Alti's Purge"Whitefire Crystals, or something quite similar to them. And this... Swiftwind Dust, I believe". Lady Laelanyel put down the pouches she was inspecting.
"This idol is of duardin make, but a style unlike any I've seen. Still, I can sense power in its runes". Aef-Grimnir was with her, inspecting the haul from the tomb.
"I'll read the scrolls later, but at a first glance it's some form of chronomantic spellcraft".
"Not bad for a quick run through a tomb, wouldn't you agree my Lady?"
"Indeed, Runefather. You were right. We got at least something worth our efforts. Drevakh and his scouts should be back shortly. If the map was right, they'll have located the entrance to the Umbral Web".
"And not too soon. I had enough of this place. The vampire wants it? He can keep it and his non-sense about gods!"
Outside, the Shadowkin stood guard, just in case any of the other mercenaries menaged to find them so deep in the Lux Umbra and demand an explanation for their desertion.
What they were not expecting was to see the gloom start to deepen and figures moving jerkly at its edges. Their alarm cry rung loud.
Lady Laelanyel and Aef-Grimnir rushed to the side of the Shroudmaidens at the entrances of the settlement.
No sooner had reached they their positions, than a familiar voice, both rasping and booming, filled the cave.
"Bow to Alti! From Lux Flumen to Lux Umbra, all belongs to Him! Refuse and die, for I am His Hand".
All around the Wight King, skeletons advanced.
Aef-Grimnir and Vorya squared up to Grallem Vallkern, claiming the first strike in the confrontation.
With unnatural speed and vigour, a clutch of skeletons came upon Iyshak despite his rain of arrows and dragged him down from his perch.
Narlek and Blekiel kept their positions, black shafted arrows embedding themselves into empty sockets.
On the far end of the settlement, Viserhyx joined Lady Laelanyel and Slytha, slowing the advance of the undead sodiery.
Aef-Grimnir axe swung back and forth, felling a skeleton and smashing onto Grallem Vallkern's shield. Vorya's flail and Narlek's arrows found purchase, but the Wight King still stood.
Slytha and Lady Laelanyel rampaged through the skeletons, Viserhyx keeping more from reaching them with his arrows.
Blekiel felled a Grave Guard, but the skeletons it was leading kept advancing steadily.
And yet, so numerous where the undead that two broke through and entered the settlement. And more were pouring into the cave.
Vorya and Narlek both shadowleapt to halt them, least they reached the Shadowflames' stash.
Aef-Grimnir stood his ground, ur-gold runes ablaze as more and more skeletons responded to Grallem Vallkern's summons.
Harnessing the darkness around them, Viserhyx shielded Lady Laelanyel and Slytha. The two, for their part, drew their blades in a deathly dance. But for each skeleton they fell, one more emerged from the darkness.
A chilling victory cry went up as Blekiel was overwhelmed and the skeletons started to climb over into the settlement.
Narlek and Vorya bested those that were already deep into the settlement and prepared to face the next wave.
Outside the settlement, where Aef-Grimnir and Lady Laelanyel were fighting, Alti's servants' advance was stalling. Yet the skeletons dragged down Viserhyx.
Vorya shadowlept up to where skeletons were breaking through, Narlek's arrows thudding on the wood planking as they missed their mark.
With Viserhyx's shield of darkness gone, the skeletons overwhelmed Lady Laelanyel. Unable to cut through the press, Slytha fell back where she could mount another defense.
Aef-Grimnir was tiring, his blows getting weaker and weaker, but yet he did not give a single inch of ground.
Narlek joined Vorya on the platform, but it was too late. Soon both were overwhelmed and swarmed over.
Slytha felled a skeleton and barely managed to hold off a Grave Guard, but another slipped past her and into the settlement.
Then, Alti's Hand's sword blazed with witchfires. As Aef-Grimnir slumped to the ground, the Wight King strode victorius into the settlement.
The skeletons set to tear down the structures around them. Grallem Vallkern looked at them, nodded and moved forward. Alti's work was not yet done. More of the Lux Umbra was still to be claimed.
The Shadowflames capitalised on that. Crawling and dragging themselves, they reached the tunnels where, earlier that day, their scouting party had disappeared searching for their way of escape. A few skeletons turned to pursue them, but with the Wight King gone, much of their energy was gone. Soon, the Shadowflames had lost them in the tunnels.
It wasn't long before the rumbling voices of Tark and Engrin hailed them. Their faces turned pale as they saw the wounds on their comrades. Yet, they brought good news. The entrance to the Umbral Web had been found and Drevakh and Anielyn were opening it.
Lady Laelanyel nodded for them to lead the way. As the Shadowflames approached the portal and went through it in single file, the Mistweaver brooded.
Yes, she had found Aef-Grimnir, getting rid of the burden of his kin's reclamations. But now they were leaving empty handed. Soon, the Fyreslayers would have asked for their payment. And with their hoard lost to Alti's Hand, what did she have to give them?
Yet, she couldn't but blame herself for that. How could have she been so shortsighted? The signs had been there, in front of her as soon as Alti had made his offer. The others fighting for Dornayar had revealed themselves to be dream hunters, idealists fighting for laughable notions of justice and freedom. She had warned them, but they hadn't listen. And where had that led them? To believe there could be any kind of salvation in the figment of a paradise conceived by a delusional Soulblight. Still, she had kept the Shadowflames fighting alongside them and their ideals.
To Chaos with ideals! She stepped into the portal and relished the cold embrace of the shadows.