Gytha put her hand to the scout's chest, it did not seem to move, she thought he might be dead. He started, Derue's hands strained at the ropes which bound them. Flashing, angry eyes glared up at Gytha, but the fire in them died and a gleam of recognition took its place.
"Are you injured?" she asked him.
He breathed deeply, but even the filling of his lungs was restricted by the rope wrapped about his chest.
"Didn't you hear the falling stones or feel the rumbling?" Gytha shook her head in wonder.
Derue closed his eyes. He tried to rise, but just rocked back and forth. There was a slow, careful deliberation to his movements. The rope gave a little and he slipped his shoulder beneath a loop.
"Let me help," Gytha tried to untie the knot, but Harald had tied it with a ranger's skill. It tangled and the rope snarled badly around the knot, twisting hopelessly.
As she worked Derue kept up the movement of his back and shoulders, another loop slipped over his head. He squirmed and shed his bonds like a snake leaving behind a covering of skin. There were wounds around his wrists, places where the flesh had been rubbed away, they bled. Each attempt to free himself had cost Derue a layer of skin and a small quantity of blood.
"You're hurt again," Gytha touched the scout's injured wrists lightly. "I have a knife in my pack. I will cut you free, don't try anymore," she glanced at the blood-soaked rope and he followed her eyes, "you will only hurt yourself more."
He nodded and stood unmoving while she went to find her pack and retrieve a knife.
"Gytha!" Ghibelline called out then broke into a painful cough. Each heave sent lancing pain through the elf's chest and he doubled over with his arms wrapped tightly around his aching ribs.
"Help me Telenstil, she might be injured."
"Stay here." Telenstil commanded. "I will go and find her."
"Go then," the wood-elf gasped, "I'll stay here, go."
Telenstil left him behind, it was only a short way across the hall to where she had lain. The floor was covered with stones fallen from the roof. A glance up at the vaulting ceiling showed cracks running from pillar to pillar. The statues themselves appeared untouched, protected no doubt by the enchantment which had been placed on them and still lingered after countless years.
"Gytha!" Telenstil called as he neared the small fire. He did not see her at first, his eyes were fixed on the motionless scout. A dagger appeared in his hand unbidden by his conscious mind, a spell was on his lips. "Gytha," he called louder and concerned.
"I'm here," she called back, "I'm fine. Where's Ghibelline?" she demanded.
"Good," said Telenstil relieved. "Good, you were not injured?"
"Where is Ghibelline?" Gytha abandoned the pack she'd been searching.
"A stone hit him," Telenstil began but saw the fearful look that came over the cleric's face, he raised his hand, "wait, he is hurt, yes, but I think not badly. Go to him, near the pit, on this side of the chamber."
She looked out into the dark. "Take me to him. I will need a light."
"Take a torch," Telenstil pointed to the fire, "there were some laid by, they should be there. What of him?" he asked looking at Derue.
"His wrists are hurt," Gytha said as she rushed to the fire. She brushed away dirt and debris that covered a small pile of wood and finally found a cloth wrapped branch.
"Derue," Telenstil walked to the scout and looked him in the eyes. The evil madness was gone, now there was only a deep sad emptiness.
* * *
Light surrounded them as they traveled the dark corridor. The amulet which Talberth wore and the spell-enchanted torch that Harald carried burned with unnatural brightness, unflickering, fueled by magic. Ivo slowed them down. The old gnome was as strong and enduring as stone, but his short legs could not keep up with those of the two humans, both tall even for their kind.
"Leave me," he told them. "I'll catch up, go see what has happened.
" Hah," Talberth snorted. "Would you let me stay when I wanted? No! I am not letting you stay behind now."
"He's right," Harald agreed. "I can carry you." The ranger had Little Rat slung over one broad shoulder, the young orc's head and arms swinging back and forth with every step. The weight of the bone-thin youth was nothing to the man; the pack Harald had left behind weighed several times as much.
"Good," the thief said. "I'm tired of all this walking."
"I wasn't talking to you," Harald glared down.
"Ivo let him carry you," said Talberth.
The old gnome grimaced. "Quite undignified. Harold I trust that you will not include this in your stories."
"But Ivo this is such a grand idea," smiled the halfling, "humans to ride, much better than ponies."
"Maybe we should just drag you behind," Harald smiled back, "I'm sure we have some rope."