Iki screamed. The golden light emanating from the spell caster was blinding and scary, and yet warm and reassuring at the same time. Either way it startled her, so she stepped behind Havia, watching in amazement as the horde of skeletons fell to the floor, their skulls dissolving in a shower of black and silver mist. The fog that had been rising in the hall to cover Iki up to their waste was now gone, except for near the platform upon which loomed the obsidian throne.
“It’s a LICH” she heard the caster scream before she collapsed to the ground. The fighter ran to her and easily carried them to where Havia and Iki were stood.
“I think the fog was draining her more than she let on.” He said, propping her against the freezing cold wall. Iki had no basis for gauging the health of a monster, or adventurer, as they called themselves. The caster was deathly pale, though she still breathed short juddering breaths, so she was probably just unconscious. The absence of the fog was bringing an appreciated lull to the chill in the vast chamber and Iki arranged the mage’s robes to keep the remaining chill at bay.
“A Lich?” The thief asked while the fighter turned to watch the barbarian, still fighting the monstrous bone golem near the throne.
“Yeah, so, they can be hard to kill, if I remember the guild’s guide to dungeon bosses correctly. It will have a phylactery somewhere. Which is going to be your job. Find a magic thing and destroy it before that bone thing gets enough mana to re-summon all its minions.” He pointed at the figure which stood before the throne, its hood pushed back to reveal a more natural skeletal head than the other undead. It was rocking back and forth, clearly stunned from being near Quink’s spell. Iki stepped out from behind the thief and pointed to the throne.
“Yeah, thanks Iki, I’m going to fight that thing as long as I can. You help Havia and Quink.” The fighter paid her no more heed, running off to jump into the fight with the golem.
Turning to the thief, Iki rolled their eyes before pointing at the throne again, where the Lich was still swaying, slowly recovering from the wave of divine energy.
“The throne, connected to the bone leader!” They spoke. The thief looked from Iki to the throne, to the lich, and then back to the kobold.
“You might be right there Iki!” She spoke. Iki nodded pointing at the throne just as it’s rubies pulsed a sickly red, no longer travelling the breadth of the chamber as the mist that helped carry it had been dissipated.
“Well, I’d be an idiot to miss that hint, wouldn’t I?” She threw a lopsided grin at Iki before walking towards the pit in the centre of the room, Iki followed as the thief aimed the crossbow towards the throne.
There was a roar from the barbarian as the near-silent, undead golem lashed out with an oversized arm, sending him sprawling across the floor. Taking advantage of the distraction Antios jumped onto the platform, putting him level with the monstrosity’s head, and thrust his sword into one of the two remaining skulls perched atop its torso.
The skull had taken a few hits from Utig already, but still held firm to the necrotic vapour inside.
The lich filled the hall with a loud hiss as Havia released the bolt from her crossbow, sending it hurtling towards it. It laughed manically, easily dodging the attack. The laughter quickly becoming a shriek as it realised, she hadn’t been aiming at it. One of the rubies imbedded in the throne cracked. A stream of necrotic vapour poured out of the now no-longer glowing ruby. Oozing down the thrown like sludge, the thick necrotic energy pooled at the base of the throne before dissipating on the platform, leaving nothing more than a blackened stain. The litch writhed in pain, screaming in anguish which swiftly turned to anger as it turned towards Havia. Muttering a spell, it gestured to where the thief and the kobold were stood. The undead spell caster sent a bolt of black and purple lightning arcing across the hall. Havia was sent flying into the far wall with a sickening crunch, she fell to the ground, wreathed in static bursts of necrotic lightning. Iki had dodged to the side just in time, rushing back to the thief, cautiously checking to make sure she still lived.
She was out cold, her breath laboured, blood seeping from the back of her head as sparks of necrotic energy danced across her face and arms. Blackened patches of skin appeared as the energy discharged across her prone form. Iki shook her slightly, cursing as the necrotic energy danced across their clawed fingers, turning the skin from green to black and forcing them to drop their spear in alarm. From the far side of the hall the fighting was escalating as the golem cleaved into Utig with is over sized hands. Fingers, more like spear heads made of bone, raked across his back as the barbarian was spun around by another blow. Antios was trying to approach the lich, with no more luck than Havia, lightning began to coalesce around the foul undead creature as it eyed the fighter.
Iki poured a healing potion into Havia’s reluctant mouth, even unconscious the thief pulled a face at the foul-tasting kobold concoction. It would take time to take effect, so she grabbed her spear and darted off along the opposite side of the hall to the barbarian and the golem. The lich was distracted by the fighter, who was dancing around small storms of lightning that were being hurled at him.
Sneaking was something Iki had practiced all their life. Escaping the elder of the tribe to go explore the tunnels, avoiding the bones as she delved deep into the corridors surrounding her tribe’s home, corridors, she felt, it was the tribe’s duty to patrol. It was fair to say she had developed quite the skill at staying small and unseen. She stealthily crept along the stone wall of the vast hall. The corpse pile in the middle of the chamber had now dissolved, beneath it had been a well, that gave vent to hideous fumes which threatened to make the kobold sick as they skulked hastily past. Still keeping to the wall, they soon approached the platform, before which the barbarian and the giant golem were taking chunks out of each other. The golem was down to the last skull above its torso, and the singular one imbedded in its chest. One of its massive arms now hanging limply by its side as it lunged forward to punch Utig. The barbarian was not looking good, his long hair and beard were matted with blood from a deep wound to his head. The armour across his chest was deeply dented, hinting at broken ribs underneath. As he turned to dodge the punch Iki could see where the golems claws had torn though the furs on his back and left deep festering wounds, already full of necrotic infection.
On the platform Antios was doing only slightly better, his armour scorched from various lightning blasts the Lich had thrown at him. Pockmarks bloomed on his face, a sign of the necrotic damage trying to take a hold of him.
Iki climbed quietly onto the platform as the lich side-stepped a thrust from the fighter’s sword. She dove forward, thrusting her spear towards the central ruby imbedded in the obsidian throne. The crimson gem cracked, and they stumbled backwards in alarm, the whole platform shaking as the oppressive scarlet glow from the ruby flickered and faded. Another geyser of necrotic energy poured from the now blackened socket of the throne. A river of silver and black flowing down the black stone to dissolve instantly upon the platform. The lich wailed in pain again, the source of its magic, its un-life, being released and destroyed. Antios didn’t waste the opportunity, shoulder barging the undead creature from the platform. It flailed in the air before landing behind the golem, both undead creatures were now wracked in pain as the necrotic energies were dissipating from the room.
Utig was down on one knee, he winced as he took in a deep breath, using his axe to climb to his feet. With the lich and golem distracted, he used that moment to take stock of where his party were. He barely made out Havia as she rested against a far wall, Quink similarly incapacitated was close by. Antios stood atop the platform, unsteady on his feet, behind him the kobold was climbing to their feet next to the throne. Two of the three rubies were now dead, empty sockets within its blackened headrest. The golem roared, a disturbingly incoherent sound emanating from the skull in its midsection. It was clearly weakened, Utig had hurled himself at the monstrosity with all his strength, but, it appeared to take the most damage from whatever had been done to the throne.
With both hands on the handle of his axe he raised the double-edged weapon above his head, letting it settle in a straight line down his back, his ribs screamed as he arched himself backwards. Without it he would have to fight bare handed, but he could see no other way right now. With a powerful yell he hurled the axe blade over handle. You could hear it cutting the air as it flew. Passed the golem. Passed Antios. The blade hummed before smashing itself into the headrest of the throne, cracking the final ruby.
The energy released from the final ruby sent charred rubble, and the kobold, flying toward the centre of the chamber. The Lich was writhing before the platform, the golem next to it had collapsed in a bloody heap instantly. The kobold was quick to roll to their feet and run further away from the throne, now humming with dangerous power. Utig made for the far wall, running to crouch next to Quink, the spell caster was looking around bleary eyed, weak, and disorientated. He ducked as a bolt of lightning scorched the ceiling of the hall. Nearby Havia was swearing as carved stone fell from above. The lich, in some last-ditch attempt at retribution was aiming chaotically above the two exits from the hall. The one nearest the thief was already full of rubble as the undead creature released another stone breaking bolt of lightning at the opposite doorway.
“YOU WILL JOIN ME IN DEATH” It yelled from the platform as the throne behind it pulsed with green and red energy.
Havia ran to join Utig, and they dragged Quink away from the falling masonry and towards the well in the centre. Glancing down the hole the thief made to gag, pinching her nose to avoid the stench.
“It’s collapsed the only exits, and I’m no mage, but I think that’s about to blow” she said pointing at the throne behind the Lich.
As she did, they spied Antios, getting to his feet behind the undead sorcerer, Utig’s axe appearing ridiculously oversized in his hands as he leapt from the platform and swung at the Lich.
A wreath of green and black lighting cast a deep shadow over him as he flew the short distance, swinging the axe with all his weight behind it.
The blow decapitated the creature, its robes falling to the ground as the skull shattered into pieces and the fighter hit the floor where it had stood.
“Can we agree I said something really witty at this point?” He said, rolling unsteadily to his feet, before walking quickly away from the platform where the throne was now crackling with chaotic bursts of dark energy.
“I hate to say it, but I think we need to jump down the hole” Havia said, leaning over the edge.
“It stinks to the four hells, but there’s air flow, a way out?” She was watching as dust filled air danced above the hole. Antios wasted no time, handing the axe back to Utig, who was supporting the now awake Quink. He easily spread his arms and legs to either side of the slick well’s walls to slide down the relatively short distance.
“Yes, the smell is disgusting, but you’re right, get down here.” He moved out of the way of the drop and into a smooth stone corridor. The pool of ichor from whatever dead things had been dropped down the well stopped not far from the drop and the sounds of crackling and shaking from above were less prominent here. He collapsed against the wall. Taking a healing draught from his void bag and downing it before watching the others join him. They all looked rough, Quink wasn’t affected by the necrotic energies but everyone else had patches of grey or blackened skin and other various signs of infections.
“We need to get further away” Quink said gesturing down the corridor.
“That throne is going to explode; and the whole room is overflowing with necrotic magic.” The mage was unsteady on her feet, taking the time to pull Antios back up from where he sat. “It’s not safe here, come on.” She said, urging them along as the party shuffled their way further down the corridor. Eventually they heard a loud rumble behind them, and a wave of dust and foul smells assaulted them. Looking back down the corridor they could see only darkness and fallen debris.
Utig dropped to the floor, rolling onto his back before staring up at the ceiling while the others sat down around him, leaning against the wide corridor’s walls.
“Turn undead, mother fucker?” He scoffed, turning to smile at Quink, who was drinking water from a flask.
“Yeah! You’re the sultry one, I’m the foul mouthed one.” Havia joked, tenderly feeling the back of her head, before wiping some blood on her breeches.
“I got caught up in the moment, I think you guys are a bad influence.” The mage chided as she put her flask away.
“If you can give me a short rest, I should have enough mana to cast a low level heal, get rid of that necrotic stuff.” She said, smiling as the others nodded back at her. Antios was quiet, staring back into the darkness, his skin pale and sweaty. They sat in near silence. The corridor filled with laboured breathing and the occasional rumble of rubble settling from further away. Eventually he let out a deep sigh, stretched his arms out in front of himself and slid forward to lay next to Utig.
“So Quink, you have cleric skills as well as mage skills?” He asked, not turning to look at the mage fidgeting nervously.
“Yeah, it’s no big deal, not really. I was registered young, so I could do a few years in service to the Mother of all. It was a good way for a street urchin to start learning magic with no gold for spell books, or guild fees.” She looked embarrassed, which was understandable, the magic societies of the world didn’t often mix divine magic and spell craft. It often led to arguments between the different schools of magic, and about magical theory compared to divine magic.
“Sorry, I should have mentioned it a while ago, but I wouldn’t have my healing spells without it.” She nervously touched a hand to something hanging beneath her robes.
“You won’t get taken seriously by the arcane academics if you mention you have faith skills. Plus, it’s rare to get two skill sets so young.” The mage blushed, Utig reached out a blooded hand and stroked her hand in support.
“Hey. No need to apologise,” Antios said. “I’m just glad you had that turn undead spell. We’ve not fought a lich before, and if that mist hadn’t been wiped out? I bet the bony bastard could have kept summoning skeletons until we were dust.” He let out another deep sigh.
“Besides, I still say a prayer to the Mason now and then. So, no judgement as far as religion goes. You don’t often see a mage with faith, I’m just glad you’re our Mage.”
He lifted a thumb into the air, groaning from the effort.
“You’re bad ass.” Havia said, as she leaned against Iki, wiping one of her daggers on her breeches.
“Yeah, she is.” Agreed Utig. Looking around at the dishevelled party, like a mother owlbear and her cubs, somehow protective and dominating, despite laying on the floor.
Another rumble from deep within the darkness behind them disturbed the air. They all looked at each other.
“Let’s move a little further down the corridor, shall we?” Antios said, letting out another groan as he climbed to his feet.
“Who knew getting hit by necrotic lightning would hurt so much?” He mumbled.