“It’s channeling magic into the stones. It goes all the way inside. Mithrais…the chamber was prepared for the sole purpose of containing this thing.”
“Spells set into stone seem to be Andai and Tal’s area of expertise at the moment. They’re in Ilparien. We should have them come before we attempt anything.” Mithrais glanced at the sky, where the sun faded behind a grey wall of cloud. The cold in the hollow seemed to intensify with the new shadows, and the hair stood up on the back of his neck. “We need to leave.”
“Mithrais!” Panic laced Eirion’s voice, and he turned back to his fellow Magian in haste. Where Eirion’s hand lay against the stone, black tendrils had wrapped about his arm. The things tightened and pulled him toward the doorway. Mithrais seized his free hand and hooked his arm through Eirion’s. He set his boots in the stony earth and resisted the forward motion with all his strength. Eirion’s teeth were bared in a growl of effort. Tentacles of blackness snaked across his chest and down the arm Mithrais grasped, sending out new threads. Where it touched Mithrais, his flesh grew numb and cold, and it began to wrap itself around his arm as well. They were both dragged toward the opening in the rocks, skidding across the earth despite their desperate fight for purchase.
“No, let me go! Don’t let it take you!” Eirion shouted, his eyes ablaze. “I’ll fight it as long as I can. Restore the spell!”
The sun vanished behind the clouds. In that moment of transient gloom, a dark and formless shape advanced out of the blackness of the chamber and enveloped him. Eirion vanished, his arm wrested from Mithrais’ grip.
He stumbled back with the sudden release and hit the ground. Inside the chamber, a shout of defiance became a scream. Mithrais fumbled for the beacon Andai had given him and reached with his heartspeaking senses into the spell set in the crystal. He triggered it. A new resonance rang out through the northern Wood in a clarion call for help.
Mithrais leapt to his feet. Magical interventions assembled in his mind. He dropped the crystal on the ground and reached for the inner doorway to the fount of magic. His effort released not a torrent, but a trickle under the null effect of the entity that now held his comrade. There wasn’t enough power to change anything, but enough for one spell.
Blinding light crackled between his palms, not the gentle moonlight he’d created before but the hot, white light of the sun. Holding it out before him like a blade, Mithrais swept aside the fear the entity used as a shield and strode into the dark mouth of the tomb.
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