Down below Eiravel once more crept forward. The corridor turned a corner and a dim glow of some hidden brazier revealed that ahead the hallway widened into a small chamber. She noticed a tripwire connecting to a simple bell alarm, and quickly disarmed it.
Where the corridor opened out she could make out the dim shape of a man swaying slightly, but other wise making no movement. She heard the faint sound of creaking, and the unpleasant odour of something she couldn’t quite place. Moving back she whispered her findings to the others.
Ragnar moved forward, and then wished he hadn’t. The red glow of the brazier revelaed at least half a dozen swaying forms-all dead and rotting. The things moaned and started shambling towards them. He shouted, and Ungo rushed forward.
As Ailulla moved further up to illuminate the scene another form fluttered through an open doorway-the sorcerous blood red raven they had encountered earlier. Ragnar shouted a warning and then was stunned by a gout of flame from the creature.
Through the doorway another figure appeared, a green skinned roughly man sized figure with a huge fur cloak and barbaric appearence: there was something troll like about his features-some sort of strange half breed perhaps.
“Wodes informed me of your coming” he sneered. “Know that Goti Runecaster slays you now!” With that he swallowed something and vanished, and Ungo hacked one of the cadavers down and raced towards the spot he had been standing in.
From the rear of the group Rasha yelped in surprise as the lithe hooded figure they had fought earlier in the hall upstairs reappeared, and kicked him hard in the side of the ribs. Gasping for breath he turned round and drew Vigilant.
Meanwhile Ailukka had sidestepped one of the fallen zombies and pointed her wand at the raven: a gout of flame shot out and there was a smell of burned flesh: the fey raven crashed charred to the ground.
There was an invisible howl of anger and several bolts of greenish fire appeared from thin air and crashed into Ungo, burning his skin. A pit appeared, seemingly from nowhere beneath Ragnar, but he managed to somersault backwards out of the way. The zombies were all fallen now.
A lucky guess from Ungo swept C***slicer round in an arc which connected with invisible flesh, and a huge gout of blood splashed out. Semi visible now Ragnar, Ailukka and Ungo surrounded and hacked at the mage, while Rasha fought defensively against the elusive assassin in the corridor, with Eiravel attempting to trip her with cracks of her whip.
With a final curse the mage fell, and all attention focused on their remaining opponent. Although she was hard to hit, she was already wounded from her previous encounter. Finally, a blow landed, and the room became quiet.
Exhausted the group took a short fifteen minute breather. There was at least one bright spot- Dinald was starting to see again, after he had bathed his eyes with water. Blinking, he grinned at the others, as they looted their opponents, Eiravel getting the assassin’s dagger out of it.
Apart from a couple of side chambers, there was a corridor turning north and then east. Guarding it were two statues of Tien warriors, which Ailukka eyed suspiciously as magical. They did not react when the group passed and opened the door however.
Inside was a diamond shaped chamber which had been transformed into a multilevel architectural wonder. The chamber was divided into two tiers, the upper tier lying twenty feet above the lower tier, and rotated forty-five degrees. The peak of the ceiling rose to a pyramid sixty feet above . The diagonal orientation of the upper tier formed four twenty-foot-high ledges above the walls of the lower tier. A fountain issued from the southernmost of these ledges, pouring in a waterfall to a decorative pool containing several ruby-hued koi. Black lacquered folding screens had been set at various places about the room, creating a veritable maze of panels.
At one end sat a beautiful fair haired woman in rich clothing, and sat at a small table nearby was one of the black clad warriors- this time with his hood down and a small owl of wine in front of him.
The woman smiled broadly, and walked behind one of the screens. The shadow warrior tumbled backwards of his stool, also out of sight. As they moved cautiously forward they heard a sound of silver laughter from around them.
“These pathetic attempts at disrupting out plans are futile” laughed the voice, " And now you will all die!"
“Who are you?” called Rasha, looking round."
“It is Katmandatsu who will slay you” called the voice. “I control both the Frozen shadows and the Rimerunners, and soon all of Kalsgard will dance to my tune. And then all of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings will bow to my masters.”
“Masters?” asked Dinald timidly.
“I am Katmandatsu of the Five Storms, Servant of the Jade Regent.” called the voice, seeming somewhat harsher and more gutteral now. “You may have slain that fool Kikunu in Brinewall, but your trail ends here. And after you the little princess will die, and the Ameritsu’s pathetic line will never return to Minkai!”
“Now. Die.” an oversized arrow shot down and plunged into Rasha’s shoulder, burning with flame. Looking up they saw an ogre like female form clad in lamellar type eastern armor, wielding an oversized bow. She was perched on the ledge above the koi pool.
At the same time four dark clad figures appeared as if from nowhere, blades stabbing deep into flesh. The fight was on.
A handful of zombies lurched forward to block the assassins- this time under the control of Ailukka, who had used some of Goti’s scrolls to animate the corpses of dead minions- somewhat to the distaste of Dinald and Ragnar. With the undead creatures protecting her, she fired her wand up at the Ogre Mage.
Leaving the dark clad assassins to Ungo, Dinald and Uksahkka, Ragnar ran and leapt for the ornate stonework, clambering up towards the shelf bearing Katmandatsu. The Ogre Mage herself was pumping arrows into Rasha and Ailukka, though they too were hitting her. Rasha stumbled badly wounded, groping for potions, and Katmandatsu cast some icy spell striking Ragnat and all in her immediate vicinity; however, a lucky casting from Dinald left her stunned, and she staggered backwards out of line of site.
The assassins were all vanquished now, and quaffing a potion she had retrieved at Brinewall, Aliukka started to rise upwards into the air, her wand still held forward as Katmandatsu again came into her view. As the Ogre Mage shook her head Ragnar too reached the ledge, and noted with some apprehension that her wounds were in some way knitting together.
It was too little too late however, and as he swung his Temple Sword towards her, Ailukka also hit her with a jet of flame.
Giving a scream of anguish and a tusked glare at Ragnar, she tried to reach for the brass studded staff slung over her shoulder, but as he drew his sword out she toppled forward to the ground. Katmandatsu was dead.