The Box (Part X)

“…get a grip, rider…”

The elfin words rebounded off of the walls around him, forced backwards by the spell he had previously placed on his companion.  The words trembled with fear, something that he had not known was possible in his companion, and were spoken by the lips of one who was no longer sure of himself.

It had been only a few moments since the gaping maw had been inches from his face. He could still smell the foul odor it had breathed onto him, coating his senses with its rotten promise of death.

He walked in long strides, the only sound from him being the soft whisper of his robes as they rustled with each step, following the path that the smaller creature had taken. The creatures were visibly agitated, but he had already expected that they would be.

“…gods…”

A sinister smile slowly placed the evil on his expression when he heard the single word prayer spit out by the elf.

It wouldn’t be long before the creatures swarmed in on the one he had scented as the intruder in their tunnels.  The ruse had been easy enough.  They had expected him to place wards against the dragon’s fire, but they knew very little about the nature of his magic.  He had drawn the knife across his palm in the beginning of the ritual and spread his blood on the back of the elf’s armor.

Later, during the ‘show’ of silencing each of their loudest parts, he had enchanted the blood sigil with a scent that would drive any nearby predators mad with rage.  It had worked sooner than he had expected, but then, he hadn’t thought of the Destrachan being the first creatures to come within range of the scent.

From what he knew of the creatures, they were more suited to the deeper regions of the underdark, where sounds were a precious commodity and smells got you killed.  It was curious that they had wandered this close to the surface.  More curious still that they hunted this close to a dragon’s lair.

“…give me strength…”

The desperation in the voice of the elf amused him.  He had seemed so strong, so capable.  And yet, the panic in his words betrayed him.  It was the sound of one who had just realized how utterly alone he truly was.  The words were of one who knew that he had little chance of winning.

He reached into a small pouch hanging from his right hip and produced the hourglass he had shown his companions earlier.  What he had told them was that it revealed the remaining time on the Ward vs. Dragon Fire spell he had cast.  What it showed him was the time remaining on the silence spells, for which was its only purpose.

As before, when he opened his hands, it drifted a couple of feet away where it would float until he willed it to return.  There were very few grains of sand left in the upper portion of the device and his grin grew to demonic proportions.  Had either of the two seen his expression just then, they might have had more than a second thought about the sorcerer.

He left the enchanted timer to float where it was, it would continue maintain its position even when he was moving.  He didn’t often do this, for it drained the enchantment much faster when it was out, but he wanted to watch the last grain of sand fall to the small pile on the bottom.  There was a grim satisfaction in knowing that he would soon be the only one who would know the secret of The Box.

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