Strangely, the normal sentry was missing as Nomis approached the top of the long, gently curving stairway. He wondered if it was to do with his earlier sense of foreboding. Perhaps, it was simply that the guard had gone off for an illicit rest, since he was unlikely to be discovered so late at night. However, Nomis’ intuition immediately told him that something had happened whilst he had been away, and that the Elfin Quarter had been in danger!
As Nomis progressed through the maze of tunnels and passages, there was a restlessness in the very air that pervaded everywhere and it occurred to him that everything was unnaturally quiet. The usual echoes of footsteps and faint voices of the sentries and guards as they met, were missing.
Just as Nomis turned into a new corridor, this unreal silence was suddenly penetrated, by solitary footfalls coming menacingly yet steadily towards him. … He felt an unimaginable fear well up from deep within him. Whilst his natural instinct wanted him to run, an inner voice told him to hide in the next alcove behind the pile of firebrands. He hurried along noiselessly reaching it, before putting out his firebrand just in time.
The sinister footsteps, having turned the corner at the far end, were coming ominously towards him … Nearer and nearer … He heard a rasping breath … and smelled an evil mustiness as he crouched lower, his eyes tightly shut. The baleful tread stopped briefly somewhere nearby in the echo-filled tunnel. … He had the sensation of something trying to brush the edge of his mind. … However, it was not the kindly fluttering that he had experienced with Pelydryn earlier, but a harsh, almost brutal grating, at the fringes of his thoughts.
Nomis did not know why he did it, but he instinctively and immediately emptied his mind of all thoughts and concentrated hard on the surrounding stonework. He tried to draw a picture of it with his mind, like a protective shell around himself. He attempted to hide behind not only the firebrands, but an illusory shell of stonework as well.