Belac, Ben, Eve, Pete and three of Belac’s men took turns lowering into the cave through the hole used to steal the Andor. Seven others remained above to trace the same path that the ones below would traverse.
Belac handed each of his men two wooden branches and kept two for himself to use as torches. Once they were lit, he spoke.
“You must remember the Andor is not to be touched. It must be carried by the poles inserted through the rings on each side. This is also the same for the Shadow Ones. If they touch the Andor they will cease to be.”
As the group moved deeper into the cave, they struck the ceiling with a long wooden rod. The men above would place an ear to the ground to follow them as they progressed.
“We will halt for a moment,” Belac said. “The torches are growing dim and we must replenish the fuel supply.” He opened a bag and pulled several strips of cloths smeared with a black substance that smelled of petroleum. He wrapped the cloth around his torch. At once, the fire light increased. He did the same for the three of his comrades and then the group continued on.
“Will the torches help us against the Shadow Ones in the caves as we search for the Andor?” Ben asked.
“In a minor way,” Belac replied, “if your skill is such that you are able to touch them with the flame.”
“Is this the reason we have the torches instead of using the night vision instilled within us?” Ben asked.
“We will rely on both.”
The group continued deeper into the underground lair. As they traveled through the tunnel it divided, heading in different directions leaving a menagerie of catacombs. They came to a halt with no clear direction to search.
Belac pulled more of the strips from his bag and wrapped the torches increasing the light throughout the immediate area.
“Gather the group closer together,” Belac ordered. “We must intensify the light into a single component, to battle our enemy.”
Several shadow creatures danced in and out of the groups vision as they moved closer and then further away from the firelight. As they did so, the torch bearers would swing their burning weapons in unison, causing portions of the creatures to disappear and forcing them to back away.
The group moved with intent following the retreating creatures, all the while developing an insight of where their quarry lay.
“I sense we are growing closer,” Belac said, extending his hand to stop Ben, Eve, and Pete’s progress.
Belac’s three men took the lead, their torchlight fading. Volton, who traveled ahead of the rest, left the ground without warning. Amar reacted, thrusting his torch into the shadow creature holding his friend. The flame startled the creature, causing the spot it touched on its dark form to disappear; however, the gesture came too late as Volton slammed into the ceiling hard enough to shatter his spine and flatten the back of his head. He fell to the ground with a sickening thud that left him twitching as his involuntary nervous system protested one final time.
“Everyone back!” Belac bellowed.