Their footsteps echoed off the temple walls, making Trogdor's force sound like an army ten times their number. Humans and Nordein marched side by side, a sight neither race thought would ever be seen. A few Vail oracles and pagans that had survived the onslaught of monsters marched behind the ranks of fighters and warriors, protected by the Elves they had hated their whole lives. If there was any distrust between the factions, it was thrust aside by the present danger that loomed around every corner.
"The strange aura infesting this maze caused us to lose our way long ago. I'm afraid I cannot guide you back to where we entered this place." The Fury commander scanned the walls, seeing everything the same, yet nothing familiar. "If we are to make it out, we will either chance upon our original entry point, or..."
"Or?" Volke inquired, eager to hear whatever the Nordein could tell him.
"Or, we find the chamber of Pharos. It is said that just past the entrance to the demoness's abode lies an ancient portal. It supposedly was made with long lost arts that allowed the user to appear anywhere he desired."
"A Portal of Will? It exists here?"
"That is what is said. It would be one way, of course, but it would allow you to complete your mission and allow us to return home."
The company turned a corner into another hallway and discovered a chamber entrance to their left. They had passed many such chambers, some empty, some full of unholy creatures that, thankfully, ignored the group. But what caused them to pause at this one...
"It's... it's enormous! It's unlike anything I've ever seen before!" The speaker, one of Ike's fighters, walked into the room. "And... what's this?"
Trogdor and Volke moved through the crowd forming at the entrance and saw what the fighter was now almost running toward. Vast amounts of treasure, gleaming through the haze. There was gold, jewels, ancient relics, and weapons of long dead warriors who had gone before. No one could speak.
Then, warriors and fighters alike broke what rank they had left and set to frenzied looting. Ike and the Nordein commander barked orders, trying to restore order, but greed had set in. The men and Nordein held up their prizes, laughing like children. The Elves and Vail remained aloof and alert, sensing something wrong.
Volke peered into the darkness surrounding them. "This chamber is bigger then we first thought... I can't even see the walls or ceiling."
Trogdor tried to pierce the veil of darkness with his sharp Elven gaze, but could not see what lurked in the cloud of black. "Volke, I think--"
"There's something there? I sense it too. It feels--"
Then they saw. Emerging from the blackness came rank upon rank of...
* * *
"We have heard your request, and will deliberate--"
"To hell with deliberation!" The Vail councilman nearly leaped out of his seat. "This is an outrage! A lord under our Union, twisting our people to such madness! It must be dealt with, and now!"
He turned to his fellow council members. "I move that we send a force with these brave warriors to Lord Ashnard's estate demanding that he submit to a full investigation of his actions, under pain of death. And I move that we vote now!"
Silence met his exuberant pleas. The other council members, however they felt, understood that this would not just be political suicide. This was tantamount to treason. To take such drastic action against someone of separate and higher authority would not be looked on with mercy by the leaders of the Union.
Unless they were right.
"I second the motion." All eyes turned to the speaker, a tall Nordein woman. "Though I damn myself, I second it, by the goddess."
"Then it is decided." The council speaker rose. "All those in favor of the motion, say aye."
Athena held her breath for what seemed like a lifetime, though it was a mere second. Then, as one person, every council member raised their right hand.
* * *
The first scream rang off the unseen walls as the fighter was ripped apart. The fighters and warriors ran from the horrors that confronted them, some still clinging to their treasures, some casting them aside in terror. The horde of undead moved ever closer, seeming slow of movement, yet closing in with chilling speed. Some still had rotten flesh still clinging to their bones, others were clean skeletons. All were intent on one purpose: to kill the living.
"Fire!" Shinon's voice pierced the fog of terror that had descended. A flurry of arrows flew into the ranks of animated corpses, bringing the once fallen down again. Some of the warriors and fighters regained their senses, forming a line against the onslaught. But for every abomination they defeated, another took its place.
"Ike! Shinon! Trogdor! We have to get out of here!" Volke was already running on the heels of the Fury commander, who fled not for lack of courage, but for knowledge of his doom.
Shinon and Ike called their men to retreat, and Trogdor turned to run, but before he could begin his escape, he saw...
Pharos descended, capturing the gazes of all in her chamber. The men and Nordein could not help but behold her naked beauty, ensnared in her mind-breaking curse. Even some of the Elves and Vail were captivated. Trogdor felt the spell entering his mind, and fought it with all of his resolve. He knew he must break free, but he could feel the demoness's fell strength pressing against his will. He managed a step toward the entrance, and saw a fighter before him, still staring at Pharos. While Trogdor watched, the man opened his mouth in a look of awe.
His jaw dropped further as his gaze of wonder turned into a scream of agony. He fell to his knees, blood streaming from his eyes and mouth. Trogdor ran, turning his eyes away in time, but still hearing the man's skull shatter as his head burst in a shower of blood and gore. Screams ringing in his ears, Trogdor ran out of the chamber of death, followed by those who had escaped Pharos's horrible power.
"Through the portal!" The Nordein commander's voice bounced off the temple walls into Trogdor's ears. The portal came into view just as the Nordein disappeared into the swirling energy. Volke stood by it, beckoning him through.
"Where will I go?" Trogdor shouted at Volke.
"Just think of Gliter!"
"I don't know what Gliter looks like!"
"Just think of the name! There's no time, you just have to hope it works! Shinon, Ike, Lily, get through!"
Trogdor reached the portal and stepped through without hesitating. He tried to focus on the name "Gliter" as he felt the magic energy surround him...