The rest of the ride was surprisingly uneventful. Except for a false report by a watchmen it was without conflict. Virgil rode inside the wagon exhausted from the recent events conserving his strength in case the enemy did appear again. The ride back was relaxing for him, and he found himself talking and fitting in with the group he rode with more. Sarah was apparently busy on this final leg of the trip, for each night she only ate her fill and fell asleep awaiting the next person who needed her care.
But at last the scenery changed and the once lush green grass gave away to a brown color is spots. In the far off distance the massive walls of Dessunna and a hint of the dry dessert came into view. It was about mid day when the blazing sun rose overhead that they managed to travel through the main gates, which was guarded by four lightly armored guards on the ground with six patrolling sentries seen on top of the walls. Inside tall tan buildings were seen everywhere. The first set of buildings seemed to be residential, but as they moved deeper inside several signs depicting stores appeared above or beside the doors. Along the streets people went about their busy lives. Eventually the wagons stopped along the side of the road, where they met a group of merchants and city officials. Through slight conversation the delivery was completed and the cargo was moved out and into a storage area near where they stopped.
Jessie walked up to Virgil and Sarah after they finished moving the cargo with a look of success. "Virgil, Sarah, I want to thank you for your help on this trip. I was sceptical at first, but you both turned out to wonderful additions to our team. If you are even in need for a ride or a job, know you will always have a place here with us. Oh and before I forget I have your pay for this trip. Hope you find it to be of some use." Jessie handed Virgil the first bag and then handed the second bag to Sarah.
Sarah was the first to speak up. "Thanks a lot Jessie. It was fun to travel with you, and I'm glad I was able to save some lives."
"Yes it was a good trip, although I wished we didn't have to engage in battle." Virgil said thinking over the trip.
"Yeah it would have been nice to be without conflict, but that danger is always part of the job. I had better get back to the rest of the men though, so I hope we will meet again."Jessie said as he quickly turned around heading towards the wagons. He quickly stopped and turned around again. "Oh and so you know we will be in town at the tavern "The Sandy Stone" for ten days resting if you require any assistance. Later Kids"
Being free for the rest of the day they agreed to head straight to the designated headquarters for this mission. The guild hall here was much smaller and less luxurious that the building at Maricia, but it was much busier. Right there in the main hall they met a familiar face. After dealing with the formal reunion and accounting for the happening son the trip here, they traveled down to the tavern for their lodging.
The tavern was full of excitement with the men from the caravan singing while drinking. The cheerful noise brought a slight smile across Virgil's face. They navigated their way around the tables and walked up towards the front desk where they were greeted by a rather cheery man cleaning the desk with a rag.
"Good day there. Looking for a place to stay for the while? Or perhaps a drink?"
"We just need two bedrooms, for around five days." Joseph replied, looking around.
"Sure thing. Want that to include baths and three meals a piece?"
"Please, three meals and a bath for all three of us."
"Very well that will cost eight gold three silver."
Joseph grabbed the coin purse fastened around his waist. He counted out the coins and handed them to the man. Shortly after he was given two keys in return, both rooms next to each other. They left with a small wave and headed up the stairs. They agreed on Sarah getting her own room. They moved into their respective rooms and set down their belongings before locking the room back up and walked back outside into the sunny streets, starting to gather preparations for the upcoming decent into the unknown tomb.
The big day finally came. The past day and a half went quickly gathering supplies. Now with the items in hand, gathered in a pack Virgil stood along side his friends at the entrance to the tomb. The ride there was uneventful, having no encounters with the creatures which inhabited the desert. The entrance of the temple was vast and it descended down through a series of stone stairs. Not much could be seen, but a heavy feeling of something evil could be felt seeping out into the cold night. Wanting to waste no time they each lit a torch and began walking down the steps with Joseph taking the lead and Virgil protecting the back. Both Celcia and Winter floated close by above keeping alert for anything lurking in the shadows below.
Their steps echoed against the old stone walls. The light from the torches casted their shadows onto the walls, which danced as the flames moved. Eventually they stepped off the final step and onto a large open area. Casting the light from the torches the entire room could be seen. The area was circular with not change in the stone walls or floors. Three doors could be seen. One leading to the left, one to the right, and the other in the center.
"Well this is a problem." Joseph said looking ahead. "What do you reckin' we do about this?"
"Well we could split up. We all could take a door." Sarah said calmly.
"No, I don't think splitting up would be the best course of option. I admit you do have some ways of protecting yourself Sarah, but we don't know what might be hiding inside these ruins."
"Then we stick together. However I want to make this clear, if we get separated I want you to return to HQ and report your findings. Then if the others don't return within two days act as the situation dictates. Is that clear?"
"Yes Joseph." Both Sarah and Virgil said in unison.
"Alright then which passage should we take?"
"Well perhaps the other explorers left some indication on which path they took. We should closely examine each doorway for any indication they went that way." Virgil began walking over to the left doorway and closely examining every detail. Sarah and Joseph quickly agreed and moved over to a separate doorway and began looking for something.
It was Virgil who first exclaimed excitedly upon finding something. It was a odd shaped carving into the wall. From the way it looked it was recent, but it was almost animallike. After a short talk they decided this would be the best path to go as it was the only lead to go on. The corridor was as drab and dark as the other rooms, with the only light emanating from the torches, which was slowly becoming dimmer.
The corridor continued on for a long time. As they gained some distance the stone workings of the ruins began to change. The deeper they went the more moist the air became and the thicker the feeling of evil became. Eventually they walked into another large room. This time it was enclosed. All around the room ancient tombs cold be seen with seven modern looking stone coffins. Several of them were pried open, leaving the contents exposed to the air. They crept around the open coffins carefully inspecting each of them separately.
"Looks like the other team opened up these coffins. Perhaps they went against orders and decided to loot the place." Virgil took notice of every detail. He didn't wish to say anything but something about the mess was bugging him.
"Don't know about that Virgil. The team was made up of very loyal members, it would not be like them to change their ways for a little money." Joseph looked towards Virgil and noticed his worry, then back to examining the coffins.
"Well what ever the case the coffins seem to be empty except for the mummies inside them." Sarah said before walking over to the final open coffin, sure that she would find nothing more. What she saw inside caused her to let out a sudden scream, alerting Virgil and Joseph who rushed to her side. Their faces turned grim as they looked upon a mangled corpse of someone from the previous team. His uniform was shredded along with what little of his flesh remained. Several of his bones were broken. In the skeleton's hand it held onto a piece of paper, which Virgil took. Virgil's face grew even more grim as he read the piece of paper out loud.
"We have sinned, and now our time has come. It was foolish of us to do what we did. I can only hope our sacrifice was enough to prevent them from using the portal. Signed Marvis Alexander." Virgil took a moment to breath and he saw the looks upon his companion's faces. The looks they gave told it all. Virgil returned to the letter and tried to make sense of the letter. "So they gave their lives? And what about this gate which he wrote about?"
"Well there were rumors of how a new world across the ocean. It can't be reached by water or air, but as the rumors say a portal is the only way to cross onto the new land. Not many believed this rumor, thus it eventually died out. From our countless battles we have gathered enough info to know our enemy believes in this rumor, and they are attempting to go into the new land. Perhaps this rumor is real after all."
"Well if thats the case perhaps the enemy was here in this tomb, and maybe they still might be down here with us." Sarah said piecing the info together.
"Sarah and chance you could channel the spirits or find out if anything else is walking about down here?"
"Not sure, my powers work best above ground. Down here there are several walls and possibly some other thing to mess with my powers, but I could give it a try. Just be quiet and keep on the lookout for anything." She opened her bag and brought out a small crystal ball. She sat on the ground and crossed her legs. She placed the crystal ball on her lap and placed her palms onto the smooth glass. Slowly energy passed through her arms and into the crystal ball, making it glow brightly. The minutes passed and she remained motionless as she concentrated her powers on this one goal. Virgil could not help but glance her way every now and again. This show of power amazed him, despite what he could do.
Eventually she broke from her trance and gasped for air. Joseph rushed her way while Virgil continued to keep watch. Joseph grabbed a bottle of water from his pack and let her slowly drink some of it. Her breathing slowed to a normal pace and she sat up.
"I managed to get some details on this place, and it does not look good. From what I could see the middle path is filled with many hazardous traps, and the right passage leads to another tomb. I was not able to see much from the middle path, but what I saw showed a great many things walking about, many of them alive, but the other things walking about are part of the undead. They seem to be gathering to preform something, but I am not quite sure of what."
"You did good. We should return to HQ so we can report what we found. We might need some help with this." Joseph said helping Sarah to get up. Keeping her steady the three returned to the open area and went up the stairs. As they started up the stairs the ceiling began to give away. In an instant a part of the ceiling separated Sarah and Virgil from Joseph.
"Virgil can you hear me?"
The dust from the rock falling made it hard to breath, but once it cleared, Virgil found the strength to answer. "I'm fine, and it looks like Sarah is fine as well."
"Good, now look, I will get you out of there, just hang tight." A brilliant light shone behind the small cracks between the rubble and a pummeling could be heard. The efforts of Joseph was for naught as he slowed his speed. "Its no good Virgil. See if you can't move the rocks from your end. The rocks seem to be stuck in place over here. It's the strangest thing."
Virgil placed his hand onto the nearest rock. Try as he might it would not budge. "It's no good, I can't move them over here either."
"It seems we fell into one of the traps, but who could have known the ancients knew such powerful magic." Sarah said musing at the efforts. "This is beyond what I have ever seen before. Joseph can you hear me?"
"Yeah Sarah, I can hear you."
"Seems the people who made this tomb set a trap for anything that tried to leave. To further prevent them leaving they casted a high grade spell which essentially makes the rocks immovable."
"I see, what can we do about that?"
"You need to first of all go back to town and report in. After that, you need to find a high grade magic user and have him dispel this spell."
"Will you guys be alright there alone?"
"We might be good for a few days, but that is only assuming we ration our food and water and that the creeps below don't find us."
"Don't worry, I know the perfect person to dispel this spell, so just sit tight and I should be back with help tonight at the latest."
"I wish you luck Joseph." With that another blinding light could be seen and the sounds of rushing up the steps could be heard from the other side of the rocks.
"Ok Virgil, we can only rest here for a short bit. I'm sorry to say but we need to get rid of that evil presence in this place. Joseph won't be able to help us much."
"So whats your plan? Rush into the center of the evil and just take them all apart?"
"Well yes. From my scans I did not sense any form of light, meaning they all can use the darkness. So we turn that on them like we did with the monsters which attacked the caravan."
"I have a bad feeling about this, but at least this time don't need to restrain myself. Are you up to this Celcia?"
"I sadly don't agree with this, but it needs to be done."
Virgil and Sarah rested for a couple of minutes while reading their weapons. Once they were prepared they walked the stairs into the first room. They quickly rushed towards the center opening. The hallway was long and they moved as quickly as they could while still remaining silent. The sounds of some sort of chanting could be heard ahead. The chanting sounded almost human, but it held a animal sound to it. It grew louder with each step forward. Suddenly they both stopped. The end of the corridor came into view, but that was not caught their attention. The source of the the chanting could be seen. Several creatures encircled a round stone inscribed with several odd looking runes. The crowd which chanted had several browned furred beast like creatures all bowing down towards the circular object. Around them several undead preformed something that could only be considered a ritualistic dance. They walked around the object and at several intervals they bell to a pile of bones, only to be put back together a moment later.
Virgil waited at the entrance observing and looking for the best course of action. He watched the actions of the creatures within the room and suddenly took a second glance towards the middle of the room. Among the beasts a man was hidden within them. He bowed, and he often seemed to take the lead. Suddenly he looked up towards Virgil and everything in that room stopped. The beasts rose from the ground and glared towards Virgil bearing their fangs and their sharp claws. The skeletons began to form several lines. From out of the shadows a spirit appeared.
"So there are some more Giant Solace members still here. Seems we need to get rid of this trash before we can continue this ritual." As soon as it was said the skeletons took the front and began advancing. Virgil and Sarah backed up. Virgil fused with Celcia, making his sword glow with a blinding light. The beasts backed off to the other side of the room, but the skeletons seemed unaffected. They marched forward falling into a single line. Virgil grinned, for the advantage of being in a narrow hallway against an unarmed mob. As soon as the first of the skeleton came into range Virgil game a small side swing, causing it to fall into a pile of bones. Despite their previous regenerative ability during the ritual, they stayed in a pile. Virgil dispatched the skeletons quickly in the same fashion. Once the final skeleton was in a pile Sarah purified the bones making sure they would not return back alive.
Virgil advanced forward, now forming a more complete armor using Celcia's powers. Fearing the light the beasts now growled towards his direction. The man which stood along side his spirit companion raised his hand and then sent it forward, giving the command to attack. Every one of the beasts rushed forward, some on all four legs and some standing upright on two. Surrounded Virgil readied his sword and awaited for them to make the first move. Behind him Sarah stayed within the narrow hallway protected by a barrier.
Behind Virgil the first pair of beasts took the initiative. They rushed forward, their claws extended. Virgil quickly turned around, slicing the two beasts. To his left three rushed forward. Unable to defend in time Virgil held up his shield creating a barrier. The sharp claws were deflected, but the impact sent Virgil staggering backwards. One behind him quickly rushed up and sent his clawed hand down causing a large gash to appear on Virgil's back. Virgil swiped the sword in retaliation, sending a wide wave of energy to slice through the air, taking out several in a single blow. The few remaining all rushed in at every direction. Virgil swung his sword while dong a quick spin, taking out the rest of the group. Exhausted from the use of energy Virgil collapsed onto one knee.
The man walked slowly forward clapping. "Quite a display of power you put on Virgil, but your finished, you used up to much energy. With a little training you could have been one of the top ranking soldiers. Really a shame. Oh and fear not we will take care of the pretty blond behind you after we finish with you."
"You will not put a finger on her. I will be sure of that."
"Don't worry about it Virgil, for death is only the beginning for many. Celcia there is proof of that."
"How do you know about me?"
"How could we not know about all you have done in your past life. In fact you were a fantastic comrade to many of our men."
"I would do nothing of the sort!" Celcia retaliated.
"I see you don't have your old memory. I suppose that was part of your exile, but enough talk, Celcia once we cut the bond you can return to work with us. As for you Virgil and Sarah perhaps you will be lucky and gain another life once your current one is snuffed out."The man rushed forward, his spirit forming a dark aura around him. In his right hand a sword appeared, the shadow blade jagged. His left a large spiked shield formed. When he was right in front of Virgil he raised his right hand and sent the blade dropping down. With what little strength Virgil could muster he raised his shield to block, and his sword forward along with a wide beam of light.
The two were sent backwards, both heavily wounded. The man looked up towards Virgil, holding onto his bleeding side. "Seems you had some strength left after all. Virgil, I must bid you farewell, for this wound must be tended to. If you somehow survive, I look forward to our next meeting." Slowly the man was taken by the shadows and he vanished form sight. Virgil collapsed in front of the round object, and Sarah rushed forward to be by his side.
"Virgil, don't worry it will be alright, I'll fix you up good as new, you'll see." Without further word Sarah moved her hands above Virgil, channeling her energy to heal him. As the energy surged forth, stitching his wounds the round object came to life, the runes filling with mystical energy. Before Sarah could stop her spell a blinding light engulfed them. Sarah felt her body getting lighter, and the realization of an afternoon sun overhead reached her. Sarah stood up and looked around. No longer were they in a dank, dark tomb, but they were within a circle of stone on lush green grass. A similar portal in which they had passed through was beside them. They have traveled across the sea to a new land.
A faint smile grew upon her face "It is going as I foresaw, Virgil this is where your true destiny begins to unfold."