The Captives of the Lost City of Alhassar
By Dwayne MacInnes
In a manner of minutes, I had the robe and cloak off, and stuffed so that Mobius had the semblance of studying a book. It would have helped immensely if there happened to be a skeleton around. Unfortunately, it appears that the dwarves had thoroughly cleaned Alhassar after they sacked it. I ended up using whatever I could scrounge up like dirt, wood, fabric, and paper. An old pair of boots and gloves finished the appearance. I then grabbed a few lanterns and some flasks of oil and secured them in a tattered tapestry I found on the wall. A quick glance at my Manacle of Time showed me that I still had an hour before sunrise.
Thankfully, the deep shadows that permeated the cavern assisted my departure from the ruined city. I easily made my way past the sentries guarding the cavern's entrance and quietly and quickly made my way down the corridor. I located Mogutz and party concealed in a side tunnel not too far away.
"Here," I whispered to Mogutz as I handed her the lanterns and oil flasks. "This should help us out." I then gave Gandelf the book I found in the library. He quickly began to study it.
"How much time do we have?" the orc inquired.
A quick glance at my Manacle of Time revealed the answer to me, "In half an hour the sun will rise, that should send the vampires beddy-bye."
"What good is that?" moaned Gandelf in his usual high-and-mighty manner as he closed the book. "Sunrise and sunset don't mean much down here."
"Look," I lectured, it was now my time to teach. "Vampires are helpless while the sun is up no matter how deep underground they are. Liches do not sleep and there will still be dark mages and necromancers. But at least we will have cut the odds down against us."
"Hmmm," Nanoc nodded in approval. He unsheathed Biter and looked at the dark blade. "We should like to hack us some evil."
"Athena, goddess of strategy and battle is smiling upon you, Gwendolyn. Your plan is sound and the forces of light will prevail over the darkness," Treena added confidently. If only I was as sure as she sounded. Nonetheless, I did not betray my own doubts. It was bad enough Gandelf was being a downer.
Quint only smiled with a glimmer in his eye before he muttered in low voice that only my keen hearing picked up. "There should be lots of valuable loot in there."
"Alright, I am heading back now," I said to the amateur group. "Wait for the signal and stick to the plan. Our best hope is too cause as much chaos as possible."
Mogutz grasped my forearm in hers as she gave her parting blessing, "May Uranus blow your enemies away."
It took a fraction of second to remember the name of her god. "Oh yeah, right," I replied.
I made my way back to Alhassar without any difficulty. With any luck, Mogutz had her party already in position and awaiting my signal. I was at the base of the pyramid temple when looked at my Manacle of Time. Twenty minutes, plenty of time I assured myself.
No sooner had I registered that thought than a loud gong sounded above the temple. I looked up and noted Cadwey standing at the pyramid's flattened apex. Next to him and bound between two stout iron poles a small stout figure struggled.
"Friends of Darkness," boomed the steady voice of Cadwey. "When the sun sets this day we shall raise the remains of the great lich-mage Zormandus."
I noticed that a large group of the evil residences of Alhassar was beginning to gather around the base of the pyramid. I quickly concealed myself in a broken-down structure. Through a large hole in the wall, I could see Cadwey above me. I also could see the growing crowd gathering at the base of the temple.
"Before the sun rises I will offer a small sacrifice. Brothers of the nosferatu, please part-take in this feast to sate your appetite until the setting of the sun."
I watched in horror as this unforeseen turn of events unfolded before me. A quick glance at the Manacle of Time told me I had fifteen minutes before the sun rose and that poor victim above me did not have that long to live. Several forms were making their way up the pyramid now. Obviously, they were the vampires in anticipation of their feast.
I looked up and saw Cadwey holding an evil looking knife in his skeletal hand poised over the struggling victim. I had only seconds to act so I did the only thing I could. In less time that it takes to explain it, I had an incendiary arrow arcing up toward the unsuspecting lich.
As the ash shaft embedded itself into one of the lich's ribs, the incendiary spell literally exploded into being. This set off several frenzied events at once. First, Cadwey fell backwards in a flaming heap over the side of the pyramid granting his victim a short reprieve from death. Second, the vampires upon the pyramid began to look around them frantically for the one who had torched their leader. Third and forth, the dark mages summoned demons from the netherworld and the necromancers called to life the long dead residence of Alhassar. The fifth, final, and probably the best thing to happen, was that the only entrance out of Alhassar suddenly became engulf in high rising flames.
This latter event brought me some peace of mind. This indicated that Mogutz and her party were already prepared and when the incendiary arrow exploded, they noticed my signal. Their job had been to block the exit out of Alhassar with a bonfire fed by all the debris they could find. The oil from the lamps and flasks greatly assisted this. I now only hoped that they could keep the fires blazing.