"Okay, the Hall of Xis was on the level below," the Prince said. "We saw no other way in or out except Xis' domain. I'm betting the Snake didn't either, so he probably went to the next level below that."
"It would still be nice to have a professional with us,"Qova added. "I know the last choice didn't end well, but a good thief is invaluable in places like this."
"We'll just have to make do without one... for the time being, at least," Arbiddance answered. "By the way, you never did say what you did with Ariya's body."
The Prince raised his eyebrows and mockingly glanced down the shaft. Qova coughed.
"Okay, so we start at the third level and see what happens," Arbiddance stated. "We descend in half an hour. I'm just glad the hidden room wasn't raided while we were imprisoned, so we have what we need to at least make a foray and see what's afoot."
The contraption creaked as it descended. Qova's nerves were on edge the entire time, but she refused to show it.
As they reached the next level, Arbiddance put his hand on the rope. The Prince looked at him, and the wizard said "why not have a look?"
The fighter locked off the rope and they stepped off into the small room.
At the gates, they stopped and surveyed the scene. The entire hall stank from the rotting corpses of the undead destroyed there a few days ago.
They carefully searched the side rooms, including the one in which they had been imprisoned. Their light amulets swept though each chamber, and they checked the walls for secret passages, but nothing was to be found.
Arbiddance looked at the single door at the end which Xis himself had emerged. He glanced at the others and then opened it.
Beyond was nothing but darkness.
They entered and looked around. The Prince looked at Arbiddance and shook his head. They began to search the walls.
On the opposite side, Qova's hand went through the wall. She hissed lightly to the others.
The Prince slid up to her side and gently poked his head through the wall. He pulled back. "Passage."
The three stepped through into the hidden hallway. Past what looked like empty jail cells they creeped toward a door at the end. It was iron; its hasp looked to be in good shape. The Prince listened at it and then shook his head to the others.
"Go," Arbiddance mouthed, and he and Qova readied themselves. The Prince tried the hasp and opened the door.
A swirling darkness was on the other side. They stepped through.
Qova brought up the rear and saw her friends suddenly freeze as if paralyzed. She stopped.
Arbiddance's head slightly rolled from side to side. His voice came in a raspy strain. "I'm stuck."
The Prince vibrated in his efforts to move, but he could only look around.
From the darkness, two pin light eyes came closer. "Kuka sina olet?"
That's Anayari, Arbiddance thought. And damned old Anayari, at that. Maybe...
"We are explorers," he answered in his best Anayari. "In search of one who betrayed us."
"Yes," the wizard answered. "Who are you? Kuka sina olet?"
The pinlight eyes seemed to grow taller as the voice ominously answered: