Scrat grasped at his head, still groggy from being informed so recently, but for the most part feeling like his old self save for the occasional dizzy spell. Dueg turned to look at him, an eyebrow raised as the troll simply shook his head and leaned heavily upon a large boulder jutting from the wall of the ravine, allowing the dizzy spell to pass as his body continued it’s uphill climb in expunging his system fully. For the better part of a day the companions had been moving, ever since Scrat was strong enough to stand. If not for the spirits who answered his call for aid, he most likely would still be sitting at the cliff at the top of the chasm, waiting for his health to completely stabilize.
Though rest would have been nice, the four had had to move quickly, knowing that the Alliance agents had a head start upon them. With the afternoon had come a loud explosion and rumbling noise from the direction of their destination, driving them to a higher speed, aware that their time was ever shrinking. More than once Scrat had compelled them to leave him behind and he would catch up, but with the chance for their counterparts to dig in and create a defensible position, Reyk insisted they would need all their resources. So they had moved slowly but surely throughout the day, finally finding the entrance to their goal.
At first they were unaware of anything wrong other than the apparent landslide caused by an explosion to reveal the entrance to the cave. The long shadows cast from the sinking sun served to mask the patina of frost coating the entirety of the cave entrance until Reyk took a misstep and tumble, frowning in consternation as he stood. Noxt moved forward and laid a hand upon the line of frost, drawing his thin, mummified lips into a close approximation of a frown. “Magical frost, I can melt it, but it will take a while to burn enough for a path.”
Reyk called upon the light to manifest itself, making his hand glow a pure brightness and holding it up, seeing that the patina spread even further into the cave, summoning forth a particularly violent curse upon the Alliance’s future generations and punctuating it by spitting. “Do it,” he said grimly, “and we will finish this when we catch these fools.”
* * * * *
Ignat ran his fingers along the smooth wall that stood at the end of the cavern they had spent the last hour descending into. “The issue is closed, Finegal, what’s done is done,” he said with a steady authority as he examined what he knew must be a door.
“She’s a deserter, Ignat, I don’t care that she told us where to find this wretch. Running off like that after allowing the prisoners to escape and then just showing up in the middle night and telling us where to go, but refusing to come with us. I swear, once we return to Wildervar, I’m going to report her, I’ll have a warrant issu-“
“If it wasn’t for her,” murmured the gnome distractedly as he turned to the wall besides the smooth wall of stone, running his fingers along the cavern wall, “we’d still be stumbling around blindly along the mountain paths. She’s done her part. You’re just upset because she caught you unawares while you were on guard duty. Now stop blustering and help me get this door open.”
The human priest snorted, but turned to the opposite wall anyways and began to run his fingers in a similar fashion to the gnome, searching for any irregularities as the two lapsed into silence and deep concentration. After a few long minutes, Ignat made a slight grunt as he detected a magical screen covering a tiny, finger sized portion of the wall. After pinpointing the location of enchantment, he slipped a slender finger into the groove and felt a small latch, flipping it up. Smoothly and with only a slight whisper to announce it’s movement, the door slid up, revealing still more cavern beyond. But one step closer to their goal still.
After allowing Finegal to move through door, Ignat whispered a word of elemental power, touching his finger to the base of the wall below the magically concealed switch. In a smooth motion he reached up and flipped the switch, then rolled beneath the swiftly descending door. A puff of smoke slowly rose up from where it landed, leaving behind silence except for the sound of frost ascending up the wall of the cavern and coating the switch, freezing it fast in place.
* * * * *
The lich moved hurriedly among the three restrained cultists who were weeping and whispering with joy at being chosen for sacrifice. Except for the occasional gasp of pleasure from the sudden jab of a needle or slice along their flesh, they remained relatively quiet, causing the undead thing no end of frustration. Willing victims are never any fun it thought to itself, wishing it had had time to do things right and capture a few of the insect races crawling around Naxxramas’ outer territories. But time had been of the essence, wanting to murder it’s quarry soon so it could focus on bigger plans.
Slowly the blood from the cultists pooled into the awaiting bins below them, slowly dripping into tubes the sucked hungrily at the crimson fluid and fed them at a steady drip onto the sapphire that fueled it’s diabolical machine. For over an hour now the jewel had been fed, ravenously drawing in as much life force as it could from the blood. The ball of gold held within the latticework glowed brightly, ready for the words that would cause it to once more become a magical conduit. Soon, all things would be ready and it could work at a safe distance in order to kill those four fools who had dared to trespass along it’s territory.
Suddenly the lich stopped, noting a distinct change in the laboratory that indicated a second undead being of power had arrived. Slowly it turned, hissing threateningly at the new arrival before recognizing what it was that stood before him. Letting the noise die, it quickly bowed as it recognizing the power and rank of the diminutive floating figure before it, though it only rose to about three feet off the ground. Slowly a second figure formed from the blackness, a ghostly banshee coalescing behind it, the ever present bodyguard of this particularly powerful lich. Wrapped in deep velvet robes that trailed to just inches above the floor, the thing spoke from deep within the blackness of it’s cowl, “Daedry, your project is at a close, the quarry you pursue are marked for other plans.”
The human lich’s eyes bulged in sudden anger at the statement and stood, beginning to sputter at the tiny lich before it held up a small finger in warning, silence once more settling over the laboratory as the gnomish lich floated gently over to the intricate machine powered by the sapphire, examining it closely, “Fascinating, Daedry. You don’t mind if I make use of this since it no longer serves your purposes, do you? No, I expect not.” The lich turned to it’s ghostly bodyguard, “Please remove him from my new laboratory.”
The human lich stepped forward, “You cannot!” it cried before the gnome turned and pointed, causing the lich to go rigid for a moment before it simply flipped it’s tiny finger up. Immediately the empty vessel that was the human lich collapsed to the floor, rotted bones and skin that had once been animated by it’s corrupted soul finally allowed to rest. The gnome turned to banshee once more, pulling back it’s cowl. “Find the phylactery and destroy it, we don’t need an enemy with an agenda.” Slowly it turned back to the machine, whispering the words that caused it to flare to life as the gold turned an oily black before resolving onto Duegathalas and the three others waiting for the frost to melt. “We are so very close to our goals after all, aren’t we?”