Doing a quick head count, Antios noted over twenty skeletons arranged around the vast, mist-filled hall. All of which, were shambling menacingly towards the party.
Several of the skeletons appeared worryingly different, the skulls were less shiny and bright, looking more like toughened leather. Their bones drier with less skin hanging from them. These must be older and tougher skeletons which the robed necromancer kept for his own protection. Making a quick lunge at a nearby skeleton, he cracked its skull and then ignored it while necrotic vapour poured out of the wound and the skull began to disintegrate.
There was a hiss from the necromancer, its features hidden amongst its robes and the dark, crimson light that smothered the far side of the hall.
“Feed me death, so I might grant an end to your life.” It breathed out, the words themselves echoing, as if from the grave.
“Typical, edge-lord necromancer shit. Ohhh I like dead stuff. I enjoy poetry and never getting laid.” Havia taunted loudly from her position near the hall’s large entrance. She shot a bolt form the crossbow into one of the nearby skeletons, satisfied when the skull started disintegrating and began slumping to the floor. As if enjoying the fight, the figure returned to its seat on the throne, waving a deep sleeve casually towards the small force of un-dead.
“Might not be a good idea to provoke it.” Quink said, gesturing to the small army slowly approaching them. “Besides, I know a few nice necromancers. And yes, they do like poetry.” She smiled at Havia, despite looking pale and tired. The mage waved a hand and a shattered bone, discarded on the mist coated floor, flew off to embed itself in the socket of another un-dead assailant.
As the first four or five skeletons went down the other, tougher looking un-dead, congregated near the mound of bones and flesh sitting in the middle of the room. Wisps of strange mist dancing around their skinless feet as a pulse of sinister, red energy, emanated from the throne on the far platform. The grotesque pile of remains bulged disturbingly in response.
Antios was parrying a slow spear thrust from one of three skeletons who had moved in front of the fighter. Turning away from the spear thrust he continued his movement all the way around, the edge of his sword flying towards the side of a skinless head. It was just before his blade bit deep into the skeletons empty socket that he noticed a green iridescence radiating from the smooth bone. Despite cracking under the impact, the skull refused to release the necrotic vapour that had marked the passing of the other skeletons. It was still enough to knock it back, and Antios wasted no time taking another swing. Then another.
“That looks like my mage armour spell, the cheating bastard” Quink shouted, pointing at the skeleton as it eventually collapsed, after four good hits to the skull. The green shimmer dissipated as it collapsed into the mist, as if the swirling green and red energies consumed it.
An ominous chuckle echoed around the chamber. The robed figure began chanting, both arms raised before it, empty sleeves moving as if the necromancer was conducting the battle.
“Shit.” Antios yelled as the other two skeletons took turns swinging at him, only for the fighter to defend and step back, taking advantage of their slow speed.
“It’s got something up its sleeve! We need to finish these bones off quickly or distract it somehow.” He shouted, waving a quick thank you to Havia as a bolt appeared in the side of one of his un-dead assailants’ heads.
Utig took the initiative with the mob of skeletons on his side of the hall, swinging his axe widely in what looked like a chaotic whirlwind of blades. He managed to knock two of the skeletons over and Iki darted in with their spear, thrusting repeatedly unlit the vapour leaked out of the skulls and into the fog.
The barbarian didn’t notice his opponents had been dispatched as he entered a state of frenzy. Swinging his axe with one hand, luckily too high to catch the much smaller kobold, creating room around himself before kicking out at one of the skeletons. It toppled backwards into the mist and the barbarian wasted no time jumping over its exposed rib cage to land with both feet on its skull, shattering it with a cloud of black and silver.
Another flare of scarlet energy echoed throughout the mist. During the flash Antios could see faint trails of silver and black flowing towards the mound in the centre of the chamber.
“Havia, can we dowse that pile in oil, or anything flammable?” He called out, dodging a particularly determined Skelton that was slashing at him with a broken half sword clutched in its bony hands.
The thief pondered for a second, casually raising the crossbow and shooting a bolt into the skull of another skeleton.
“Oh yeah! I stocked up on oil for exactly this situation.” She handed the crossbow to the kobold, who was rushing out of Utig’s path of destruction and back to the thief’s side. She opened the draw string of her void bag.
“Reload that for me, I’ll be back in a flash” she said, as the kobold began cranking the crossbow and the thief stepped into the gloom of some nearby shadows. A wave of dark energy emanated from her chest piece, like a cloud of smoke, and suddenly it was hard to focus on her. The magic of the chest piece coating her in a layer of shadows. Now harder to see she easily avoided the eight skeletons that were left approaching her friends.
There was a hiss from the figure near the throne, but Havia ignored it as she pulled a flask from her pouch. Pulling the cork from the top with her teeth and upending its contents over the now undulating mass of bone and flesh.
As the last drop of oil fell from the flask the thief took a step back from the mound, watching in horror as several skulls swam amongst the remains. A large arm of bone and sinew reached up out of the mound. Easily as large as an average human leg, the disproportionate arm groped forward towards the thief.
“We got something big climbing out of this, this, whatever the fuck this is.” She yelled, her shadows dissipating as she revealed her position.
Antios dispatched another elite skeleton and glanced over as a second huge arm appeared out of the pile and something began pulling itself out of the mound. A bizarre amalgamation of all the remains that had been piled high in the centre of the hall.
“Fire, kill it with fire.” The fighter shouted as three skulls formed together atop the monstrosity’s neck, a fourth settling into its chest as a roughly humanoid giant began to pull itself further out of the pit.
Quink cast a spell, muttering the incantation while pointing towards the dripping mass of bone and sinew writhing and forming into a giant skeletal golem.
A spark flew from her fingertip, growing as it danced towards its target, rapidly becoming a bolt of fire that landed squarely on the corpse pile where its legs were forming out of the decomposed body parts. With a whoosh, the oil caught, and the pile was in flames. Unfortunately, the massive golem crawling out of the pile was barely caught in the eruption.
Utig had finished dispatching the skeletons nearest to him and began striding over to where the newly formed monstrosity was struggling to right itself on scorched legs. Taking a huge swing with his axe he landed a blow on one of the melded, cracking it deeply and sending the thing reeling backwards into the now flaming pile.
Antios danced around the much slower skeleton facing him, the last of the ones that were standing in the chamber as they entered. He had landed several blows to the skull already and was about to land another when a bolt flew past him, scratching his cheek as he was about to lunge forward. He turned to see the kobold wincing as it reloaded the crossbow.
“Sorry” Iki said, bowing its head as they rummaged for another bolt. Havia reappeared next to it and took the crossbow, already holding several bolts she’d reclaimed in her hand.
“Antios, I think we need to focus on the necromancer. That fucker is way too relaxed!” The fighter glanced towards the robed figure as it leaned back into its seat on the throne. The three glowing rubies above its head were now pulsing regularly, the scarlet energy cascading form the throne into the mist around the platform. The strange fog intensified, spewing fourth until it was easily waist deep in places around the hall. Within the fog he saw movement, like a concentrated breeze moving and shifting as the strange energies flowed towards them.
Havia jumped as something swam through the growing fog, brushing her leg. The trail in the green-tinged mist was heading towards the first fallen skeleton. She watched as a whirlpool of fog hovered over the pile of bones.
The skeleton jumped back up, like a marionet pulled up by stings, a new skull sat atop its cracked and decayed spine.
“Oh yeah, that fuckers bringing them back.” She yelled. Antios scanned the hall where they had been fighting, every pile of bones where they had taken down an un-dead was adorned with a small vortex.
He rushed to crack some of the skulls forming near him, scattering the piles of bones as he did in hope of delaying the skeletons resurrection.
Another laugh from the throne drew his attention as more waves of energy entered the thickening fog.
“You will be a fine addition to my horde.” The empty, echoey voice called to them. Sending an intense chill up the fighter’s spine.
Quink was leaning against a wall, watching while Utig struggled with the now standing bone behemoth at the far side of the hall. One of its skulls had been dealt with, leaving the other two atop its shoulders, but the thing was strong and had just caught the barbarian’s axe in one of its huge hands. Towering over him as he struggled to reclaim his weapon.
Havia and Iki were reloading the crossbow and dealing with any forming skulls they could see. The kobold darting out with their spear and piercing the whirlpools in the fog that foreshadowed the forming of a new skull.
Antios, swallowed the panic threatening to consume him, assessing where best they could retreat to and reform. As he scanned across his friends, he made eye contact with Quink, she pointed towards the middle of the room.
“I have an idea, but it’s not my strongest spell, I’m going to be pretty wiped out after casting it with this fog draining me.” She yelled. “You need to get me as close to the far end as possible, the range on this spell is shit.” She smiled, and then winced as she turned to see Utig wrenching his axe free from the undead monster’s grip only to be back handed into the wall.
“Now, Antios, we do this now.” She yelled. He wasted no time, rushing over to her side and attacking anything that came close, be it skeletons or whirlpools of energy.
As they walked slowly into the middle of the room, at the edge of the corpse pile. Quink swayed, faint from the exhaustion the draining fog was causing.
“I can’t go any further, I have to do this now, before I’m out of mana.” As she spoke two skeletons stood up from the fog, walking towards her menacingly. One went down with a bolt to the forehead, the other Antios engaged.
He swung his sword, but the skeleton moved faster than the previous ones, deflecting the swing with its arm before thrusting forward with a rusty dagger. The speed of the newly summoned skeletons caught him off guard and the dagger sliced into his side, just below the protection of his chest plate. It wasn’t deep, but coupled with the cold of the necromantic mist, the wound stung. He returned the favour by using the pommel of his sword to beat the skeletons skull several times. Behind him Quink was muttering, but instead of a standard spell, it sounded more like a prayer.
“Maiden of the lost, hear your child.
Mother of the hidden, protect your servant.
Daughter of tyrants, embolden my light.”
As the mage finished her incantation she touched a hand to her focus, and then to something hidden at her neck. Grinning fiendishly, and a little feverishly, as she followed the prayer with a very quick spell, simple almost, her words lost amongst a rushing of light and energy that stopped everything in the room, as a golden glow shone out from beneath her robes and the room filed with holy light.
“Turn un-dead. Mother fucker.” she yelled, before collapsing to the floor. Every skeleton or construct touched by the light collapsed to the floor at the same time, remains shattering across most of the hall as the divine magic cleansed devastated everything it touched.
Sadly, the light only just reached where Utig and the monstrosity were fighting, it rocked the thing on its feet and the barbarian took the chance to charge into it, screaming as he did, and they both went rolling to the floor just next to the throne’s platform.
The robed figure stood sharply, staring out into the hall now filled with diminishing holy light. Again, at this end of the hall the light barely touched the entity, but its mist had been dissolved by the holy spell. Even from where he stood, Antios could tell the necromancer was very frustrated.
“You dare? You dare to bring divine magics into my sanctum?” It yelled, reaching up to pull its hood down, revealing a face riddled with decay. Sunken, empty eye sockets with hanging globs of skin barely clinging to the yellowed bone beneath. This was no human necromancer, not a living spell caster at all.
Quink coughed from where she lay near the now dissolving pile of body parts.
“It’s a LICH.” She shouted, wincing in pain before collapsing to the floor.