Sarah shrugged. “I don’t see the problem.”
Nicodemus kicked necroplasmic dirt again, and it dissolved into droplets of flotsam and disintegrated before hitting the wall. He cursed, “Pity this wretched place.”
“You want to find a ghost?” Lady Balthes asked.
“Yes. It was supposed to try and stop us from proceeding.” He lowered his head and scrunched up his fingers. “It seems to have accomplished its goal without even showing its face.”
“I can pick this lock,” Balthes continued.
“So what?” Nicodemus was infuriated. “We’ve come so close, and he’s not here.”
“Who?” Tessijah asked.
“The warden!” he screamed. His voice echoed on throughout the Shadowrealm.
“Patience, dark one.” Tessijah hobbled over to his side. “When should he have appeared?”
“When trespassers approached the Void…” his voice broke off.
“Perhaps, we have not done that.”
“What?” Nicodemus was too upset to make sense of riddles.
“Like you said before, we are in the Shadowrealm. Maybe the spirit awaits approach in the land of the living.”
“But that doesn’t make sense. If he waited anywhere, he’d be waiting in here.” Nicodemus shot hot air out of his nostrils. “He’d be Shadow-side. That’s where ghosts wait.” Then he looked up at her with inquisitive eyes. “Right?”
“Sometimes,” the shaman whispered, “spirits hide in the walls.”
“Yes, but,” he caught himself. He smiled. “Maybe.” He weaved a quick spell in the air, just below his waist. A violet circle, two-dimensional, looped itself where his fingers traced the pattern, parallel to the floor. He drew up his foot, and thrust it through the tiniest of portals. To the party, it seemed as if his leg vanished. If they were on the other side, Quickside, they would have seen a leg emerge from nothingness and plunge upon hard earth in a single defiant stomp.
The walls flexed, and a ghastly form oozed forth. It coalesced into a shade, had the face of death, a whirling cloak about its shoulders, and its right arm was thick and huge with an armored claw.
“Metaphysics be damned,” Nicodemus whispered. He withdrew his foot and the portal sealed with a pop.
The apparition hovered before them, a ghost in the old sense, waving its giant gauntlet in their direction, pointing a foreboding claw finger at each. It began to speak in the old tongues, and a fell wave of life draining energy issued forth from its aura. The party each recoiled in fear, but Nicodemus beamed like a child with a new toy. He waived his hand behind him, and the invisible tethers of negative energy that held their undead minions snapped. They wriggled free.
“Kill them,” he directed the party with a backward flourish of his fingers, never breaking gaze with the apparition. Sarah, Lady Balthes, Tessijah, and the rat all turned and saw the undead behind them slowly raise their weapons, enemies once again. Enemies, but feeble game.
Turning to the ghost warden with the mighty gauntlet, Nicodemus focused his will into new strands of negative energy, weaving airy bounds in the Shadowrealm darkness. The specter roiled and fought but the chains were too heavy, circling it like serpents and clasping upon its bony limbs. The necromancer abruptly closed his hands, brought them down, and the shade mimicked his movements, its own arms pinned at its sides. He said with a sneering grin, “Now you, give that glove to me.”