Stephan when pale. He rushed to find Feldard.
“Feldard!” he called but the dwarf did no respond. He found the crumpled form of Feldard and felt around to drag him out of the invisible room. It was difficult getting a grip on the blood-slick armor.
“Maruc!”, he called once he had the dwarf out. He leaned near to hear if the dwarf still had breath. He did! The dwarven heart seemed to still beat with a vengeance! But even as he noted these, the breathe of the dwarf faltered.
“Maruc!”, Stephan called more loudly than necessary. He started staunching Feldard’s wounds with cloth from his pack. He was familiar with battle wounds and knew in general how to stop the bleeding but his companion needed better attention.
“Forgive me Yousef. Stay here.” Maruc turned into the room. He swiftly located the sound of scraping armour on stone. He reached out and grabbed a flaccid muscular arm. “Peace Stephan, I have him. You must go and give what aid you can to Miklos and Ludo. I fear they are in great danger. Leave him with me. I shall do what I can.” Stefan started to protest.
“No.” said the priest firmly, you cannot help him anymore. See to the others. Bring back Golthar, he has much to answer for.”
“I will,” he said to Maruc’s instructions to find Golthar and bring him back.
Maruc heaved the bulk of the dwarf to the landing. As the enchantment left him her appeared. A great dent in his breastplate spoke volumes of the titanic battle he had fought. Maruc pulled Feldards eyelids open, they were dilating. Maruc felt a sinking feeling, one hour? Two at most, but the dwarf was a sturdy creature – he doubted he’d make four hours though. That was what Maruc needed to make the proper preparations. The dwarf was going to need more help that he had to offer. “Foolish Dwarf. Why so keen to die?” He hefted the bulky body to one side and frantically pulled at the straps. He cast the plate away and rested Feldard on his back. He shrugged off his back pack and hunted for a moment, an old tunic would have to do. He tore a wide strip from it and bound the seeping chest wound. A welt was forming in his abdomen. Internal bleeding. The tattered leg wound would have to wait. He bound upper part of the chest slash and gathered his sewing needle and thread and sewed it shut as best he could. “That’ll leave a fine scar my friend. ” he said, ‘I hope’ he added to himself. The dwarf stared vacantly at him in reply.
Maruc did not despair. He covered Feldard with his blanket and collected his small incense burner he used for his meditation rituals. He lit it and set it at the dwarf’s head. He dabbed some of his precious holy water across his brow and sat cross legged next to his friend.
Hasan followed the sound of the Stephan and Maruc’s voices, though the awful maze. When he finally emerged, he was stunned to see Feldard fallen, with funeral bier already upon his breast. “NO,” the elf sobbed, “the was a good man. Stupid and dwarfish to his core, but good as well.” The elf put his hands gently on the elf’s brow and prayed to his own god, Ilsundal — all the while acutely aware of the great mystery that he, an Elyan, would feel so strongly about any outlander, but especially a dwarf.
“Lord,” he prayed. “Gather not our brave friend Feldard into your embrace yet. His task is unfulfilled. He has been loyal and honourable, steadfast and true. If there is any way in which I could take his place let it be so. Lord in your mercy grant me the power to save him. In his efforts as my companion he as selflessly followed your cause. Bestow upon me as your servant the blessing of your divine grace.”
Stephan felt the power of Halav at Maruc’s words and had faith. The priest’s wise eyes lent the fighter strength and he quickly rose to fly up the stairs. He genuflected. “Halav be praised.” And looking up, “Heal thy servant.”
Seeing Yousef, “Godspeed, my friend! We will drink again in the Halls of Hokol and Sukiskyn!” He raced up the steps to join the others in the pursuit.
Maruc’s gaze dropped to the pale face before him. “Please Lord….”
A tear ran down his cheek.
He remained motionless, and waited for his Immortal to answer.
* * * * *
Miklos almost collided with Ludo at the top of the stairs. He fervently hoped the others were close behind. “Quick man! We must stop him laying enchantments to snare us!”
Ludo waited at the top of the steps for the others to catch up. He was worried, the escaping mage had a decent head start and the time to prepare a nasty surprise for any pursuers. Still if this evil was to come to an end, something had to be done. Holding his breath he willed his heart to stop pounding and listened for Miklos and the others coming up the stairs. Ludo decided to chance it and tried to open the door at the top of the stairs. It was locked.
Stephan and Hasan arrived as Ludo was at work on the lock. It wasn’t long before it was solved and the door was open. Inside, a gallery of faded glories. Flaking portraits gazed out from dusty frames into a sullen room whose only occupants were a pair of pink, jackal-headed sculptures, frozen in attitudes of contempt