Chapter 2 7

Sheil gasped as her wind blast knocked the stalagmite from its place. As the huge spear of rock plunged toward the stone floor, Nalynn stood below the falling stalagmite for just a moment, before Brisid shoved her into the room and jumped back. Dae caught Nalynn as she tumbled toward the floor.

Dae, Sheil, and Tizer all gazed back toward the stair way and noted that the stalagmite's fall had pulled a pile of rubble from the ceiling with it. The passage to the surface was almost completely blocked off, except for a five inch gap at the very top. Sheil moved over and knelt near Nalynn while Dae and Tizer investigated the cave in, hoping Brisid wasn't underneath it.

Sheil gasped as she touched Nalynn. Calling out to the other two, the wind elf stated, "Nalynn, has been feebleminded. Also I detect some faint traces of a mental link. I can cure the feeblemind spell, but the mental contact is beyond my skills." The wind elf mixed some dried herbs into a flask of oil. Using the special oil, Sheil rubbed pressure points along Nalynn's forehead and neck. Uttering a few unknown words, the spell was removed and once again Nalynn was able to use her full mental capacity.

"I have done all I can for her. If she is going to break free of the mind that has connected to her, it will be her own will to do it. So, what is the story with the cave in and the other passages? Are we in any immediate danger? Is the stairway sealed for good? What is that flapping sound?" Sheil slams the other two elves with a barrage of questions.


*****

"I have doubts, Dînalqua as to whether we will find Riklaun this night." Randow said with brows furrowed.

"I am beginning to agree with you, my friend." she shivered in the night air, and huddled closer to the fire.

With the dark and stormy night, the party of six had made camp under a rocky overhang for protection from the blasting winds that whistled through the trees. It had not rained yet, but from the lightning that flashed overhead, they all knew it would soon.

Jem had spoken little, just huddled close to her companions, not yet trusting as she should. Indeed, the four were placed across the campfire, the small flame seperating them from Dîna and Randow.

Randow looked at Dîna's shivering form, and offered his cloak for warmth. "It is not nessessary." she shook her head in protest, but silently thanked him at that added warmth as he placed it over her shoulders anyway.

It was a bright flash of lightning that unveiled the creatures that had been lurking in the shadows above the rock and in the woods. The first rider stepped forward, the skeletal hoof of its undead horse stamping the ground at the lightning strike. Its bony face seemed forever turned in a macabre smile as it raised its sword overhead and screamed the attack.

The four were quick to respond, but were fearful as they had never seen a skeletal rider before. The twins flanked the lead rider, while Jem and Caran turned to search for others. Randow cast the first spell, lighting up a small tree, brightly lighting the entire alcove. A total of seven riders were present, and as another streak of lightning traced the sky, they all attacked at once. Swords clashed against sword, steel meshing and clanging with steel and bone, and when the first rider fell, Tarion turned to cover his brother. When that rider began to reform, Tarion was unaware and was wounded by a lucky stab to the arm. Dînalqua raised her arms over her head, and cast a blazing fireball, and the outside riders scorched in the flanks. Now there were five.

A second later, a second fireball burst from the woods and met squarely the lead rider. In a concussive blast, the four elves were knocked off their feet and sent sprawling every direction. Dîna and Randow ducked the blast, and were amazed at the power of that fireball. Another one shot from on top of the overhang, and another rider fell. Randow turned, confused.

"Who saves us?" he shouted as yet another fireball tore through the air, blasting the confused Skeletal Riders. Dîna looked to the sky as another flash of lightning etched it.

"I do not know..."

Edan helped Caran to his feet, while Jem, moaning and broken, picked herself up off the rocks. Tarion was close to the woods now, and shouted, "Show yourself, friends!"

There was a long moment of silence, waiting for they knew not who. The first efreeti entered the clearing, its flaming grin a mockery of everything good. Another followed, then another. Soon twelve were standing in the clearing. Randow looked confused.

"Why have you saved us, demon?" he demanded.

"Because, elf-meat, you are more important alive than dead to us!" and it raised its arm overhead. The other eleven efreeti followed suit, and a wall of flame encompassed the party of six. Jem was the first to speak after this, though her words were lost to the roar of their feiry prison.

Continue to Chapter 28