The humidity hung in the air like an invisible mist. Naz wiped a bead of dew off of her snout. Even down here underneath the ground the humidity prevailed. The soft splash of footsteps accompanied them, her teacher and her. Well, her undead teacher. Naz looked at the shambling body in front of her and narrowed her eyes. There was more decay on the body than there had been the previous day. Their movements were also clumsier and they took longer to obey her commands. Perhaps the magic holding them together was beginning to wear off, Naz wasn’t really sure. By all rights, she shouldn’t have even been able to raise her from the dead to begin with, she was only a novice after all. She clenched her fist, nails digging into her skin, but that would change and hopefully soon.
That is why they were trekking through this tepid water, in this dark tomb. They had been traveling west ever since her banishment from the Farsee Swamp. Naz hissed. Not that she cared really, it gave her the push to leave that she had needed. As they traveled, they looked for ruins that might hold the promise of ancient magics or other power. She could only learn so much from her teacher now. While still physically living, there wasn’t much there mentally anymore. Which was a shame since they still had knowledge that Naz would now never learn unless she found it herself. She rubbed her chin, perhaps it was time to start going into the towns they passed instead of bypassing them.
Naz stopped as a grinding sound began up ahead. Her floating orbs of light shone on something shiny for one second, which was enough time for Naz to duck. Arrows whizzed out of the darkness and over her head. The sound of arrows hitting flesh was the only indication that her teacher had been hit. They kept shambling forward. Naz stayed low behind them until they passed the mechanism embedded in the wall. As she passed, Naz brushed her hand over it and dark tendrils of shadow crept up the device. It rusted in seconds and fell apart.
The orbs floated ahead of the pair, illumining the tunnel ahead. They sloshed through the water for another five minutes before it opened into a space. Once inside, Naz sent her orbs as far as they would go. This was it, the main chamber. It was made of dark stone that had lichen growing in the cracks. The floor was tiled with what seemed to be slate with an inch of water covering it. In the middle of the chamber, raised on a dais, was what she assumed to be a coffin. The steps leading up to it were black marble, as was the coffin itself. There were engravings on the sides, but she was too far away to make them out.
Naz walked over to the nearest wall, bringing one of the orbs with her. These were covered with beautiful scrawling writing. Each word seemed to flow into the next and Naz was pleased to recognize the Elvish language. She reached up and placed her scaled hand on the cool wall. As she did so, an electric jolt ran down her arm into her body. Her body seized up and she fell to the floor, causing a loud splash to reverberate throughout the chamber. She cursed aloud as all the ruins in the chamber began to glow blood red. Then, she heard another grinding noise coming from the coffin. The lid fell off to the side as the noise stopped. Naz was able to stand in the tense moment after the lid fell. Then, to the sound of metal clanking together, a black figure rose from the sarcophagus.
It was a tall humanoid figure in all black armor. The style of the armor was very angular with spikes jutting from it all over. A black bow was silhouetted behind its back and a bloodstained glaive was in its right hand. As her eyes raised to its helmet, she took an involuntary step back. It was the visage of a skull with spikes starting along where the hairline should be. And the eyes, they were glowing the same blood red as the ruins. As it began to climb out of the coffin, Naz moved to stand behind her undead teacher. They would be a shield while Naz cast her magic.
As it finished escaping the coffin, it stood tall and looked at the pair of them. Then, it spoke.
“Who are you, that you would disturb this place?”
The light in it’s eyes seemed to narrow.
“Or ones seeking my secrets?”
Naz gestured around.
“This is yours then?”
The metal head nodded, causing the armor to screech as it rubbed together.
“And you have disturbed my rest. You will pay with your lives!”
As it ended its sentence, it rushed towards them. Her teacher pulled out the sword that was strapped to their side. The two blades sent sparks across the floor as they clashed. Naz backed up further and raised her rod that she was holding. A sickly green light sprang from the carving’s mouth and struck it in the chest. It stumbled back for a moment which allowed her teacher to swipe at it. They made contact, but it left them open. As it struck, echoing thunder reverberated throughout the chamber. Naz covered her ears and watched while her teacher’s body flew towards her. She couldn’t get out of the way in time, so they fell together to the floor. Naz was trapped underneath their body and her rod was lying just out of her reach.
It began to walk closer to them, each footstep echoing their doom. Naz reached out her hand and the sound of bells could be heard tolling, almost like they were in the room with them. It paused for a moment, then continued its fateful walk towards them. Her teacher managed to stand, only to be knocked aside. It reached down and picked up Naz by the neck. Her tail began thrashing as it started choking her. In desperation, she grabbed the armor gauntlet and let out a hiss. As she did, another peal of thunder echoed in the chamber. It released its hold on her as it was sent back ten feet. Naz fell to the ground on her knees coughing, trying to get her breath back. She looked up to see it charge her with its glaive.
“I will not die like this,” she roared as she held up her hand in a claw gesture.
At her mental command, her teacher leapt in front of her, placing their body between Naz and the monster. There was no sound as the glaive’s blade ran her teacher through the chest. The body twitched for a moment, then hung lifeless.
The armored thing threw the body to the floor and turned back to Naz. As it did, she jumped at it, dagger in her hand. She stabbed into its heart and leaned forward, biting into its face with her fangs. The monster thrashed for a moment, then grabbed the back of her neck. It threw her off and she managed to land on her feet. She hissed as it stepped backwards, glaive falling to the ground. Its hands reached up to Naz’s dagger that she had left in its chest. It pulled out the dagger and threw it to the ground. It stood there for a moment, then tried taking a step forward. As it put the weight onto its leg, it collapsed onto the ground and was still. Naz retrieved her rod and walked over to it. She watched as the eyes flickered for a moment, then faded to nothingness. As they did, the illumined runes surrounding her faded.
She stayed there for another minute to make sure it was truly dead. When it stayed motionless, she held up her rod and four small orbs of light floated out of its mouth. They hovered at head level and spread throughout the chamber. She then walked over to her teacher. The little light that had illuminated their eyes was gone. Naz spent a minute or so rummaging through their clothes to make sure nothing was left behind. Then she walked over to the dais, up the steps, and looked into the coffin. There were no bones inside, it was empty except for a black leather book lying face down. She carefully reached in and pulled it out, turning it around to the cover. Imbedded in the front was a red marble with a black slit going down the middle. The leather was bunched around it, making the marble look like a dragon’s eye. Naz undid the two buckles and opened the book. She was pleased to discover she could read the words inscribed on the first page. It claimed that this spellbook couldn’t be destroyed by fire or water. There were other notes and scribbles, but she decided to wait to translate them. She closed the book and tucked it into her bag.
Naz turned and walked down the dais, past the two bodies, and through the hall. Once outside back in the swamp and fresh air, she once again turned west. Now that she had a proper spellbook, there were spells to be learned and power to be sought after…