The Underpriest winced again as the wound closed, the incantation to Orcus dying on his lips. The Demon Prince did sometimes grant the power of healing to his servants, but never without a price.
Straightening up, he made his way to Kalarel’s chambers to report further on the events of the previous day. Having returned in disgrace, desperate to save his own life as the adventurers slaughtered his zombie minions, he had been steering clear of his superior.
Kalarel was now resting after another day of attempting to open the portal to the Shadowfell. The Underpriest hoped that he was in a forgiving mood.
“My Lord?” he asked of the darkness ahead of him, cautiously waiting in the small pool of light the torch provided.
“Come in,” issued the tired words. Moving into the gloom, the Underpriest advanced carefully.
“My Lord, as you know, the adventurers were able to dispatch the zombie forces I sent against them. I can now also confirm that the initial hobgoblin defences were insufficient.”
“I guessed as much,” rasped the voice from the shadows. “Continue. What of Ninaran?”
“Ninaran did as you ordered, raising a small force of skeletons and two grave hounds to assault Winterhaven. The village would have fallen had a Halfling by the name of Ryam had not made his way here to bring news.”
“Orcus curse his name!” responded Kalarel, moving slightly more into the light. The Underpriest managed to hide his shock at his master’s appearance. His face now appeared skeletal and gaunt, yet his eyes now glinted with a deep malice and madness that had not been there before. Kalarel continued “When they return, this Halfling is to be sacrificed first, do you understand?”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“Continue. I take it the adventurers made it back to Winterhaven in time, then?”
“Indeed. A runner from the village made it back here a few minutes ago. Ninaran was, apparently, joined in battle by a Gnome who fought alongside her. He managed to escape, but Ninaran was slain. He and the human, Sabbat Fau, appear to have a great deal of animosity towards each other.”
“Agrid,” mused Kalarel. “It appears he is more resourceful than I thought. Excellent. I shall stay in contact with him once this matter is resolved. What are these ‘heroes’ doing now?”
“They rest in Winterhaven, stating they will return here tomorrow.”
“So be it. I am close, so close now. I believe tomorrow the portal will open and we can begin the destruction of this area.” Kalarel’s teeth gleamed in the dim light as he smiled. “First Winterhaven, and that pathetic “Lord” Parrag. Then onwards to Linden Field, and then, finally, Fallcrest itself shall fall to me!”
“Have the hobgoblin warchief prepare the rest of his troops, then you shall guard the upper Temple with your disciples. I shall return Below and continue to work. Whatever happens, hold them off.” He fixed the Underpriest with a penetrating stare.
“If you fall, do not fear. I shall defeat them myself if needed, and then I shall raise you anew. You will serve Lord Orcus, in your death as you did in life. I shall see to it, loyal follower.” Kalarel’s arm twitched violently. “But now I must rest. See to the defences. They must not take us by surprise.”
“Yes, my Lord,” replied the Underpriest. “We shall not fail you.”