The black water closed over Camilla head. Diving blindly she felt her way along the rock face, seeking the source of the current that rippled the pool. Twice she came up for air before she found what she was looking for. With one hand holding her sheathed elven blade tight against her leg she kicked powerfully pushng herself into the opening. The current swept her forward and she prayed to Ranald that the tunnel never grew too narrow for her to pass. In theory the opening should only grow wider, otherwise the water would have backed up and submerged the cavern, but the only way she would find out she was wrong was if she were stuck between the rocks to drown, her body never t be recovered. Her vision began to pulse red as the air she had gulped down was exhausted. Desperately her hands scrambled across the submerged stone roof. At the last possible moment she found an opening an her hand reached into empty air. Desperately she propelled herself upwards and gasped at the stale subterranean air.
Camilla emerged into a tight circular shaft, regular enough that she could feel the tool marks. It was a well shaft, twenty or thirty feet deep. Above her dim light filtered down. Shivering and soaking wet, she pushed herself into the shaft pressing against each side and working her way up in a burglar’s assent. Inch by inch she worked her way up the shaft until finally she grasped the rim of worked stones and pulled herself over the lip.
The room around her was as dilapidated as the rest of the inner keep. Ancient jars stood on worm eaten shelves or lay in fragments on the floor when the timbers had rotted away. Rats scampered out of sight as she heaved herself to her feet. Light filtered down from a doorway above at the top of a set of shallow stone steps. She had to assume she was in a basement, perhaps on a level with the crypt Cydric had dropped them into. She needed to find him and soon.
Water pooled on the steps as she climbed them, peering through the doorway. Beyond her a large kitchen stood, long abandoned. A great oven overflowing with ashes sat at one end and shelves and cabinets lined the walls. Several rusted knives lay on a central work table and verdigris copper pots hung from the ceiling beside spiderweb encrusted herbs and mummified garlic ropes. The was movement at a doorway at the far and and a large form moved passed the door. Camilla froze in place, certain that despite the similarity in size the thing that had passed was not Cydric. It stepped back into the doorway and turned to face her, baleful eyes glowing down at her.
It struck like a thunderbolt, half leaping half flying from its elevated position. Camilla shouted and whipped her elven blade free, spinning aside and fetching the thing a slash across the ribs as it tumbled past her in a tumult of rusty iron cutlery. It was a great anthropomorphic bat, or perhaps a combination of a bat and a wolf, with leathery wings stretched between its forearms and its hips. Great bony pinions dug into the table, peeling up the iron hard oak like a craftsman chisel as it worked the check its momentum. Camilla sprang up onto the table avoiding a strike ot the things claws that would have taken her off at the knees. It leapt up behind her, lighting fast for its size. Camilla kicked a pot at it with her booted foot. It swatted the junk unconsciously and she thrust into the sinew of its shoulder, twisting and ripping the weapon free before the creature could twist and disarm her. It howled as the elven steel cut into it, black blood dripping sluggishly from the wound.
It launched itself at her again and Camilla leaped into the air, catching one of the roof timbers as it crashed past beneath her, colliding with the oven at the end of the room. The termite eaten timber gave way beneath her fingernails and she let it go and fell onto the table, landing gracefully and twisting to face back towards her attacker. With a beasital howl it launched itself at her a third time. Camilla sidestepped so that it flew into the doorway down to the well, its pinions struck out to catch the lintel but Camilla, having anticipated the response was already swinging her sword down with all her strength. The elven steel bit deep into its lower arm, although even the finest craftsmanship of the Eldest race couldn’t quite sever the sinewy member. The creature screamed in a rage loud enough to be physically painful and its limb gave out, tumbling into the lower room. Camilla didn’t wait for it to recover, instead she ran along the table, leaped to the far door and bolted, hoping to lose the thing or at least find a more advantageous battleground.