves ever building a second dam here,” said Folsom. 

“This wasn’t built by dwarves,” said Chino. “Look at it. It’s not our style at all. I think the elves must have tried to build one themselves.” 

“Why would they do that?” said Quentin.

“When the Muskellunge came, and they no longer could get electricity from us, they must have thought they could generate it on their own. But from the looks of it they had different ideas of how a dam ought to work. Not good ones. They tried to build a turbine shaft directly into the dam itself. When it collapsed, it took the entire dam with it.”

“So they flooded out the lake,” said Quentin. “But not as much as they intended.” 

“It made it useless for what they wanted, and useless for what they had done before,” said Chino. “So they abandoned the whole thing.” 

“The water must have stretched all the way up into the garden when it was full,” said Quentin.

“Or they intended it to,” said Chino. “I doubt it was ever truly filled to capacity. The dam must have collapsed long before that.”

“This is all fascinating,” said Folsom. “But does it give us a way out?” 

The dam had been built all the way to the top of the cavern, another design decision Chino disapproved of. There would be no climbing over it and out even if they had had a rope. “We’ll have to go out the hole,” said Quentin. “But I don’t know how we do that without being swept away.” 

“I have an idea,” said Chino. So they all trekked back to the ruined boathouse, and Quentin dove for wooden wreckage and brought it back to Chino on shore. The carpenter put together a wide-platformed structure, with floats on each corner, and a long plank on one end. With Quentin’s help he piled the platform full of more reclaimed wood, and they pushed it ahead of them back downstream, keeping it out of the increasing main current. When they got back in sight of the dam, they brought the platform to shore and unloaded the extra wood. Chino had done a good job of estimating; the platform was substantially wider than the hole in the dam where the water passed through, and the plank was long enough to guide it out there.

It was still immensely awkward for Chino and Quentin to get the platform properly into place in front of the outfall, just operating it by means of a long plank from the shore. Quentin waded in a bit to help it, but even he didn’t dare go too close to the main current. Folsom and Button helped where they could, and eventually, with much frustration, they managed to get the floating platform safely into place, wedged up against the face of the dam. 

They all agreed Button should be the first to venture out upon it. “You’re the lightest,” said Chino. “And besides, Quentin has had a recent head injury.” 

“You’ve been following his orders all day and now you’re worried about his head injury?” said Button. “You have to understand, I can’t swim.” 

“None of us can swim out there,” said Quentin. “You fall in, you’ll get sucked out the hole before you know it, and have to face whatever’s on the other side.” 

“I’m pretty sure what’s on the other side is water,” said Button.

“Yes, but how?” said Quentin. “You’re the least likely to fall off, so you’re the obvious choice.”

“And you’re also the least-useful to build a new one if something was wrong with my design,” said Chino.

“Oh, that’s cheering,” said Button.

“Just do it,” said Folsom. “We can’t stay here forever.” 

So Button edged out cautiously onto the long plank, making his way toward the platform. It shook and tipped, but he managed to stay on his feet, and things got easier the closer he was to where the current was anchoring the platform against the side of the dam. 

When he got to the end, he peered out and was glad he hadn’t fallen into the lake. The exiting current shot out into space and plummeted down farther than he could see. There was enough sun coming through the rain clouds to make a rainbow out of the mist of the waterfall, but not enough to show him the bottom. 

He scooted even-more-carefully back to dry land where the dwarves were waiting. “There’s a waterfall,” he said. 

“What sort of waterfall?” said Quentin.

“The sort that goes down and down and down and I don’t even know how far,” said Button.

“We’ll have to build a ladder,” said Chino.

“A ladder?” said Button. “Now you want to climb down a ladder? Built of rotten wood and longer than the daylight will last? In the rain? I thought the idea of swimming was bad.” 

“It will be difficult,” said Chino.

“It will kill us all,” said Button.

“We’ve survived so many things we thought would kill us all,” said Quentin. “This is the last one. We can do it. You can do it.” 

“You go first, then,” said Button.

“All right.” 

“You haven’t seen it,” said Button. “You don’t know.”

“It can’t be that far down if they got boats down it in the old days,” said Chino.

“Maybe that boat was for something else,” said Button. “And the ones they used to visit the dwarves were just the same design. Maybe there’s another boathouse at the bottom of the waterfall.”

“That would be useful,” said Folsom. “For when we’re moving on.” 

“You really mean to do this,” said Button.

“I don’t see that we have any choice,” said Folsom.

So Chino and Quentin built a ladder, one they could hook to the floating platform and send down the face of the cliff outside. Chino built a clever little diagonal at the beginning so they didn’t have to climb within the waterfall, and a counterweight on the other side to keep them from dislodging the platform as they went. 

True to his word, Quentin went first, but the others still had to follow him without knowing anything more. Chino went second, followed closely by Button, as if the old dwarf could do anything to help if the carroll happened to fall. King Folsom brought up the rear, where at least none of the others could dislodge him by falling on him.

Button was as terrified in that moment as he had been since the beginning of his adventure. The dark figure in the fire caves, being carried down the elven aqueduct in the flood, even the first moment of being alone after he had lost his companions and didn’t know where to look for them, none of that compared to what he felt descending Chino’s rickety ladder. His hands were wet and cold, his feet were wet and slippery, and he didn’t know how he could possibly maintain his grip. He just concentrated on one rung at a time, and made his way downward, slowly, in the dwindling rain. 

Contrary to his expectations, the descent didn’t outlast the light. Partly that was because it wasn’t as late as he had thought; when the storm clouds finally passed the sun was still reasonably high in the afternoon sky. It wasn’t even fading when Quentin called up that he had found the bottom. The young dwarf was enough faster than Button that he and Chino still had a long way to go, and Button wasn’t about to risk looking down. But at least he knew there was an end to the ordeal, one that didn’t necessarily involve him falling to his doom. He kept thinking about one rung at a time, and trying not to think about anything else, until Chino was hoisting him off the ladder and onto the ground. The king wasn’t far behind. 

Button’s envisioned boathouse at the bottom was nowhere to be found, alas, and there was just enough daylight left for them to make their way downstream, hopefully far enough to get out of the elves’ influence. Not that any elves would have time or inclination to come searching for them anytime soon.

As dusk began to fall, they followed the river out of the forest into an open plain characterized by a line of tall wooden poles headed off into the distance. Some were standing, and some had fallen over, but Chino was glad to see them all. 

“These are the old high-capacity lines running from the dam,” he said. “We’re truly in the realm of the eastern dwarves, now. All we have to do is follow them down to the long lake and our appointment with the Muskellunge.” 

“Just the four of us?” said Button. 

“Who said anything about four of us?” said Folsom. “Look ahead.” 

At the base of the first standing power pole was a camp, and in that camp were their ten lost dwarves. Somehow they had all made it out on their own, and were just waiting hoping the king would be joining them.

“It’s not possible,” said Quentin. “We’re supposed to believe that all of us survived that? The flood, the barrels, the elves? It’s beyond the imagination.” 

“Just let it go, Quentin,” said Chino. “We’re all alive. Maybe we were meant to be alive. Maybe we have greater destinies ahead of us.” 

They joined the other dwarves, who greeted them with great delight, and started plotting their assault on their ancestral dam, to begin the following morning.

“We could stay here a little longer,” said Newgate.

“Why?” said Robben. “We’re all together now.” 

“Yeah, but some of those elven women in the army got a good look at me,” said Newgate. “I bet they’ll be coming out to join us.” 

“No more elves,” said Folsom. “No matter what you think they want.” 

The others laughed and bedded down for the night in whatever dry place they could find. 

This is the end of 40 Days in an Elvish Prison. Would you like to try another series?

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