24 THAUMONT 1,005 A.C. – DYMRAK FOREST, KARAMEIKOS
“The Eye… The Eye talks to me through visions: it shows me the basilisk’s cave, deeper in that dark heart of hearts, there’s something and the Eye wants to bring me there.” Immeral talks slowly during the journey back from the Lake of the Lost Dreams. “I saw an octagon and an arrow… A strange symbol I’ve never seen before.”
Francisco nods: “I had a strange feeling there. There was an odd passage in the stone and I had a indescribable omen. Now, because of your words I think that we must return there and explore that place.”
The entire group agree with the cleric and Azulenia looks at me: “What do you want to do, Shā Zhī Wǔ Shì? Do you want to help us?” Six pair of eyes start to watch me, waiting for an answer.
What should I do? I have a mission but the Seer words were clear.
“I’ll go with you. You helped me with the nagpa and the basilisk. I have a debt with you all and in my monastery I learned to keep my word.”
Francisco smiles, satisfied, and Azulenia whispers to Elarik: “See? I told you she’ll be by our side.”
The warrior looks at her with an ill-concealed smile and watches the beautiful paladin with tender eyes.
The return trip lasts two entire days throughout the Dymrak forest and, at the dawn of the third day, we reaches the basilisk cave that does turn out to be a desert.
One by one we enter into the small fissure that becomes a long tunnel going deep in the depths of the earth. After some minutes, we reach a small cavern buried in silence: the narrow place is full of cobwebs and, in the centre, a large group of shiny and white bones.
All of a sudden an enormous white and blue spider appears in front of us, attacking the dwarf: the horrible arachnid even starts teleporting around the room, after a powerful cutting blow from Tordek.
I’ve never seen a creature like that!
The battle is very frustrating and very difficult, due to its magic ability, but, in the end, we’re able to defeat the big subterranean predator.
We proceed through other tunnels until we arrive in another cave: even with my cat’s eyes I’m not able to see the end of the room.
“This place is so big I can’t see what is in front of us.” I whisper to the others; Tordek, Reed and Immeral nod.
Francisco, murmuring some words, lights up the holy symbol on Azulenia’s shield that starts to radiate a comforting light.
“I’ll go before you all, exploring this place and looking for enemies. If I’m in danger I’ll scream for help.” I say, entering in the darkness before any reply.
After some steps, before I could hear anything, something, with a thunderous rumble falls down from the ceiling: a soggy, big maggot writhes itself on the ground and I avoid this creature.
I just have the time to look upwards and see hundreds of stalactites: “Damn… Are they all pests?”
I can’t clearly see the top of the room due to the complete darkness.
“FRANCISCO! REED!” Azulenia’s scream breaks the heavy silence in the darkness.
I said them to wait me back!
I run back to the group and I see Francisco under a slimy maggot: the fragile body of the priest is totally squashed by the creature and he’s moaning in pain. Elarik perforates the pest with his sword and helps Francisco.
“Reed!” Tordek shouts with his loud voice and runs close to the halfling, who’s under a big maggot, taking him under his arm and dragging him to the nearest wall.
The group starts to walk quickly but noiselessly toward the other side of the room: Azulenia lights up the darkness with her shiny shield until we reach an opening in the rock and, one by one, we pass through it.
An enormous sepulchral room, partially buried by a landslide, probably dates back to the ancient Nithian civilization.
Two enormous rocky sarcophagi dominate the room: Francisco examines the one on the right, asking Tordek to help him to open the coffin, while Azulenia and Elarik open the one on the left.
“Look! A mummy!” Reed exclaims with astonished voice: in the sarcophagus opened by Tordek an ancient mummy rests in a deadly sleep, its arms crossed on its chest and, gripped in the left hand, a scroll.
With a lot of care Francisco removes the parchment and passes it to Immeral, who observes the object with penetrating gaze: “I’m pretty sure it’s a magic scroll but I need more time to study it.” The elf puts the scroll in his sack.
“There’s a passage!” Elarik attracts our attention: I step close to the majestic sarcophagus and I step in it. “Seem that it brings in another place.” I say, proceeding in the next room: in front of me a grandiose necropolis expands.
“Unbelievable! This is a Nithian necropolis… It must be 2500 years old!” Exclaims Francisco behind me, his eyes gaping in astonishment.
We proceed exploring the necropolis up to a subterranean water course and our group follows the stream until we enter in another room: this place is cross-shaped and with an enormous vault. Four canals flow in there, creating a small artificial lake and, in the centre, there is a cross-shaped structure made in granite.
“What is that?” Asks Reed, pointing at the building. “We must take a look!” He exclaims, excited.
“How can we pass through the lake? It seems very deep and I think it’s not a good idea to swim here!” Says Elarik.
“Maybe we can launch the cat to the other bank!” Tordek talks like his idea is the smartest in the entire world.
I open wide my eyes, scared: too much water and the concrete risk to fall down in it.
“Would you do this, Shā?” Azulenia asks with calm voice.
“Yes…” I take a breath. “I’ll do this.”
I take the rope, fixing it around my hips, leaving the other side to Elarik and Immeral; Tordek and Azulenia launch me and, thanks Ninfagle, I knock down on the opposite bank without touching water.
After some minutes the rest of the group, using the rope, pass the lake.
“Is it… a tomb?” Asks Immeral, hesitant.
“I’m pretty sure this is a gigantic grave.” Says Francisco, watching the inscriptions that adorn the mausoleum’s wall.
Two colossal sphinx sculptures delimit the entrance of the structure.
All of a sudden Azulenia makes a lament: “Undead! I can clearly perceive them there!”
“Disgusting creatures! We must purify this place!” Francisco starts to talk loudly, cursing the undead creatures.
The two religious humans step in the mausoleum, behind them me and the others. Suddenly an abysmal voice warns us: “WHO DARE TO BOTHER MY REST? WHO DARE TO PROFANE THE SHRINE OF THE GREAT KEY-HAMINTEP? GO AWAY, NOW. YOU’RE STILL IN TIME.” A violent rumble and the voice talks again: “DEATH AND PAIN AWAIT YOU IF YOU OVERSTEP THE THRESHOLD OF THIS SACRED PLACE.”
“This is not an holy soil! Ixion’s light will purify this grave crawling with undead!” Francisco shouts in rage and moves a step closer to the centre of the mausoleum, where there is a pool of green, malodorous water.
The water in the pool starts to burst and something emerge from the deepest water: a majestic skeleton surfaces from the pool with a chilling scream and a gaze full of hate for everything. From the crypts in the walls hundreds of undead warriors begin to emerge from their graves.
The battle begins and we’re clearly in disadvantage but, a second before the undead army attacks and kills all of us, Francisco lift up his arms and invokes, with a profound yell, Ixion power: “By the Power of Goodness and Law, I command you to return to your final rest and never trouble this world again!” A blinding light, bright as the sun, pours out from the cleric and vaporizes the gigantic skeleton and his servants.
Francisco falls down, exhausted, smiling: “The power of light purified this place.” He says with shortness of breath.
I’m totally astonished by this man: he’s so quiet and fragile but hides an enormous force of will.
In a strange way he reminds me of Allstorn.
After a short rest we proceed the exploration of the necropolis up to a coarse, walled up passage: Tordek, in few minutes, demolishes the wall, revealing a mysterious hallway with walls, floor and ceiling made in cold steel. In the end of this hallway a door, with the octagon and the arrow Immeral saw in his visions. On the door there are two strange lights, both red, like two shiny rubies.
The elf takes out the Fire Opal, that starts to shine with a feeble light: one of the two red lights becomes green.
Immeral remains silent, his eyes totally white: “I see… I see men with strange white tunics. They built this place.” He takes a sight. “I need the other opal to open this door. We must find it!”
The elf looks at us: “My master said that we have to proceed to the Vyalia County: there we’ll find the Black Opal.”