Iseldis was surprised that Roland offered his hand to her, and just as surprised that she felt like taking it. There wasn't anything tactical to it; neither of them were blinded by the fog or at risk of losing each other, and it certainly wouldn't help them fight any better, but Iseldis did find that it slowed the beating of her heart, helped her focus on the present and not let wandering thoughts get the better of her.
It didn't last long though, as Roland soon needed both hands to carry torch and sword, and Iseldis returned both hands to a ready grip on her staff. The darkness billowed out of the coffin that they passed through, momentarily swirling up around their waists, but once they were inside it settled down again. Iseldis lifted her staff out towards the walls where the torchlight didn't reach, studying what she saw.
The architecture of this place... it wasn't like any tomb or burial grounds she'd seen. Black shimmering stone lined the walls, and there was ancient writing beneath bodies inlaid in those walls, and she couldn't read any of it. The dead here looked barely human, and any that seemed like they might rise from their sleep Iseldis preemptively took care of, conjuring a small knife of white light and sliding it into their skulls, ending threats before they could begin. She didn't speak, or couldn't. It felt like any sound here could bring the dead down on them.
They arrived at what seemed to be a large central chamber, circular and littered with closed stone coffins, the floor hard rock beneath their boots. An ominous sight awaited them on the far wall: a large face carved in the stone, expression locked in a furious roar. Black, inky darkness poured from its mouth and nostrils and eyes, spreading along the floor.
"This," Iseldis breathed, approaching it slowly. "This must be the source. Not sure I can do this, but I guess we'll find out." It was indeed worse than anything she'd seen done by her brothers and sisters, and considering how drained they'd been, she knew she'd be lucky to walk out of her under her own power. But there was something else. Some familiar feeling that something was watching her again...
Iseldis heard it drop from the ceiling before she saw it, a dark feminine shape out of the corner of her eye. Next thing she knew she was hit by a blast of forceful magic that hurled her forward, separating her from Roland, who'd be lucky not to get tossed back. Iseldis slammed into the stone face and crashed to the ground. Though she was dazed she recovered quickly, pulling herself up out of the darkness with the help of her staff, and she laid eyes on her foe.
She didn't look human, with angular and alien facial structure, dark purple skin, sharply pointed ears, and completely black eyes, but by her shape she was definitely a woman. Long black hair tumbled down her back, but the most striking thing about her were the four spider-like limbs protruding from her back, each covered in some hard plating, and ending in sharpened tips like spears.
"You're a dark elf," Iseldis said breathlessly. "I thought your kind were gone."
"Exterminated, you mean?" she hissed, her voice oozing hatred. "Not yet, despite your kind's best efforts. My people are few, but we endure, and now we take revenge."
Thoughts raced through Iseldis's mind. Dark elves were thought extinct hundreds of years now, and indeed they had been hunted for their love of dark magic and corrupting themselves with it, as this woman clearly had. But they were said to each be very powerful in their own right. Far more dangerous than any draugr could hope to be.
"You won't get away with this," Iseldis assured her. "We'll stop you, and cleanse this darkness."
The dark elf laughed, checking carefully for any sign of attack from either of them. "You'll bleed and fall at my feet, girl. The Master demanded one of your kind, and I will deliver you to him. As for you," she turned her head to Roland. "He can make use of warriors like you in his army. A fine revenant you'll make."
This didn't feel right. She was too ready for them, and it had all been too easy up to this point, when a dark elf could have been throwing the worst at them at every turn. Iseldis felt the chill more strongly than ever, creeping up her back, and though she shuddered, she held her ground, staff at the ready.
"The only one who falls here is you," she said, conjuring the light to her hand.
The dark elf gave her a wicked smile. "I'll enjoy every moment of your suffering." With that, she rushed forward with immense speed at Iseldis, away from Roland, just as the first of the coffins around him burst, and draugr began to emerge from their resting places.