Moon absently raised the dark blue gem toward her eye and peered through it. The light in the room was subtle; no source could be found. But ever since they’d set foot into this…what had Adam called it?…conduit? Yeah, that was it.
Though that word didn’t describe it. She preferred spidey bones or mummy webbing. Every time she’d said that, though, Thia and Pan shot her a dirty look.
Her ears perked up at the sound. It was hauntingly familiar.
Her head swiveled up, searching for the source of the sound. A small hole, about fifteen feet up the wall and just shy of the ceiling, was a small dark spot on the opaque white walls.
She looked at the door. The heavy wooden bar still sat in the braces, preventing it from being opened from the outside. Even with Jinnaari’s strength, he’d needed help putting it in place. It was that heavy. Okay, so no one was going to come inside. And everyone else slept.
No longer able to hold back her curiosity, she scrambled up the wall toward the hole.
It wasn’t that wide, barely large enough for her to get inside. It went back about ten feet. Hanging from a piece of rock that stuck out of the wall sat the source of the sound. A silver bell, embossed with gold, on a tooled leather collar. A single word was etched on the bell.
Excited, Moon reached for the collar. As her hands grasped it, it disappeared in a shower of sparks. She blinked, frantically looking around the area for where it went. It was just there! Her heart sank as the realization hit her: it was an illusion.
She scraped her back and the tops of her feet against the walls of the tunnel as she turned her body around to leave. Maybe it really was in that dragon’s hoard. She’d have to talk to Jinnaari about going after it soon. Well, after he took care of whatever it was he was supposed to do. He seemed to think it was awfully important. So did everyone else. Though not nearly as important in her mind as getting her soul bell back.
She rubbed her nose. The hole looked like it was open. She could see everyone sleeping down there. But she ran into something. Hard. Reaching a hand out, she felt the area. There was definitely something smooth, solid, and invisible covering the exit. Her heart began to race and she used both hands to search the edges, looking for a weakness or hole she could exploit. That’s when she saw the bar across the door move.
Her eyes grew wide and she pounded on the force field, yowling as loud as she knew how. No one stirred. The beam lifted from its place and floated to one side before resting on the floor. The door swung open and a woman entered. Moon wasn’t certain, but she looked like she was Drow. She had a mask on, and all of her arms and legs were covered. She knelt down and put a metal box on the ground. The woman looked up at Moon and smiled. But it wasn’t a friendly smile.
Moon stretched out her claws, clawing at the barrier, but nothing was making a dent in it. The Drow opened the box and stood back up. A thick fog, swirling with black and purple colors, began to roll out of it. Within seconds, it covered every one of Moon’s friends. The woman raised one arm and motioned with her hand. More came in, and some of them were carrying a long, wooden box. They put it on the ground and opened the lid. It was empty.
She watched in horror as they moved to where Thia had been sleeping. Within minutes, they raised her naked body up from the mist. Thia’s chest rose and fell; she was still alive. Another one bound her hands, then put a gag across her mouth. She was lowered into the coffin. Once the lid was locked into place, they picked it back up and left the room.
The leader, still wearing the same cold smile, moved something on the box. The fog began to retreat back into it. Once it was all inside, she closed the lid and looked up at Moon again. The look she gave her made the hair on her neck stand on end.
The door closed behind them, and the beam returned to its former place. Everyone except Moon slept. All of Thia’s belongings and clothing stayed on her bedroll.
Instead of having only one problem, she now had two. First was getting out from the hole. The second would be explaining what just happened, and why she couldn’t stop it, to the paladin and the druid.