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Graverobbers

Torin pressed his back to the cold, damp wall and bit his lip in an effort to keep from screaming. His hands clenched the handle of a beautiful axe, but his arms betrayed him, quivering from fright at what he had just witnessed. The big man fought to slow his panic. He forced himself to take deep, lung filling breaths of the dank air that filled the cavern. He tried to direct his mind to examine the mundane details of the odors in this hellish place so that he might master the fear that made his knees quake.

The warrior could smell the rotting roots and the heady scent of the fungus that they had walked over as the group had entered. He and his friends had stood in a low fog of spores as they stared at the remains of a once great tomb.

“I told you the map was real.” The short man in the front turned around to look at them. He turned from face to face, looking up at Torin so that he could look each of the group in the eyes. “The Necropolis of Dranoel.”

“Yes Marcus, you were right,” the heavily armored man on the far right of the group said. “And I do owe you an apology for doubting you.”

“No Nale, you owe me a lot of beer when we get done.”

The group laughed at the rogue’s concept of apology as they headed toward what they had believed to be a simple place to pillage.

As they walked forward, Orin said, “All accounts say that Dranoel was a minor necromancer who had built a tomb the size of a village as a base of power. As far as anyone knows he was hunted and killed by the King’s guard for grave robbing. In truth, it was a preemptive measure to quell the possibility of threat. The wizard’s body was burned and the ashes scattered long ago.”

Torin looked at the imposing structure as the group approached. This was no town, it was a fortress. But, he figured that legends were often wrong so as long as there was treasure, he didn’t care about the buildings description.

There hadn’t been any more laughter after that. There had been nothing but eerie silence as the group methodically explored the ruins. There was a great deal of treasure for a minor necromancer, but nobody complained.

They fought into the heart of the complex, long dead corpses rising up to meet them as they went. They plundered, many of them finding wonderful things that would fetch piles of gold and kegs of beer.

They explored, until they found the mistress of the necropolis.

The legends had been close. Dranoel had indeed been burnt and scattered. What the legends had not known was that Dranoel had been an apprentice. The portrait of him standing beside his mistress showed a beautiful and terrifying woman. The group had stood and marveled at the work until the cleric stepped closer to examine it. The creature that fell upon him had once been voluptuous, but it was now wrapped in linen and its touch had rotted poor Orin’s head off his shoulders before his prayers could escape his lips. The others ran as his attacker turned on them.

The creatures in the deep vaults were powerful. The men had no names for most of them. Almost ever one of them had been a woman and with each encounter, another of Torin’s friends fell.

Torin had watched a vampire tear Nale’s throat out. The creature had been voluptuous and beautiful. It had mesmerized three others, so that despite his yelling, they stood there and waited for her to finish his leader and come for them.

Marcus had been swarmed by spiders made out of bone and skull. Some of them still had long braids trailing from the stained bone.  Marcus was bitten, over and over, until he fell and screamed while blood bubbled out of his mouth to obscure the sound.

Gore spattered Torin’s armor. The stink of it mixed with the air to make the big fighter want to vomit. Twenty men had entered the city. One man now tried to calm himself enough to think of a way out of the hell he had entered.

He was alone. He was still blessed with dark sight but Torin didn’t know how long the spell would last with his friend dead.

It was so cold. Even for a cave, the air felt frigid. In the moon light of the seeing, he saw his breath. Torin had never noticed seeing his breath while underground before.

Goose flesh erupted over his body. Shivering from fear became shivering to keep warm.

Torin closed his eyes, squeezing them while grinding his teeth together to keep his jaws from chattering.

It seemed that the hall was getting brighter. Even with his eyes shut, the darkness was less than it should have been. It soon seemed like he was lying outside, facing the sky, waiting for the sun to come out from behind a thin cloud.

The warrior lost the war with his jaw, and the clicking of his chattering teeth sounded like an army running down the hall towards him.

The light became brighter. Torin now squinted his eyes shut against the brightness. There was no warmth, he felt as if he were again standing guard duty in the southern garrison. Standing and holding a pike while frost spread across the poor excuse for a cloak that they had given him. He tightened his jaw, managing to stop the chattering long enough to hear one whispered word.

A single word, so quiet that it might have been whispered by his mother when she died in the night.

“Handsome.”

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  1. May 8, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    Ah, dungeons full of undead… Always fun! Well, fun for some, not so much for others. 😉

    • May 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      This did kind of fall into the old classic.

      I am going to have to work on that.

      • May 10, 2013 at 2:12 PM

        Classic themes are classics for a reason! Everything old is new again and variations on a theme are a good thing. A new take is what’s important. 🙂

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