Smooth, translucent anemone-things swarmed into the dim courtyard from one of the shattered doorways. Pale colors flowed and sloshed through their elegantly tapering limbs as they floated closer. Closer. They radiated menace and malevolence like heat coming off of a desert landscape.
"There was no other way..." Gnosiomandus called out as he ran towards the anemone-things. Teal-blue flames swirled and howled around his right fist as he struck out at the servitors.
Bujilli recognized these anemone-things. Yiggo Bosh. Only these were larger, nastier specimens than what were usually summoned by Kudara's Call of the Twelve. He'd read enough to know some of the details, but never had the chance to commit the spell's specific forms to memory. The Yiggo Bosh were the seventh type of the servitors brought forth by that fairly common spell. He remembered something else about these things. Leeja was right beside him. He reached out. touched her shoulder. Their eyes locked.
"Do you have a mirror?"
She nodded. Unsure what he needed with a mirror in this place at this time.
"Good. Get it out. These things can be driven off by a mirror."
"Oh really?" She grinned sinisterly. "That sounds like fun."
"Fun?" He scowled. She laughed.
"Watch." Leeja slipped-out her small silver mirror, a hand-mirror like one would find on some rich noblewoman's dressing table. She cast a spell. He couldn't tell which one. Not right away.
The mirror grew huge and wobbly. A flowing ribbon of silver that shone, shimmied and expanded outward from the handle the reflective skin of some stupendous bubble. Leeja ran towards the Yiggo Bosh waving the bizarre thing around like a manic child, laughing all the way.
Gnosiomandus halted in mid-attack. Three of the things were scorched goo sizzling across the courtyard stones.
The Yiggo Bosh withdrew. At haste. They made a peculiar warbling noise as they rushed off in the opposite direction.
Leeja relinquished the spell. Her mirror popped back to normal size, weight and dimensions. She slipped it back into her pack.
Bujilli trotted up to them both, shaking his head as he moved along. The tree-things had nearly caught him with their lashing, slashing tendrils. He had gone back to recover Sprague's unconscious body. Blood dripped steadily from where the Black Chains had pierced the Master Oneirist to ensnare his mind, body and soul. A few tendrils coiled about Bujilli's left arm and right leg. And most of Sprague. The things itched terribly. Drew blood as they writhed about. But it felt like the things were dying, having been separated from the trees. He thought there would be time to attend to the tendrils once he caught-up with his two companions.
The snow was starting to fall more heavily. It stung where it touched bare flesh, leaving small, bloody traces. They needed to get inside.
"Cute." Gnosiomandus smirked. Bowed with a flourish. Then started running again. Towards one of the arches.
Leeja looked to Bujilli. He nodded. She took off after the unnaturally spry old man. Bujilli followed. It was disturbing how little Sprague weighed. But he still breathed. That had to count for something. He would have to endure the lingering pin-pricks of the tendrils. The one coiled around his leg was beginning to peel off. Perhaps it didn't care for his blood after all.
Gnosiomandus clambered across the ruined door and was running down a hallway. They followed, but couldn't quite catch up to the old scholar. Bujilli considered using a spell to speed them up, but didn't want to stop long enough to cast it. So they ran.
Another long, drawn-out scream. Closer this time. A woman. It seemed almost familiar. Almost.
They followed Gnosiomandus around a corner. Down a ramp that spiraled downwards into cloying darkness. Their footfalls, their breathing, all of it echoed and reverberated through the floor, the walls.
Sharp red light erupted from Gnosiomandus' left-hand. Each finger a blazing torch. Shadowy forms fluttered, shrieked, exploded into jagged, scribbly-bits and ashes as the scarlet effulgence poured across them. Whatever they were.
He didn't slow down. Never looked back.
They kept running.
Around and around.
They nearly spilled out from the ramp into the midst of three guards in spiky chain-mail. The guards were all sizzling. Popping. Sparks ricocheted from their shocked expressions and ruined armor. Their flesh was rapidly growing transparent, Becoming glass.
Bujilli brushed against the second one. they tipped over. Crashed. Shattered into dozens of meaty pieces that continued to hiss as they changed into glass.
Leeja deliberately kicked the other two over.
But not before Bujilli recognized what they were.
They approached another arch. Angular. A tapering rectangle that got narrower towards the top. It was huge. More than a hundred feet high at the center. There was some sort of sphinx flanking the thing on either side. They didn't take time out to examine the things. They kept running. A massive door rumbled down along deep ruts in the archway. Closing.
Gnosiomandus was through the archway.
Another scream. This time it was cut short.
Leeja sped onward into the stygian blackness. Heedless of whatever might be on the other side. Her hair flared out like flames. He eyes shone. She was in her element.
Sprague called out in mid-leap; "No!"