Saturday, August 1, 2009

Behind Door #3

When Hern had originally peered past the open door and saw only blackness... several days ago... he thought it was due to a vast area beyond.

The three stood in a room that probably measured ten feet by ten feet... it was hard to tell for the eternal darkness in this space. Even their amulets shed light no more than a few inches. A careful checking of the walls revealed two doors here: one to the left, and one to the right, with a blank wall ahead. It was hard to spot a secret door in the pitch black, and none of them found anything unusual on the bare wall.

The door to the left they tried first. Its rusted handle refused to budge until Hern applied the shoulder. The handle mechanism itself gave way and separated from the door itself. Beyond lay the gloom of another unexplored chamber.

A short passage gave way to a small room... no more than twenty feet square. They heavily searched here, with the only results being curious scratches covering the walls from floor to ceiling.

The other door was more productive. Giving easily to a good jolt, the adventurers found a short passage way leading to a larger chamber. Sconces lined the walls here, and as they stepped in, torches lept to life and illuminated the way.

"Well, would you look at that," Arbiddance said as he examined one torch. He scratched it, sniffed his nails, and said "it's wood. Interesting."

Hern focused in on the exiting passage on the far end and to the left. From somewhere in that direction could be heard the distant sound of running water.

Qova had stopped to look at the walls. What at first appeared to be intricate decorations were, she noticed, really writing. Lots of it.

"Anayari," she whispered, and began to trace some of the minute glyphs.

"Can you read it?" Hern asked her.

"To a point," she replied. "I think we're looking at a history... that's how it reads. It would take weeks to decipher all of this and get just a rudimentary understanding of what it means. We'd need an expert."

"My Anayari is probably no better than yours," Arbiddance added. "Here's something for us to do on those rainy days." He smiled at his own joke and looked toward the other passage. "Let's find that water."

The three moved to the other end of the room and peered down the hall. In the shadows made by the torches, it seemed to split not far away.

They advanced forward... ten feet, twenty... and came to a fork. One hall led left and seemed to have doors; the other took an oblique angle off to the right out of sight but at a downward slope. It was from there the sound of water came.

They followed the slope down and came into a reasonably large room. In the center stood a large fountain filled with water and producing more. The statue in the fountain resembled a fish with human legs... its head angled upward to constantly vomit more water.

In the light of their amulets, Arbiddance noticed that the water had a silvery sheen at times, but not all the time. He dipped a finger in, pulled it out, and tasted.

"Fresh... and cold." He put his hand in and splashed the water a little... mainly just to see what would happen.

Hern walked around the fountain and pointed at the base of the statue. "Runes."

The wizard stepped back and began to circle as well... peering at the inscriptions.

"Ah! These I can read," he smiled. "Garden variety Anayari with no linguistic tricks whatsoever."

Qova joined him in examining the runes. As she looked, she noticed that the water in the fountain was beginning to churn. Her head whipped around to stare at Arbiddance as if he were an idiot, and she screamed "RUN!"

Hern wasted no time bolting for the door, but was not quick enough to avoid the sudden surge of foamy water that washed over all three of them.

To the adventurers, it was as if reality itself was too slippery to hold onto... or perhaps it was the other way around. They felt themselves slide to one side as if on ice, through the wall with a sudden blinding speed but none of the obvious pain that comes from a fast contact with stone. They were no longer solid as they whipped through rooms and downwards through floors for what seemed to be hours until...

They stopped... skidded and fell on their rears. It was cold and dark until they could focus their amulets. A large icy cave was their final destination. The water on their clothing begane to freeze, and their breath came out in clouds.

Hern turned to Qova. "What did the runes say?"

The raven-haired woman rubbed her backside as she stood up. "They said 'VISITORS ARE NOT WELCOME.' "

Somewhere in the darkness, a strange crack echoed throughout the caverns. Through the gloom, Arbiddance thought he could see tunnels leading off in various directions. From one tunnel, the three heard a loud, vibrating sound that could only come from something alive.

And big.

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