"Maybe we'd better go back to the others," suggested Harold. He did not like the look of the figures and their green glow.
"Imagine, a thousand years and the magic still lives," Talberth spoke reverently. "All of these..." he waved his hand at the surrounding pillars, "all have some enchantment within them, but these two... look... the magic still burns bright."
"I can see," Harold edged away from the carvings, "and I don't like it."
"Nonsense," the young mage shook his head, "We just need to act with care. Better that we know of this enchantment, just be careful."
"Let's go get the others," Harold insisted, "I want to get Ivo and Telenstil."
"I wonder what activates them... I wonder what they do?" Talberth said to himself, lost in thought and not listening to the thief.
* * *
"The evil is gone, Derue will sleep," Gytha said. She swayed on her feet, her many calls upon the Saint had exhausted her.
"You need sleep," Telenstil told her.
"I do, but I will meditate first," she answered him.
Gytha knelt beside the small fire they'd built; she bent her head and offered prayers of thanks for the aid her patron had bestowed. Telenstil watched her for a moment, he was proud to have her with them, but his heart felt heavy. She was a strong servant of her faith, grown in piety and power among the wildlands of her home, but this quest for vengeance against the giants might prove too much for her and for the rest of them as well. Henri and Edouard were gone. Could he trust Derue, he asked himself.
Orcs for allies, slaying a herd of cows, and now gibberlings; Telenstil's thoughts wandered from point to point. He did not sleep but drowsed in the way of elves.
* * *
Ivo breathed in the fresh air, he looked toward the ruined woods where the gibberlings had passed and waited for the ranger to return. Behind him the ravine showed only the illusion of fallen rock, he'd added loose debris and scattered stones up to the edge where the woods began. If any came this way they'd find tumbled stones underfoot, they'd be more receptive to the magic that Ivo had put in place to hide the entrance to the passage below. There was a small sound, just the scrape of wood on wood, he wouldn't have noticed but for the stillness of the forest. The gibberlings had slain everything in their path and frightened off all the nearby game.
Harald grimaced as he stepped from the brush. His arms were laden with a huge pile of dead wood, the hilt of his sword, the claymore he'd taken from Nosnra's hall, stuck up above his shoulder. Ivo was surprised at how silently the ranger moved.
"You heard me," Harald said, he knew the answer.
"You make less noise than our thief," said Ivo, "but look at the load you carry, small wonder you make a little noise."
"I hope I have been better at obscuring our trail," Harald replied. "A noise like that when I am trying to be quiet... it only takes one mistake to get you killed."
"I have known those who did everything right and still died," said Ivo, "I have seen a warrior trip and fall flat on his face only to have the blow meant for him strike down the gnome behind."
Harald grunted. "I've seen the same, had as much happen to me, but I've seen what such mistakes can cost. Past a certain age we should be beyond such things."
"That would be nice," Ivo agreed. "Life should be fair like that, but it isn't. We are both old enough to know it."
"I know it well enough," said Harald, "but I don't like it and never will."
* * *
"Telenstil," Harold ran over to the mage, "You'd better come, Talberth's found something."
"What has he found?" asked Telenstil.
"Those carvings... well you haven't seen them yet, but the room we found is filled with carved pillars, they're magic, that's what Talberth says and glow blue, he used some magic and they glowed blue, but two glowed green," the halfling explained. He spoke quickly till he ran out of breath.
"Slowly now... what is it that I need to see right now?" Telenstil bent down and placed his hand on the halfling's shoulder.
Harold began to speak then stopped himself; he held his breath for a moment then exhaled in a puff. "Sorry, I have a bad feeling about this place. I didn't like the look of those carvings."
"Hey!" a voice called to them. A bundle was being lowered down the shaft, a pile of wood tied with rope, Ivo sat on top, one arm around the taught line.
"Ivo!" Harold called back, glad to see the gnome.
"All done up there," Ivo jumped off a few feet above the ground, then put out his hands to stop the rocking his small leap had begun. "Harald will be down next. A nice effect that spell, if I do say so myself. What is wrong?" he asked looking at the expression on Harold's face.
"Talberth has found some magic in those carvings," Harold told him, "I'd feel better if you two looked them over."
"Ahh... I thought there would be something," Ivo said. "Talberth too enthusiastic?"
"I've had bad experiences with magic traps," said Harold.
"Look Out Below!" a faint voice echoed down the nearby shaft. The rope began a swift decent weighed down by a long black coil of chain links.
"Talberth's magic chain," muttered Harold.
"Now, now," objected Ivo.
"Harold, that chain may be well worth the trouble," said Telenstil.
"I'm sure our ranger has a different opinion," the small halfling replied.