BLACK HOLLOW 7.2 I See Runes, People

He was barely inside when the entire outside of  the temple quaked. Haryk had only a moment to look around into the most magnificently stone carved room he could have ever dreamed of. All around were frescoes and statues, reliefs of battles and in the center, what looked like a towering tree made of stone.

Many of the statues lay toppled and damaged–there was dust everywhere, but it was immediately clear that this space was grand in a way beyond his ability to describe with words.

His eyes took it all in, while he held the gem out before him. Each panel depicted scenes of fierce monsters and mighty wyrms, brave warriors and leaders. Some showed monsters that Haryk had never seen before. They were impossible things. Eyes that floated with stalks on their heads at the ends of which were more eyes. Creatures that looked like they had been stitched together from many parts. Ghastly, nightmarish. It was beyond his comprehension.

On the floor, as above, three rings were carved into the stone, each smaller than the last. In the middle ring stood three stone statues. The final ring though began at the floor and rose to the ceiling as one gigantic cylinder of carved rock. Haryk saw that it had once been a grand piece of work, and was clearly crafted to form a magnificent tree.  However, most of it’s more delicate parts had been broken, and lay in piles and dust on the floor of the chamber.

It was hollow and inside, at the bottom through a small door one could see stairs rising up inside of it. Each statue was facing the large circular stairwell. The entire thing was intricately formed to house the stairwell.  The three statues facing it were hooded, and cloaked. Stairs inside rose upwards to some unknown space.

There was an explosion followed by another that sent mortar and loose rock raining down on them. Tahg, and Andril ran through the small hallway that he had just entered and found Haryk now to the side, with his back against the wall. He waved them over just as a bolt of blue white lightning sizzled and scorched the air they had just been only a second ago. It blew into the enormous temple, nearly crossing and arcing the entire length of the space.

“I don’t think we have much time,” said Haryk.  “If either of the dragons was a shape changer, they’d be in here already. But they’ll find a way in.  If they can loosen rock in the stones, they can bring the whole structure down.”

“If it were one,” started Tahg. But Haryk cut him off.

“If it were one, we’d take it on. But it isn’t, it’s two. And neither is the monstrosity that carried us all off now is it? That means, it will be on it’s way I assume, once it’s little imps don’t fly home for supper in time.”

“So what do we do?” Asked Tahg just as another jolt shook the structure around him.  Lines of dust fell from the ceiling, Andril was now up and looking around, chewing on a solution himself.

“Better question. Where in the Light are we, and what in the Darkness of Ket is that?” Said Haryk. He pointed to the large stone cylinder in the middle of the three statues.

“I see runes, people,” called Tahg. He pointed a shaking finger at the area above the doorway. Haryk hadn’t taken much of a look at him, and only now did so.  The boy turned man was hairy, with a wiry beard and wiry brown hair. There was a devilish look about him, as if he were still childlike.  His nose seemed shorter than it should be too. And his robes looked ridiculously large. The druid, or as Haryk called him, Pest Control Kid, stared back at Haryk. Haryk waved him on.  Tahg ventured out from the safety of the wall as much as he dared.  He scrambled over fallen parts of statues and rock piles towards the center area. Closer now, staying low beneath a large column turned on it’s side, he called back, “There are definitely runes!” Then he dashed over the column towards the center. Haryk blinked, for as the man jumped over the pillar, his robes fluttered up and a small bushy tail flew out, like a cat would when it balances itself.

Great, the Pest Control Guy has a tail now. “Bookworm!!!!!”

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Standing before the stairwell entrance, Andril deciphered and read the runes, “It says, For the Sake of All.”

“Well, that’s helpful,” quipped Haryk sarcastically. He put his back to the stairwell, and pointed both weapons at one of the circle entrances to the temple. A massive shadow darkened the entrance and then was gone, followed by a blast of wind. “They’ll find a way in soon. We’re going to be sitting targets unless we find cover.  For the sake of my ass, let’s move up the damn stairs people!”

“I don’t think it works that way, Haryk.  I smell magic, powerful magic. This isn’t the type of thing you want to be messing with!”

Another shadow, came and went from an opposite opening.  This was following by a pounding that sent a portion of the stone tree down just inches from where they stood.  “I don’t think you want to mess with that, Bookworm! Now let’s move it robe people!”

Haryk tried to push his way past them. He grabbed one of the sides of the entry wall, but when he tried to walk inside the doorway, found that something invisible blocked his path. “Just give me something to shoot!!!!” Raged Haryk. He was red with fury now. He lifted his chin and shouted all around the chamber, “And something to eat you damn bastards!!!!!”This whole ordeal was testing him in ways no jungle, no hill for of enemy positions could.

He took aim at the space and squeezed both triggers. His rounds struck an invisible barrier of some kind, and rang out with a twang as they  ricocheted around the large chamber.Just then, they heard a cracking noise behind them.

Together, the three statue mouths opened like some ancient door on rusty hinges. Each spoke in an eerie and monotone voice. Their eyes, blank, void of pupils, shone with a green glow. The glow radiated out in the dimly lit chamber casting even more eerie shadows around them.
The Path of Light is lit for thee.
In every toll, there is a fee.
If thou beist pure of heart,
Be sure to cleanse your evil part.
If thou be evil in your deed,
To smite the good is what you’ll need.

Then, the dark green glow faded and the statues stood quiet. Haryk wondered if he hadn’t imagined the whole thing. With the equivalent of throwing his hands up in the air,  Haryk popped off another round of his weapons.

Haryk was done. “I’m done,” sighed the fighter. He was tired, exhausted. He had carried the mage through the keep. He had heard enough horseshit about fates and heroes and fancy librarian dragons to last him a lifetime.  He didn’t care that all around him, there were two right now, scrambling, clawing, about to break in–to rip them all to shreds. Let them. He thought resolutely. Right here. This is where I make my final stand. The final stand of Lord Haryk. This is my freaking final foxhole.  He backed up and leaned against one of the robed statues. “When there is something to shoot, just let me know boys.”

Haryk closed his eyes and grinned a dirty, blood smeared grin. He could almost taste the roasted boar.

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