So. Left hanging around again, am I?
The minute Kal thought this, as well as the immediate wave of remorse for even allowing such a bad joke head-space, he heard a groan from below him. Pickle had chosen that inopportune moment to wake up and begin to thrash about.
"Hey! Why am I upside-down? What's going on? I say, Kal old chap, what's up?"
Kal could feel his wrists splintering. Not only was he supporting his own weight, but that of the ranger and the mage as well, and now Pickle was awake it was even worse.
"Hold still, moron, or I'll let go and plunge us all into the deep, dark pit below," he groaned from between gritted teeth, trying to shift his grip without actually releasing his grip, or causing all his fingers to spontaeneously snap in two.
There was a short pause, and then Pickle spoke up again.
"You do know that the floor's only a few inches below me, don't you, old chap?"
There was another short pause, this one filled with a mixture of embarrassment and rage.
"Fine," Kal said eventually, and let go.
It was quite a hard floor, being made of rock strewn with sharp bits of other rocks and prickly sand made of ground rocks. Luckily, Kal's landing was conveniently cushioned by both a ranger and a mage, and he came to no harm. Rolling off his makeshift landing pad, he rubbed some feeling back into his abused arms and clapped his hands a couple of times.
"Right, then, up we get!"
Falcon and Pickle groaned a little, showing no signs of getting up, so Kal took a certain sadistic delight in hauling them both up by the scruffs of their necks and banging their heads together.
"I said, up we get!"
"I say," Pickle mumbled dizzily, stumbling back and rubbing his forehead. Falcon, who obviously had a harder head, blinked a couple of times and frowned.
"That's not the sort of behaviour I'd have expected from a brave adventurer like you," he observed. Kal beamed at him.
"I'm very sorry," he lied, "But it's important to get up and running as soon as possible in case we come across any monsters. I mean, how will you kill them if you're lying in a groaning heap on the floor?"
Falcon's brow furrowed as he tried to fit this in. It seemed he could see nothing immediately wrong with it, as he shrugged and picked up his bow from where it had fallen. Pickle, apparently now suffering from a splitting headache, retrieved his hat and leaned against the wall, whimpering slightly. Kal laid a friendly arm around his shoulders.
"Come now, Pickle, surely you've got something in that spellbook of yours that cures headaches?"
The mage shook his head, and then looked as if he wished he really hadn't. Kal gave him a light and superficially friendly shake, just to see him go green.
"Well then, you'll just have to live with it, won't you?" he purred, and leaned in to whisper in the mage's ear.
"Throw up on me and live to regret it."
The way Pickle snapped his mouth shut, it seemed he wouldn't be throwing up anywhere ever again. Or indeed speaking, eating or breathing. Kal smiled genially and patted him on the back.
"Right. On we go. Which way n-owwwwwwwwwwwwwww!"
Something had bitten him on the ankle. He looked down through watering eyes and saw what appeared to be a piebald rat, which was grinning at him.
"Hey guv'nor, wanna know where the treasure is?" it called up, twitching its whiskers. Kal looked at it.
Talking rat. Right. Magic gets bloody everywhere these days...
"And you know where the treasure is, do you?" he said aloud. "Any reason why I shouldn't just stamp on you?"
The rat looked affronted.
"I said I knew where the treasure is, didn'n I? An' I c'n tell you where the treasure ain't as well. Ain't that good 'nuff?"
"It might be," Kal admitted, glancing up at Falcon, who shrugged. "So where is it then?"
"Uh-uh, I ain't tellin' ya right now. I want somefing in return."
"And what's that exactly?"
The rat's little black eyes gleamed excitedly, and it swished its bald, rather scabby tail.
"I wanna be an adventurer! Lemme come wiv you, and I'll take ya to the treasure. 'Ave we got a deal?"