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Heart of the Inferno

The bounty hunter sniffed the air. The smell of fine sifted rock was hardly surprising considering that, not long ago, the access into the depths of the mine had been deliberately collapsed. However, there was something off... the smell of the restless dead. He tightened the straps on his armor and drew a club suitable for smashing bone. It was time to put the dead to rest.

He did not have to advance far from the wooden entrance to the mine before he spotted his quarry. Skeletons, moving in obscene defiance to the lack of flesh on their bones, their bows at the ready, empty eye sockets searching for the living. Had some Necromancer decided to claim the abandoned mine for his own, or were these manifestations of restless spirits? Such a difference mattered not for a seeker of gold.

Freshly recasting his protective wards, he launched into battle. No sooner did his club fracture the hollow skull of the first skeleton did his presence become known. More appeared, including dead knights still clad in their heavy armor, bringing the clanking of metal to the cracking of bone. He fought on, spraying bone dust everywhere, uttering quick mantras of healing to seal his fresh wounds. The dead fell, the reanimation magic confounded by battle damage, but more walking dead took their place. Finally, the entire haunted force had crept from their hiding places and the survivors were fighting against him, over twenty perverted corpses operating their weapons with mechanical determination.

The bounty hunter smiled, he had been waiting for this. With a wave of his hand, a great line of flame appeared through the skeletal ranks. Another wave of his hand, another line of flame, and yet another. Soon, half the mine was awash with crimson flame. Bone and tendon began to melt with a sickening hiss. The weaker skeletons fell quickly, with the dead knights needing a little more encouragement from the bounty hunter's club. Whatever forces had placed these creatures in this cave, they were not expecting an armor-clad Archmage of Fire to pay a visit.

Later, the merchant guild trader sniffed the the armor and weapons he was given suspiciously. They smelled like they had been through a fire, but he knew better than to accuse this bounty hunter of trying to sell him inferior goods. Top value in gold was handed over willingly, but the merchant could not help but wonder who the previous owners of this equipment were. The answer he received, "tis' better you do not know," did not bother him nearly as much as the concealing smirk that delivered it.

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