"Harold, build a fire," Ivo said.
"Get Harald to do it, Little Rat is hurt," replied the thief with a note of concern in his voice. The halfling wrapped a length of cloth around the young orc's head. Blood soaked through quickly and joined the drying trail down the little Rat's face.
"Oohhh!" Little Rat moaned.
"Good, you're still alive," said Harold.
"Head hurt," the small orc put both his hands to the wound, then pulled them back as if he touched a burning coal. "Ow!"
"What were you thinking," chided Harold. "Knives are next to useless against those things."
"We need to burn these bones," Ivo put his foot down on a hand that crawled across the floor like a spider. "They're pulling together like the body of a troll."
"Ivo," Harald said, "there are no doors that I can see, just that portal. A fire might smoke us out."
Ivo broke the skeletal fingers beneath his foot and scattered the fragments of bone with a kick. "Keep an eye on the remains then or we will be fighting these creatures all over again."
"We?" Harald shook his head.
"Take the light," Ivo handed the ranger the enchanted torch, then stood by Harold and stared over the halfling's shoulder. "That looks well done."
"I've had lots of practice," Harold said securing the bandage he had wrapped round the orc's head. "Mostly on myself," he mumbled.
"If you are done then help me search," said Ivo. "There should be another way out. You are sure that Talberth went through the door?"
"It might not matter," said Harald. The ranger bent and grabbed the largest piece of a broken skull from a pile of fragmented bone. "This room is not the one that my sword touched through the mist. I felt walls close to either side, but here," he nodded toward the swirling mist, "here the door is in the middle of that wall."
"He went through the middle door,"Harold looked up. "It looked like solid stone. Who can tell in a place like this if that door lead to this room."
"I will use a spell," said Ivo. "The same that I used before, but it will only show me where magic is active and how strong. If the doors are simply hidden we will have to find them by other means."
"I can help there," said Harold.
The thief had finished binding the young orc's wounds. Ivo gestured and spoke gnomish words of magic that the others could not make out. Slowly he pivoted in a circle and pointed with his hand, and where he pointed glowing light came forth. The skeletal bones showed as a vibrant green. They were scattered about the room, some in piles that flowed like bugs atop a carcass, others were mere fragments that lay still, too far away to join together and reform. It was the back wall of the room that reacted the strongest. From floor to ceiling, from side to side, it glowed blue, bright enough to light up the entire room.
"That's something," said Harold. "I think we have found our door."
"Before we go further in we should make sure we can get out," Harald lowered the enchanted torch he held. The glow seemed even stronger in the dark.
"If that is a door," said Ivo. He pulled the silver wire from his pack and straightened it out again. "Hold one end, I will walk through and see if this door still leads out."
* * *
"Man-Ze-O, Em-Pere!" Talberth commanded. The skeletons froze in place leaving Talberth still bound in stone manacles that floated in the air. The words of ancient Suel worked like a magic spell, whatever force controlled the animated bones recognized the old imperial tongue and obeyed. "Miz-So, Miz-So Ep-Ze" he shouted. One of the skeletons began to tremble then came apart, its bones clattered to the floor. "Hells!" Talberth cursed. "Obviously not the right command."
A breeze touched his face; it raised dust and made him sneeze. Somewhere a door had opened, from where he stood, held at to the chamber wall, Talberth could see the far end of the room. At the entrance there was a figure, gray as stone but insubstantial as a cloud. It floated like the mist that seemed to form its body. The closer it came the more it appeared to be a man. Talberth could make out greater detail in the smoky haze; Arms, legs, a head with flowing hair; that was certain. It wore a cloak that billowed behind it like a flag, blown by a wind that Talberth could not feel. It had a bearded face and eyes that glowed as red as coals just stirred to life. When it was only an arm's-length away it opened its mouth, a black and empty pit, and words flowed out. The creature spoke as if from somewhere far away, its form simply a conduit that linked its spirit to this oerthly realm.
"Fe-Mos Su-El, Fe-Et Su-El," the voice wailed.
"Suel Ve-Vae," Talberth told the wraith.
"Su-El Pos-Fa-Ner Ver-Uz," the wraith replied. "Ob-Te-Em-Ro," it bowed down before Talberth and the manacles came free. The mage dropped, his arms felt like they were on fire. He hugged himself and rubbed at the muscles. A sharp pain jumped from the small of his back and between his shoulder blades.
Talberth glanced up into the burning eyes. "For-Es Mo-Nas-Tre," he intoned the dusty words. The wraith stood and turned, it waved a finger and the skeleton offered Talberth its arm.