The Keeper's thumb squirmed like a worm. It wriggled free of the orc whose body lay on top of it. The Keeper paced across the floor and bent, severed bone met and knit with a glow of red. A laugh boomed out from the giant's throat, deep and hollow, as he flexed his hand, five fingers once again.
"Ardare..." he croaked out from a drying throat, the voice was in his head. "I come, I will be there."
The keeper pulled open the cell door, what had taken half a dozen orcs to move he flung aside and nearly tore the hinges from the frame. Ardare lay where it had fallen, half buried among the moldy hay that filled the cell. At the Keeper's touch it burst into flame, the hay began to smoke, it was to damp to burn.
"Ardare!" the ghostly voice screamed out. "I serve you. Avenge me!"
* * *
"I count six dragons," said Talberth
"There are twelve pillars in the next ring," called Harold.
"What are they?" asked Talberth.
"Six are giants, the other six... I don't know."
Talberth walked to where the thief was standing. A horrific figure was carved from the stone, skeletal limbs that looked as if they would creak into motion at any moment, a scorpion's tale barbed and hinting of cruel venom, and in its hands a strange curved spear.
"A demon," said Talberth, "You are lucky not to know them by sight. I have fought them. Such as these were sent against Telenstil once when I was his apprentice."
"Half the ring of pillars are giants," said Harold. "The other half are these."
"Have you seen any writing?" Talberth asked.
"These carvings look familiar," said Talberth, "I think this place was home to the Suel from ancient times."
"Suel, old Suel ruins," Harold was intrigued, "good treasure to be found in such."
"Danger as well," but Talberth could not hide the excitement in his voice.
"What treasure interests you?" asked Harold.
"The Suel were the greatests of mages, the very word 'Magi' is theirs," said Talberth. "We might find magic that has not been seen for a thousand years, but we have to make sure it isn't used against us."
"What do you think this place is?" Harold looked from figure to figure.
"I've seen gallerys and trophy halls that these sculptures bring to mind."
"There is the hall of fauna at the university back in Greyhawk," said Talberth, "or the chamber of summoned beasts at the College of Sorcery in Dyvers, but neither are as fine as this. I wonder..."
Talberth turned a ring he wore so that the green gem set in its face was palm-down and only the silver band could be seen. He clenched his fist and held it out as if he were using a dousing rod, "Vres-ko Magi!" he intoned and a ray of silver light shot from the metal band. It spread wide till it was as broad as three men standing shoulder to shoulder and reached out for a score of yards. The light did no dispel the dark, it revealed nothing beyond what the ray actually touched, but when the light ran against a pillar, the carving glowed with blue. Talberth turned in a circle and bathed each column that crossed his path with the magic light.
A deep fierce blue erupted from the center of the stones fading to a dull haze at the surface where the figures had been carved. Two pillars glowed with a different light, an ogre dressed in ancient banded mail and a minotaur; its horns and hooves sheathed with what must have been metal plate. Each was lit with a green enchantment that seemed to pulse with life.