I said, "If we want any loot we’re going to have to take our chances. Thus we have Exhibit A, this treasure chest. Jexica, as our rogue it’s your turn to shine.”
Jexica nodded and stretched her fingers, cracking the knuckles. I held up a hand. “Before we get started, there’s two stages. Identify, and then disarm.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve been trained. I know how this works,” Jex said.
“You’ve been trained to identify and disarm, but did anyone mention the Committee Method?”
She paused. “No, what’s that?”
“Before you do anything, we all take a look. You’re the specialist, but the rest of us aren’t dumb. We all take a glance and tally our impressions. You get the final say, of course.”
“I like it,” Caltrop said, kneeling down in front of the chest and eyeing the lock mechanism. “Crowdsourcing is an excellent team activity. My father always had a saying, a few extra sous chefs just help make the bisque better. Hmm. Looks like a shocker trap to me.”
“I’m not really sure that’s the best analogy,” Jexica objected. “Are you sure that-”
Wort interrupted, “Well I think it’s a gas cloud.”
“No, look like dart trap,” Mulk said.
“Don’t be silly,” Wort replied. “That bladder mechanism has to be tied to a gas cloud. Who ever heard of darts coming out of a bladder?”
Siobhan eyed the chest. “I see no bladder. That is a containment bulb for a deadly Mage’s misery spell. We spellcasters must be wary.”
I pushed the elf out of the way. “That can’t be right. I’ve been in six dungeons, and I’ve never even heard of a Mage’s misery before. I don’t think that’s a real thing. It’s got to be a poison needle, if anything.”
I looked up from the chest. “What? Who said that?”
Caltrop shrugged. “If there’s a bladder and you think it’s poison, maybe the bladder’s holding a toad, so it could be a poison toad.”
I sighed. “I can assure you there’s no toad pushed into that trap.”
The others continued arguing, with alternating shouts of “Darts!” and “Gas cloud!” gaining momentum. Jexica kneeled down to eye the lock.
I tried to explain, “Look, it really is a simple case of-”
“Okay, here goes, trying to disarm the gas cloud,” Jexica said, poking her tools into the key hole.
Too late. There was a click, and then a snick. Jexica looked down aghast at her finger tip. “Ooh, I feel a little sick,” she said, and then slumped to the floor.
“Gah. You fools, you didn’t let me finish. This first dungeon is filled with simple creatures who can’t manage complicated traps. Some of them don’t have any traps at all, but if they do, the only possible trap in the Troll Tunnels is a poison needle. My old team opened hundreds of them, and that’s all we'll see until the next dungeon.”
The noise died down. Everyone turned sheepish, except Jexica, who was turning green and moaning.
This was an excerpt from The Eight-Bit Bard. The complete novel is Kindle format through Amazon.