A Misjudged City: Part Two
Artemesa sighed. “Well, you’ll go in without us anyway, so I guess we are.”
Kyren nodded reluctantly.
“Okay,” said Sorren. “Let’s go!”
He darted into the inky blackness. It was silent inside the tomb. Not a sound could be heard beside the tapping of their footsteps.
The glow of the moon, however, illuminated some of the darkness, showing strange drawings on the stone walls.
“I think you were right, Kyren,” murmured Artemesa. “This must’ve been some kind of worshipping place.”
“It would explain the traps,” said Kyren. “The people wouldn’t want strangers to interfere with their sacred location.”
Sorren wasn’t listening to their theoretical talk. Instead, he slowly padded on, listening for any source of noise. As he walked, a sudden noise like an iron gate opening sounded, and before he had time to look, he was pushed against the wall.
“Kyren!” he said, struggling to get up. “What did you...?”
And suddenly he realized what had happened. Staring at him with awestruck eyes were his friends, but behind them was a gate that had come from the top of the tomb, closing off the path right where he had been standing. He would have been seriously injured if it had fell on him; maybe he wouldn’t even have been able to get out of the tomb again.
Kyren was right. There were traps, and there were more ahead.
“Thanks,” Sorren said to his friend.
“How are we going to get out now?” whimpered Artemesa. “We’re trapped in the Deserted Tomb, and no one’s going to come into Geraptiku anytime soon.”
“Let’s not panic. Maybe there’s another way out,” said Sorren.
“This is a tomb, Sorren. Not a cave,” Kyren reminded him.
“So? There still could be another way out. We’ll just have to keep walking. Come on.” Sorren started out again.
“I don’t know, Sorren. Maybe we should just try and break through these bars,” suggested Artemesa.
“No. We’ve gotten this far; I’m not about to give up now.”
Artemesa and Kyren exchanged anxious glances, but they did not speak.
“Come on!” pleaded Sorren. “I bet there’s nothing else here. That was a pretty dangerous trap. Probably no one but us and the ancient people have passed it.”
“But there could be more!” snapped Artemesa. “This isn’t worth getting killed over, Sorren. I’m going to get out of here.” She turned around and surveyed the fallen trap, trying to figure out a way to escape.
Sorren looked at Kyren expectantly, but the Kougra shook his head.
“She’s right. I’m not going to risk getting hurt just because you wanted some adventure. I’m sorry.” He turned to Artemesa.
Sorren looked back down the narrow stretch of blackness. It did seem as though it went on forever; it did seem likely as though one could be perpetually lost within its depths.
He sighed dramatically, hoping to get his friends’ attention. It didn’t work. Their eyes were transfixed on the gate. Defeated, Sorren slumped against the stone wall. It was bitterly cold... too cold.
Suddenly, before he realized what had happened, he was spun around on his heels and was abruptly in a darker room lit by torches. Had the wall... well, flipped? Like in those old mummy movies, where the wall swung around, taking the unlucky traveler with it?
It obviously was, because Artemesa and Kyren were nowhere in sight. He pounded on the wall with all the strength he could muster.
“Artemesa! Kyren! Can you hear me?”
There was no reply. Either they were ignoring him, thinking it was another trick, or his voice was concealed behind the wall that was so unearthly thick not even his loudest scream could pierce the other side.
He banged on the wall until his fists felt raw. They throbbed with pain. He sat down against the wall, suddenly feeling exhausted.
Artemesa’s voice brought Sorren a glimmer of hope.
“Guys! I’m behind here!” he shouted, pounding again on the wall, though his throat burned, and his fists screamed in pain and protest.
“Sorren?” said Artemesa’s voice again.
“Guys! Can you here me?”
“Yeah! How did you get back there?” yelled Kyren.
“I don’t know. I just leaned against it, and... it turned around, I guess. Get me out!” He pounded once more.
“How do we do that?” called Artemesa.
“I don’t know... try pushing every stone in. One must let me out.”
“Okay,” said Kyren, and Sorren could hear them pounding against the wall on the other side.
After about ten minutes, Artemesa’s flustered, tired voice yelled, “It’s no use. It won’t open.”
“Keep trying!” he yelled. “Please.”
“What do you want us to do?” snarled Artemesa. “It’s your own fault you’re in this mess anyway.”
“And if you hadn’t forced us to come here, we wouldn’t be trapped inside the Deserted Tomb, either,” Kyren added.
Sorren sniffed. “I’m sorry!” he screamed. His voice came out raspy and tired. “I’m sorry I made you come with me in here. It was stupid. Really stupid. I should’ve listened to you. Just... just try and get yourselves out. I’ll be alright.”
“Sorren,” Artemesa’s voice had unexpectedly softened. “We’re not leaving you.”
“I’m sorry,” he sniffed again.
“It’s alright. We’re not leaving you,” Artemesa said again. “We’ll keep trying.”
“Thanks for apologizing,” Kyren said softly.
Sorren nodded, though of course they could not see him. He couldn’t think of anything to say.
More minutes passed, and Artemesa and Kyren had unsuccessfully tried to open the door. Sorren, worn out, had sat down, looking in the room he was in. He was sitting in a very narrow hallway that had torches lined on the walls, but the thing he had not noticed was that they were still lit. The flames cast flickering shadows that danced across the stone walls.
“Yeah?” said Kyren. His voice was strained, as though he were pushing very hard against the wall.
“Is it possible after hundreds of years of abandonment that torches can still be lit?”
There was silence. The pounding on the wall stopped. Then Sorren heard Artemesa’s voice, nervous and shaky, “N-no, Sorren, I don’t think so. Why?”
“Because there are torches lit in here!”
“That’s impossible!” yelled Kyren.
“No, they really are lit!” Sorren insisted.
“This can only mean one thing,” said Artemesa darkly. “The Deserted Tomb isn’t really deserted.”
“Then what’s here?” asked Kyren. His voice was soft, anxious. Sorren had to press his ear against the wall to hear better.
“I don’t know. Maybe...” Artemesa gulped, “Maybe there are spirits... the same angry spirits that destroyed Geraptiku.”
“No!” yelled Sorren through gritted teeth. “There are no such things as ghosts!”
“Sorren...” Artemesa said desperately.
But Sorren was not listening. He grabbed the nearest torch off the wall and held it up to the wall that had flipped. Immediately, it scorched the stone, turning it to black. Perhaps the wall wasn’t as thick as Sorren thought it was.
Either that, or the fire was unnaturally strong.
In a matter of minutes, the fire burned a hole through the wall, then abruptly died out.
And all around him, the other torches went out, too.
“Guys! Something strange is going on here...” Sorren looked through the hole at his friends, leaning against it. His paw hit a loose stone, and the wall began to turn.
Moments later, Sorren had escaped and was standing in front of his friends. Instead of being happy and celebratory, however, his eyes only widened in fear.
“Something’s there... it burned out all the torches. It must be a ghost...”
Artemesa’s eyes widened. “We’ve got to get out of here somehow--”
Before Sorren or Kyren could reply, there was a faint breeze that began to ruffle their fur. Along with it came an icy presence.
A silvery mist came through the wall. It was not in any form, just a floating blob of clear substance. But still, it had a raspy voice, something that whispered a faint warning.
Run. Run, it whispered.
The friends stood there in their spots, frozen with fear.
Run, it urged again.
“W-who are you?” Sorren boldly asked.
Instead of replying, the thing just repeated itself... although this time it said their names.
Run, Sorren, it said.
Artemesa let out a little shriek.
Run, Artemesa. Run, Kyren. It sounded more vehement this time.
This time, they heeded it, turning on their heels and running. Of course they could not leave the tomb because of the gate, so they ran farther down the dark path. It was pitch black and they could not see a foot in front of them, but they kept running.
Finally, with their lungs burning and hearts pounding so very loudly, they stopped, looking back. The ghost--or whatever it was--wasn’t behind them anymore. It had stopped following, or it hadn’t followed them at all.
The three were silent for a moment, waiting for it to lunge out and surprise them, talking in that whispery, raspy voice. But nothing happened. All they could hear was the sound of their own heavy breaths.
“Is it... is it gone?” whispered Artemesa.
“I don’t know,” said Kyren.
Silver moonlight glowed on the spot where they had been standing. It broke into little bars from the trap’s poles in a gray pool where the thing had been floating.
They weren’t anywhere near the entrance. Looking up, Sorren saw a hole in the roof of the tomb, and the moon shone directly through it, as though someone had cut the opening to fit the moon’s exact shape.
“Guys,” he said, “Look at that.”
“Strange,” remarked Artemesa in an almost dreamy sounding voice. Her pretty eyes reflected in the light.
“It has some sort of reason. I know it does...” mused Kyren. “It must have been used for some sort of practice. It must have had some special meaning when the moon shone through.”
Sorren thought about what Kyren had just said. Then he thought back to the legend. It seemed to make sense... some.
“I think I know,” he said. “Remember that legend? It said that the spirits were angry with Geraptiku’s people. Maybe you were right, Kyren; this is some kind of worshipping place, the only way for spirits and people to contact one another. I think... I think it was this very night... thousands of years ago, that the spirits destroyed Geraptiku. And they did through this opening. The people must have believed that the moon had some special power between the spirits... and maybe it does.”
“Then was that really a ghost?” asked Artemesa.
“I think so. It must’ve been here because it’s the same night, and the spirits are still angry. That’s why it told us to run,” replied Sorren.
“Then why isn’t it coming after us?” inquired Kyren.
But before Sorren could answer, a voice echoed throughout the cavern.
“Hello? Hello! Is anyone in there? Can you hear me?”
To be continued...