I glanced at the door as Merlin cleared his throat. My daughter was giggling and squirming as she floated around the room just out of reach. I turned back to following her, “yes Merlin?”
“There are several people outside wanting to see you.”
I jumped and finally caught Crystal’s ankle and pulled her down to me as she screamed and wiggled, “would you let Silky know I finally caught her daughter.”
I hugged Crystal and removed the spell that had made her float. I kissed her, “no more playing in my pack.”
She giggled and pulled on my face and I sighed and hugged her. I turned as Silky walked in and crossed to me. She took a wiggling Crystal and caressed my face, “Merlin said someone was here?”
I nodded and she looked into the distance, “my sisters will be here tomorrow.”
I caressed her pregnant belly, “what deviltry are you up to?”
She grinned, “planning an outside bath for you to make.”
I laughed before kissing her and heading towards the door. Two men, a dwarf and an elf were sitting on the patio when I walked out. They stood and I gestured them back down before sitting at the table, “what can I do for you?”
The dwarf cleared his throat, “we would hire you.”
I smiled and raised an eyebrow, “hire a wizard? Interesting thought, anything else?”
The elf smiled, “we need your help.”
The men were nodding and I sat back, “I’m still listening.”
The dwarf was frowning but one man cleared his throat, “there is an ancient ruin on Mobaly. It has a very extensive dungeon and is infested with goblins and trolls and even undead. We wish you to lead us through to the old vaults.”
I looked at each of them since I had heard of this dungeon before, “I thought a large party of warriors had already gone there.”
They looked at each other and the dwarf leaned forward, “we will pay...”
I held up my hand and turned it back and forth before a gold coin appeared, “Gold? Silver? What will you pay a wizard that he can not provide for himself?”
He slumped back in his seat and I looked at the other man when he cleared his throat, “what do you need?”
I smiled, “that is a good question.”
I looked at the elf, “why should I help you?”
He thought and then leaned forward, “the whole region around the dungeon is constantly trying to protect against the creatures in the dungeon. In the vaults is the high king’s relics. They can banish the undead and the others fear them and will leave if they are brought forth.”
I sighed and leaned back before turning to the doorway, “I’ll need my pack Merlin.”
I thought for a minute before standing, “give me a few minutes.”
I went inside and Silky met me in the front room with Crystal, “going to save a princess?”
I pulled her against me and gave her a soft kiss, “I already have my princess.”
She smiled happily and shook me. I let her go and sighed, “they want me to help rid a countryside of undead creatures.”
Silky shivered, “they are very bad.”
I smiled and caressed my daughter’s face before kissing Silky, “plan your bath and I’ll build it when I return.”
I went to dress and returned to accept my pack from Merlin before walking to the door, “come with me.”
I led them through the house and down to the doorway. I glanced at them, “hold hands.”
I waited and then took the elf’s hand before placing my other hand on the door and thought of Mobaly and the location of the dungeon. The door started glowing under my hand and then it seemed to spread. Soon the whole door was glowing and then everything around me became a blur of colors and shapes.
When it stopped we stood on a grass covered road. It was twilight with darkening storm clouds approaching. I glanced around before looking at a boulder with ancient writing. It had names and arrows pointing each way. I set my pack down, “we might want to wait until we have daylight.”
They murmured before settled around the boulder and I crossed my legs as I sat. I whispered a spell and closed my eyes. It wasn’t long before it began to rain and the men and Dwarf grumbled. I ignored them as the spell extended my senses. My eyes snapped open, “move closer to me.”
I stood and began another spell, several minutes later the night was shattered by goblin yells. They rushed out of the trees and towards us as the men, dwarf and elf pulled weapons. When they ran into the invisible shield the goblins screamed as bright spots appeared on their bodies. I watched as they kept hitting the shield.
Before long they were just screaming and squirming around on the ground as the bright spots spread over their bodies. Slowly they stiffened as the spots completely covered them. The glow faded as they changed and stone goblins lay around us. I looked into the night as I felt another presence but it remained hidden.
I sat and leaned back against the boulder, “I don’t think we will have anymore problems tonight.”
They laughed as they sat down again. When the sun began to rise I stood and stretched before waking the others. I shouldered my pack and let the elf lead as we began walking. It wasn’t long before even the forest around us seemed to feel different. When we walked into the large clearing it was to see the ruins.
There had been a great castle here but now it was just broken stones. Debris from a large camp was scattered around as we started towards where the old Keep had stood. A portion of the Keep was cleared and cracked steps led down into the earth. I took a last look around before starting down.
The bottom of the stairs were littered with human bones and debris. We were in a huge anti chamber with a dozen corridors leading away. I smiled, “one step at a time, one corridor at a time.”
I sealed the stairs and picked one corridor and started walking, we checked rooms as we came to them. Each left turn I took and it wasn’t long before they were worried about being lost. When I reached another set of stairs down I murmured a spell to keep anything from coming up. When we finally returned to huge anti chamber we stopped.
We ate before taking the next corridor. There were a lot of signs of goblins and a few of trolls. By late afternoon we had cleared the level. There had been three separate stairways leading down, one had been untouched and unused. We returned to that stairwell and ate from a meal I pulled out of my pack.
We went down the stairs and I sealed it behind us and the way down before starting to search. The first large room we came to had a dozen sleeping goblins laying around. I gestured the others back and whispered a spell to seal the room. When I was done I placed illusion spells on all the goblins to make them look like human children and then set off a loud clang.
The goblins came to their feet and looked around before attacking each other. It was awhile before I unsealed the room and let those with me enter and make sure the goblins were all dead. I closed and seal corridors after we checked each one. We found four rooms like the one with the goblins and I repeated what I had done before.
When we reached the first of the other stairways I blocked the way down before continuing. By the time we found the second stairwell the dungeon was waking. I sealed the stairway down before we went to finish our search of this level. It was larger than the one above and we found another stairway out before we finished.
We returned to the small room with the unused stairs and I closed and sealed it. We ate and laid back to rest as the dungeon filled with screams and other sounds. I leaned against a wall and closed my eyes as I felt the seals I had placed. I knew nothing was going to pass through, at least until I felt the tendril of magic touch one.
The men and dwarf were sleeping but the elf turned to look as I stood. I murmured a spell and waited to see what would happen. The walls rang as if from a hammer and I smiled, “foolish.”
I started another spell as mage fire continued to burn against one of my seals. I cast the spell out and let it sink through the walls before it reached the fire and began seeking. The other mage was chanting a long spell when my spell reached him and struck. He screamed and his spell making was shattered, fire and ice exploded on and around him.
It was only minutes before he was writhing around on the floor as blue flames continued to eat his flesh away. The flames changed and he stiffened before slowly freezing solid. I gestured and opened my fist and the ice shattered. I glanced at the elf when I sat down and he nodded.
I was awake early and stretched before reaching into my pack and pulling out a change of clothes. The men and dwarf stood and the elf shifted and stood with them. I unsealed the way down and they followed as I started down the stairs. I sealed it behind us before moving to the almost hidden door.
I stepped out and looked up and down the long stone hallway. As we started walking towards the left a huge troll stumbled into the hall sniffing and growling. I stopped and murmured a spell before watching as the troll began to shrink and change. It turned to its left and moved off and we went to look into the room it had come out of.
Grisly remains were scattered around the room with broken furniture. I shook my head and we continued on. We heard shouts and a fight as we came to another corner and looking around it we saw the troll battling goblins. I held the others back as the troll threw the goblins around and crushed heads and tore off arms.
The fight wasn’t one sided, the troll’s hide was soft now and had bites and cuts. It was roaring and fighting but soon its strength failed and the goblins overwhelmed it. Once it was on the floor they stabbed and clubbed it until it was still. I murmured another spell and watched as shadows around the goblins became solid and started stabbing.
The goblins waved their arms and beat the air around them as they yelled and screamed. Finally I walked forward and we checked the huge room the goblins had come from. When I reached the stairs I shifted the seal I had left until it was also blocking the way down. When we returned to the unused stairs I unsealed them and we slowly went down.
I sealed them after us and we began searching again. It wasn’t long before I heard the shuffling of footsteps. We stopped and I cast a light spell ahead. The small crowd of undead moaned and started for us as I began to murmur another spell. They slowed as smoke appeared and then they burst into flames.
It wasn’t long before there were only piles of ash on the floor. The others grinned and then started as more undead appeared. I looked behinds us at another group that came around a corner, “stay close.”
I whispered a spell that created a shield and then another long one. I walked forward slowly and as each undead touched the shield they started smoking before being consumed in flames. We went through that level twice and I sealed each hallway after we entered it the second time. We rested and ate before starting down the stairs into the last level.
The stairs ended and I sealed it behind us before we started searching. Barely minutes later there was a roar and a huge troll stumbled down the hall heading for us. I whispered a spell, “move across the hall quickly.”
The troll yelled and screamed as if maddened and went past us. I whispered another spell that shrank it and its body shifted to look like a man. I grinned and sealed the hallway behind us before moving down and peering into a large sunken room. There was a shifting sound as I sent light in and dozens of undead started moving towards us.
I looked at the smoldering fire and frowned before gesturing. Red angry tendrils reached out of the fire and wrapped around the undead and pulled them back. They burst into flame as I watched and finally stepped all the way into the room after sealing the other end of the hall. There shouldn’t have been a fire in here and I needed to know why there was.
Something moved in the shadows of a corner and an undead mage shuffled out and started towards me. That explained the fire, I moved until I was on the other side of the fire. The mage turned and continued to move towards me. It walked straight into the fire and burst into flames as it stopped.
It moaned and took a step before flames totally consumed it. I backed up as it took a couple more steps and the fire went out. I murmured a spell and the undead mage tilted its head. A slight breeze flickered around it before suddenly turning to mist and striking straight through. It screamed as a darker shade was ripped out and the body dropped to the floor.
I watched as the dark shade began to fade and disappear. I walked around the room before leaving and unsealing one end of the hall. The elf cleared his throat, “that was an undead mage.”
I nodded, “his soul was trapped.”
He shook his head as the dwarf hissed, “this place is cursed.”
I shrugged, “actually I think a combination of things have occurred to make it into what you see.”
We slowly cleared the other hallways until only one huge room remained. I could feel evil emanating from the room and waved the others back. I sealed the hallways going both ways before pushing the door open. There was a yellowish light over everything and I wasn’t surprised when undead trolls and goblins stumbled towards me.
I stepped back and murmured a spell to block the door. I watched as the undead struck the spell and began to glow. It wasn’t a healthy color, they glowed yellow and slowly began to force their way through. I smiled as the first stepped out and froze before a scream escaped the other room.
The undead troll turned to ash and dropped to the floor as all the others exploded in flames and turned to ash too. I gestured and began another spell and water seemed to fill the huge room. The only thing you could see was water through the spell blocking the doorway. I gestured as a tiny man tried to swim out and the water vanished.
He dropped to the floor coughing and sputtering as I removed the spell and brought a thin gold chain out of a pocket. I knelt beside him and turned him as I tied his hands with the gold chain, “very dumb leprechaun.”
He glared back, “it is my gold.”
I glanced into the room to see a huge pile in one corner. I shook my head, “if you had just moved it or hidden it like the others, I would not be here. You used the dark arts with your power and tainted everything you touched. Now you must answer for those you have slain.”
He turned his head, “take the gold.”
I stood and yanked him up, “what they will take is your life.”
I removed the two seals so the men, elf and dwarf could come closer. The leprechaun shifted to look up at me, “my luck will protect me.”
I shook my head, “you still don’t understand do you? The dark art taints and twists everything that they touch, even your luck.”
One of the men pulled a dagger and sliced across to cut the leprechaun’s throat. He jerked back as black blood gushed out and there was a scream as if from a lost soul. I stepped away and quickly began a spell that spun around the tiny figure as the black blood seemed to coat it and it grew taller.
It began to smoke and blueish white flame started to flicker out to lick the blackness. Where the flame touched the black blood vanished. More flames sprang up until the blood was gone and then the body began to burn with a solid white flame that reached to the ceiling. It was several minutes before the body collapsed into ash.
I released the spell and looked at the four before turning and walking into the large room. I ignored the gold and crossed to the crest in the far wall. I put my hand on it before whispering a charm. The wall grated as it slid back and I started into the passageway beyond. After a dozen paces it turned and I summoned light.
On each side of the passageway stone cells appeared and inside each was the body of a king. At the very end of the passageway was a last cell. Inside was a king holding a tall shiny shield, a bright sword and wearing a glowing crown. I looked at the elf, “you may enter but you know what may happen if you touch anything.”
He nodded and stepped into the cell. There was a waiting feeling as he hesitated before kneeling beside the dead king, “sire we have need of your relics and ask your blessing and your protection.”
It was a couple of moments before the relics dimmed and a voice spoke, “return them when your need is gone.”
The elf bowed his head before gently removing each relic and standing. When he walked out of the cell the men grinned and one started to reach out but the elf turned, “not yet.”
I smiled, “wise.”
I turned and started walking back the way I had come. I noticed the missing gold but kept walking. I led the way to the stairs and we started up. When we climbed the cracked steps a small army was waiting. I continued walking as the elf turned to one of the men and lifted the crown.