Hasan winced as he heard the sounds rise up from below a third time. “No mistaking it, is there?” he asked tentatively. The elf’s companions saw his concentration drift away and heard soft tones of an ancient Elvish melody emerge under the elf’s gulping breaths.
“Well what are we waiting for?” the dwarf inquired from his position at the back, as the party seemed to hesitate before the open doorway.
“The way forward has opened. That is what we wanted, right? Lead the way on, or I shall.” Feldard stated impatiently. Yes, he could hear the sound of stone on stone from far below. From the sound of it, whatever was moving, was quite large. In fact, in some ways, it reminded him of the statues they’d faced earlier at the entrance to the Valley itself. That there might be other stonework trials to pass wasn’t surprising to the dwarf.
“Hold on, hold on,” voiced Ludo, “Let’s not be too hasty, give me a moment to look for any traps, these Hutakkans are pretty keen on keeping there heritage and valuables a secret from prying eyes. I would not be at all surprised to find that they had left some surprises for anyone investigating this vault.”
The thief approached the perimeter of the stairwell. The distinct of death and decay wafted up from below. He did not find any traps.
Feldard’s pragmatic impatience did much to dispel the foreboding feeling that had been growing in Stephan. The heavy-sounding, stone-on-stone grating echoed about the chambre. “Da,” the Traladarian said as some sort of declaration. “Sounds like more stone portals opening for us. We are bidden to go forth.” Yet, he made no move to actually lead the party into the depths. He looked to Miklos, who prominently held the rod.
While he waited for the mage to begin the groups’ descent, he got out his light stone, fixing it into the wire contraption he’d devised on his helm. There. Now he stood ready to enter the gloom.
The cave was a dry one, at least at this level, with none of the wonderous cave formations he’d seen in the Valkos Mountains years ago. Good, he thought. He preferred, all things considered, remaining dry. He checked, however, his flask to see how full it was and was happy to discover it brimming.
Another, very distant, stone grating sound beckoned the companions. This time, however, there seemed to be more of a cracking quality to the cave’s voice. “This hole is speaking to us. I don’t speak cave.” His words, though absurd, nonetheless somehow made sense.
“Nor Do I, Stephan,” laughed Miklos. “But Feldard does speak cave and fortification better than most, and it seems he wants to go. Lead on Master Dwarf.”
Maruc smiled thinly at his friend’s wit and stepped forward with the dwarf. “Go on, friend, this is your world, not ours. But Ludo is right to guide us cautiously.”
They moved cautiously down the ancient steps for thirty feet. At last they reached the vault, a 20-foot square chamber. A half-opened stone coffin was in the center of the room. It was etched with the familiar geometric pattern motif, identifying it as of Hutaakan origin. Behind the coffin at the rear of the room was a pedestal with some dust-covered objects upon it.
The lid slowly slid completely off the coffin, falling to the floor with a loud thud. A heavily decayed, bandage-swathed creature crawled its way out of it.