Already having absconded the element of surprise the party charged down the stairs and met the three zombies at the bottom head on. Helm, full of rightful wrath tore into the undead foe with a relish. Bellowing his battle cry he had downed one and heavily injured another before the enemy had time to react. Lucious noted with satisfaction at the lithe with which Gibel had evaded his enemy’s attacks and neatly severed its head. Almost as soon as it had started the action was over. It was only then that the noticed the stale dank air and foul odour that was absent in the upper level.
“I don’t like this,” said Gibel.
“Talk about stating the obvious,” chirped in Felix.
“Ouch, damn bug!!” suddenly yelled Lucious who had gone to investigate a substantial pile of rubble that lay against a set of double doors in the southern wall of the chamber they stood in.
Attached to his foreman and greedily sinking its fangs into him was easily the biggest spider Lucious had seen in his life. He swatted the fist sized thing away but as he did he felt a wave of nausea come over him and all of a sudden his shield and mace seemed very heavy in his hands. He took an uneasy step backwards, his head spinning, when another spider darted from the rubble and buried its fangs into his boots. Thankfully the fangs did not pierce the hard leather.
Felix saw his boyhood friend sway and quickly rushed to his aid, but was taken aback by the size of the arachnid before him. His hesitation nearly cost him dear and it took most of his agility to avoid the lunging attack. He countered quickly sank his short sword into the spider’s eye encrusted head. With a shudder it curled up and died. One of Gibel’s arrows made short work of the other one.
“Lucious,” called Felix, obvious concern in his voice.
“I’m alright, it will pass so…” he stopped talking as he was violently sick on the floor. A second wave of nausea overtook the cleric and he could feel his strength diminish and it was only through sheer force of will that he stood again and motioned towards the doors.
“Helm, open those, Bel’s work is not yet done here.” The paladin agreed and with a shove opened the wooden doors. As the party walked into the dim torch lit corridor that opened before them, no one noticed Felix pocket the few gold coins and the gem studded ring he had found in the rubble. Silently he worded thanks to the Paramours and followed his companions.
The corridor was quiet and the air was heavy. The only sound was the crackling of the torches. Gibel crouched down and investigated the tracks on the floor.
“Our prey went this way, and alone it seems,” he said. He stood up and started down the corridor skirting the shadows followed by Helm who muttered something derogatory about skulking away from evil. Felix escorted the pale looking Lucious who seemed to have stabilised somewhat though clearly weakened.
Their path seemed to follow the outline of a square room that only had one entrance. Yet the discovery of a door on the eastern corridor had worried the party. No tracks had disturbed the dust on the floor in this area and despite the danger of leaving their backs uncovered the party had opted to investigate this door first.
Inside they found a sparsely dressed altar with six caskets lining the wall. The dust lay heavy and undisturbed cobwebs covered the room, Lucious shuddered at their sight. He was about to voice a warning when Felix said,
“Hey there’s a button on the underside of the altar,” without waiting he pressed it and almost immediately the caskets burst open, each revealing an animated skeleton brandishing cutlasses and wooden shields. “Oops!” said Felix ducking a wild slash.
The creaking of bones could be heard above the din of battle. Helm fought off two skeletons at a time but his long sword was ineffectual, often getting entangled on his opponent’s ribs. During a lull in the battle he dropped his sword and grabbed a warhammer from his belt. This allowed his opponent the opportunity it needed to land a heavy blow with its weapons. Helm felt it tear through the scale mail on his shoulders and he grimaced with pain as it felt the rusted weapon pierce his skin and almost hit the bone. His shield arm was immediately weakened, blood flowed down his arm and the skeleton seemed to enjoy the pain it had caused. Almost at once its head disintegrated as a mace smashed it to bits; the rest of the animated bones fell in a heap. Helm felt his vision blur, but almost as quickly he felt revitalised and he could hear soft chanting and feel a warm glow engulf his wound, the cut closing and the bleeding stop. His vision returned to normal and he saw Lucious in prayer to Bel channelling healing energy into his battered body. The cleric, lost in prayer, did not see a second skeleton amble up behind him and strike him hard with the flat of its blade across his back. Already weakened by the spider’s poison, Lucious fell forwards, barely conscious. At this a rage possessed Helm and using his hammer tore the skeleton to pieces. The battered cleric rummaged through his pack, drew a potion and drank its contents. The change in him was visible instantly. Colour flushed to his cheeks, and he stood straight looking were best to aid his companions. This aid was not required as all that remained of the foe were heaps of battered bones. He suppressed a smile when he heard Helm’s voice reprimand Felix for his skulking and button pushing antics.