Marie placed her ear to the thick rock door. She didn’t like what she heard on the other side. A wailing was coming from inside and she knew more danger was waiting on the other side.
“I don’t like it,” she said aloud.
“We can’t just wait around forever,” Chrom said, “Bender and Diarus may be waiting for us further on.”
“B-but with Haro in this condition,” Jim began babbling nervously.
“You carry her Jim,” Adalos said, “Marie, Chrom, and I will clear out the rooms ahead while you protect her.”
“Seems reasonable enough when you put so little thought into it,” Marie remarked annoyedly. There was something about Adalos, she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. It made her angry, did she know him from something in her past? All her memories were so blurry that she couldn’t remember if she despised him for something way back or his flirtatious personality now. It had only been a day or so since they’d met, but she felt like she’d been bothered by him for centuries. It doesn’t matter in the long run though, she thought, our companionship is temporary.
“Do you have a better plan, Marie?” Adalos asked, the frustration in his voice clear.
“Fine,” Marie shrugged.
“You do the honors, old eagle eyes,” Adalos motioned toward the door dramatically and Marie rolled her eyes.
Cautiously watching for all signs of a trap, Marie opened the door. Nothing went off, but she didn’t feel the slightest relieved. Behind her, Adalos surged forward, but she didn’t budge. The crying had grown louder and Marie had located the sobbing woman. The gray skin and dark hair told Marie that this creature was not in need of assistance. No, the wretch was coaxing in her next victims and Marie would not be one of them. With Adalos struggling to get through the door, Marie took a running leap, bounding over the creature and landing on its other side. Immediately the thing hissed, turning to lash out at Marie. She dived aside, getting a close look at its face.
Black pupil-less eyes stared gauntly into hers, while rows of jagged gleaming teeth leered in an evil grin. Despite the terror she felt, Marie held steady. Adalos had already positioned himself to the right of the creature and Chrom to the left, while Jim had set Haro behind him and stood opposite of Marie. The creature was boxed in, with nowhere to run. In many of her travels, Marie had often found that, when united, heroes become evil’s own nightmare.
Immediately, the thing realised its terrible mistake. But, it was too late. Between the blows of Marie, Adalos, and Jim (not to forget a rousing blow from Chrom’s staff that set her on fire) she was finished. A crumpled heap of ash on the floor, a remnant of the evil that still plagued the hallways.
“Are we supposed to be terrified?” Adalos scoffed.
“I-I d-don’t think that creature was the worst of it,” Jim said, picking up Haro’s limp form and carrying her as if she were a baby. It was a marvel, the gentle giant was incarnate.
“There’s plenty more danger ahead,” Marie sighed. She crossed the room to the door on the other side, looking once more for traps. All seemed clear as she opened the door and found herself immediately dragged in.
Diarus awoke feeling light-headed. He had a faint memory of darkness and a voice…a voice who’d done something to him. In his blood, through his muscles, inside his thoughts he could feel it. A presence lurking, waiting for something. He was scared.
“You done fainting?” Bender said gruffly. His sharp face softened in surprise for a brief moment and then firmed into a glare of disapproval. “Your eyes are black,” he huffed.
“Black?” Diarus asked, he words coming out choked as they caught it his throat. His mouth was dry and he felt his face for a change. Of course his hands found nothing different, but his heart knew there was darkness amiss.
“I’ve gotten through a few rooms,” Bender said, completely forgetting about the eyes. Well, forgetting to care.
Diarus rose to his feet feebly. He looked down at the quarterstaff in his hand, the same one that had been driven through his chest last he could remember. It was perfect spotless now, betrayingly innocent. Shaking off his nervous thoughts, he strode after Bender.
Around him was a thick gloom, yet not so dark as the one where he’d had his “accident.” Bender strode fearlessly down the corridor, torch in hand. “So what happened?” Diarus asked.
“You fell over,” Bender replied simply.
“And you’ve just carried me?” Diarus asked, a little impressed with the dwarves thoughtfulness for him.
“I wasn’t just gonna wait around for you to wake up,” Bender growled, already annoyed with all the talking happening. He almost wished the druid was still unconscious. Ahead, the room broadened and the ceiling spanned 50 feet above their heads. At the top of the ceiling were four lights, somehow making the entire room bright as day. To their right were three statues of various beings, while on the left there was an uncountable number of beings carved into the wall and reaching to the top.
Diarus let out a gasp of wonder at the site. Bender cared more about the rattling coming from a door just a few feet away from them, he braced himself. The door began to open, quickly he reached up to grab who ever it was and thew her onto the ground. Holding his axe to her throat.
“It’s me, Bender,” Marie said calmly, though she glanced nervously up at the axe.
Adalos, Chrom, and Jim who carried Haro all found their way out of the door. Bender set his axe against his shoulder and looked down contemptuously at Marie. Quickly, Adalos offered a hand up but she brushed it away and stood up. Now everyone took in the sight around them. Adalos, began touching the statues and mumbling nonsensically.
“What’s going on?” Haro piped up weakly.
“We’ve found statues,” Jim said dotingly, letting her down watching that she wouldn’t fall.
Haro gazed about the room confusedly, “When did they get back? Where are we?” Her mind worked quickly, taking in her surroundings. She’d always been quick minded, but this was a whole new world to her. She wasn’t sure what to make of the stones looming above her. She focused her attention on Diarus and Bender, he perceptive gaze missing nothing.
“What happened to your eyes?” she asked Diarus.
“I-I’m not sure,” Diarus murmured, conspicuously hiding his face. Everyone had already seen. Haro moved on, shrugging briefly. If he couldn’t explain it, who could? No use worrying over something they didn’t have means to figure out. She caught a narrowed expression on Marie’s face briefly as if Marie didn’t believe him. She shrugged again.
“Did you get a new axe?” Haro pointed to the wrapped weapon on Bender’s back.
“An axe,” he said warmly, something Marie had originally thought impossible. He skillfully unwrapped it and held it out, glistening in the odd lighting. Nothing escaped Haro’s eyes, they flickered from the axe to one of the four statues on their right.
“It looks like that dwarf’s axe,” Haro pointed. Bender, curious (another thing Marie never thought he was capable of) strode over to the statue and held up his axe to the giant one. Their likeness was identical.
“These are,” Adalos said, excited at Haro’s find, “the champion titans. At least the three on the right are, this other fellow with the book and spheres is unknown to me. They’re an ancient legend.” Adalos skipped about with glee, pointing to the symbols engraved in their cloaks, “Look there,” he laughed, “this one’s a halfling like Haro, she even has a rapier.”
“This is all very fascinating,” Marie said, clearly uncomfortable, “but can we move on. I don’t want to be in this horrible place having a history lesson when I could be outside here, eating a hearty meal.”
“T-there’s still more h-here,” Jim motioned to the otherside of the room where an open arch showed a room further on.
“Let’s go then,” Marie frowned.
“What about the other wall?” Haro asked, ignoring Marie’s discomfort.
“They seem to be images of the gods and goddesses,” Adalos said happily, enthusiastically enjoying the attention, “there’s the god of the sun, goddess of luck, and there! That’s the goddess of the moon!” he pointed out.
“Let’s go!” Marie stamped her foot frustratedly. Without waiting for the others she hurried towards the arch, her dampened mood annoying at best. Jim followed quickly, while Bender leisurely strolled. Chrom, who’d been studying everything thoroughly was next to leave. Adalos and Haro followed reluctantly, but not without casting a longing glance back once more. Adalos paused for a moment, shaking his head to readjust his vision. The face he’d seen was lost among the countless other depictions of gods and goddesses but, for a moment, he swore he’d seen Marie’s face among them.