He gasped thinly.
Something began to emerge from the shadows. A vapour trailed out of him into the thing; a thin, ethereal cord which shimmered in the dull light. Slowly it filled out, its edges always hazey and uncertain, shifting like roiling, black sea-waves.
He opened his mouth, but nothing escaped. His spine tingled and his stomach churned. His bowels grew heavy and the back of his throat became dry. No hand reached for a sword, no leg moved into a combat stance.
The thing hissed, a sound wholly ethereal, and then it began to circle him. Tendrils followed its wake like a cloak, brushing against his skin, leaving him chill where it touched him. The shade stopped before him, its eyes flashing, its long fangs bared in a frightening gormlessness. The thing hovered, then slowly lowered its head toward the frozen champion.
‘How may I serve you, master?’ it asked, and the world began to spin and he collapsed to the cold stone floor, and he fell into a dreamless slumber.