Staying alert, Warren only paused to hit his head on a low-hanging stalagmite as they made their way down the sloping passageway they had found at the bottom of a narrow, twisting staircase in the floor of the cavern. He felt more relaxed, more confident than he had been for a long time. With a dagger, a cloak, and the dark shadows of the underground (not quite the Under-dark, but he'd take it), the future seemed certain. At least, the future in which he stabbed someone.
Behind him, the rest of the party scraped and jostled their way down the stairs. Anastri, he knew, could see in the dark, but he wasn't sure about the rest of them. Flicking a glowworm off of the wall and crushing it in his hand, he drew the motes of dust in the air together into a set of glowing orbs that bobbed a meter or two above the ground behind him. They lit up the tunnel with light which - due to the mobile nature of the orbs - flickered wildly as shadows warped and distended on the walls. Ash winced.
"You couldn't have a stationary light spell?" he groaned, already reaching into his pack for a torch.
"Of course not," Warren hissed under his breath. "They're dynamic. At a moments notice they can be moved, banished, or brought together into the form of a person who can do a jig to distract the enemies while we make our getaway. Bobbing is an essential part of their design."
Ash didn't comment on this but lit his torch, which at least served to diminish the shadows. At the same time, the hallway opened up onto a small, circular room. It was empty of creatures, but Warren could see two doors leading off in different directions. As he ventured further into the room, he beckoned his companions forward.
"You guys, looks like there's a room here. I see two doors, but there could be-" he was cut off suddenly as Ash strode forward and swung the door closest to him open. "-traps," he finished, and winced. The huge dragonborn stood silhouetted by the light of his torch in the doorway, peering into the dark corridor beyond. For a moment he didn't move, and then...
"Nope, nothing," he said, and strode forward without waiting for the rest of the group. Anastri hurried up behind Warren, who was at this point gaping in outrage at the injustice of it all. She glanced at him like what can you do? and stepped past him to join Ash, who was banging open doors down the length of the hallway.
While Warren was still frozen Solus came up to the hallway entrance, sighed heavily, and rolled her eyes before following the first two. This immediately broke Warren out of his paralysis and he straightened his back as he walked through the doorway, determined to do whatever the opposite of what Solus did was. If Solus was annoyed at Ash's actions, he reasoned, then he was positively delighted that Ash had announced their presence in such an obnoxious way! There was no way he would give her the satisfaction of thinking he agreed with her.
"Looks like there's a room up here not filled with old dead stuff," Ash called as he moved from the corridor to the room beyond. "Sort of like a porch or something, but for a big fancy stone building."
"An antechamber," Anastri responded without looking up, picking her way ahead of Warren down the corridor. And indeed, as Warren neared the entrance it did begin to look like an antechamber. The ceiling was rather tall, and crushed and broken glass on the floor suggested that it had once had windows looking out on the sky. Since then the roof had buckled slightly, and debris littered the floor. A small half-wall separated part of the room from the rest, and as he crept closer Warren could swear he saw something dark through a crack between two crumbling stone bricks.
To the right was a body, and Salorien drew in a breath of surprise as she approached it. "Well, I'll say. Old Dave. Never thought I'd see you again."
Warren saw Anastri wheel around in surprise. "'Old Dave'? You've met this dead goblin?" For indeed, the body was that of a goblin, stuck to the wall with a spear through its chest.
Salorien regarded the corpse thoughtfully. "Yup. He was the one who nearly cut my viol strap in that skirmish I mentioned to you earlier." Her eyes darkened perceptibly. "Looks like he got what was coming to him." Almost as an afterthought she tugged at the spear and it came away from the wall with a grinding sound. Without its point holding him up, the goblin started to topple over and Warren instinctively stepped back as a word carved into the stone behind him revealed itself. It was in a script he didn't recognize, but Ash stepped forward and ran his clawed hand over the letters.
"Ashardalon. It says Ashardalon," he muttered to himself. Then, to everyone: "I think we might be in more trouble than we thought."
It was at that moment that the dark patch behind the wall moved and with a blur a spear came sailing out of the darkness and hit Anastri in the leg, toppling her to the ground.