The halls of the ancient crypt had barely an echo. Our voices would not carry far enough into the dark to attract all manner of evil creatures. We were safe for a moment, seated around a warm fire, its embers hovering ever so strangely in the air. I thought perhaps it had something to do with what we were burning, but scrolls with such magic are better destroyed anyway.
What mattered now was the morale of the three knights within my company.
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Although they may be knights, I was the only one that looked the part. One was a thief, swayed by the idea of possible treasures in joining us. The second a mad man, one who had a profound interest in such ancient places. Thirdly, was a huntress, a loner we encountered on our journey. The huntress proved to be an asset despite her attempts to degrade morale.
One of the few logs among the scrolls popped.
“Are we waiting until dawn?” the thief asked, his eyes looking up from the fire to meet mine.
The thief has his superstitions. One of them being that the creatures were stronger at night as if the sunlight hitting the earth above us made them weaker. I decided to give him this answer, whether he took it or not. Yet, it was the huntress who answered first.
“Don’t be an idiot!” she snapped. She had been cleaning her crossbow, but now the rag was clasped against her palm by four fingers, the fifth pointing accusingly at the thief. “Ever since you climbed down those steps you have been spouting nonsense that’s done little but spoil my fun.”
“Quiet,” I grunted. It seemed I had also earned some of her respect, as she did just that. “We leave when we have the energy to fight. There will be more fighting, count on that. If I were you, I would clean and sharpen those knives.”
Only the mad man remained silent, his great axe resting against his leg while he wrote in his journal. We all joined him in silence, preparing our weapons. Yet, something in me told me that when the time came to continue, I better say something.
So, I did.
“When the time cometh that the world should be consumed, I will be grateful,” I began. Doubtful eyes lifted from their business. “I would be grateful if the master of evil were to rise on his sinister horse and lead the charge on my doorstep. I would praise all that is good and holy, thanking the higher powers for allowing such evil to gather, to find me. I would be grateful to have them all within the reach of my sword.”
The fire dwindled and we all stood ready to continue our crusade through the tomb. The coffins that lay empty promised us more undead and what brought them back no doubt waited beyond the rotten warriors.
Yet, I could see in the eyes of my company that my words had the desired effect. Their eyes gleamed, the spark of some greater fire within them shining clearly. The thief had his hands on his knives, ready and willing to decimate the next fiend that crosses our path. The same could be said of the madman and the huntress.
Although they could not see my eyes within the helm I wore, I showed them eagerness by drawing my steel from its scabbard and leading the charge into darkness. Our fire must have been sensed, the undead we crossed put up a little fight.
The first shambling corpses that left the darkness and entered the glow of torchlight were cut down by the huntress, her bolts piercing their heads right between the empty eyes. The next batch were annihilated by swings and deadly arcs the madman and I created with our weapons.
The thief picked off what slipped past us with deadly efficiency. His eyes were like the huntress, sensing and dealing with any disturbance before it became a problem.
At last, we left the halls and entered another chamber. The openness made it easier for the madman and me to swing our blades. Although, despite the many empty crypts, the chamber held no army for us to carve our path through. Instead, we found an uneasy silence.
“There isn’t a way out of here,” the thief noted, sheathing his blades, but not taking his hands away. “I think we might be done here.”
“I don’t think so, my dirty friend,” the mad man announced with an air of condescension. “The dead were brought back thanks to some darker force. Such a force cannot stray too far from their army, or they would crumble.”
“He is right, the necromancer is here,” I announced. “He cannot hide.”
With my free hand, I took the holy scroll from my hip and lifted the seal, letting the scroll roll out as I held it aloft. Uttering the opening lines to the scroll, it began to glow with divine light. The more I read, the bright it glowed until the chamber slowly filled all around us.
“Magnificient,” the mad man smiled.
The thief and huntress only watched in silent amazement, I could tell that the sense of calm power washed over them, as it washed over me whenever I used the scroll. Yet, it was not used to strengthen our resolve, it was used to reveal evil and it did just that. As the glow reached the far wall, it revealed the bodies that had grown against it like some kind of fungus.
The cluster of dead formed a greater creature and at its head was a body that had not turned to rot. We all knew that he must have been the necromancer, becoming a monster that he believed would make him all-powerful. Seeing us, the giant cluster of undead peeled from the wall with sickening popping sounds.
A globulous creature, controlled by a man whose face was slowly melting with his attachment to the dead. He looked down on us, eyes gleaming with deep purple magic.
“When confronted with a foe so large and strong,” the huntress decided to speak, loading a barbed bolt into her crossbow. “Wound the legs, avoid the arms and aim for the head.”
The thief’s mouth quivered and then curled into a small. The mad man looked at me, calm and ready.
“The legs?” he asked. I nodded. “Good, I’ve been waiting for a room like this to go crazy in.”
With that, we charged forward, surprising the creature for a moment before it ran to meet us. It was a clash that cemented our group, making us a team all too willing to seek out evil and send it crawling back to hell.