Yeah. I kind of forgot to set up a teaser for today. In my defense, I thought I did and the title of tomorrow’s post looked like one. Though it didn’t have ‘Teaser Tuesday’ in it, so I really just made an oops. Hopefully this one entertains and makes you hungry for the eventual release.
The large chamber inside the red stone temple is littered with bones and dust-covered pieces of rubble. Having left Isaiah among the mushroom-covered stumps and broken statues outside, the champions quietly search the room for clues. Fizzle remains invisible and perches above the doorway, his eyes never straying from the twin stairwells built into the floor. His attention never straying from the thick darkness, the drite’s eyes occasionally materialize as a pair of glistening slits that one could mistake for a trick of the light. The dais in the back of the room is devoid of all signs that Sari and Delvin had camped there, which Luke finds more suspicious than if he had found their abandoned gear. Bright sunlight flows through holes in the domed roof, revealing thick vines that nobody can find the beginning or end of. Random flutters of wings can be heard from above, but the champions refuse to waste time hunting down what is probably a harmless animal. Spying a few errant feathers on the stone floor, they are sure the noises are coming from parrots or toucans like the ones encountered in the jungle.
Still in her halter top, Nyx is slapping and scratching at her itching chest where the Compass Key tattoo is twisting back and forth. The aggravating sensation stops when she finds a matching symbol on the wall, a dried pile of torn vines sitting below the picture. Some of the ancient paint remains to identify each of the six orbs that circle the ivory pearl in the image’s center, the piece nothing more than a piece of polished marble. A dull power flows down her arm when she touches the stone and the enchanted marking on her skin settles down. Examining the rest of the picture, she assumes the figure sitting in the middle is the Baron and the six skulls at his feet are the champions. Fresh scratches run along the rest of the mural as if somebody wanted to hide the rest of the picture. Nyx swears she sees a drawing that resembles Helgard, but it is too damaged for her to be certain.
Wandering away from his friends, Luke tries to figure out the purpose for the temple by uncovering the rest of the walls and making his way toward the back. Severed vines, startled snakes, and disturbed insects are in his wake as he gradually makes his way toward the dais. Sweat is pouring down his brow and soaking his shirt as his determined hunt starts feeling fruitless. The murals that he uncovers are either worn away or too confusing for him to decipher. At one point, he reveals a set of metal pieces embedded in the dark red stone, but their associated drawings have eroded away. Turning toward the others, he sees that they are gathering around Nyx to discuss the Compass Key picture. The forest tracker cannot stop himself from continuing his own search, a prickling on the back of his neck urging him forward.
Once he reaches the corner, Luke hops onto the dais and is immediately driven to his knees by a surge of intense pain. His mouth magically clamps shut, preventing him from calling out to his friends. Muscles strain as he tears open his shirt and finds that the scar running diagonally across his body is seeping blood. The picture of a forge surrounded by demons appears in the floor and the suffering half-elf swears there is a guttural voice speaking in a language that makes his skin crawl. Whenever Luke tries to use his power to translate the words, a bolt of agony breaks his concentration and his old wound froths. Blood pools beneath him and he can barely hear his friends racing over, the forest tracker unsure how much time has passed since his torment began. A strong arm wraps around the warrior’s waist and hauls him off the dais, his scar returning to normal as soon as he is clear of the stone. Body shuddering and curled into a ball, Luke is unable to relax until Fizzle hits him in the face with a concentrated puff of rainbow smoke.
“Did he set off a trap?” Nyx asks while helping the warrior stand. She is surprised at how quickly his strength returns and that there is no blood on his chest. “Maybe the people who took Sari and Delvin knew we were coming. I’m so tired of guessing at everything.”
“You act like this adventure should be different than the others,” Luke teases with a half-hearted smirk.