“Quiet!” Valek hissed. He was crouched, his tail swaying slightly in the air behind him, every muscle tensed and ready to pounce. He had felt something move, of that he was certain; The thick stagnant air of the chamber disturbed by whatever lurked in the darkness. Every sense sharpened to a fine point, every instinct honed in years of combat waiting with practiced patience to take control.

His companion lurched to his side, the motion cumbersome and loud, “Valek, please! Where are we?”

“Must I ask you aga-” There! a shadow slipping under the door! The sudden motion punctuated by a knife ripped from his bandoleer and slapping into the iron framework of the portal before a muffled landing in the dust.

“What! What was it!” But Valek had no answer. For all of his concentration he was left only with a fleeting image of… something, he could not be sure. The room once again grew silent.

“Did you not see it A’Khal? It was watching us, hiding from us, but I saw it.”

“There are no footprints, Valek, there was nothing there,” A’Khal gestured to the thrown dagger now laying at the base of the door, the dust around it undisturbed.

“I saw something, felt it, I know it was there,” A’Khal listened to his friend, but knew the words were not for him.

A’Khal drew his sword. He had not seen the creature Valek had attacked, but the manic urgency in his friend’s voice was cause enough for alarm. He had seen Valek like this before, and it never ended well.

“What do we do?”

Valek stepped towards the door and retrieved his weapon.

“I want to know what disturbs the air, but not the dust,” His mutter silent, and knowing the answer was unsatisfactory for his friend added, “Perhaps it can tell us how we got here.”

“But what about them? We can’t leave them if there are monsters down here,” A’Khal said, gesturing towards the others laying in the room behind him.

“That creature was watching us, and I want to know why!” Valek snapped. “Besides, you can’t trust humans. We don’t owe them anything.” Opening the door, he stepped into the waiting darkness.

A’Khal stepped through the doorway before turning and giving the unconscious adventures in the room one last glance. He closed the door behind him, pushing them from his mind, and followed in his friends wake with a sinking feeling in his heart growing with every step.

Silently praying that Valek was, for the first time in their long history together, wrong. That the dark was playing tricks with his eyes. And that the shadow they now found themselves hunting was nothing more than paranoia…

The Spanner In The Works.