While Zahara investigates her newly found treasures, Cerin and Markuran return to the surface of the necropolis to search for the tombs of Ymir and Kiriath. Markuran's instincts lead him back to the door he opened before joining the others.
The door opens upon a forbidding stairway -- plunging almost straight down, and lined with numerous inlays of strange characters in black jade.
The characters speak boldy of the danger of this tomb -- Do Not Enter, they say, Evil Sleeps Here.
The stairs plunge rapidly downwards, and the Solars find themselves far beneath the surface rapidly. The air begins to adopt a strange smell -- not quite like anything the two have smelled before...things of some kind begin skittering in between cracks in the wall, making odd noises as they do so.
The creatures are unlike any normal surface creatures, seeming to be somewhere between a slug and a centipede in nature -- only swift, and squeaky.
<Cerin> "The creatures in the wall, perhaps, or some thing to do with the guards"
The stairs seem to end just slightly further down.
<Markuran> "What guards? There were no guards in Zahara's tomb. And you think these scaled pests would waste guards on my body when they slander lies already?"
<Cerin> "Zahara was no great evil they feared the awakening of, Marku"
<Markuran> "I WAS NOT EVIL!"
<Cerin> "Well, are you going to go on, to find your shining heritage?"
<Markuran> "I will learn no truth in this place. But I hope to find the remnants of my past."
As Marku reaches the bottom of the stairs, he finds himself stepping out onto nothing -- the floor stops sharply at the end of the tunnel.
Cerin's hand manages to catch on to Markuran's as the falling man scrabbles for a handhold
Stopping and looking out over the threshold, Cerin can see that the stairs lead into what appears to be a massive natural chasm -- sheer walls dropping down further than even Cerin's Essence-enhanced eyes can see.
<Markuran> "Damn those belly-crawling lizards! This is not the place for a bottomless chasm!"
The far wall of the chasm looms far, far away from the two, sitting easily a quarter of a mile away. Near the center of the chasm sits a small island of rock, at approximately the same level as the doorway -- upon it sits a small, golden building in the shape of a strange lion-like dog, flanked by eight torches that burn an unholy bluish color. Above lies only solid rock -- the dome of the cave is only perhaps 80 feet above the doorway.
<Cerin> "Well, that is where your body lies."
<Markuran> "And the middle of the bottomless chasm is an even worse place for my tomb!"
Strange creatures -- like bats, but larger, and oddly difficult to see -- wheel through the air surrounding the island.
<Markuran> "Can you see those..things?"
<Markuran> ::The middle of the "bridge" falls away, but before the ends can teetter off into the abyss, Markuran smashes again and two stalagtites fall and with another horrific CRASH, nail the rock slabs into place.::
Upon the island itself, the two Solars can now easily detect the odd, pungent odor which emenates from the blue torches, burning without obvious source of fuel upon eight ebon poles. The building itself is not particularly large -- perhaps 50 feet, approximately cubical in shape. It is worked into an elaborate rendition of a lion-dog, with elaborate gilting upon key surfaces. It is bending down, and its open mouth contains the doorway inwards.
Cerin notices that a small amount of Essence seems to be suffused into the flame of the odd torches.
At the very moment Marku touches the door, two great blades swing out from the insides of the temple's mouth at incredible speed, moving directly towards the Solar's position.
<Cerin> "These traps are as much to stop tomb robbers as they are you, Marku. Would you have your tomb open to anyone who wished to wander down?"
Suddenly, a loud hissing noise sounds from within the chamber's mouth.
Mark suddenly finds himself coughing and unable to breathe, leaving him no choice but to hold his breath as the strange, black gas begins seeping out from the walls of the temple.
The gas flutters away at the strength of Markuran's wild howl.
<Cerin> "Apparently even noxious gas finds your shouting unpleasant, but yes, it worked"
Nothing appears obvious to Markuran's untrained eye.l
The inside of the tomb appears to be merely one large chamber, with no divisions of any kind. At its very center stands upright a vicious looking sarcophagus, made entirely of a black, semi-reflective metal. It bears the vague form of a vicious, angry individual upon it, and jagged, sharp spines stick off of it innumerous directions. Ringing it are six more of the strange blue torches which could be seen outside the tomb. Around the outside wall of the tomb, various containers -- apparently made entirely of black jade -- sit in various configurations, all unopened and undisturbed.
The walls themselves bear only one decoration -- elaborate, multi-layered invocations written in the characters of Old Realm, but whose words are unknown to either Solar.
The sarcophagus seems to be one solid block of metal; there is no obvious way in which to open or release it. It is as if it were actually cast directly around the remains.
<Markuran> "Cerin, do you see anything on or in this tomb?"
<Markuran> "Why would they use soulsteel to burry a Solar?" Mark's mouth twists in disgust
<Cerin> "Because that man was not worthy of the Suns metal, nor the moon's metal, nor the metal of the stars, not even worthy of the metal of the dragons. But still, they had to bind him in something to keep him in. That is why a solar would be buried in soulsteel"
<Cerin> "If it is truely not yours, then we should leave, for I would not want to trespass in a tomb without the owners consent."
<Markuran> "But why would I be drawn to this place if it is not my tomb?"
<Cerin> "It could be the tomb of your deepest rival, but I think your instinct was correct in the first place. This is your tomb. That is your sarcophagus. You were everything you hate and revile now. And you would do well to heed the warnings of the past. Lest it happen again."
<Markuran> "I have done so or else I would not be laying, tombed in dark metal, hidden behind a cave, guarded by death and destruction. I would not be cursed and reviled."
<Cerin> "If you truely believe that you will be a dark and terrible being, and you do not wish that for yourself, vow that you will not let it happen or cast yourself over the cliff that surrounds this place and end all the darkness and the light right now."
<Markuran> "I will not be evil this time. I will be stronger then I was then."
<Cerin> "MARKU!! you fo-" *CRASH*
The sarcophagus crashes into the wall and drops to the ground, scuffed but otherwise unhurt. Cerin sees the Essence within swirl menacingly.
<Cerin> "Marku, that was quite possibly the most stupid thing I have ever seen you do. There is something within that coffin. Something that wants to be let out. Do you really wish to unleash it on Creation?"
As Marku's violent fists swing down upon the sarcophagus, the metal groans and then shatters under the force of the blow. Vicious shards of soulsteel fly out in all directions.
The two halves of the beastly case fall to the ground, and ancient bones spill out of them, clattering to the floor.
<Zahara> "Markuran?" she calls. "I'm coming in. Don't kill me."
Mark sees, from the corner of his eye, something dark begin to slide out of the coffin -- then, suddenly, the blue torches blow out.
<Markuran> ::Shards of dark metal fly past Zahara, clinking nosily.::
<Cerin> "Zahara! Be ready to defend yourself!"
A horrific groan, unearthly and strange, fills the tomb, and echoes out to Zahara. Then, a massive, evil wind blows through the tomb.
Marku leaps angrily, but slams into the ground, feeling a terrible -- yet oddly familiar -- pain as he passes through the black wind.
The black wind moves swiftly to move away from the shining bolts. The small wisps that remain are annihilated by the bolts, but the body of the dark spirit shifts and slides to avoid them. Then, suddenly and rapidly, it blows at a rapid pace out the door of the building.
Zahara's pealing bell seems to tear into the swirling, black winds of the being.
The wind swirls around Cerin's arrows and the shards of Kiriath's skull, desperately seeking its exit. Half of the skull rebounds off the wall, striking directly through the wind as it flies out the door, burning it severely. A horrible stench and a terrible scream fill the room as the wind slips out into the blackness and disappears.
The bell's peal echoes out into the cave. Cerin's Essence sight is enough to see that it clips the bottom of the black wind before it slips up through a crack in the ceiling and can be seen no more.
<Zahara> "Where'd it go?"
<Markuran> "How?" waves a fist at the destroyed bridge, lost Marku's last attack against the creature
The Solars burst through the ceiling into a crossroads near the middle of Rathess. An evil black cloud is nowhere to be seen.
<Zahara> "Cerin, do you see it?"
<Cerin> "Zahara! one of your wasps!"
<Cerin> "That was Marku. He went into a terrible rage, when the truth finally hit him. He truely was an evil man then...that thing...it was no ordinary hungry ghost.."
<Zahara> "I thought hungry ghosts were tied to their corpses"
<Cerin> "They are. That was not a hungry ghost. It was the malevolance of those we were created to fight, imbued into the essence of God. It was an abomenation that should never have been seen under the light of day."
<Cerin> "We /MUST/ catch it."
<Zahara> "We WILL catch it, and we WILL destroy it."
<Zahara> "And when we're done, we're going to have a little TALK about setting free UNHOLY THINGS" she glares over her shoulder at Marku
<Markuran> "It had to be destoryed, not imprisoned. It should not be suffered to exist."
<Cerin> "It will not be an easy task though...its enlightenment, if you can call it that...It's basic command of essence matches that of what we might manage in several hundred years from this day"
<Zahara> "Do you think it would be imprisoned if those of the FIRST AGE knew how to destroy it?"
<Markuran> "We are Solars. Those who slew me were merely Dragon-Blooded."
<Cerin> "Marku, if you had that within you, I am not so sure it was the blooded who killed you."
<Zahara> "You are arrogant, Markuran. Arrogant and a fool."
<Zahara> "You're lucky it didn't possess you again."
<Zahara> "It climbs, and so do we.. can you track such a thing? I did not realize that you could track even a flying creature."
<Markuran> "Where is it GOING? Why does it not turn and fight us?"
<Cerin> "It has left a blackened trail in the essence of creation, in many ways it is the easiest thing I have ever followed, for no magics can conceal the dark wake it leaves"
<Zahara> "Because it is wise. It knows it cannot beat three of us in a fair fight."
<Zahara> "Or perhaps it has a darker purpose... one which it flees TOWARD, rather than simply away from us."
<Cerin> "I am not sure. It used defences of such puiessence and skill as one might expect from one of our number."
<Zahara> "It may be strong, but it is one, and we are many."
<Markuran> "It is a dead..thing. It can not possibly draw on the powers it had in life."
<Zahara> "It already DID, Markuran. Why can't you see?"
<Cerin> "Marku. It did. It will do so again. Take some responsibility for the evil you have left loose, and admit that it can do things that your narrow world view will not let it do. Otherwise, throw yourself from that wasp, lest you bring another such being into existance in this age."
<Markuran> "I admit that I have unleashed this evil, Cerin. But only so that it can be finally vanquised."
<Zahara> "Do you admit that your PRIOR incarnation... not you right now, but before, when you had not yet been born... could have been less than pure?"
<Cerin> "Then you should have done it when we had wards and barriers in place to contain it! not where it lay!!"
<Markuran> "His skull burned this monster. It was not who I was. It..corrupted him."
<Cerin> "You do not get that powerful without willingly giving into the darkness. It cannot corrupt the light, not without the light's consent"
<Zahara> "IF you wish to defeat the evil, you must know it. You have to realize that you could fall to it unless you truly, deep in your soul, reject it.. Not just with words, but with your heart. There can be NO fear. No doubt. Only the certainty that you do not need the power it offers."
<Zahara> "Think about it, Markuran, before you speak to deny me."
<Markuran> "I have never needed any power but my own."
<Zahara> "Remember that, when the time comes. Their words are sweet, and they tempt you with promises. Promises that seem beyond your ken, but that they can truthfully keep."
<Zahara> "What the hell WAS that?"
<Cerin> "It looked like a ..rock of some kind"
<Cerin> "How high can tanty climb?"
<Zahara> "Until there is no more sky"
<Markuran> "The tomb may have a way to kill the monster...once we find it."
<Zahara> "I doubt it.. although it may have legends that describe what it was."
<Zahara> "We'll have to find another way."
<Cerin> "What lies beyond the sky?"
<Zahara> "I have only read fragments, but.. beyond Creation is either the Void, or Malfaes."
<Cerin> "I do not think it was seeking the Void...so...it is in the demon realm"
<Zahara> "I will have one summoned to deal with it."
<Cerin> "I am not sure that anything you can call will face it and live"
<Zahara> "Then I will call more than one."
<Cerin> "I think we will have to wait for it to show itself, and best it ourselves."
<Zahara> "Perhaps Lucien can track it in Malfaes"
<Cerin> "Perhaps. I think if Lucien can, Lucien will not long retain his ...life"
<Cerin> "Anyway, this discussion would best be held on more solid ground"
<Zahara> "That may well be true, but if he is attacked long enough and by many enough, he will run out of options."
<Cerin> "Perhaps. Shall we descend though? I am made curious about my own tomb, though I will avoid opening any soulsteel coffins I find within"
Tags: (:tags Kiriath, Siram, Malfeas:)