They had several more run-ins with the undead as they walked—zombies, which Dendric and Veasson were able to deal with swiftly, some wraiths that swarmed over them after phasing through the walls, and a particularly vicious specter that Rissien had banished after it had beaten the two humans to near-unconsciousness.
Therefore, when they arrived at a set of ornately-fashioned and artistically engraved double-doors, it was with some measure of relief and excitement. There could be little doubt that the portal led to the chamber that Dendric had been looking for, maybe even Redorand’s own tomb, but he had always possessed a nagging suspicion for fanciful doors of any kind—especially within crypts.
“Hold up,” the fighter said as they approached. Veasson stopped and looked to Dendric expectantly, but Rissien seemed hardly to have noticed. His head was once again twitching slightly, and he seemed to be muttering something under his breath.
“Rissien!” the thief called out, grabbing the elf by the shoulder before he could touch to door.
What happened next was too fast for Dendric to follow, but in a flash of movement Veasson was pinned against the wall with Rissien’s forearm locked under his chin and ebony wand-tip hovering only an inch away from the bridge of the thief’s nose. Veasson’s hands gripped at the elf’s arm, trying to pull it away from his throat, but Rissien seemed to possess a hidden strength for his frame. The mage’s eyes were glowing green, their luminance visible despite the torch’s light, and his tattoos were likewise.
“Rissien, no!” shouted Dendric, moving forward, but the elf was already stepping back towards the doors. The fighter had not even noticed that Veasson had been suspended several inches above the ground by Rissien’s hold, and only when the rogue dropped to the ground, gasping for breath, did he. Dendric helped Veasson back up.
“What was—*cough*—what was that?” demanded the rogue, his voice hoarse.
“Lyaa maara si vanwa. Lae Helm si tuure,” spoke the elf calmly in his native tongue.
Dendric’s heart dropped. He did not have to understand Rissien to know the meaning of his words.
“We’re a team, Rissien!”
“Ramba moora,” said the elf with a wave of his wand, and a wall of shimmering force sprang into being between him and the human, effectively cutting the corridor.
“No! Rissien! Let us through! Let us through NOW!” yelled Dendric, but inside his head he knew that the elf would not listen.
Rissien approached the doors, standing before them. Depictions of a great battle were carved into the dark wood, showing hulking humanoid figures, trolls, swarming towards a mass of armed and armored humans. Some of the trolls were being cleaved apart by the swordsmen; others were rending knights in half with their long clawed hands. The mage could hear the artifact calling to him—could hear its voice in his head even stronger here than when he had first entered the crypt.
And he knew from what it told him that this was no helm of a hero.
The mage reached out and traced his left hand’s fingers along the depictions of battle, and felt the familiar tingle of magic that a trap-glyph might give off. No matter; after one word the magical traps were deactivated and the arcane emanations dead. His hand finally reached the large handle, and but he paused before pushing it in. His attention turned back to the two humans that had proved nothing but a hassle for him thus far. He had to save them more often than they had been useful, but anything now could result in his losing the Helm. No chances could be taken. From the magic of the room behind the door, Rissien could tell that there was a large chamber beneath them with no built exits.
Focusing back on the two on the other side of his force wall, Rissien raised his wand and chanted once more. They looked at him incredulously yet defiantly, but those expressions soon changed to shock and fear as the ground beneath their feet simply vanished. The stonework disappeared as though it had been an illusion suddenly dispelled, and Dendric and Veasson plummeted into the darkness and their torch sputtered out.
With one more wave of the elf’s wand the floor returned, but to the two humans it had became a ceiling that blocked their only way out.