As they descended into the darkness, Casimir held a gloved hand to his face. “It smells like death”. Mira thought to herself that so did almost everywhere they had ventured in the past year. At first it seemed that death followed them. Now it seemed that they sought it out. Seemed to embrace it. Maybe that was what she was doing. Why she was still here. She told herself that these people were her friends. Her family. But maybe she had just come to relished the fighting and the death. Maybe she should just leave; like Njord and now Bay-Wynn. When Bay-Wynn disappeared, Mira had wanted to go looking for her, but Pint insisted that she had chosen to leave on her own. Even though he claimed to not know her reasons, Mira was sure that Pint had something to do with her leaving. Ever since the other dwarves began showing up, Pint seemed to be different somehow. He had left his home to find himself, but it seemed that they weren't going to let that happen. Even though she respected their skills as fighters, Mira could never seem to fully trust the other dwarves. First Tank and his apparent desire to be killed in battle and now Bertha who only seemed to be interested in what treasures she could attain; regardless of who got hurt.
Though Mira though often about returning to Falcon's Hollow she didn't feel that she belonged there anymore. She had learned things that the average villager didn't know and had done things that no civilized folk should do. She had always wanted to separate herself from her Orc heritage. What she had heard people whisper about her. But she could not deny the fighter that she had become. There was obviously no escaping what she was meant to be.
The incline into the cavern became more steep and Casimir gripped Mira's shoulder tighter in the inky blackness. The group had decided that, since they weren't sure what they would find, that it would be more prudent not to light their path and possibly alert anyone of their approach. Those who could see in the dark (Mira, Pint and Bertha) were staggered through the group, leading those who could not. Mira lead the way with Casimir close behind. They were followed by Bertha and Osric while Pint brought up the rear.
Casimir had a weird sensation that they were being watched in the darkness, but he told himself that it was just the eeriness that accompanied his temporary loss of sight. They rounded a sharp bend and the path opened into a wide cavern that was dimly lit by a glow coming from a massive pit that took up most of the cavern floor. The pit was filled with screaming people, their flesh rotting from their bones as they tried to claw their way out. Along the edge, Casimir laid eyes on creatures that made his skin crawl. He wasn't sure if they were transformed through corrupt deeds or birthed from a pure evil.
Seemingly unaffected by the sight of the repugnant creatures, Bertha rushed forward destroying one quickly and raising her weapon again to attack another. Despite the air of slow death that hung from them, the creatures moved quickly and surrounded her. Osric summoned a fire elemental hoping to dispel them quickly, but it was easily repelled by one of the creatures. Osric took note that these creatures were not just undead, but something inherently more powerful. Mira cast entanglement in hopes of slowing them down while Pint moved in to provide aid to Bertha.
Casimir's earlier premonition was brought to light as the cavern filled with a rumbling voice commanding them to stop. His eyes darted to the ceiling to asses the new danger and he saw a man floating along the ceiling. Casimir feared that it could be a necromancer and that it had caused the plight of the people in the pit and had created the creatures they now faced. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed another figure moving surreptitiously into the cavern. While he was distracted another creature crept along his flank. It reached out a decrepit hand and burned his wrist in it's icy grip. He flung an acid dart to repel it. Thankfully his gloves offered some protection though his entire forearm now burned with pain. Casimir thought that his fears were confirmed when the floating figure shouted through the cavern “You are killing my family!” Anyone that would claim kinship to these creatures must surely have heinous intentions.
Mira noticed three of the undead jumping into the pit and stepped back as the voice continued to plead that they stop fighting and asserted that it could stop the creatures. “Who are you?” she screamed at the ceiling and remained suspicious when she did not receive an answer. She heard Pint grunt in pain as one of the creatures stabbed him through his shoulder. Mira rushed to help and pulled her axe over her head to swing at another creature that was encroaching on his left side. A strong gust blew over them and pushed the creature backwards causing it to miss Pint and Mira's axe to clank on the stone floor at her feet. She swiveled quickly and saw the mysterious figure with a look of fury in his eyes. She watched him as his attention was drawn to the cavern entrance where Bertha was charging a female that appeared to be human. She wasn't certain about the intentions of the newcomers and was distracted in trying to figure out what to do about them. She heard a small blast over her left shoulder and turned to see a creature melting just inches away from her. She looked up to see Casimir's disapproving eyes and nodded a thanks as she steeled herself to ridding the cavern floor of these creatures. Then they would worry about the two humans and those in the pit.
Once the creatures awere finally defeated, Casimir turned his attention to the people still stuck in the pit. “What are you doing here?” Mira questioned the newcomers. “My name is Corgman. And this is Robenah”. He nodded over his shoulder to the young girl eyeing Berta with deadly intent. “Our family disappeared months ago and we are searching for them.”
“So you think they are in the pit?” Mira asked.
“They could be anywhere. Or turned into anything. We have to find them and maybe we can turn them back.”
“We can help you. We're here to - “
“You may have already killed them!” Corgman shouted angrily at her. “We don't know where they are or what has happened to them.”
Corgman was obviously distraught and still a potential threat. Mira took a few seconds to gather her thoughts before responding. “That is something that I truly regret, friend, but we could not risk our own lives on the chance that your kin were among these creatures.”
Corgman calmed a bit as he considered the truth of her words. “Admittedly, the chances were slim, but we are desperate to find them! We have to check everyone and check everywhere.” Mira could hear the anguish in his voice. Though she did not have family of her own, she knew what it meant to care for someone. She stepped forward and extended her hand. “We will do everything we can to help reunite you and your family.
She thought she heard Bertha scoff and looked up, but her attention was drawn to Casimir instead. He had pulled two people from the pit. The decay on their bodies made them look partly burned and partly eaten. Their cries chilled her blood as they pleaded for death. Osric came to offer Casimir aid as he prayed over them to try to repel the decay, but their charges collapsed as death released them from their pain.