The entrance was well-concealed, blending in with the grassy earth with only a square-shaped crack in the dirt to serve as its revealer. Dendric had employed magical help in detecting the door the first time, but its location had stayed secure in his mind after setting the landscape to memory. Veasson was impressed—all his days as a thief in Riverfork, and never had he seen a trapdoor so well-concealed.
Dendric reached down to lift its branch-disguised handle, but was quickly stayed by the raised finger of the thief. The fighter took a step back to let Veasson do his work, and sure enough he had in his palm a moment later a small needle that had been concealed under the trap door’s handle.
“A poison of the blood . . . concentrated blackroot set in porous iron, I believe. Explains why it didn’t dry up.” Veasson wiped the needle’s length on a strip of cloth from his cloak, and flicked it into the tall grass several feet away.
Dendric gave a nod and lifted the handle, seeming to pull from the earth a solid block of grass-topped soil. However, this block of dirt swung easily on only slightly rusted hinges. Both Veasson and Rissien watched with interest, and Dendric’s heart sank when he saw the pitch-black hole that drilled into the ground in the shape of a perfect square.
And there was no ladder.
“Rope?” asked Veasson, spinning his backpack onto the ground beside him and beginning to undo its top flap’s clasp.
“I’m sure I’ve brought my hook as well.”
“Please, allow me,” spoke Rissien, and reached a star-tattooed hand toward Dendric. It glowed for a brief moment when it made contact with the man’s chest, and he suddenly felt as light as a feather. The elf did the same to Veasson, who shrugged and stood back up, slinging his bag back over his shoulder. Rissien cast the spell a third time on himself, and then motioned for Dendric to lead on.
It took a fair share of courage for Dendric to step forward and fall feet-first into the square chute, but after only a brief moment of free-fall he felt the spell slow his drop to the point that he was drifting lazily down the tunnel.
Veasson came down next, followed by Rissien. Only the light allowed in by the open trapdoor illuminated the hole, but it quickly weakened in intensity as the three bodies increasingly blocked it.
Dendric’s feet landed on a sandy floor when he reached the end of the snail-paced fall, and he quickly moved out of the way to make room for the other two to hit bottom. Veasson landed lightly and stepped to stand beside Dendric, but as soon as Rissien was on solid ground he had his ebony wand in-hand and scarlet-reflecting eyes searching the tunnel.
“Light a torch, Veasson,” the fighter said quietly, noticing how loud his voice echoed in this underground tomb.
“Couldn’t the elf just make light?” the rogue asked.
“I would rather not waste that particular spell if I needn’t have to, thief.”
Veasson gave a sigh and dropped his bag to the ground once more, rummaging for several moments before drawing a single torch and shard of flint. After a few strikes with his dagger his torch roared to life, throwing light into every crevice of the small chamber they had landed in.
Immediately the two humans stepped towards the center of the room, for only a foot behind both of them had been burial-holes dug into the wall with various humanoid bones resting within.