Another excerpt from Eyes of the Forest

One, two, three, good. The rope had already gone taut; Locirrrus glanced down, pale eyes squinting as the flare’s light stung. An insectoid shriek echoed up the shaft, and the skittering was now quite audible above the river’s burble. A flurry of chitin covered legs was beginning to crowd around the flare, but Locirrus already had his hands around the grate. He pushed; nothing, the grate didn’t so much as budge. He shoved again, harder. Rusted as the iron was, it did not yield.

I’d say I hope no one’s other the other side of this but, they had their chance to help if they did, didn’t they? He lit stick of glairo, filled to the brim with the explosive powder. Even so. “You’d best duck for cover!” he shouted at the grate. He the stick and his hand through the grate, gently rolling it to the side. The staccato tapping of legs on stone grew nearer. Locirrus looked down; only the silhouettes of his would-be assailants were visible, having already passed the still-burning flare. He jiggled the rope, then pressed his back against the wall, and began drawing it up with both hands. The silhouettes stopped, then shrieked once more before scurrying downwards. Must sense the motion. They were finally visible to him; three-sectioned insects, six legs apiece. Each was probably the length of a child were it splayed out. Two sets of mandibles adorned their eyeless heads, and every thorax ended in quills and barbs. Now. He cut the rope, and the creatures followed the dying flare. He placed a hand on each side of the ladder, and began sliding down. Figure I’ve got about 10-

The explosion shook the ladder and walls around him. Instinctively, Locirrus fumbled at his shield, pulling it over his head. Think you forgot to grab the ladder, champ. His right hand smacked the ladder before grasping it. His momentum carried him lower, and every nerve in his shoulder screamed in agony.  Gods, any longer and that’d take my arm off. Debris struck his shield, every blow numbing his left arm. The ambient light from his flare no longer lit the shaft, and neither was the flare visible looking down. Locirrus could hear skittering once again. The hail of rock and iron over, he re-strapped his shield and swiftly pulled another glairo stick. He shaved about two thirds of the fuse’s length off before lighting it, and let gravity do the rest.