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Beethro the Delver V - Beethro Returns to the Dungeon (By Matthew Cramp)

Beethro Budkin was not having a good day. He'd burnt his breakfast, the guys at Smitemaster's Hall weren't even talking to him, and he'd just taken a look at the financials of his little restaurant, the Roasted Roach Grill. Ugly, ugly figures. It was like someone had scribbled stroke marks everywhere, most of them proclaiming he'd be bankrupt in six months. That sort of ugly.

He should have been set for life. Beethro had retired from dungeon extermination, his former career, which was the vital service of going underground and clearing vermin out of a customer's basement, dungeon, sewers, or what-have-you. Of course, there are always roaches, but then the sort of roaches you get in dungeons tend to be as big as a man and have a taste for flesh. So it's not really a walk in the park. And that's not even considering the wraithwings, serpents, spiders, goblins, or giant eyeballs. Not to mention all the traps designed to keep out intruders, to keep in intruders, or to make intruders stop and sigh at the trap's beauty--probably just before they're caught by another trap.

Beethro had just pulled off one of the longest and most difficult extermination jobs ever: King Dugan's Dungeon, a monstrosity twenty-five levels deep (and growing), in which almost every type of creature ever encountered and killed by a smitemaster (and a couple that had never been seen) had turned up ready to take a chunk out of Beethro. At its lowest point was a monster city named Neatherville, and a man they called the 'Neather, as fresh-faced as when he disappeared as a child in the castle dungeons, one hundred and fifty years ago.

There are some mysteries man was never meant to solve.

It netted Beethro a fortune, and incidentally, an incredible supply of meat, which came in handy for the restaurant. However, a business is a hard thing to run. Small problems become big problems really quickly, and it's surprising how quickly one can go through a dungeon's worth of meat. Beethro took up some odd smitemastery jobs to get some supplies, but it was like trying to plug a dam with your finger.

"Hey Unka, slow down! I'm tired!"

And of course, there was Halph, Beethro's nephew. Halph had decided, against all good sense, that he wanted to be a smitemaster. It was Beethro's task (according to his sister, at least) to discourage him from that particular career. But the boy wouldn't listen to stern warnings, reveled in the war stories of the Guild members, and cheered when Beethro took him down to clean out his sister's basement. Heck, he even asked if he could keep one of the roaches as a pet! The boy was thick.

Beethro had one last plan, and that, surely, would get some sense through the kid's head. During his now-legendary clearing of King Dugan's Dungeon, Beethro came upon a door that only opened from the other side. There was no way to open it on the level, so Beethro let it be, with great reluctance. In the meantime, he'd been corresponding with an Architect named Mobley, one of the mysterious fellows who built the underground spaces Beethro used to work in. Mobley had given Beethro a portable orb, a small version of the orbs littered around dungeons, which would open up that mysterious door if Beethro managed to get close enough.

So here Beethro was, trudging up the mountain below King Dugan's castle, Halph following meekly behind. King Dugan had been making threatening noises (well, more like annoyed grunts) about Beethro having not done his job properly, and how there were still monsters in his dungeons. Beethro thought it was nonsense. Monsters will creep back into dungeons after a few years, and Dugan just didn't understand that. He was too greedy to pay for recurring maintenance and figured he could scare Beethro into free work. Uncharitably, Beethro reckoned it was because the man could only hold two thoughts in his tiny, tiny brain, and they were "Food is good--I should have more" and "Oh, no! What happened to all my money?" Beethro waltzing in and asking to see his dungeon wouldn't go down well, so a more... subtle... approach was needed.

Beethro found what he was looking for. Architects will often leave alternate entrances to big dungeons--useful for carrying out dirt and getting access to the levels you're working on quickly. Most of the time they cover them up, but sometimes they don't, opting instead to put in a few traps and hide it. If the client has reneged on his payment, (or performs a lesser crime such as enslaving his people) there's a secret entrance that can be used to gain access to the dungeon. This particular one, when it was made, was for the bottom of the dungeon. But the dungeon had grown long past that now, for reasons not entirely clear.

Beethro beckoned Halph close and explained the plan, "I'll use Mobley's portable orb to get past that closed door. While we're at it, you can see how glamorous this dungeon extermination work is." Of course, Beethro expected Halph to be pleading to return home within five minutes. One good look at a hyper-salivating dungeon roach from three feet away should do the trick. Halph nodded happily, and the two Budkins walked into the gloom.

(This is the story behind the second DROD game, Journey to Rooted Hold. For the rest of the story, please play the game.)

[While Matthew Cramp was the original writer of this story, he would like to thank Erik Hermansen for editing and tweaking it to fit the official Canon.]

Beethro the Delver: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5