They moved out into the tunnels, following the direction the goblins had taken cautiously. Kain knew more of their language than Callindra did and she needed them to get close enough for him to hear what they were saying.
“They are talking about the dead ones and their master.” Kain whispered to the others. “I’m not certain but it sounds like they mean the master of the dead ones.” His tusked face turned down into a frown that made him look truly terrifying.
“You can’t mean a necromancer?” She asked incredulously, “I thought the disciples of the darkest art had all been destroyed.”
“I don’t know, but they’re doing something with all these corpses.” Kain said with a shrug. “It’s hard to sense anything other than the presence of the Abyss anymore, but I can feel something different here.”
Reed gave him a dubious look but remained quiet. He seemed to be more worried about attracting the attention of goblins, or more likely the hordes of others he had imagined. All doubt about what Kain sensed fled when they turned a corner.
The tunnel had been curving downward gradually the entire time and now it opened up into a chamber that had a massive circle of runes carved into the floor. A wide pit that obviously contained hundreds of corpses dominated the left side of the room. There were a number of things moving about inside, however no sound came through the opening that led into it.
The things were illuminated by a sickly yellow light that threw their rotting features and exposed bones into harsh relief. They were clearly undead, and the creature that had raised and now controlled them was standing in the center of the circle, crackling energies leaping from his hands to the circle and then out to the pit.
Connor made a grunt of warning that halted them all and brought them back out of sight of the archway. “Those are all runes of power.” He said, “I don’t know what else they do, but keeping sound from coming out is certainly one of their features. Lets them do their foul experiments without anyone being able to eavesdrop.”
“They’re certainly raising the dead in there.” Kain said, his eyes glinting with a harsh anger.
“They’re not Taken though.” Callindra said, “I don’t like what they’re doing but they must be doing it to protect themselves. I can’t imagine that even a Necromancer would be trying to eradicate life or whatever they were supposed to be after with the world overrun with Taken.”
“I don’t think we can afford to ask him.” Vilhylm said, “He seems to have an army of these things.”
“If saving the world was easy everyone would be doing it.” Callindra said, “We can’t let leave the river polluted in any case which would certainly mean a fight. We don’t have anything to lose by talking. Just be ready to fight if we have to.”
The others didn’t seem happy about it, but they didn’t argue. “Connor, will we get hurt if we pass through this archway?”
He flipped down another one of the lenses of his goggles and was quiet for a few moments. “I don’t think so.” The strange little man said. “It will probably set off an alarm or make some kind of noise but I doubt it’ll actually do any damage. The gobs went through after all, and they look alive enough.”
“I’m going first. The rest of you stand behind me and look strong but not threatening. If you can manage it.” Callindra took a deep breath and walked through the archway with Shadowsliver held at an angle up her left arm in what she hoped was a nonthreatening grip.
The smell of rotting flesh and the sharp tang that always hung in the air after a lightning strike were overpowering. The creature finished its spell with a crescendo of chanting and the runes of the circle flared with dirty yellow light. A rotting hand reached out of the mass of bodies in the pit and a dead woman in the remains of a dress dragged itself out and stood before the thing that had summoned it.
They locked gazes for a few heartbeats before the freshly created undead shambled out of the room through another archway. The robed figure in the circle turned to them, focusing glowing blue eyes on them from the depths of a deep cowl.
“Ah.” It rasped in a voice dry as autumn leaves. “Visitors. How quaint.”