Casket of Shadows

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The Hidden Chamber

The next thing I knew I was watching from above. The electric blue was still there, like a cloud and I could still see the outlines of the spider headed creatures and they had raised their voices together and the sound was both vocal and telepathic. Dralinmer and Beloldwen had created a holding shield above which was holding everything in place and I was completing the crystalline cube, but what was different was that both I and the force that flowed through my walking staff crystal were fused with the whole. The final corner was almost closed, but they hit it again and again, so I had to put more power through, I reconnected myself into one. Now everything went white in a flash so great it was like a star exploding. I was thrown several hundred feet backward, up and over the area where I had been standing and almost lost all my breath when I landed, my light sword pressing hard into my back. I was one again with my body.

I coughed and pulled myself up on one elbow. Little One landed and his massive head seemed to simply float inches from my face.

“Are you alright?”

I could hear the concern in his voice. I nodded, still gasping for air and started to try to get up, slowly sitting, I tried to clear my head. I now looked back over to where I had been standing before the flash. Standing there now where Dralinmer and Beloldwen, looking at me. Dralinmer looked a little disheveled, his hat and his beard seemed to have smoke coming from them, as did his cloak, Beloldwen didn’t seem to be fairing very much better. Both simply stared at me.

“By Zorgon. Where did that burst of power come from?”

Beloldwen looked over her shoulder back to where, I hoped, the spider creatures, still remained.

Dralinmer simply stormed down towards me, held out a hand, and gripped me by the elbow.

“No time to sit and rest. You have work to do. We have work to do. Now, you created that mess. Lift it out of there, check everything is in fact intact and can’t escape and then let us find out why they were here.”

He lifted me to my feet with one fast movement.

“Do it.”

I looked at my old teacher and was about to apologize but then I saw his eyes. Those icy blue eyes were trying hard to hide a look of amusement and pride. He coughed and turned away, heading back the way he had come.

I hate spiders. Especially dinner plate-sized red-black, hairy spiders. But that is what I saw when I looked into the containment cube where the four darkling soldiers should have been. I could hear the scratching and clicking of their feet as they tried to escape their confinement. I could hear the clicking and squeaking, the clacking of their mouthpieces, and felt all their eyes boring into me. I used my wand and a spell just to give me that extra self-confidence and ensure success.

“Rise you gently from this space,

Move aside, not more than fifty pace.

Gently place inches from the ground,

Hold these safe from harm

Till sanctuary is found.”

The whole, the large cube began to gently rise. For a split second the spiders inside stopped. It was as if they felt the movement and were not sure how to act. Higher it rose to safely exit the depression and clear the rim of the sides, now as I held it as if in a tractor beam it moved out to the side then glided to a halt near Little One.

He looked at me.

“Ugh. I suppose you want me to babysit these, things?”

I smiled, knowing he was feeling the darkness seeping out from them and knowing also he was needed to do so as we were not ready to open a vortex until we knew more about what we had stopped.

I turned and watched a dust devil, a favorite creation of Dralinmers if he wished to move sand or earth in any quantity. As it danced around the depression it hoovered up the surface and like a see-through hover simply held it in a suspended vortex before moving off to the side and dropping it.

Now the depression was a convex dome with five slightly raised key points. Four keys, which had been turned in their locks were clearly visible. The final one was in Beloldwens fingers. Dralinmer stood in thin air slightly above the center.

He was looking down and into the central zone. He grunted.

“Aisha, time for you to try and see through this, see if you can see and feel, hear what is below, without simply remote viewing.”

I looked at him. I had never done anything like that before, had I? The look on his face told me not to ask, just do. Beloldwen nodded when I looked at her for support. I was about to go solo on something new.

“Concentrate on it. Not on the surface you see but beyond it. I think you humans call it x-ray vision.”

I swallowed and took a deep breath. I also called on all I could think of in the universe to help me, including Athena. This later was new for me but felt right in the circumstances. Then I relaxed and allowed myself to unsee the surface of the portal door with the keys. Slowly, things seemed to shimmer, and I let it happen. Then I could see a dark place, I opened up further, now I was in the ground, I had gone too far. Backing up I was once more in a downwards sloping corridor with steps lead down to a doorway. The door was solid rock and was closed.”

“Look beyond it.”

Dralinmers' voice was a long way off, however, I did as he said.

I allowed my mind to bore a hole through the door, bit by bit the other side came into view. A rough-hewn room, more like a cave with a water source, a raised catchment pool with a slight emerald green light emitting from it and to the side some narrow side corridors. In some of the walls there were also cut out nooks. I pulled back.

“Right, that was not bad for the first time, however, I would not like to follow you into battle based on what you have just done.”

I looked at him. What had I missed?

“Do it again, but this time remote view. Start below this seal, then once you reach the bottom doorway, start again from the other side of that.”

I started to center myself and then it dawned on me that I and the old wizard were alone. Little One, the containment cube, and Beloldwen had left. I still felt Little Ones' connection to me and now allowed myself to slip beyond the sealed entrance on which I stood.

I sensed a musty odor, slight dampness in the air which considering we were in a desert seemed strange. The stairs were rough-hewn and compacted and the walls were, at a guess about six feet apart leaving a wide expanse to walk down. On the sixth step there was, on either side, a slight indentation. I had noticed none of this last time. I looked closer and noted that each indentation was the entrance to a burrow which now I noted was home to a serpent which obviously waited for someone to pass. These energetic beings, for that, was what they were, pure energy wrapped in a form would have been able to move like lightning and likely strike a deadly blow to a physical being. I cautiously moved on.

The next six steps held similar traps, although each was at different heights so if one got past the first and expected the next to be in a similar position then that pair would land the blow, first at ankle height. I heard the words Achilles tendon. Then at knee height, head, neck, and shoulder. Presumably no matter what size the trespasser, these energetic guards would stop them. The last step was clear. I now looked at the stone door and as with the other things I had missed before I now noted above the door in the central stone was a carving of an owl. One of the signs of Athena.

To the side of the door there appeared to be a bronze-metal ring, countersunk into the rock, yet placed in such a way as to entice someone to turn it, or pull on it. Now I attempted to use the x-ray ability Dralinmer had made me use the first time. This time, however, I used it to see if anything was connected to the ring and to my astonishment found it worked.

A mechanism was connected to it. If it was turned clockwise, that in turn operated levers and pullies which would have landed the seeker cascading down a hidden slide as the area on which they stood opened and swallowed them. Turning it anti-clockwise closed this mechanism off keeping the ground solid underfoot and also linked to a very old but very perfect mechanism that would float the massive door open and give access to the cave I had seen before. I had to go on. I had to see what was in this cave that warranted such measures of security.

Visualizing myself on the other side of the stone door I was met by Dralinmer in person.

He was sitting on the edge of the pond stroking the head of a beautiful bearded, full maned water-lion, actually, it was a type of Panlong dragon that I had heard of but never seen.

“You took your time. Go back and meld with yourself, then translocate to where you stand now, then I will explain.”

He turned away and continued his conversation.

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