Eutior had heard of the calamity that befell Tanis, but on his way there he had heard other rumors too, whispered in dark places and carried to him in his dreams.
Having gathered information on this old temple in the desert, and sent his scrying eye to look upon it himself, Eutior decided that he must go there first. Something was definitely there in the abandoned temple and he aimed to find out just what that was.
None of the locals would take him there, and he spent many nights fruitlessly trying to convince caravans and passing traders to show him, even on a map. but to no avail.
Just as he was about ready to brave the desert in search of it himself, he happened upon a captain of a mercenary band. This man knew some of the local lore, having fought for and against, the tribes of men and elves that inhabited the deserts. Men like the captain was easily swayed by coin, and soon the sorcerer had enlisted his aid to find the temple.
The next morning they set off.
After travelling for several days, the band finally found the temple.
"I have taken you here, as agreed." The captain said, carefull not to raise his voice. "I'm afraid the men won't follow you down into the temple. not for all the money in the god-king's coffers."
"That is fine, I needed you to get me here, nothing more. I trust you will stay until I am finished with my work?"
The captain licked his lips, looking anything but worried.
The sorcerer knew just what was going on. He was squeezing him for more money, probably keeping it to himself as well. No matter, if that was what it took, he would pay the man.
"I see no reason to refuse you a bonus to stay, that is what you are asking, it it not?" Eutior looked quizzically at the mercenary.
He handed over another bag, heavy with silver. "I will be back before midday tomorrow. If I am not, you may leave." He decended the steps, without looking back or waiting for an answer.
Stin heard the footfalls behind him, there was someone else here! He'd rather not share the gold and precious items in the tomb with someone.. He heard a faint click, something mechanical? In here? Then it dawned on him, a trap!
The blades sped towards him from the celing, but he was not going to stop in time. The other trespasser had startled him, and now it might cost him his life!
From his vantage point, Eutior could clearly see the blades shooting down. The thief had sensed them, just a bit too late. He might prove usefull if there are more traps.. Decision made, the sorcerer willed his power to life, weaving strands of magic to form a chain, binding Stin to the floor, stopping him scant millimeters from the blades path.
"Are you unhurt?" He heard the voice of the sorcerer call out. "Yes, I suppose I am. I am Stin, and you are?" Eutior gave his name as he walked up to the young man.
"I propose an alliance Stin; I am here for tomes and magic artefacts, but I gather you seek more worldly rewards?" Without waiting for an answer he continued: "We share the gold and gems we are bound to find, but any artefacts we find are mine, unless I have no use for them, then they are yours. Agreed?"
With little to offer the partnership save his keen senses, and feeling a little more than indebted to the mysterious man, Stin agrees to the terms. Besides, you should always be wary of sorcerers, they can turn you into a toad if you displease them, or so they say!
As soon as they are about to cross the threshold into the next room, the door at the end slams open, and several nightmarish creatures emerge!
"What in the nine hells are that!" He shouts at no-one in particular, but Eutior takes it as a honest query and so he begins: "Those are skeletal warriors, dead guardians brought back into unlife and servitude by means of necromancy. They are most likely sentrys placed here to prevent any unauthorized entry into the temple, alerted by the trap you set off."
"Aim for the head or sternum, you most break the bones to stop them! And no, magic isn't something you just "zap", it's a delicate art!"
Eutior mutters the last bit as he gathers the weave again, causing chains to shoot out from the floors and pillars, locking two of the undead in place!
The bonds holding the other undead horrors soon break and Stin is soon fighting for his life against two attackers. He is shoved into the pillar and trips, a spearpoint bounding off the stone where his head was moments ago!
Eutior keeps an undead warrior at bay, but can't get an opening, he should have paid more attention during sword lessons..
A badly timed thrust leaves his foe overextended and the sorcerer chops of the arm with a vicious strike, followed by a swing that separates the creaking warrior into two halves. The bones clatter to the floor, lifeless once more.
Stin struggles with the last warrior, having trouble landing a blow that would affect the undead creature before him.
"Enough!" Eutior cries, as arcane energies start to form around him. His hand erupts in flame, and he points it at the last skeleton. "Begone."
A bolt of brilliant energy, too bright to look at directly, shoots out and strikes the creature head on. The force of the blast sends the disjointed bones flying, dispatching the last foe in an instant.
Stin looks at the sorcerer in awe and some fear too, he must admit to himself. "Are you able to continue?" Eutior asks the stunned Stin as he sheats his sword again. "Yes.. I.. I am fine." The youth manages. Without a word and only the smallest nod of the head, the sorcerer starts down the corridor now free of the undead.
Slowly making their way down several levels and past another few traps, the duo manages to disarm or bypass them without further incidents.
They soon find themselves looking at the main chamber of the head priest..
"There is a magical ward on the doorway. I will attempt to disarm it, but before that, take this." the sorcerer hands him a small vial of semi-opaque glass, some form of liquid sloshes around inside it. "It's a potion to heal wounds, in case the guardian of this place were to awaken, you might need it." Eutior continues. "Now stand back, I will lift the ward!"
A wail, like the cold banshee in her grave assaults them, seemingly from every direction.
The lid of the casket in the centre of the pillared hall slides open, and falls to the floor with a crash. The high priest, once the master of this temple, rises to defend it from intruders once more!
Eutior's triumph at binding the creature is short-lived however, as it shoots a bolt of energy from it's staff. Wracked with pain from the bolt Eutior falls to the floor gasping for air.
Stin produces his crossbow at the same time as the high priest freezes in place and his bolt slams home, rewarding him with a hoarse hiss from the creature.
Quicker than he had thought possible, the undead priest swings around, knocking him over with a strong blow.
Raising his staff again, he slams it into the head of Eutior, knocking him senseless.
Eutior's eyes shoot open. What happened? He remembered the undead priest, and then.. yes the staff hitting his face. His introspection was interrupted as the staff once again slammed down against him, but missing him this time.
It was time to finish this monster.
Stin takes the opportunity to sneak up from behind and this time he will finish the job!
His dagger sinks into the hood, going right through the ancient wrappings and resins, piercing the skull. Like a puppet with it's strings cut, the undead guardian is no more!
They find enough gold to fill two sacks and a gem or two that Stin secretly pockets for his rainy day fund. A light armor in near perfect condition hangs on a small stand, it would fetch a good prize they feel. Lastly, amongst the books and scrolls on a table Eutior finds both a spellbook in resonably good condition, but only a single spell of any use and a pair of enchanted gloves. The gloves protect their wearer from assaults from afar, turning both arrows and flung projectiles alike from their master. It might serve the sorcerer well indeed!
After a quick rest and some rations, the duo makes ready to return up to the surface, they have found all that is worth carrying away in this place.
"Archers, ready, aim and fire!" as the shout goes out the bowmen starts pelting away at the still distant raiders, but soon crossbow bolts are fired in response.
A single dark elf is lightly wounded, but most dodge lithely out of the way.
This is where the young thief shines, attacking distracted or unaware targets. The bolt flies true, taking the dark elf commander in the throat and silencing his orders for good.
No stranger to uneven odds, the raider holds the soldiers at bay and even manages to inflict a severe wound with his chain on one of them, taking him out of the fight.
Now immobilized, one of the witch warriors is wounded as the captain comes to trade blows with her.
The master-at-arms continues the struggle against the pit fighter. His perseverance pays off, as his pole-axe spills the blood of the raider on the sand.
The second pit fighter fares little better, being repulsed by the combined efforts of Stin and the archer.
He then throws himself in a headlong rush across the desert floor, ending up in a position to help a witch warrior fight the mercenary captain.
Eutior smiled a weary smile. "We would like to get some rest, but then we leave for Tanis." the sorcerer made it a statement rather than a question. The captain saw no reason to argue, he had just received a big bonus as far as he was concerned.
Strange sounds and odd-colored smoke could be seen coming from the sorcerer tent that night and the man looks ashen and haggard when leaving it, even if he seldom does during the travels.
"What is it you do in there all day?" Stin one day works up the courage to ask. "I pay the price." Eutior simply says, refusing to elaborate.
After a day or so Stin cannot keep from sneaking up to the tent and peeking through a crack in the cloth. What he sees he could not really explain, but he knows it is something that will be with him til the end of his days.
In a small circle covered with runes and what he can only guess is blood, there stands a creature, half wasp, half something indescribable. Eutior speaks to it in hushed tones and the thing, for he didn't know what else to call it, chitters back in some language unknown to Stin. Suddenly one of it's multi-facetted eyes lock onto him and he recoils in horror.
He never goes back to tent during the trip to Tanis again.
After about a forthnight, the party reaches the outskirts of Tanis. The mercenaries go to trade and drink, their contract fullfilled. "Where will you go now?" Stin looks at the sorcerer as he poses the question to him. He looks his normal self again, the weakness and corpse-like pallor gone.
"There is bound to be a few easy marks around here, I guess I will stay untill opportunites around the guild dries up." Stin cannot look into the eyes of Eutior without remembering what he saw, what he dearly wished he had not.
"I could have use for a man of your talents Stin. Come with me, greater riches than can be found in the pockets of drunks and mercenaries is what I offer. What say you?" Stin knew he should get as far away from this man as he could, sorcerers were not folk you should meddle with. But for some reason he couldn't explain, he felt strangely drawn to the mans words. They made sense to him somehow and besides, you should not anger a sorcerer, even he knew that much.
So he agreed.
Eutior smiled a warm smile, shook he younger mans hand and said "Our pact is made."
And so they walked into the streets around the hunters guild, ready for new chances at power, riches and glory.
That's the second part complete, 4 out of the 5 characters have now been introduced, only Ragnar is left!
Til next time!