The minotaur's hooves were heavy in the silence of the tomb, and even though it was still out of sight, Lothlondiel felt certain it knew where they were, that it was smelling them out as certain as she might have followed the scent of dinner being cooked outdoors. She crouched against the wall with Linu, hands wrapped tightly around the long, slender staff she carried, and tried to ignore both the creeping feel of long-abandoned spiderwebs on the back of her neck from the neglected tombs, as well as the thunderous sound of her own heartbeat. She was frightened, yes, but at the same time, oddly exhilarated; she had spent most of her life studying the great strategies of Toril's greatest warriors, and she felt certain, certain she could fell the beast without even loosing a spell upon it. She thought of the victory she would have to tell Aarin of, when she and Linu returned the champions of the Green Griffon Inn's challenge, and grinned a little foolishly to herself as her cheeks flushed.

"Alright," she whispered, leaning as close as she could to the elven cleric, "I have a plan."

"Yes, dear?" Linu said, politely. She was wearing an expression she had come close to perfecting over the weeks spent at the younger elf's side -- the Lothlondiel's-Being-Cute-So-Let's-Humour-Her-Look, one that got a great deal of use. Lothlondiel was a fine young woman, a brilliant mind with a hardy grasp of magic, but she was still a little too overzealous about most things. Even Linu, for example, would have had the sense not to lift the lid and for a look straight in the eyes at the cockatrice they had retrieved in Neverwinter, no matter how much she had read about them in books.

Fortunately, the priests had been good about the whole matter when they had revived the sheepish young woman, and had kept the hysterical laughter to a minimum.

"This is what we're going to do." Lothlondiel said, eyes sparkling feverishly with the thought of it all. "I am going out to lure the creature on to the bridge."

"Of course you are."

"And then you," she went on, with a note of triumph, "will come charging out from behind here, smash into it from behind, and knock it over the edge!"

"Mmm." said Linu, reluctant to puncture the young elf's sense of victory. "I'm afraid that won't work, dear."

Lothlondiel looked blank for a moment, before she remembered Linu's less than graceful feet. Embarassed at her thoughtlessness, she quickly said, "Oh, oh of course! You may wait on the bridge, and when I have strengthened myself sufficiently with a spell, you will give the signal and lead the beast onto the bridge, and I shall -- "

"No," Linu said, still gently, "I mean, it won't work."

"Oh." said Lothlondiel, blankly. Then; "Why not?"

"It just . . . won't."

" . . . I see." Lothlondiel said after a long moment, although she didn't, really. After a beat, however, she brightened. "Okay. Okay, that's fine! I noticed those stone pillars over there in the doorway are weakened about the bases. I will lure the beast into the doorway, and then immediately destroy the bases of the pillar, thus toppling them onto the minotaur, and trapping the beast beneath them! Of course, it will mean we must take the long way 'round, but -- "

"Lothlondiel," Linu said, placing a slender hand on the girl's arm, "I'm afraid that really won't work either, dear."

Lothlondiel frowned, listening to the minotaur snort loudly in the next passageway, pebbles crunching beneath it's hooves. " . . . well, I realise there is a chance the pillars may miss it, but I still think -- "

"No. It just won't work, I'm afraid."

"Well, why not?" Lothlondiel demanded, lowering her voice quickly at an alarming grunt from the beast.

Linu shrugged, a little helplessly.

Lothlondiel sighed, slumping back against the wall. "Alright," she said, willing to concede that in this case Linu was the veteran warrior, and there might be some things books could not teach her, "which strategy would you like to use?"

"Well," Linu said, hesitantly, "I thought we might run up to it, you see. And then . . . and then I thought, I might hit it with my mace . . . and then you could, you know, hit it with your staff, or maybe some spell or another . . . and then it will likely hit one of us . . . and then it would be, well . . . my turn again." she finished with a bright smile, miming swinging the heavy mace she held.

For a long moment, Lothlondiel said nothing. Her face had gone curiously blank. She opened her mouth once to speak before shutting it quickly and shaking her head. "You want to . . . "

"Yes?" Linu prompted.

" . . . fine." Lothlondiel stood up with a heavy sigh, shoulders slumped, and Linu sprang to her feet beside her. As they headed off towards the next passage Lothlondiel said, hopefully, "You know, maybe I should get behind it, knock it on it's stomach with a spell, and you could strengthen your own limbs, and then throw one of these coffins on it, I expect they're dreadfully heavy -- "

"Ah ah ah!" Linu chastised with a gentle smile. "Stick to the strategy, dear."

" . . . right. The strategy. Of course. I'm sorry."

"No need to apologise, dear."

Lothlondiel was beginning to think that when Aarin asked what she had been up to, she would tell him she had had a lovely rabbit stew at the Inn. Somehow, it seemed more exciting.


Author's Note: Hey, NWN: Greatest. Strategy. EVAH!