Once out of the rain, he paused just long enough to light the lantern before following the old rails further down the tunnel. The lantern burned poorly in the stuffy air, its swaying gloom only reaching a few yards ahead. The floor sloped just noticable downwards, littered with gravel, and on occation a rusted pick or some other tool.
They left the echo of the drumming rain behind. Silence engulfed them, save their heavy breathing, and uneasy steps. The passage was wide enough for four men to walk abreast, the ceiling standing a foot taller than their heads. As they progressed deeper into the earth, they began to encounter black openings on either side, leading into lesser side-shafts. The air became increasingly harder to breathe. Just as he had been advised, Branyr kept to the main tunnel, now starting to curve slightly to the left.
As more time went by, their progression became increasingly arduous. More rubble littered the floor. More worn and rusted mining tools. Larger chunks of the ceiling had fallen down. Here and there the walls had caved in, covering almost the entire passageway, to the point where Branyr occasionally had to dig out a path through the rocks and gravel. The quality of the air kept deteriorating, every breath leaving a thick layer of dust on his tongue. Still they pressed on, now and then passing an old skull or femur, mostly human, but sometimes, even more disquieting, something else. They laboured on for what seemed like hours, until Branyr had to stop for a breath.
And as he just stood there breathing, leaning his back against the wall, the tall charger flickering his ears nervously, he heard something. A faint, deep, deep rumble, more a vibration felt through the rock than a sound that was audible. But it was there all the same.