J, Serg, and I stood in a doorway between a very large room of what seemed to be an old mansion and an oddly small garage, where we had parked our car. The room was nearly pitch black, the only light coming from windows close to the very tall ceiling.
J had an annoyed look on her face.
"What are we even doing here?" she asked, grabbing an unlit torch from the trunk of our car.
"Dungeon-crawling." Serg replied with a grin.
"This isn't a dungeon." J said, pushing the torch towards me. I waved my hand over the end, lighting it.
"I hear there's one hidden downstairs." I muttered.
J's annoyed look disappeared and she grinned, turning back towards the trunk.
"Alright then." She muttered, pulling out a bow and quiver of arrows, a katana-like short sword to wrap around her waist, several fiendish-looking daggers for her legs, and a wristguard with a knife that she strapped onto her left forearm.
"Let's do it."
"Ahem." Sergio coughed.
"Oh yeah, " Jess laughed mockingly, grabbing the long sword and riffle out of the back of the car and handing them to him. "Here you go."
She handed the torch to me.
"Where to?" Serg asked. I pointed off to the left.
We followed the wall for a while before coming to a gate that blocked us off from a stone staircase leading down. We searched for a few brief moments for a lever or button that would open it but found none.
"It could be anywhere." Sergio muttered.
"Nevermind," I said, "I'll take care of it."
I raised my right hand, palm towards me, and thought of fire. Turning my hand towards the gate, a tight, blowtorch-like flame lit. It took a few minutes, but soon the pathway was open.
The room we found ourselves in seemed impossibly larger than the one before. The walls, floor, and ceiling were made of stone. There were aisles and aisles of shelves that were stocked with countless weapons and armor. And the walls were lined with torches, though none were lit.
We walked as quietly as we could, our backs to the wall as we looked carefully down each aisle that we passed. They were mostly empty, devoid of life anyway.
After five or so aisles and still nothing I began to think I was wrong about what I'd heard of the place. Then, up ahead of us, we saw a faint blue light. It was high in the air, flying in an odd and erratic pattern and heading toward us.
I thought it might be a fairy. But as it grew closer, I doubted it. It moved very quickly then and was within feet of us in seconds. The air turned hot around us, the blue ball of light was just that - a ball of light.
"Whisp." I muttered. It moved to within inches of my face. Its heat was intense and it's light blinding. I felt like it was watching me.
It did the same to Serg and J then soared back into the air, its pattern more erratic than before. I somehow knew that it was angry.
Several more blue lights appeared in the distance.
"Kill them!" I said. It was sounding an alarm.
J took to her bow and Serg to his riffle. Again I raised my palm before me, thinking briefly of the ice shards I wished to use. Together we killed nearly a dozen before they got near enough to touch. By that time there were only a few left.
Serg swung his rifle around to his back and pulled out his sword instead. Jess had her daggers, and I switched to a broader frost spell.
We focused on one each. Mine was quick, moving in to try and attack me before flying wildly away and diving in again. I was able to avoid it or fend it off easily, but after a few tries it abruptly changed its pattern, catching and badly singeing my arm. Before it could fly off again, I covered my hands in thick ice and grabbed it. It seemed to wail as it struggled to get out of my grasp and failed. It was only roughly the size of my palm and took mere seconds to freeze through.
Once I was sure it was dead, I put it in my satchel. It would be an interesting study, and perhaps a good alchemical ingredient.
"You OK?" J asked, looking at my arm. It still burned, but it didn't seem too bad. Taking my left hand, I placed it over my wound. It began to turn blue as I let it ice the burn.
"That'll do for now." I said.
We continued on like that for a while, even more alert than before. It was another five or so aisles when I heard a noise. Creaking. And breathing. The aisle we stood before was dark, too dark to see down. I held out the torch, but it wasn't very helpful. Soon thereafter we heard, and felt, footsteps.
Noticing a torch mounted further down between shelves, I raised my hand and lit it. With the new light, I could see what it was. An odd looking creature; a troll or an ogre. Its arms and legs resembled those of an elephant, thick with tough, bumpy skin. It wore a robe and hat that suggested it could wield magic. I had a bad feeling.
I quickly dropped the torch I had been holding, needing my left hand. Raising it before my face and clenching it into a fist, I summoned an elemental barrier around us. Several seconds later, the crack of lightning hit it. Looking back at the creature, I could see the remnants of its attack winding itself around its hands and could hear faint crackling of the charge that remained.
"Uh, guys." Serg said, grabbing my attention. He motioned ahead of him; he was facing the direction we had been walking. Peaking around him I saw the source of the creaking I had forgotten about. It was a skeleton. There was more movement behind it. Two, three others followed, each with sword and shield in hand - headed for us.
"Lovely." J muttered.
I watched as Sergio ran ahead, his own sword brandished.
"Go with him." I said to J. She glanced at the ogre that was moving steadily towards us and I assured her I'd be fine.
When she was gone, I concentrated on the creature. The shield was still in place, thankfully, as another volley of lightning hit it. Again I thought of fire, though larger and more destructive than before. With my hands outstretched, I let loose several volleys of fireballs.
When they struck, the creature grunted and staggered, his body flashing red before he continued heading towards me. Again I attacked; again he grunted and staggered before flashing red. A third and fourth time as well.
"Shit." I muttered. He was close to the aisle now.
I brought down the now badly damaged barrier and moved further down the aisle, towards Serg and Jess, before restoring it. The creature was all but untouched. If it weren't for the singeing of his thick hide, you wouldn't know I'd hit him at all. I needed another plan. I needed something that would penetrate his thick skin. Thick and tough as steel.
I tried again, this time with a variation of the blowtorch I had used earlier, just smaller and more refined.
When it hit him, he staggered back, but the blast didn't dissipate. It was still there, pushing and, I imagined, burning its way into the creature's body. The ogre stopped walking, instead falling to its knees before it bore cleanly through and the creature keeled over.
I turned back to Serg and J who were dispatching the last skeleton.
We ran into two more troll-like creatures and half a dozen more skeletons before we made it to the end of the corridor where we found another gate.
Once we made it through, we found ourselves in the middle of a short hallway. But we weren't alone. To our right there were several dog-sized spiders and to our left, three undead men. It didn't take long to dispatch of the spiders between the three of us as we quickly decided heading in that direction to be the best course of action.
Once they were dead we turned towards the undead - or maybe they were possessed - men that came towards us. One was an archer, who began to draw his bow, the second carried a sword, and the third glowed with magic.
"Convenient." J muttered.
I began to think they were figments of our imagination, mimicking us somehow. The thought was short lived as an arrow sailed past my head.
The warrior ran towards us, forcing Sergio to do the same. The archer and mage stayed back. J did the same as I moved a bit closer, trying to cover us all from their ranged attacks.
It didn't take long for the warrior to fall and soon after the mage died with him. It was the archer that proved to be tricky. We closed in on him, but he found some cover behind some columns. Jess maneuvered her way into a better position while Serg and I covered her.
From a concealed position she drew her bow, hitting the archer in the arm as he prepared for another shot. Wounded, he bolted from the room, through a door we hadn't seen before.
We followed quickly. The corridor was narrow but evenly lit. Turning a corner at the far end of it, we came upon another room.
J gasped. This one was far larger than the others. The walls had turned rough and cavernous, the floor we stood on was now dirt, and was bordered by a railing. On the other side of it was nothing but a vast emptiness. Pitch black nothing. If something were to fall into it, I doubted it would ever reach the bottom.
I tried to ignore the thought and instead focused on spotting the archer.
"There." I pointed. Up ahead the narrow floor we stood on pushed out into the emptiness. Into an island of sorts. There was no railing; but there, in its center, was the archer. He was standing in front of a large mass of swirling blue energy. He jumped into it and was gone. It was a portal.
We walked to the island, fascinated. I looked back at Serg and J.
"Ready?" I asked. They just grinned and nodded.