Molaan led Dackson towards the stairs, trying to distract him by theorizing, "Mordant would have to have been killed by the various revenants who serve the master of this crypt, to be brought back as such a creature. That's impossible, as their ranks have never made it past Solemnwood's edge in the last dozen years, Gods forbid so far as the peninsula's isthmus."

"All it takes is one," Dack pointed out. "One skeleton, wearing enough armour to go unnoticed by the settlement at the isthmus of this peninsula."

"He'd crumble to dust if he stepped remotely close to the Obelisk in the town square. It's highly unlikely. Furthermore, the Battle of Schwermut occured in the middle of the day. They hate the day, would've needed a modern visor."

"Plenty of knights have lost their lives, and their helmets, training amongst these halls," said Dackson, as he followed Molaan up into the crisp, evening air. They stood beneath a stone roof, lifted high upon four ornate pillars of an ancient civilization.

"It defies reason," Molaan argued as he strode into the trees, "The high priest buried here would have to be pulling proverbial puppet strings and uncharacteristic intent, from beyond the grave, to infiltrate a battle in this unsettled land."

"Molaan, do not forget that your own father once breeched the depths of this tomb and slew the high priest. The halls were empty for months, until he came back."

An owl let out mating calls in the distance.

"Yes, but with a full squadron of men-at-arms, two knights on leave from the duchy, and a witchin' healer to mend their wounds. The cursed ring he brought back, from a finger of the high priest, nearly made him mad. Thus, the undead priest of Solemnwood's tombs is clearly in no mental condition to be orchestrating this. His mind has degraded, immortality and solitude as a true curse. His army seeks violence mindlessly."

"What if Mordant were under the control of a different necromancy entirely?" said Dack, as he carefully stepped around some deer droppings.

"Hah," laughed Molaan. "There hasn't been a decent wizard of any sort in these regions since my father was my age."

There was a scream of some sort, in the distance.

"That's only twenty years," Dack pointed out. "Is it not so hard to fathom that magic still lingers in the forgotten lands where it once began?"

Molaan stopped in his tracks and moved aside so that the torchlight could light the path before him. There, in a small clearing, was an adolescent girl struggling against the grasp of a thousand tiny roots that had entangled her.

"No," Molaan said, when he finally stopped gaping, "I don't think it's that hard to fathom at all."

"Are you rangers not taught chivalry?" asked Dack as he quickly moved in with his sword to try and cut the girl free. All she did was squirm, and scream, staring back across the torchlight at Molaan. Quickly, the roots began to grapple at Dack's feet, and he found himself overpowered.

Molaan remained where he was, thinking intensely. He seemed to be weighing their options.

The roots quickly made their way up Dack's arms, immobilizing his sword and climbing upward, threatening to give his torch no air.

And then, Molaan shouted, "Drop your torch, now!"

The End

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