Hern hefted his shield, drew his sword and took the lead down the passage with Arbiddance following behind and Qova bringing up the rear. The passage gently... then sharply... sloped downward perhaps 100 feet before the trio were faced with an archway.
Hern knew better than to step through immediately. Instead, he slung his shield over the shoulder and held his amulet up toward the keystone of the arch for a better look. Arbiddance and Qova stood to either side of him and added their own light.
The keystone was carved with the visage of a smiling young woman. Her left eye shed a tear, while the pupil of her right eye was replaced with a five-pointed star set slightly askew to the left.
“Well, that's the same thing carved over the Mother Gate,” Qova said. “Except a lot smaller.”
“Probably whatever is beyond here is connected to what's under the Mother Gate, that's my guess,” mused Arbiddance.
“Ever been through that gate?” Hern asked him.
“No. Though I've heard stories. Very little actually gets written down because some adventurers tend to get a little territorial. I'm going to be an exception when I get a chance,” the gentle man replied. He stopped and looked at the quizzical expression on Qova's face. “What? What is it?”
She was staring at the keystone with a slight frown. “Hern, lift me up,” she asked the fighter.
Hern sheathed his sword and easily lifted the slight woman up by her legs. She leaned closer to the stone and gently felt over it. “Guess what?” she grinned down. “The 'tear' is actually a small gemstone... probably moonstone I think... and the star is separate from the rest. You just can't see it very well from down there.”
“Press the tear and see what happens,” Arbiddance told her. She rubbed it slightly and then firmly pressed down. From beyond the arch they heard a loud click and the grind of an metal door opening.
She grinned down at Arbiddance and motioned to be let down. Hern gently let her slide down, and as she hit the ground, a swift object darted through her hair and into Hern's shoulder.
“Gods poleaxe me! Damn it!” Hern shouted, and they all heard a door slam hard.
Qova had instinctively ducked when she felt the object go through her hair; three seconds slower, and whatever it was would have been buried in her abdomen instead of the fighter's shoulder. She turned and saw a rude arrow sticking out of her friend's chain hauberk. Arbiddance ducked to one side, reached over and pulled her and then the fighter with him.
“Did I do that?” She screamed.
“No! I don't think so. No, you didn't. Hern?”
“I'm good, gods bugger a rock,” Hern dropped his shield,reached over and pulled the arrow out of his right shoulder with a yell. With blood still flowing, he grabbed his shield again, charged past the two and through the arch with sword drawn.
Arbiddance didn't think that was a good idea, since arches tended to be dangerous in places like this, but it seemed one of Qova's gods woke up and decided to watch. Another ten feet or so of passageway led into a small room with three doors. Qova and Arbiddance rushed after the fighter. A quick look showed the door on the right open, while the center and left doors were closed. Hern moved toward the open door.
“No!” Arbiddance hissed. “Think of the angle the arrow came from. It came from that side when she slid down and you stepped to the right.” He pointed to the left door. “A door slammed afterwards. I'll bet it all it was this one.”
Hern rushed to it, tried it and wasn't surprised to find it somehow secured. Taking a step back, he then bull-rushed the door with his good shoulder. Not surprisingly, the door didn't budge.
“Step back,” Arbiddance moved to the side, mumbled a few words, slide his hand up and down where the door catch should be, and then sharply knocked. The door flew open, and Hern could see into another room occupied by some very surprised goblins.