Qova came back to this world slowly. Her entire body felt as if she had fallen a great distance; the slightest movement made for tearing pain.
I honestly think I'm missing some skin, she thought, and opened her eyes.
Gods, I'm blind, she moved her eyes around and saw no light. I am blind. She finally realized that her hands were tied behind her back and her feet were bound. She shuffled, and heard the sound of dirt on stone. This place stank.
"Who is that?" a familiar voice reached out from the darkness. It was the Prince somewhere behind her.
"Me," she replied. "I can't see."
"We're in the dark, I'm afraid. The eternal dark of underground."
"Thank the gods," she rolled over, wincing at the pain from doing so. "Where is everyone else?"
"I don't know. I haven't been conscious much longer than you have."
Qova heard some shuffling.
"I'm sitting up, in a way. I'm bound hand and foot," the Prince said.
"So am I."
"I don't know," she said. "Hern?"
Qova closed her eyes.
Within a few minutes, the two had edged close to each other and picked at their bonds.
"Someone knows their knots very well," the Prince gritted through his teeth. "It's impossible."
They rested and pondered a new plan. After a few minutes, they heard heavy breathing from somewhere in the darkness.
"Arbiddance?" Qova shouted.
"Over here... the Prince and I. We're over here."
"I know. I saw."
After a few seconds, Arbiddance spoke again. "I'm tied up."
"We are too. The knots are pretty tight. I think I've lost circulation in both legs," the Prince replied.
"I'm open to suggestions."
"I can't see a fucking thing," Arbiddance muttered. "Any guesses where we are? No, here's a better question: who put us in here?"
"I can guess," Qova moaned.
A few more minutes.
"I think I've had some luck," the Prince volunteered.
"How's that?" Arbiddance asked.
"I'm feeling a piece of metal coming out of the floor. It has a rough edge. I'm going to attempt to saw my bonds... hopefully without any severe damage to myself." Qova and Arbiddance could hear him shuffling around and then a low rubbing sound.
After several more minutes, Qova heard something snap, and then she swore she heard the man grin.
"I'm free. Just a moment."
Within a minute, she felt his lanky form drag over her's and serious tugs began to pull at her bonds.
She was free.
"Can you come toward me Arbiddance?"
"I'll certainly try." Within a few minutes, the wizard was free as well.
The three spent time getting circulation back into their limbs as they sat up. Finally Arbidance spoke.
"I've been stripped. I have my robe and boots on, and that's it. No light amulet... nothing."
Qova added. "I'm down to my undergarments."
"Light!" the Prince shouted. "I need light!"
"I'll kill you."
"Would you two shut up? Especially you, you stick insect," Arbiddance hissed. He stood up and began to slowly feel his way forward in the darkness. Within a few steps, he found a wall, which he followed until he found a door. He put his back to it.
"Did I ever mention that I hate the dark?" he said. He took off one boot, chanted a small incantation, and the boot began to glow. They all covered their eyes, blinked and then looked around.
They were in a medium sized room. The place stank. Rivets were in the floor here and there, and the Prince was glad for that. All three were stripped down to their every day clothes except for Qova. Arbiddance noted that apparently she preferred a lot of freedom of movement under her formal vestments. Seeing that she was the center of attention, she made modest movements to cover herself.
Arbiddance turned to the door. He listened intently for any sound coming from the other side. Satisfied, he began to examine it. There appeared to be no lock or handle on the inside. Still, he felt the entire frame of the door, shook it, muttered another incantation and made a sharp rap on the door. Nothing happened.
"It would be nice to have a thief right now," the Prince whispered.
Arbiddance turned and gave the fighter a sour look. "It's held."
"No, I mean held... magically held. That disturbs me." Arbiddance stepped back and began to chant. Within a few seconds, the frame of the door began to glow, then the glow released in a light pop, and the door came open.
"It really disturbs me," he said again and looked through.
His first sight was his friend, still on the cold stone floor. There were corpses everywhere, none reposed, but Hern's appearance was the most savage of all. He was nearly cut through at a diagonal angle, and his facial was a total blank. They stepped all through into the Hall of Xis.
Qova choked at the sight of the fighter. The Prince turned away and strode toward the gates.