Glyphs could be seen running along the walls near the ceiling and the floor, glowing with the same light as that coming from the decapitated head. There were images of cattle, birds, fish, mountains, forests, and people. As well as something else. It had the body and arms and legs of a human, but the symbol was twice the size, and it was headless. This unsettling creature’s image was scattered amongst the images of landscape and animals.
Their guides traveled fast indeed for people who had never been to the place. They passed a dark corner from which came a clicking sound followed by a blast of air. Something heavy hit Growgash in the shoulder and she cried out in rage, spinning deftly with sword in hand. Before her in the gloom, large almond shaped eyes floated burning with a wild green light. The thing hissed and a skittering of many armored feet sounded as the eyes rushed forward. Her sword sliced the air before her and clattered against what felt like twin blades.
The eyes now rose upward to where the ceiling must be. And then the boy warrior was in front of her, sword in hand. The glowing orbs dodged to the right and he took a chance to swipe at the thing, only for it to back off to the left. It seemed to size him up as he edged forward with a double grip on his blade.
“Don’t be a fool, boy,” the half orc sneered. “It’s just playing with you.” The youth seemed to pay no attention. The boy was a distraction and as he hopped lightly about she considered the thing in front of them. Her mother’s studies had taught her enough, that a thing with a head and and legs may not have a neck. But if it has a front, it should have a back….
Behind them were Jaxom and the monk and his apprentice. “Monk!” she whispered harshly. “When I give the word, release the light at that thing. Blind it!” His motionless form left her with little hope as she moved around to the back of the thing. A yell came from the front as the beast lounged forward, providing the perfect opportunity for the half orc. She scrabble up the slippery scales of it’s back. Blackness still surrounded them when the crunch of a mortal wound broke the stillness. Then came a “thwak” as Jaxom’s sword hit against the armored hide.
Where is that blasted priest! Even as Growgash raised her blade, she felt the beast shift beneath her. It reared, and a blaze of light flashed, illuminating the pathway behind and casting the beast in silhouette. The great sword of the half orc sliced an arc in front of her, but as the head toppled she made sure to turn away from the light. Everything plunged into darkness then and she could feel the lifelesss body of the beast sink to the ground.
“Jaxom?” Growgash tried to peer ahead of her, where there seemed to be a figure curled up in a corner. When she touched it, there was only a sticky wetness.
“Help…” came a spluttering gasp. It was the young mercenary huddled in a ball against the glyphs. There was no help for him now, so the half orc finished him off with a thrust of her sword. Then she turned to follow the glyphs down a steep passage. It seemed like hours, and still there was no sign of Jaxom or the priest and his ward. The fragments of other strange symbols began to appear at chest height. She knew the breaking of these letters meant the breaking of spells, especially those wards against intrusion. The broken writing became more erratic and cluttered until it covered the ceiling and floor. No one was meant to come down here, the orc warrior thought. Why so much protection? What was down here? And where were the others?
Ahead came shouts and then a bright light illuminated the corridor. Growgash stepped through an archway into an illuminated room. Jaxom was there stumbling backward until he hit the wall behind him. He was clutching his eyes. In the center of the room was the priest, his apprentice kneeling before him. From within the sleeve of his robe, the mage pulled a sinister blade and held it under the boy’s chin. Then he glared at the half orc woman.
“The way to Kumas is paved with blood and bones!”