A large ornate wooden door stood before them. The prints in the dust ended here, well on the other side of the door. Gibel motioned for silence as his keen ears picked up something coming from the other side of the room. He pressed his ear close to the door…
“Bow before me thrall,” he heard a youthful voice shout.
“That trinket holds no power over me boy,” said a harsh guttural voice that sounded like the wind sweeping through a graveyard.
The next thing the whole party heard was a shriek followed by a bellow of triumph, “it’s mine.”
Helm pushed past Gibel and opened the door charging through into a torch lit wide chamber supported by pillars. Six shrouded tombs were centred around the middle of the chamber. The corners of the chamber were shrouded in darkness but it was the sight of the creatures that made Helm regret his actions. Several zombies and skeletons turned to face him while in the western corner a long limbed undead creature feasted on a corpse. A further undead creature stood above the corpse of a red robed human body. It is hand it grasped an amulet which it placed around its neck. It seemed to be surrounded by a foul odour. With a snarl it spoke,
“Feed on the fresh meat my minions.” The undead lurched towards the door where the companions steeled themselves for battle.
“Fight with Bel in your hearts and we shall prevail,” said Lucious as their foes closed upon them. Helm took a wicked blow on his shield and Gibel was pummelled by a zombie. Felix flanked a skeleton and connected with a solid hit. But it was clear that the odds were stacked against them. They were outnumbered and overpowered.
Lucious knew what had to be done. He softly began a prayer to Bel gradually rising to a crescendo during which his voice seemed to be unnaturally loud. As he shouted his deity’s name his holy symbol flared as it had done earlier and once again bright holy light pulsed from it in a wave of bristling positive energy. The undead seemed to shield their eyes against the light, as the wave of light passed over them they shrieked in fear and turned away from the cleric, well all except the ghast wearing the amulet.
“Cleric, I shall feast on the marrow of your bones,” it spat hatefully before charging past its retreating minions and descended on the companions in a whirl of teeth and claw. Helm and Gibel moved to block its advance and as it neared them it was surrounded by a shroud of foul air, as if a hundred corpses were rotting nearby. Both gagged on the smell, Gibel retching loudly. The creature bellowed and lashed out barely missing the ranger.
Helm too was overcome but reacted quickly; trying to smite the vile creature before him but the evil amulet was protecting and bolstering the creature and the smite appeared to have no discernable effect on it.
“Another soldier of Light,” it uttered in a voice that sounded like the whisper of a grave, “i shall savour your holy flesh mortal.” With that it raked its filthy claws across Helm’s face leaving three trails of blood. The wound was nothing critical but Helm stood frozen in time paralysed. Lucious recoiled with horror as the ghast licked its lips with a horribly long purple tongue as it shrugged off a solid hit from Gibel. It returned with a solid bite on the rangers arm, Gibel too froze up as the ghast’s paralysis took hold of his limbs, his eyes a frozen picture of terror his mind aware of how vulnerable he now was against this creature of evil.
Lucious stepped forward bravely, his symbol held highly, in defiance of the desecration of life before him. With a loud bellow he shouted,
“Back to the pit that spawned you, foul beast, Bel banishes you to death that has already claimed you.” When he uttered the last word his symbol, indeed his whole body seemed to explode in white pure light that washed into the darkest corners of the room. The fleeing skeletons and zombies disintegrated as the flood of light washed over them. Even the ghoul collapsed dead but as the last vestiges of positive energy disipitated the ghast was still there standing unaffected, its dark amulet seemed bathed in unholy light that seemed to swallow the holy power of Bel.
“Very impressive lackey of the light,” it sneered but you are mine. It lunged forwards with a speed that seemed impossible for a creature of its gait. Its claws raked Lucious’s thigh and blood flowed freely. Lucious felt the cold, creeping curse of the ghasts paralysis and it took all of his fortitude to resist the effect. As the ghast prepared to strike again Lucious channelled positive healing energy into its cursed, dead flesh. The ghasts odour made him retch and, already weakened by the spider’s poison, he veered on the edge of unconsciousness. Still he persevered with his attack and holy, healing energy poured into the beast. Beneficial to living creatures, the positive energy wracked through the unholy beast’s wrecked body. It bellowed in range and anger and swatted Lucious away. The cleric stumbled backwards and hit the wall hard.
As the ghast advanced it did not notice the slight shiver of movement in Helm’s hand. As it passed the paladin he lifted his sword and with a bellow of rage tore into its torso. Despite the amulet’s effects this hurt the ghast that turned its now frenzied attention to Helm. It scored a heavy blow on the paladin but such was his heightened state of battle lust, he shrugged off the paralytic effect and with one mighty blow sundered the ghast that collapsed in a pile of dust, only the amulet remaining. Gibel stood paralysed, Lucious was battered and bruised against the chamber wall and Helm, the battle rage subsided, was beginning to feel the effect of his multiple wounds.
He leant against the wall whispering a prayer of thanks then saying,
“Where’s Felix?”. The rouge had not been seen since the initial stages of the battle.
“Over here Helm, skulking away as usual and making short work of those undead that were fleeing away. Oh I’ve also found a chest behind a secret partition in the wall over there. Lucious are you going to be alright?”
“Yes,” answered the battered cleric, “though somewhat sore” he managed with a small smile. A loud crash made them turn but it was only Gibel regaining motion.
“Blasted thing,” he cursed.
“Lucious, over here,” called Helm who in the meanwhile gone over to investigate the red robed human corpse on the floor. Lucious limped across the room and saw that the corpse belonged to a young boy, maybe 15 summers old. He was clothed in red, velvet robes emblazoned with the Paramour family crest.
“Seems that the Deacon’s suspicions of the Paramour’s and Necromancy were true,” said Helm. Lucious nodded his head and wondered what the consequences for Dun Tonay going to be. He looked around the blasted chamber, the remains of the walking dead littering the floor.
“We must get word to the Deacon quickly, that amulet is radiating great evil, it must be destroyed Helm.”
“I agree brother, let’s get out of here before…” a loud bang, followed by a scream and the sounds of rocks settling made both of them turn around and draw their weapons. Felix emerged from a cloud of dust looking battered and torn and bleeding in several places. But his grin was wide as he carried a shinning shirt of chainmail, and an exquisitely made steel shield in his hands and his pockets seem to bulge.
“Not bad for a skulker eh Helm,” he said with a wink, just before he fainted from loss of blood.