|The Ancient Prophecy
Pt. IX: The War, Won, yet Lost...
by Vipers ©
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
Pyramid of Slathi stood silently in the middle of the desert, reaching for
the cloudy afternoon sky. To the east the vast field of sand stretched over
the horizon, threatening unwary adventurers with beasts, deadly scorpions,
and violent sandstorms. For many years the pyramid had served as the marking
beacon for the Forbidden Land. For many years the pyramid was seen as the
final safe haven for the lost adventurers as they were unaware of the ultimate
danger lying beneath.
Roberto slowly rubbed the cold stone surface with his palm. "It's odd... The surface is so smooth. There's no hint of age! It seems like the pyramid was built just yesterday, by the finest mason in the kingdom!"
"It's definitely protected by magic..." Anna closed her eyes and listened to her deeper sense. "It's not right... The magic is not bad... but it resists me... as if trying to ward me off..."
"I hope we have more choices." Atrus said. "But we'll have to enter the pyramid eventually."
The entrance was just as simple as a hole on the surface. The long tunnel was quite small for them, although it fit Dwarves quite well. The tunnel was completely dusty and dark, preventing further inspection. The think scent of mold filled their nostrils, defeating even the bravest soul.
"We can't get in now..." Aurelia said slowly in her low, melodic tone. "I'd say we camp at the garrison and returned tomorr..."
Before she could finish her word, a high eerie sound was heard in the air. The dark cloud stirred violently in the sky. Suddenly the air around them became uncomfortably hot.
"Wait a minute..." Anna muttered. "Atrus, this is a desert, right?"
"There's no water in the desert, right?"
"Very little." Holgreb agreed.
"So there will be very little water vapor in the desert, right?"
"Then what's the cloud doing here in the desert at the first place?"
The party looked at the sky and was dreaded at what they saw. The dark cloud was getting thicker and thicker. An obscure, thin line of light appeared beneath the surface.
"Mistress... The garrison! There was indeed lightning bolt!" Maya suggested.
"What?!! It can't be!" Holgreb snarled. "This is a desert..."
Then he knew that he was wrong when a lightning bolt hit squarely on top of the pyramid, sending bolts of electricity throughout the surface and into the sand. The ground shook upon contact with the bolts. Tiny sparks blasted away from the tip of the pyramid and fell down on the ground. The party suddenly recalled one of many facts in the Land of Lore. If it didn't make sense, then it had to be magical."
"I'm not really sure, but I have this strange feeling..." Roberto mumbled. "I've been to this case before... you know... thick cloud, hot air... I've seen this before in Aragon... I believe they call this... uh... tornado?"
The Elf and the Dwarf were not affected at all, but all Human members quickly stared sharply at him. "WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO?!!!" Hawk roared.
A loud roar at their back regained their attention. A large, dark cone appeared from the cloud and descended upon the sand, lifting it along its swirling surface. Then suddenly tiny bits of sand filled the air, hitting their faces and entering their nostrils. The party, especially Aurelia and Holgreb who had never seen a tornado before, began coughing and choking. Even slightly blurred by the sand, Anna could see the tornado closing on them.
"Come on!! Get inside!!" she yelled.
The party quickly scrambled inside the dark tunnel. Anna entered last and sealed the entrance with her magic barrier, preventing the sand from coming in. The tunnel was extremely dark and cramped. Nobody dared to move for a while, fearing what might lie beyond the darkness. The problem was solved when Anna summoned a few floating fireballs to illuminate the tunnel.
"What in the name of the Guardian was that?!!" Aurelia complained.
"Well, I suppose there's no turning back now." Atrus muttered. "We're going in."
The party readied their weapons, except for Roberto, whose weapon was too huge to be used inside the tunnel. Almost everybody had to crouch several times to fit inside. Outside, the sandstorm raged violently, occasionally producing low-pitch roar across the tunnel.
The fireballs guided them through the tunnel until they reached a larger room. As the party member emerged from the tunnel, mumbles of awe came in turn. The room was as big as a small house, except that it was completely fortified with stone. The ceiling was very high, too high for a structure built without purpose. But the main fact was that the walls were inscribed with strange sculptures and ancient writing. The writing went upward toward the high ceiling.
"Anna... Can you understand their writing?" Atrus asked, still staring at the wall.
Anna knelt before the wall and studied the writing. It was neatly marked and sculptured on the stone surface. Various pictograms were scattered around the strange letters. She had read several books about languages from nomadic age, but she had never encountered this style before. She shook her head.
"Never seen this kind before. I'll try to decipher it."
"No need." Holgreb mumbled. "We have what we need here."
The Dwarf walked clumsily across the room and brushed the stone surface with his hand, revealing a small hollow circle. "This might be some kind of keyhole. See the symbol here?" Over the hollow circle there was a sculpture of a spider, just like the one on the medallion. "We've found the key."
The Dwarf produced the medallion from his bag. Suddenly a loud roar was heard across the room. Anna's body twitched suddenly with a yelp. She stared blankly for a while; her breath raced quickly.
"Anna?" Atrus asked nervously.
Anna was silent for a while. "Something's wrong..." Anna muttered finally. "The strange forces around the pyramid jumped at the medallion... I can feel them probing my mind..."
"Are they bad?" Aurelia asked. "I can't feel anything."
"No, they're not bad... They're... If they were good, they wouldn't repulse me just like that... Something is wrong... I have a bad feeling about this..."
"Ignore it!" Holgreb claimed. "It can mean good charm!"
After saying that, he slammed the medallion in place on the hole. Suddenly the whole place shook with tremor. Thick dust fell from the ceiling, momentarily blinding them. A loud crash was heard, followed by a roar of mechanical gears, then silence.
"Nice move." Hawk mumbled. "Good charm indeed."
Soon they found that a large boulder had blocked the small tunnel, sealing the only entrance. Roberto and Hawk tried to push, but it seemed that the boulder was far too heavy. They had been trapped inside the room.
"Well, we're doomed." Roberto announced. "We'll probably suffocate in a few hours."
"Or not." Maya added slowly. "Hear that sound?" A low whistle of the sandstorm raging outside could still be heard. "This room has access to open air. Probably at the ceiling."
"Great!!" The prince said. "I suppose there Salthi guys prefer the slow and horrible death for their uninvited visitors. We could starve for days and stay alive!"
"Relax..." Atrus said slowly. "There's got to be a way out."
"I suppose so." Anna agreed. "I'll start by deciphering the writing. You guys can start searching. And Holgreb!" The Dwarf twitched at Anna's sharp call. "Touch nothing!!!"
Anna knelt back before the wall, facing the writing. She rubbed the stone surface with her bare hand, feeling the cold stone against her skin. When she withdrew, she noticed thick dust on her finger. This place had been abandoned for a long time since the lone mage summoned the pyramid. Now they had to find out what had happened to him, and to do so they had to enter first.
If you don't know where to start, start with the most apparent and obvious symbol, she recalled her knowledge, and start from there. Her eyes quickly picked up a rough sketch of five people standing in line, which was slightly bigger than other symbols. She traced the writing, skipping the weird language, and found another symbol in shape of a circle and a spider on top of it. Then she trailed the writing until she reached a strange symbol of a box with arc-shaped top. A door! And the spider medallion is the key! Then she met another symbol of a spider, a cloud, a lightning bolt, and an arc-shaped gate, followed by strange writing. Are they trying to describe a storm? Then what's with the second spider?
Something in her mind told her to check the symbols again. Slowly she rubbed the first spider symbol and was surprised to find that it was curved inside. Slowly and carefully she rubbed the surface, cleaning the dust. The spider symbol was made out of shiny stone, different from the rest of the wall. It was small compared to the entire writing, yet without the dust the spider would be quite apparent to normal eyes under plenty of light. She took some time to draw a deep breath, touched the symbol, and pushed the spider with all her might.
The symbol yielded to her push and a tremor shook the room again, refilling it with thick dust. A loud roar of mechanical gears was heard. When the dust cleared up, the party was staggered. A portion of the wall had slid down, revealing a door. Another dark and long tunnel waited beyond.
Atrus nodded at Anna. "Nice piece of work, girl!"
"I don't like this." Anna gave him a doubtful look. "I didn't find the switch... Something in my mind told me about it... Just... just keep your eyes open."
They drew their weapons and entered the tunnel. The tunnel was long and uneventful. The mold-covered stone wall gave creepy feeling. Suddenly Anna raised her arm and everybody ceased moving.
"Something is really wrong here... The spirits... They're probing my mind... They're trying to warn me of something..." She said slowly.
Then Maya caught something at the corner of her eyes and pointed at the wall. There was a thin, obscure slit between the stone rows. "That does look like a booby trap."
"What?!" Holgreb demanded. "I don't see anything!"
Maya produced a throwing knife and eyed the floor. Then she threw the knife down toward the floor. The knife hit and one tile instantly shifted downward. Then a big, circular metal blade appeared from the slit and swung across the width of the tunnel, slicing through the air. It could have been any of them instead.
A loud thump was heard as the dwarf dropped his battle-axe... and his jaws. "H...how did you know...?"
"Experience..." Maya said flatly. "And it seems that the spirits you're sensing are not hostile after all, Mistress. They are indeed warning you of certain danger."
"We'll hope they maintain their reliability throughout this damn journey." Roberto muttered. "Under these circumstances it's always nice to find allies."
"We'll proceed." Atrus announced. "And Anna, don't hesitate to stop us."
They proceeded through the tunnel, passing a few more traps. Maya did a good job at uncovering them all. Finally they saw a speck of light coming at the end of the tunnel. The stone floor had been replaced by smooth stone pavement. A few torch holders were fixed at the walls. There was nothing special about them, but seeing a sign of civilization inside a pyramid was indeed good.
Just when they started to cheer up, a distressed cry was heard. "People, we have a company!!" Hawk announced.
Standing... or rather hovering behind them was a man. He was as tall as standard Human, wearing dark cloak that covered his entire body. His head was covered by his cloak and high collar, perfectly hiding his true expression. His eyes were flaming in red, and staring at them.
"I do not welcome you." His voice sounded icy. "You've made a big mistake coming here."
"Are you the one that has been messing around with this area?" Holgreb asked.
"You have no right to speak here." The figure snarled. "Any last requests?"
"You're a demon!!" Atrus barked. "Your minions have been plaguing this place. I'm afraid we'll have to remove you at once!"
"You don't know what you're talking about. But I accept your challenge. COME!!!"
Anna's body jerked violently and fell over Aurelia's unsuspecting body and they both tumbled down. Everybody raised their weapons and moved to surround their fallen allies, but the dark figure remained where he was. Instead the room suddenly became really chilly. Thin mist appeared from nowhere, filling the room.
"Anna, you're okay?" Atrus asked without looking back.
"The spirits... They're screaming..." Anna cringed, holding her head. "Let them go!!"
"Why should I?" The figure simply answered. "They're my minions."
"I can feel them..." Aurelia said, her long ears twitched. "But who are they...?"
"Oh, you'll meet them... CHARGE!!!"
Then the mist turned into bluish yet faint clouds flying in the air. Each cloud presented a haunted face of a person, screaming and charging at them. Atrus, Hawk and Roberto met them first, but their weapons did no good as they sliced through thin air, splitting the clouds but not hurting them. The ghouls charged again and went through their armors and chests and appeared from their backs. Then a sharp pain soared through their upper body. They staggered from the pain and fell on their knees.
"What was that...?!" Roberto asked. "Never felt such pain before..."
let out a small chuckle. "Foolish creatures you are. You thought
you live in your physical beings in the physical world. But a part of
each of you lives in the spiritual world. You can't hurt them, but as
you can see, they can."
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
|Another top quality story by Vipers.|
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