The party made camp at the base of the cliff, where the moonlight had revealed the hidden door. There were runes carved into the rock -- old, weathered, but still legible. A robed figure, tall and lean, stood studying those ancient sigils, while behind her a shorter, stockier figure paced back and forth impatiently.
"Curse it, magus, are we going to be able to enter or not? I don't fancy trying to fight our way back out through those swamps, especially at night."
Sashinna spoke absently, her attention still on the stone. "Have patience, my prince. It's a riddle -- an ancient riddle, written in an ancient tongue."
"Well, then, what does it say?" Dwir turned to look at the runes himself, as if he could understand them if he only stared at them hard enough.
"It says, roughly: Imagine if you will a child of five summers -- a male child, though in this case it matters not -- who has just done the most disgusting and unsanitary thing that you can possibly imagine. Now, take a step back and realize that your situation is not quite so bad as that. As a parent, you begin -- this word doesn't translate well, it's a reference to the warriors of an ancient kingdom. Legend has it, they found it shameful to show any sign of pain, fear, or disgust. The upmark here makes it into something descriptive or comparative."
Dwir frowned at that. "So... 'As a parent, you stubbornly begin...' Something like that?"
Sashinna smiled. "Close enough, I think. As a parent, you stubbornly begin to clean the foulness and mess, and you say to yourself..."
Dwir waited, but she said said nothing else. After a moment, he demanded: "You say what?"
Sashinna shrugged. "That is the riddle, my prince. What do you say? Answer it, and we have secret passage through the mountains."
The warrior Dourk, who was the largest of the company, stirred beside the fire. "Speakin' for meself," he said in his west-country drawl, "I'd be cursin' gods, men, and children alike."
"I've tried," said Sashinna. "Every word and phrase I know."
"Poor child?" suggested one of the scouts.
"I've tried that, too."
"Not a one of you have children, do you?" asked Arimil the Butcher. He had been polishing the edge on his axe, but now he sat back. "You've a sick child, who's just made an incredible mess, and you're the one stuck cleaning it up. As a parent, you say to yourself, At least it's not poop."
Dwir and Sashinna exchanged a glance; Sashinna shrugged, and rattled off a liquid stream of syllables.
At her back, the door swung open.