The Dread Wraith stood at the entrance to the grand hall, still and silent listening to the scraping and thumping reverberating across the black open space of the hall.
Being able to see in the darkness was of no assistance, there was nothing to see, it was simply shades of grey, he could make out the arches of the other entrances to the grand hall, beyond that he could make out the pattern of the tiled floor, and the wall opposite.
Nothing had changed in over a century since this had changed; not since the Orcs, their bones lying bare in the corner. Now though there was a change, a life force emanating from the wall.
A life force like none he had ever felt before. This life force pure, no taint, innocence he had never felt before, youthfulness, joy, excitement an overwhelming energy.
It was too much, the wraith floated across the hall, closer to the wall. The energy pulsing through its ethereal being. It wasn’t one life force it was two, a male and a female the affection they shared for each other amplifying the purity of their aura.
Listening the wraith realised it would not be long now until he could touch them, draining the pure energy of their beings into his own. Tearing the spirit from their bodies creating wraith spawn to be commanded.
Suddenly the darkness of a hundred years was broken by a circular glow breaking the expanse of the wall in front of it. The wraith retreated to the darkness in anticipation, summoning its spawn to its aide, to expire in its defence. To enable and assist it in obtaining and consuming whatever was coming through the wall.
The other perspective!
He stood perplexed; there was a hole where there should be no hole. He knew that did not make sense, as he had been digging the hole for hours, or a tunnel as it really was. Yet his pick had just punched a hole clean through the wall that he had been working on.
Taesha stood behind him, ‘Why have you stopped?’
‘There’s a hole.’
‘Of course, there’s a bloody hole, we’ve been digging it for hours’
‘That’s not what I mean’ moving aside and pointing, Bob gestured for Taesha to look.
Taesha leant in, squeezing past him. She could see the brown dirt of the wall reflected in the lamplight, at the centre of the wall, a black hole, the size of a fist. ‘This can’t be right.’
‘I know.’ Dug Barham had been Bob’s home for all of his 42 years, and now as a young adult, he had been given permission by the council to build his new home at the outer reaches of the underground city. ‘None of the maps show tunnel’s or anything like this.’
Running back up the tunnel into their home Taesha grabbed a firebrand from the hearth and ran to Bob, passing him the firebrand. Moving it closer to the hole, the glow of the coal got brighter. ‘There’s definitely a draught coming through’.
He cast the firebrand forward, watching as it passed through the hole. Dropping only three foot, it hit the ground and skid forward showing a tiled, marble floor. There was definitely a drought, the torch resting on the floor was glowing red as the ember took in all the oxygen it could.
The torch silently burst into flame, both Taesha and Bob; heads pressed together looked through the hole, trying to take in everything they could see, which in truth was nothing, yet a lot.
The cavern on the other side of their small peephole was massive. The light from the flickering flame was absorbed by the darkness of the cavern. There were no reflections, bar from the floor around the flame.
No walls could be seen beyond the one they were looking through. No ceiling, nothing but blackness and the grey-white tiles.
Bob grabbed the edge of the small hole, pulling at it, making it bigger. Taesha pulling him from the wall turned him to face her, ‘What are you doing?’.
Bob looked at her; he was a young adult dwarf, full of exuberance and excitement about what was in front of them. He looked at her blankly, unsure of himself, as he thought it was obvious what he was doing. Taesha stared at him and waited.
Oh God, why is he so daring! Look at him; that dumb look, a sparkle of excitement in his eyes under that mop of black hair and bushy eyebrows. He is exasperating, he never thinks ahead. The consequence is foreign to him.
Bob, staring back saw Taesha, the love of his life, the woman he had been courting, pursuing for all those years, the woman who was his keystone, his foundation of reason and rationale. He could see her shaking, why? Was it from excitement as he felt, or fear, anxiety, what was going on? ‘What do you mean? I am making it bigger so we can get in there.’
‘Bob Really! Don’t you think we should go to the council? Tell them of what we have found. Maybe get Tom and Drake, and come back armed just in case.’
‘In case of what? There is nothing there, you can see that.’
‘No Bob, who do you think made that room? Who tiled that floor?’
They stood in silence facing each other, Bob looked at Taesha, her lithe body clothed in nothing more than leather pants a loose-fitting linen shirt and leather vest holding the lantern. He was dressed much the same. He knew she was right, they most definitely were not prepared for adventure, no matter how still and silent it appeared.
‘Right then!’ Bob turned and walked back down the tunnel they had been digging. When he entered the main chamber he leant his pick against the wall, grabbed his boots and sat on the kitchen bench and started to pull them on.
As Taesha stepped out of the tunnel, Bob looked at her. ‘You go find Earnest the Elder. If you see Tom or Drake tell them to get down here as quickly as possible. I’ll stay here to make sure something from in there doesn’t decide to come through here and explore us’.