“Do it,” you tell Rhazion.
Rhazion takes a deep breath, gives a jerky nod, and begins. He starts by producing a piece of chalk and drawing an intricate symbol upon the marble floor. It’s the warding sigil against the mavrokh, the symbol tattoo uponed Moresti’s face, but far, far more intricate. You feel a crawling tingle on your skin as Rhazion begins muttering a spell, pouring arcane power into the sigil.
“My fault,” mutters Amania. “My fault. I killed Julian.” She looks at Chrysana. “I would have killed you, too, if the Ghost hadn’t stopped the mavrokh.”
Chrysana shakes her head. “I brought this upon myself. If I hadn’t seduced Julian…I only wanted a husband of noble birth. If I hadn’t…”
“Silence,” you say, “both of you.” Both the women flinch . “Have you ever killed a man with your own hands? Have you? No? I have, more times than I wish to remember. Until you have, stop tormenting yourselves. You didn’t kill Lord Julian. The mavrokh did.” You look at Rhazion, hunched over his sigil. “This was…good intentions gone awry.”
Lucan stares at you, a strange expression on his face.
Rhazion straightens up, and the sigil begins to glow with a flickering azure light.
“Amania,” he says. “This is…this is really going to hurt.”
Amania nods and braces herself.
Rhazion produces an ivory wand, its length carved with more variations of the warding sigil. He begins a long and complex spell, and you feel the power building, building.
Then he thrusts the wand at Amania.
Amania screams, long and loud, and falls to her knees. She doubles over, mouth open as if to vomit…but instead something that looks like a black storm cloud erupts from her mouth, crimson light flashing in its depths.
The mavrokh. You feel hatred pouring from the thing, and rage, pure, molten rage. It would kill everyone in the room, everyone in the world, if it had the chance.
“Mavrokh!” bellows Rhazion, brandishing the wand. “By this sign and sigil I compel you. Avaunt! You are bound! I compel you! You are bound!”
The mavrokh howls in rage, and every window in the solarium explodes at once. Chrysana shrieks, covering her ears, Amania stares at the mavrokh, and both Lucan and Moresti have their swords out.
Rhazion groans, sweat pouring down his brow, and makes a raking motion. The snarling black cloud flows across the floor and hovers over the warding sigil…and does not move.
Amania shudders, and Chrysana helps her to her feet.
“It…it worked,” gasps Rhazion, wiping sweat from his brow. “It’s trapped in the sigil. I can banish it now. Just…just let me rest for a moment. Oh, merciful gods, do I have a headache.”
You nod, and see a flicker of green light behind Rhazion.
A ghostly child of green light floats up through the floor, her face a rotting skull. It’s Korthion’s seeking specter. But how could it have found you? You’re wearing the shadow-cloak.
Then you realize that it wasn’t looking for you.
It was looking for Rhazion.
You hurry to the edge of the stairwell, and you hear the Black Wolves stir in sudden alarm.
Korthion strides into view below, smiling. In his left hand he carries a wand that looks like a human leg bone. Sigils have been carved down its length, flickering with ghostly green flame. The specter of the child floats back down to him, and does a grotesque little dance at his feet.
“Preceptor Rhazion!” calls Korthion, his smile widening. “Summoning otherworldly creatures? I am shocked, shocked!” His dark eyes turn to you. “And consorting with the Ghost Countess, as well? The First Magus will be most displeased.”
“This is none of your concern, Korthion!” says Rhazion. “Leave, now!”
“I think not,” says Korthion. “I’m going to do very well out of this, you old fool. The First Magus wants the Ghost Countess dead, and she will die at my hand. And you…alas, you will have died foolishly attempting to summon creatures from the netherworld. And your daughter, as well. So very sad.” He looks over your shoulder. “And Lord Lucan, as well, the famed slayer of magi! Truly, my cup runneth over this day. When the First Magus hears of this, I will become the new preceptor, or perhaps even one of the high magi!”
Rhazion barks out a laugh. “Don’t be a fool, Korthion! I am far stronger in the arcane sciences that you are. And I have the Black Wolves,” he gestures at the mercenaries, “and I hardly expect the Ghost Countess and Lord Lucan will lie down and let you kill them.”
Korthion’s smile widens, and you see something moving in the darkness behind him.
“Do you really think,” he says, “that I was foolish enough to come here alone?”
Cenorix steps into the light.
Except Cenorix is dead. His throat has been cut, blood stains the front of his armor, his mouth sags open, and his eyes are glassy and unblinking. Yet he is up and walking. Behind him you see more militiamen, and more, dozens of them, all of them dead, all of them with cut throats.
Now it is Korthion’s turn to laugh.
“You might be stronger in the arcane sciences, old fool,” says Korthion, “but the necromantic sciences are stronger by far!” He gestures with the bone wand, the sigils flaring bright with green flames. “Kill them! Kill them all!”