Chapter 8 - My Mummy, My Mummy, Wherever I Go, He Goes…

They had rested for about eight hours. It was difficult to know if it had been day or night, below ground as they were, but Ornrik and Urol had been able to recoup their spells, and everyone had had plenty of time to treat injuries and nap as desired.

There was almost no talking. Between the near death of their apparent leader, and the uncomfortably public exchange between Diamondback and him, everybody preferred silence to starting something potentially even more uncomfortable. In time, things would get back to what passed for normal with this group. Still, several of them hoped for another battle to break the tension.

When they were ready to move out, Viselys cautiously crossed the bridge to the door on the left and tried it. There was no lock, but it was stuck tight. “Let’s check the other one before we try more involved methods here,” Viselys said as he started back across.

The second door was much the same. Ornrik examined the hinges closely and cast a spell on them, “It won’t help much, but at least the corrosion of the hinges won’t impede us.” Then Ornrik, Viselys and Saris put their shoulders to the door and pushed. They didn’t manage to open both sides of the double door all the way, but they forced an opening wide enough to squeeze the horse though. ‘Why didn’t we think to use the horse to help us?’ Saris thought to himself.

The next room was dark and very damp. Centuries of mineral deposits leaking in behind the door were what had caused them such difficulty. Viselys moved to another set of doors leading from the room and he listened closely, hearing what he thought was, lapping water. Indeed, he did smell and taste the briny air of the ocean from beyond the door, unlike the musty dankness of the room.

Meanwhile, Ornrik moved to investigate a dark pool at the other end of the room. As he approached, the surface of the pool began to move of its own accord, and a creature that could only be described as a huge living oil slick reached out for the dwarf, slamming him to the ground. However, Ornrik quickly realized what was going on and began moving in advance of the attack, otherwise he never could have avoided the secondary assault – acid. He warned his comrades of this danger as he put some distance between himself and the black “pudding.” Luckily it was rather slow moving and showed no sign of intelligence. The party was able to destroy it with minimal casualty.

The new doors did not prove as difficult as the previous and they opened up into a grand hall with similar door opposite, two pillars to the left, and another set of great double doors to the right. The ocean sounds were louder here and definitely coming form the larger doors opposite the pillars.

The pillars were painted – one red and one blue. The red hue matched the rod that Ornrik had found.

“An Olmen locking mechanism,” Urol stated with awe. “When I saw that rod, I had hoped, but here it is.” Then he began to explain, “You see, unless I miss my guess, there is another rod somewhere, presumably blue, that will match that pillar.” He moved to the pillars and pointed at recesses in each, “See here? The rod would go here allowing you a lever with which to pivot these units. They are not really pillars. They are each the extension of huge cogs beneath the floor which, in turn, are part of an apparatus that opens those doors.” He pointed to the huge double doors opposite. “Unless you have some sort of disintegration magic at your disposal, you will not be able to open those doors without the blue rod. We need to find it.”

“Well, I think our course is obvious, then,” Saris said, indicating the doors opposite. He tried them and they opened with minimal effort.

Urol was astonished by what was on the other side. He led the way, taking careful note of everything. “This is, obviously, a catacomb. The Olmen apparently buried their dead here.” He paused and took a closer look, “I’m not sure how extensive these catacombs are, but I’m guessing that these weren’t just your average Olmen citizens. Given the purpose of this installation, I would guess these were soldiers who guarded this underground walkway in life.”

“Do you think one of them has the blue rod?” Saris asked from the doorway.

“It wouldn’t surprise me,” Urol stated. “In fact, at this point, nothing would surprise me…”

Just then, Urol was surprised by the sound of shambling footsteps to his left. Into the light of his torch shuffled an undead creature that inspired greater fear than any they had ever encountered before, and it took a great force of will on everyone’s part not to run screaming. Urol, for his part, though he was nearest and in the most immediate danger just shook his head, “Mummies. I HATE mummies!”

This creature didn’t look like the mummies they had all heard stories about; ancient Vilzar kings wrapped in strips of linen and preserved for thousands of years in pyramids. This creature, although a preserved corpse from millennia past, was not wrapped in strips, but blanketed in a tattered sheet of linen that hung off it like a moldering fringed poncho, that tore where it was stepped upon.

It was undead and that was enough for Ornrik. He stepped forward, presenting his holy symbol. The mummy was clearly effected, but did not behave as a zombie or skeleton might have. These lesser undead would have turned and retreated in the most direct rout from the aura of holiness, which would have put this chap trapped in a cul-de-sac less than 20 feet away. Instead, it actually moved closer, albeit hugging the far wall, to effect an escape down the corridor. “Huh, clever corpse,” Ornrik commented as the others pressed into the catacomb.

“Yeah, real clever,” Saris noted, sardonically, “He’s even calling in reinforcements.” Indeed, two more mummies were approaching from the direction the other had fled.

“En garde,” Viselys said, somewhat lackluster.

Continue to Chapter 9...

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