Ludo made his way over to Miklos, and checked his life signs, “He is ok. I suspect the paralysis will wear off shortly, the creatures bite was not too deep.” He placed Miklos’s backpack under his head and waited for him to regain consciousness. Sipping some water he pointed out to the rest, “I don’t think the ghouls left the heads. In my experience, they would just eat them. Something else is out there.”
Feldard was glad to hear that the mage was just temporarily paralyzed. It bothered him that they had be so easily surprised and wondered what other tricks lay ahead if even a ghoul could sneak upon them. Ludo’s suggestion that there was something else out there, was met with his usual scowl. The dwarf took a protective stance near to the mage and kept watch.
While Hasan and the others considered the source of the wailing, Stephan lit a brand and approached first the right tunnel and then the left…both with great caution. He watched to see if the flame was drawn in or not. Then, after seeing what he could, he threw the flaming brand into the opening of the right tunnel.
The rotating stick gave its own sort of scream through the air before landing with a thud in moist dirt. He thought he could hear something else besides the light crackle of his brand. A scurrying of some kind; not uncommon in a cave like this but he had just seen undead escape to this hole.
The dying fire briefly illuminated thick roots and moss covered rock. He took out his own lightstone and directed the illumination in to the void. Aside from some glistening, greenish gore gooped on a root, he saw no sign of the undead.
“Can’t see much,” Stephan said turning to the others. “It is a short tunnel, only 3-feet high. Looks like it goes way back. I can see some signs of their flight.”
“Now then, I tell you, the wails came from the left,” Hasan insisted. “Look that way, but let us go straight on. Whatever we face, it will come to us, but better we know it is coming than that we meet it in the place of it’s choosing. Go know, Feldard, lead us, these tunnels are your place, not mine. But into the tunnels we must go. Let us take the fight to them. Pick up Miklos, we dare not let them move ahead too far, for they will wait. Come, come!” The elf moved forward, beckoning frantically, his shield bobbing left and right, his sword a toy soldier’s frantic swipe.
Maruc leant over the mage. “Cold, clammy. No he is not dead, I agree he will recover shortly. My advice would be to wait until he recovers before venturing in,” he said disagreeing with the elf. “I personally would prefer having is incantations on hand. Have you forgotten the experience in the tunnels of the Gnomes? I would not want to blunder into another of those spiders whilst cleansing the world of the ghouls.” Maruc wiped his friends forehead with a cloth, a pink hue started to replace the while palour. “Good another minute or two and we’ll be ready to go.”
The group waited for five minutes, but the mage had still not waken. Finally, after a couple minutes more, he started to stir.
“Welcome back Miklos, Lying around whilst we fight for our lives is very poor show. Next time be more vigilant.” Maruc grinned.
The world swam into focus. Miklos blinked and the throbbing in his head subsided. He reached up and touched his shoulder, it was still numb. He felt that was a blessing. He nodded at the priest. “Eh? Well you seem to want all the fun.” he took a deep breath. “What kind of friend would I be if I kept it all to myself?” He smiled weakly.
He pulled himself up on his elbows. He fumbled for his waterskin and took a long draught. “I can see we have restrained Hasan and Stephan too long. I am well enough to continue. But these creatures came from behind. I suggest Feldard remains with us a rearguard. We mustn’t get blocked in. We may wish to retreat in a hurry.”
Feldard smiled briefly at the mage’s comment but shook his head. “Hasan is correct. The elf will guard you well in my stead as I lead us on. There may dangers ahead in the tunnels that he and the others would not recognize. I will guide us forward.” With that said the dwarf moved towards the front of the party and made his way towards the tunnel directly ahead. His pace was cautious, studying the structural soundness of the entrance way and wary of pitfalls.
The tunnel was short, only 3-feet high, even small for a dwarf. Combat would be a challenge, virtually impossible for those wielding long swords.
It wasn’t long before they found out what Stephan thought he had seen scurrying about. Four giant rats scampered out of the dark, their mouths dripping with drool at the prospect of a fresh meal.