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The Brittle King's Tragedy

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For the bulk of their adventure he had followed in silence, maintaining a distance from the rest of the group. While a lack of certain social skills may have well been the case, it was more to cover their flank. Old places like these were always full of shadowed corridors or secret passages, giving ample opportunities to be ambushed. He had taken the time to unshoulder his bow and nock an arrow from his quiver. Mostly he used his hearing in the dim, listening for the sounds of movement from behind.

His eyes remained forward.

It wasn’t long before they ran into things that thrive in places like these. “Not Ghouls.” He muttered, disappointment tinged his usually calm voice. He took a moment to asses the situation around him, taking into account those already engaged in melee with the creatures. He stood with his left shoulder facing forward and the bow raised. He hauled his already prepared arrow with a smooth and easy motion, taking in a breath as he did so. He picked his target, one that had the least chance of him hitting a party mate.

He loosed with an exhale, the twang of his bowstring adding to the noise of combat.

The arrow hit the creature in the head with a hollow thwack, the sound an arrow makes when it hits a dry and brittle piece of board. The creature staggered but didn’t fall, that was never a good sign. He drew another arrow and nocked it. He hauled again, then loosed too late after the creature had recovered, it simply swiped it from the air. They then faced each other, Ghoul Slayer dropping his bow without hesitation and drawing his short sword.

It soon proved unnecessary.

Ilyana’s dagger thudded into the side of its head, cold metal glinting in the dim light. The blade chewed through most of its head, the creature having been caught off guard in it’s desire to charge the armored man. Regardless, the creature still fought against the dagger, though that proved to be its own demise when it fell from the ledge. The Ghoul Slayer would give her a nod of respect.

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I see your party members fighting for their lives. Aren't you the least bit concerned you're missing out on the fun?

Natalya eyed her other companions. The lingering ghost's statement does raise a point. She can see that the other's seem to be having trouble dealing with these pesky enemies. Perhaps she should give them a hand? But should she? She's just a little girl after all and they're all consenting adults. Surely it's not her fault if they die trying. At least she will survive to tell the tale of how valiantly her companions died for her sake, for her safety and mostly for her purity.

"No, Mistress," Natalya mentally replied, "I'm sure they can handle it."

Oh, how brave of you lass! Your mistress is so proud of you.

Once more Natalya ignored the prattling apparition incessantly haunting her and instead focused on something else. While the other's were preoccupied with whatever kind of creature currently threatening their very lives, Natalya inconspicuously slipped away from the battle. So far no one has noticed her superbly decisive action yet. Everything good so far. A few more silent steps and she's out of the danger zone and was surprised to find herself almost at the edge of the platform.

That's a long way down lassie. Are you ready for a jump? I wouldn't mind the fall.

Realizing the potential danger she is in, Natalya slowly backed away from the edge, thanking a plethora of gods for her safety. She found it too convenient that she didn't fall down at all. But are the group now on some kind of platform? She can't see the end of the room though and the lantern's light doesn't reach far enough for her to make anything out. Surely there must be something to be found further up ahead. If only she had the courage to continue moving.

I find this expedition rather exciting. This place is rather marvelous too bad you can't see, though. A pity, actually.

Natalya grimaced at the ghost's chuckle. The Mistress was supposed to be her legal guardian but the ghost was doing less of guarding and instead more of being illegally annoying. She should have ditched the Mistress before entering this place. Or is the spirit truly useless?

Swallowing her pride, Natalya mentally asked the spirit. "Where do we go next, Mistress?"

Well, one of those vile creatures are still down there and there's some kind of exit down at the far end. Mind you, it was a very far end. Or go upwards. Whatever you do, I'll be here enjoying the show.

She did not know whether the Mistress was actually being useful or just leading Natalya to her untimely demise. But Natalya did not have much choice in that matter. Only one way to go, forward. With careful steps, Natalya began heading to where the supposed exit is, somewhere in that far, far end.

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"Well, that's done," Anatase says cheerfully, brushing Reaver particles out of his hair.

Through Celestine's pearl, he says: "Good to know the others can hold their own in a fight."

Anatase holds his hands out, palms pointed to the fallen lodepoints. The crystal lattice woven in his gloves seems to glow darker. After a heartbeat, the lodepoint he threw earlier shoots into his palm. He hefts the stone, pockets it, then shoots Celestine a grin.

"Show off."

"Onward!" Anatase says, pointing at Natalya, who is already making her way to the other side of the room.

The pair moves forward. Anatase makes a beeline for the two doors on the opposite wall; Celestine padds to the edge of the walkway, training a beam from her gauntlets to illuminate the dark floor below.

"Nothing here but a dark, deep hole. You like those, don't you?"

Anatase glares at her, then turns his attention to the two doors. "Two doorways here. There's more writing inside this one."

He remove the quartz lens from where it's fixed on his face, brushes his thumb on the tiger's-eye rim. Taking a few steps forward, he peers inside the doorway, sweeping the lens so it captures the full set of glyphs.

He steps back as soon as he's done. "Huh. No sign of the archaeologists either direction. Should we ask around? Didn't the old wizard man say he had something important to tell us after we were done fighting."

"I'll ask the hooded woman, and you go ask the old wizard man," Celestine says.

"Can't I talk to her?" Anatase asks hopefully.

Celestine gives him a very dry look. "Want to scare her off? No."

The pair splits up. After a few minutes, they rejoin, exchanging what they have learned. Anatase has also managed to acquire the ash walking stick one of the archaeologists may have dropped.

Twirling his new toy, he jabs the staff towards the first door. He addresses the rest of the group, "The archaeologists were probably in a rush to get out of here after they tipped over that jar. I think it's more likely they went up, trying to find a way out."

Without waiting for a response, he heads up the stairs, Celestine close behind. As before, both take the time to pass the figures on the staircase's walls through their lenses' view.

Upon entering the next room, Anatase immediately points at the disturbed carpets. "They've been here. Or at least, something has."

The pair sweeps their lenses across the script near the doorways, then stop. Anatase remains near the door, quietly observing the room and the one adjacent to it.

Edited by Csl

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Something continues to ping at the back of her mind: a faint chime of alarm at the sight of the tower in the distance, looming even in the lowlight of the torches. When she turns her gaze away, it is with pointed ignorance to the chill that rolls down her spine.

"They've been here. Or at least, something has."

Celestine shrugs at Anatase’s declaration, moves towards the wall to the left and gazes upon the mural with her tiger’s-eye lens, recording what seems to be an illustrated layout of the ziggurat etched against the stone. After some time, she pivots towards the doorway at the other end of the room, hovering by the entrance to peek into the next area. She blinks a bit into the darkness, peering wordlessly, and then—

Celestine takes an abrupt step backward, raises her gauntlets in sudden alarm, prepared to fire at the bugs should they come near and attack, but the swell of dark shapes eventually skitters off into the darkness, and the area they have left behind is—rather shockingly bare. From her vantage point, the exposed sandstone free from paints and minerals and what-not looks almost foreign, in the midst of a ziggurat so colorfully embellished with illustrated history and art across every corner, every crevice.

A subdued pulse of sorrow streaks through her gut, brought about by that archaeologist side that rarely surfaces, but is quietly replaced with a weary sense of resignation. Despite the loss of what could have been historical findings, a glimpse into centuries-past life, their immediate survival within the ziggurat takes higher priority.  

She turns to the right, studying the wall with a critical glance. With enough force and an extended time frame, she can theoretically bring down the obstruction and forge forward into the next one. “Well, there’s nothing to it,” she whispers into her pearl, deigning not to look at Anatase to see his reaction. Celestine pulls back her fist, gauntlet gleaming bright and ready to smack into the veneer wall when—

“I’m going to look for a proper door,” Anatase says, sounding mildly disapproving, and walks to the far end of the room and through the doorway, presumably to investigate the door that might lead to the one beyond the veneer wall.

“Suit yourself,” Celestine replies, but otherwise stays her hand, awaiting whatever might befall her companion.

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Having these strange memories was helpful, no matter how dubious it might seem he knew the memories given to him were somewhat handy. For now at least. So far the largest concern were the archaeologists, and given the nature of the Ziggurat he wasn't going to be too optimistic on their survival. On his group’s end of the troubles everyone was at least handy in combat. So far everyone had come out more or less unharmed. As he follows closely behind the duo he couldn’t help admit the treasure hunters came in handy during a fight. At least he couldn’t complain, he’s alive after all.  He did have to wonder where he could get gadgets like those. 

That and they at least saw merit in his experience with the entity in the tower.

‘Yeah, those gizmos would come in handy with old age creeping up on me.’

If there was anything that added weight to getting old it would have to be stairs. Azytzeen hated stairs, and it seemed this ancient place was just like any other. ’What is it with ancient civilizations and their love of long walks to and up stairs?' Regardless of whether he was old or just complaining he passed up on mentioning the possible shortcut. He wondered how far those missing wandered in. He certainly hoped he wasn’t going to have to carry corpses on the way out. Putting the thought aside he examined his surroundings intently, half to get a look and see if they would be climbing more stairs. 

While the treasure hunters had their fun he was at least thankful he didn’t have to climb more stairs. Already he stopped  as he tried to once more sort out the memories he had unwillingly traded for. The mural struck him as humorous, and without meaning to he even chuckled. He couldn’t say why but it seemed to be the case. No matter how hard he tried to grasp the memories they’d flutter away before he could make full sense of them. “It’s recent to….security purposes?” with his left hand he rubbed his chin in thought while tapping the flat of his sword against his shoulder.  Too lost in thought he didn’t notice the insects as they startled the female treasure hunter. “Damn..what is it about this place?”

I’m going to look for a proper door. 

Azytzeen looked up from thought. “Hold on, I think there is more to this room than just finding the exit, it might not be so simple.” He couldn’t be certain but he had no choice but to trust that the entity wasn't too much of a trickster. “This might be a prank of that creature or it could be true, before we go any further I want to check with you all first.” Hopefully they would lend an ear this time, for whatever reason the urge to be quick and move erratic made him more than a little worried. 
 

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Ghoul Slayer, as ever; followed in the usual unsociable silence he had maintained for most of this adventure. The more common sounds one would here from the strange fellow currently, was the tearing of cloth. As he kept rear guard he set his knife to work, cutting strips of cloth. Though for what they could only guess. It had started, really; the moment he has seen the insects scurry away, leaving the evidence of destruction behind.

“Keep watch for those bugs.” He said, suddenly. It was the only description he thought fitting. His voice was as calm and dispassionate despite the present dangers. He stuffed his makeshift rags into the satchel he carried, he had been right to grab the archaeologists’ robes. It had made enough rags for makeshift bandages and plenty for other uses. Satisfied he was well prepared he watched their flanks closely, making sure none of the creatures from before, or the insects; doesn’t catch them unawares.

Perhaps they were the reason the ones they are looking for cannot be found. He would keep his suspicions too himself, they required more observation.

He wasn’t particularly concerned about the structure of the place, at least not from an aesthetic point of view. Instead he looked for signs of traps. He paused. “Shhh.” He hissed, raising a finger to his helm. He slid the short sword from its sheath. Tilting his head also. “Someone help me hold the stairs, the rest of you watch our backs for whatever is inside of the walls.” Two sounds were not being made by their party. He did not like that.

“I don’t know what’s moving, but there are two of them.” He whispered. He stepped to one side on the entrance, poised to bring his sword down in a heavy chop. He kept calm, whatever it was, their best chance to handle it would be an ambush. If it didn’t already know they were here. As long as they could finish it quickly they might have enough time to deal with whatever was shaking those stones.

He just hoped nobody would forget to watch out for those bugs.

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A touch impatient, Anatase moves into the doorway of the second room and began examining every surface. Celestine remained at the veneer wall, keeping at the task of pounding through its surface.

A moment before the armored man raises his finger, both artifact-hunters freeze.

"There's something moving behind this," Celestine whispers into her earpiece, backing away from the veneer wall.

"Someone coming up the stairs," Anatase adds, quickly returning to the first room.

Both glance at Ghoul Slayer and nod. Celestine positions herself in the second room, halfway behind the doorway, her gauntlets coming to life with a soft humming noise. Anatase draws his scythe. A few flicks of his fingers and its hardlight shaft reforms into a short sickle handle connected to a length of chain. He grips the weapon in his left hand, his right holding two lodepoints.

Both wait silently for whatever threat first appears.

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Ilyana entered the room only to immediately distance herself from the group and head over to where she could hear the distinct sounds of water. Her sleek black attire rippled with paranoia given Obtenebra was on high alert after the encounter they had earlier. There was no voicing of her intent, no gesticulation meant to notify her companions, and clearly no other visual clue concerning what she was going to do. She didn’t care much for fellowship here but it wasn’t because she was anti-social. It was just that no one had intrigued her enough just yet. Reaching a rather shiny object, she noticed a distinct brush that was impeccably made. Placing it delicately within what one would consider her cloak, and then decides to enter the bathhouse, still not bothering to even acknowledge the others lest they communicate with her directly.

 

Entering the bathhouse makes her instantly homesick, wishing she could submerge herself in fragrant oils and warm waters back in one of her properties. She nearly let out a sigh as she moved around silently and brushed her fingers against anything she fancied. Once she enters the bedroom, however, she nearly moves to spread herself along the cushions, moving her hand to pick up one of the silken blankets but suddenly stopping as she notices the empty wicker chest and desert painting nearby. Briefly distracted, she marveled at the rich colors of the painting. For mere seconds she briefly regretted coming here instead of furthering her interests within her home but she would have little time to dwell on all that given the shuffling sounds she heard coming from where the painting was.

 

Silent steps brought her forward, her delicate hands moving the painting aside and peering into the now revealed area that housed….a woman? The way this woman clutched the sheets around her was drowned out by the look of terror present along her face as if she had just been violated. This caused Ilyana to freeze as she was inundated with empathy and recollections of the past. So much so that the lunge of the woman and grappling could not be avoided. Pulled into the room and covered once again, Ilyana blinks with surprise before critical thinking finally prevails and she wonders what the woman has been hiding from. The deduction that she might be one of the archaelogists they were tasked with finding if possible was easy to make but where her companion might be and why fear has gripped the woman became mysteries Ilyana yearned to know more about. Arms slid over to bring the woman closer to her, Obtenebra vibrating slightly as it felt something foreign pressed against it.

 

“Easy, I am not here to hurt you and am not alone. What is going on? Who or what are you obviously hiding from?”

 

The whispered tones had little trouble reaching the woman’s ears thanks to her proximity. Unaware of the threats looming outside for her companions, she waited for the woman’s response.

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The blast of light blinds Anatase and Celestine; both wince, yet hold their ground.

Celestine, partially shielded by the doorway she's positioned herself behind, is the first to recover. She jabs a compartment in her gauntlet, withdrawing two small, hexagonal crystals that glow white like magnesium fires.

"Pin him," her voice hisses through Anatase's ear.

Anatase blinks away the stars in his vision and darts to the left. A few steps, and he's positioned himself in a way that puts the stone cat between him and the mural wall. Anatase stares at the stone cat, his silver eyes hard as he holds a lodepoint delicately between two fingers, perfectly still. As the creature turns, exposing a space between two stone plates, Anatase hurls the lodepoint. The piece of metal lodges itself inside the beast's body. Not a second later Anatase whips the second lodepoint into the mural wall behind the cat.

Two blasts of white light come from the doorway. Celestine stands defiant, gauntlets raised, staring intently at the beast as it shifts its balance, caught off-guard by the explosions from the crystals. She doesn't move as it turns to face her.

Anatase quickly makes a series of hand gestures, the crystal network in his gloves burning cold in response. There is a great crash as the cat is thrown against the mural wall, bringing up a cloud of dust.

"We recorded that mural, didn't we?" Anatase mutters, wide-eyed.

"What would you do without me," comes the amused reply from the other end.

The mirth is short-lived as the cat bends backward with a terrible, terrible cracking sound, and transforms into something more terrible.

Celestine cusses, and she almost never cusses, which means this is a very bad situation.

Anatase hurries to Celestine's side, cringing at the CRASH of the stone man punching the wall.

"We saw that cat before," he whispers urgently. "The vase. Bring it up."

His tiger's-eye lens is covered in a thin layer of dust. Anatase removes it, wiping it on the inside of his coat, while Celestine presses a finger to hers, scrolling through the footage they had taken earlier.

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Get Away!

It was instinct, one that every human had when the presence of life threatening danger draws near. 

GET AWAY!

As a psyker he was more sensitive to his instincts that most other humans. Like when a person can tell there is someone watching them, or that there is another person in the room. While everyone began to search the room he too began to move away from where they entered. The feeling of imminent danger was prevalent on his mind, yet he knew that rather than finding a place to hide it would be best to confront the problem. Whilst the Goblin Slayer and Anatase prepare for whatever is coming towards them. When he saw the undead he was certain there was far worse trailing after them. Sword blade no longer resting against his shoulder idly. Like a spark psychic energies flickered along the length of his blade. 

The helix shape of the the weapons psi matrix shimmered a dull blue against the polished adamantium blade, a faint smell of burnt sugar and curdle milk seemed to mix unpleasantly in the air.

Face set in grim lines as he watched the doorway

He felt something more than heard it, and it did not come from the doorway. 

“Watch ou-,” before he could even finish his warning a creature large enough to even make some of Terrenus’ monster's tremble burst through the wall. Already he was moving closer towards the exit and the bathhouse, knowing full well to fight with it would risk far too much. Time certainly didn’t seem to be on their side. As someone who studied the arcane arts the creature itself was impressive, a massive construct of stonework and magic capable of articulated movement and even powerful lighting magic. 

This may not bode well for the whole party.

He wasn’t the only one who’d started to move, the male treasure hunter seemed to still have a few tricks up his sleeve. While the creature had with it an almost intelligent decisiveness and fury, the way it batted the Reaver around was not like how cats play with their food. It was violent and he was certain he did not want to meet his end at its claws. While it batted the walking corpse the hunter had thrown whatever gadgets he had at the creature, what happened next would by them some time, but not enough for all of them to get out of there. First two explosions rippled out from its left hind leg. 

Unsurprised, the psyker knew the creature wouldn’t take much damage if any at all, but that wasn’t the most important part. What happened next was, whatever trick the hunters had at their disposal they had at least granted them  much needed time, well enough time for him act.

Azytzeen knew he wouldn’t be able to take the beast one without revealing too much of his power, and he wasn’t quite certain he wasted to face the physical backlash he might cause himself. His gut, honed over the years told him he wouldn't escape unscathed either. So Azytzeen did what every self respecting man would do. Decided to blow the floor beneath its feet. He knew he could do it, the floor though of good construction had not passed the centuries unscathed, and now with the hunter’s explosion the floor was already weak enough for him to try this method. 

The smell came stronger, burning sugar and curdled milk, the air around the blade seemed to wriggle and squirm like a mirage in a hot desert. The tip of his adamantine blade glows intently, like a pin prick of light, small yet seemed to hold the intensity of a star. There is a crack of stone, and the crackle of lightning in the air, the debris holding the stone creature back are shifting. The pinprick of light pulses like a heartbeat, it is a beautiful blue. The air grows cold, and frost forms along the floor spreading spiderwork around his feet, his breath came calmly shown by the mist from his lips. 

Its now or never.

As the creature raises his fist the small orb above the tip of his sword pulses so intently and so brightly its too bright to look directly. 

The construct’s fist falls and as it does Azytzeen gives an almost flourish-like flick of his blade, the ball of light is sent screaming across the space between Azytzeen and the creature. There is a loud bang, and a foul wind that accompanies it. The ball of pure psychic energy explodes at the creature’s feet, causing the whole room to shake, the sandstone beneath the creature is now left a gaping hole large enough to have sent the creature through and it is his hope it worked. Not that he planned to stick around and see, already the room is covered in dust and debris and he planned to use that for whatever small advantage it provided.

Not to mention he was already running.

“Look at the vase while we run let's get out of here while we still can!”  

Pale faced, already his legs were carrying his armoured weight through the doorway, past the bathhouse and towards the door on the other side. He hoped the others took the hint and got their feet kicking.

Edited by Garion

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The thuds and collisions heard outside of this hiding spot were enough to cause Obtenebra to go on high alert. Within this darkness, the mute archaeologist that had pulled her into this hiding spot might notice how that same darkness seemed to warp itself around her periodically but given how sensitive the woman was it likely mattered little. Ilyana knew a bit of sign language but could not make out much of anything that the woman was saying. Thankfully extracting context was something she had a knack for and given how particular this woman seemed, Ilyana quickly found her endearing enough to bother attempting to save. Motioning for her to stay put, she calmly spoke.

 

“I will go out there and see how we can get out of here.”

 

Emerging from the hiding spot and moving through to the bathhouse, Ilyana was suddenly exposed to the danger that the stone elemental posed as well as the realization that the group she had travelled with were forced elsewhere. She didn’t care too much about being left alone but logic led her to believe that if they had decided to leave then the threat held a magnitude high enough to spur her into necessary action. Eyes darted around to reconnoiter the area as best as she could before she narrowed them and then swiftly returned to the archaeologist. Forcing the covering of the hiding spot out of the way immediately, she noticed the mute woman jerk herself back in fear before regaining bearings to realize who had returned. The fear subsided but the comfort was obviously still not present as she found the archaeologist refusing to move out after she spoke.

 

“Ok, its time to go. Come out already…”

 

The archaeologist began questioning the decision in her mind and given the communication barrier that quickly translated into an indecision that Ilyana had little time for. Moving with unnerving speed, she grabbed the woman’s arm and nearly drug her out of the spot before she realized there was some compliance in the woman’s movements. Once the woman shrugged herself away from the tight grasp on her arm, Ilyana stared at her before suddenly being struck by what she was seeing. Something deep within her told her that what she had just done to this woman held more weight than she had originally realized. Perhaps it was a growing kinship or just mere intuition but whatever it was prompted Ilyana to apologize.

 

“Sorry for being rough with you. I will make sure that never happens again.”

 

Managing to return to the group just before they reached the massive room. “Found her in one of the other rooms before you were all forced to leave us.” The annoyance in her voice about that fact was evident but she would not speak about it any further for now. Ilyana was growing more and more respectful of the danger this whole area posed and the potential need to actually work alongside this group. She assumed they would be able to deduce that the woman was one of the archaelogists they were tasked to find. Ilyana took note of the fancy platform to their right and then watched as the archaeologist moved forward. Following the woman immediately, she reviewed her surroundings and remained ready regardless of whatever the rest of the group was doing.

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With all these strange occurrences happening, rapid-streak flashes in the musty darkness, Celestine has only one thought as of the moment: the Door and its subsequent Vault is the way leading to all sorts of bad business. Even in her mind, she rather thinks their names should be capitalized; there is no way the Door is merely a simple door.

“This looks vaguely ominous,” she quips to Anatase, in sync with her partner as they lift the tiger’s-eye lenses and take note of their surroundings. It’s peculiar, how stark the dusty footprints seem to the clean veneer of the floor below them, and even the polished sight of the glass entryway seems altogether—out of place, when compared to the rooms they have just gone through. Celestine pivots towards her partner, opening her mouth to say something, when—

A blur whizzes past them, moving down the stairs towards the Door, and as recognition fills her mind at the familiarity of the woman’s face, the two hunters share a look before Celestine calls out towards her. “Miss Minerva, wait!” She begins moving down, a quarter of her focus trained on Azyteen who is also striding towards the Door with the same rhythm as the archaeologist. Strange. The pair continue to approach the door, and Celestine shifts to flank them, in case she needs to yank them away from the immediate vicinity of the ominous entryway beyond them. “Miss Minerva,” she tries again, “where is Krestch?”

The archaeologist finally looks back towards her, a spark in her eyes something like recollection, and Celestine notes that Azyteen has stopped in his tracks as well. Anatase moves forward, twisting the staff they’ve previously found into Minerva’s line of sight, and when he asks whether it's hers or her other companion's, the woman responds with a series of gestures that, when absorbed slowly, tells them it isn’t hers. Celestien frowns at that, but then Minerva takes the staff, twisting and turning it between her fingers, before shrugging and pointing in the direction from whence they came.

“You think Krestch is that way?” She looks over to Anatase, then back to the archaeologist, moving forward subtly in a manner that veils her intent to block them from going any further towards the Door. “Maybe we should go back and find him first? And then we can bring you both back to the surface, where you may rest and regain your strength.” Celestine looks over to Azyteen, tries to smile faintly at him, fairly succeeds. “What do you say?”

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Stairs!

It's always more stairs, he was beginning to wonder if the thought of an elevator ever touched the thoughts of the ziggurat's creators. No, probably not it seemed the designer of this massive feat of architecture loved to torture any and all who ventured into the ziggurat with stairs. Not to mention no matter how quiet he tried to be his steps echoed like he was in a grand Cathedral. The building was massive and quite the spectacle, columns rose above towering even. Azytzeen has seen many marvels of architecture but this one had to take the top of the list. After reaching the bottom of the stairs he found his feet sliding across the well polished floor. Regaining his balance he moved first towards the mural.

Like the first one it is quite the work of art, aside from the damnable stairs one couldn’t deny the beauty of the place, even with all the fatal critters that they had encountered. Still it seemed that even with the granted memories he still could hardly make sense of it all. What he could recognize were only bits and pieces, not enough to infer any relevant information.

“Hmm,” with his free hand he scratched his chin in thought. The first image to stand out was a massive giant chiseling the ziggurat into a mountain, he wondered if he should take the image literally or if it was more nuanced that what he was thinking. Next was the mountain, its ice peak rising high into the sky, he could hardly believe that there was such a thing at any point in time. More of the giant is shown belching fire, along with detailed work of the bridges and water channeled through them. Quite the work of art, sadly he was not able to glean much from it. 

As he followed the mural, his steps careful to avoid slipping as he made his way to the next image. 

The stone beast from before was one he certainly recognized, though the significance of it still eluded him. It seemed to be leading a charge, the image did not hold the same feeling he  had when facing down the beast. Perhaps time had worn away its mind, or perhaps it was merely a construct that looked like it. He was not certain and perhaps never would be.

“Most perturbatory.”

Next was an image was the most familiar with. The glass tower, it seemed to be placed at a much later date than the rest of the images. This fact confirmed his suspicions that the entity in the tower was quite young compared to the the lightning beast. Perhaps that is why he only felt the urge to run as far and as fast from the construct previously. Still, it being here was proof of its significance. It was made of glass and gold, it seemed the locals placed almost religious adherence to the two materials. Finally he look at the vault door, made from the same materials as the image of the tower. The feeling was almost palpable as if telling him to not touch or in his terms fiddle with it. 

“I wonder if treasure is locked inside or something more sinister.”


No doubt he would have to keep the others away from it until they can decide if the risk is worth the reward, he certainly did not feel like dying for a few imagined trinkets.  Still, the best bet is to wait for the others and that is exactly what he would do.   
 

Edited by Garion

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NATALYA OF IZRAL


Now that everyone's back to scouting the room, Natalya was once more in a rather investigative mood. Her eyes already took note of the torches in the room, of how they made the place lighter which is highly unusual for the usual ruins. Well, she was not one to question such idiosyncracies after all, since she had seen weirder shit than most children of her age.

What truly intrigued her was the vault. It looked rather thick and expensive, Natalya was certain that it would hold a lot of treasures behind it. Her eyes seemed to glow with greed after such notion crossed her innocent nubile mind. Wiping away the newly dribbled drool off her tiny mouth, the little girl strode forward towards the vault's door itself.

The ghost behind her only sighed at the little girl's antics. Crossing its arms across her bounteous incorporeal chest, the specter shifted it's focused instead on the slim figures standing on the banister, their creepy eyes looking at the poor explorers with perhaps a hint of voyeurism. Whatever these figures want the ghost could care less after all, as long as they intend no harm for its ward, the specter was more than generous enough to let them continue with their rather inconspicuous leering.

Meanwhile, Natalya was onto the door, looking for a way to open it. The bothersome woman that Natalya did not care enough to even remember her name was already cautioning the little girl form doing such poorly thought acts. Natalya, on the other hand, was still in her rebellious phase and thus tried to slap the woman's intentions away but then the woman in question was already before her barring her path.

Gritting her teeth in frustration, Natalya tried to shoo the old hag away but then someone else picked her scrawny figure up. It was the old man from Shawnee and he had found it interesting to throw the little girl over his shoulder, much to Natalya's dismay. Disgruntled, she threw a tantrum while the old man tried to keep her contained, her tiny figure twisting and turning this way and that.

"Let me off old coot!" Natalya hissed, "Get your grubby hands off my young body. If you don't, I'll see you in court for harassment!"

 

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Ilyana was starting to warm up to the idea of further exploration, ignoring the risks of doing so for the promise of reward. This was only bolstered by the obvious focus Minerva had when presented with new items to investigate or the tease of discovery that the large door before them represented. She always held a soft spot for women who displayed such passion no matter how trivial it might seem to others or to even herself so this sudden urge to protect the archaeologist just felt natural. The eerie black of her eyes moved suddenly though with the way she darted her head toward the ghostly figure in the distance, the fact that the color of her pupils wasn’t her own would not be uncovered right now. She motioned toward the regal humanoid in the distance for those in the group too distracted to have noticed and then returned her attention to Minerva out of pure efficiency.

 

The woman’s experience was considered more boon than detriment right now so since Ilyana much preferred to keep moving instead of marveling over doors or attempting to open them like Natalya, she spoke directly at Minerva who seemed engrossed in the mural before them.

 

“Would you like to lead the way beautiful?”

 

The annoyance that was seen on the woman’s face only made Ilyana smile that much wider. If only more of her employees were like her. Ilyana arched a brow at the drawings she was now presented with and all of the gesticulations that were offered but she was no expert translator or interpreter. She extracted whatever she could and clung on to the notion of the king, placing a finger on her lips contemplatively before turning her head toward Celestine in a way that kept her back toward the woman.

 

“This king I see in her drawings may have something to do with the figure that just decided to make its presence known and leave so rudely without introducing himself. I suggest we follow him to see where he ran off to in such a hurry. Agree?”

 

Ilyana grinned while she stared at Celestine a bit longer than she really had to. Then she noticed Anastase and her expression changed before she turned back to Minerva.

 

“Stay close to me. I didn’t nearly risk getting killed just to end up losing you again.”

 

Turning to the sulking Natalya who was grabbed against her will by Azytzeen earlier, she spoke rather plainly to the young girl as well.

 

“You too. Better for the ladies to stick together…especially those with young bodies like yours.”

 

The teasing was apparent but it was clear that Ilyana meant every word that was said. Seeing as some decided to simply vote present, others just liked to agree with the women (good men), and a select few voiced their approval she would begin moving everyone along, keeping Minerva near the middle of the group and suggesting someone take point and cover their rear as well.

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