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 Post subject: [STORY] Archaeology - The Inuari Crown
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 3:39 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 12:22 pm
Posts: 1283
Real Name: Paul
((A tale I've told around the fire and before the Queen to entertain and amuse. Admittedly it was not told in this format still posted here for your amusement.))

Dr Robert Wilkins held his breath for fear his lunch might escape him, the air in the corridor was thick and foetid with death.
In front of them, supported only by the spikes that had shot out of the sides of the corridor, the fresh corpse bled gently on to the dusty floor as if pacing itself to drip all day.
"The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese" mused his companion who continued to scan the area ahead with his eyes, as he withdrew a fishing hook attached to a line of thread from one of his many pouches.
"That's Kyle Sylvon" Robert forced the words out of his mouth in an effort to break the quiet hold this place had settled on him.
"Doubt it, Kyle wasn't one for body piercing" The Halfling straightened out the line and gently swung it out in a controlled pendulum motion to the corpse.
"That was tasteless in the extreme" the middle-aged Librarian reprimanded, the fear gone, replaced by temporary but characteristic disgust at his friend’s cavalier attitude.
"I figured your reference to the Inurari Crown that night in the bar would have caught his attention." The hook snagged the corpse's leg, the blonde Halfling gently braced himself and pulled the line upwards.
"But how did he get here before us? How did he know where go? I thought my perceptions on translations of Periedes were quite individual." Robert's confidence was suddenly tinged with doubt; he'd seen ground for quite a unique paper on this outing.
"Relax, your take on Periedes is likely to still be original, Kyle's neither thinker nor thief, unfortunately for Mr Sylvon he's an opportunist. We were sold out by our trail-master! Having to stop off in Karbesh for those extra supplies Ahmed 'forgot' gave him the time to catch up and get here first. Lucky him." He unhooked the line and swung out to the other foot.
"Hmm I suppose..."
The hook caught the other ankle and the Halfling braced to lift.
"How do you know he wasn't a good thief?"
"Cause any decent thief would notice a balance tile trigger before..." the foot lifted it's weight and the spikes slammed back into the wall, peeling off the errant opportunist against the stone and allowing the corpse to slump into the pile of bones by the wall."...He stepped on it!"
Robert started forward and found his arm snagged on his companion's hand.
"What?"
"You saw the outer and inner gate in the entrance to this place yes?"
Robert nodded as his fellow archaeologist screwed together short wooden sticks into a long stave, topped with a padded ball.
"Then it's safe to say that for the Inurari, one was never enough when you could have two." as he angled the rod down the corridor pushing against each tile as he went.
As it turned out neither one nor two was enough when you could fit four such traps in one corridor.
"The Inurari strike me as a very intransigent people when it comes to architecture." Wilkins pronounced.
"Intransigent?"
"Entrenched, single-minded, dogmatic, obsessive..."
"Yep!"
"Yes what?"
"They is very intransigent buggers when it comes to traps" as another set of spikes plunged out on the wall in front of them.
Sorry apparently there was room for five.

The throne room of the Inurari was a majestic affair in elegant black marble, the ornate throne had been carved straight out of the floor with the sarcophagus at it's feet. The floor itself was carved into eighteen concentric rings of tiles, each marked with a single rune, from Robert's vantage point half way up the south wall no two runes seemed alike.
"I know this one several tiles are marked as safe depending on the rune, they'll be a key around here, somewhere..." He said.
"Naah" said the Halfling retrieving his crossbow from the back of his pack, all the while eyeing the thousands of holes that graced the walls almost hidden by the carved frescoes of a King waging war on this wall or receiving tribute on another. "They weren't intending to come back here, you only leave a back door if you intend to come back."
"Maybe just run really quickly..." Wilkins suggested.
His companion eyed the similar holes in the rooms ceiling. "I don't think so" he said slowly "Pass us your rope, Library"
The librarian returned to viewing the room, whilst fumbled through his pouches for his notebook, upon locating it he then set upon hunting down his pencil. In doing so his notebook fluttered out of his hands dropped into the room.
It slapped onto the floor there was a sound like a torrent of locusts as hundreds of little black darts streamed out of the holes in the walls and ceiling briefly filling the room with speeding deadly darts.
"Oh dear" muttered Robert reached for his handkerchief.
His companion, now shorn of his pack, finished securing a rope in the wall of the corridor and gently lowered the rope over the edge of the drop and down the wall.
Securing his crossbow across his back he went to the edge and smiled at Robert. "Wish me luck!" he said as he scaled halfway down the wall and anchored himself.
Drawing a second notebook, Wilkins began to make a cursory map of the room, as a crossbow bolt trailing a rope thunked into the back of the tall throne.
The Librarian paused to sharpen his pencil as the sound of hammering metal into marble drifted up the wall to him. He often enjoyed this part more than any other, sitting peacefully in a place no other person had ever been but them and committing this immense stone secret to paper, capturing it in lead and ink, his moment caught in time for eternity.

By now the Halfling had pulled himself, feet first, half way across the room, suspended by the rope to which he was anchored to by an umbilical rope and harness. He stopped, checked his bearing and the tools in his pouches he'd need and continued on towards the sarcophagus.

Putting the last touches to the map in his book, Robert took a sigh of triumph, and rooted through his pouches and pack for his spyglass. Producing it from it's case with a flourish of the smug, extended it and selected a new page to copy down the fresco on the far wall for prosperity.

The Blonde Halfling closed his eyes, took a deep breath and then stared again at the still sealed sarcophagus. He removed a hollow steel wedge from his pouch and reached over the sarcophagus to place it into the soft sludge used to seal it. Donning two thick gloves he produced an eighteen-inch hammer and gently hammered the wedge through the seal, and watched as the greenish air escaped out of the wedge dispersing away from him.

Tongue poking out of the side of his mouth as he strained with the effort of the deliberate strokes of the pencil, carefully and painstaking coping the lettering of the fresco, Robert concentrated, simply not hearing the grating sound of stone on stone.

The lid of the sarcophagus lay cross the lower end of the King's final resting-place leaving the lead coffin exposed. The complex lock in the chest of the sculpted coffin beckoned the Halfling onwards to the challenge. Producing his lock picks, he found himself running through the same mantra he always used when concentrating on a lock.
"In days of old,
When knights were bold,
And security was inventive.
There was a young Hobb,
Who was top of his job.
And has never yet been bested."
With a click of a lock, the coffin yielded and the archaeologist smiled.

"Hmm, that phrase at the bottom of the fresco appears to be repeated on each wall. Looks like an ancient dialect of Arabian" the Librarian mused tipping his bottom lip with the pencil. "That last word looks like harhai, humour or chortle..."

"Bingo!" he breathed staring down into the gaze of the three scarabs placed on the Mummy's chest, one carved out of onyx, one diamond and one made of gold. Reaching down, the Halfling scooped up the crown from the corpse's head and slipped it into a pouch, while the other hand snatched the diamond scarab. Next the hand pocketed the onyx scarab, as the corner of his eye caught something.

"Not buried...unburied...currently not stabbed.... Ah that's dying, right undying monarch in the male tense!"

Movement, the Mummy's arm moved just a fraction he was sure, and the arms were wrapped separately from the body most unusual. His hand dropped down for the final scarab as his feet reached out for the stirrups used to speed his travel along the rope. As he snatched the final scarab the Mummy's hand closed around his.
"Ahh ****!" cursed the Halfling scooping up the hammer with his free hand and slamming it into the side of the Mummy's head.
"WIIILLLLKKKKINNNNSS!"

"Odd-less, split by two... water buffalo. Oh dear... even. Even something, something, something, undying king, something, something, something, humorous. How curious."

Seeing that beating the Mummy in the head was having no effect, the Halfling switched targets and brought the hammer down on the back on the Mummy's hand. He spat stream of curses, realising too late that his own hand was under the Mummy's, and turned the hammer back into the Mummy's face.
"Library get yore ass over here"

Oblivious Wilkins tapped his pencil against his teeth lost in thought.

"You're dead, yer can't keep it, you greedy *******!" The Halfling continued the beat the Mummy with the hammer and succeeded in freeing his bruised hand. Pocketing the scarab he began to pull on the rope and struggle his feet into the stirrups, when the dead King sat up and grabbed his ankle. "Bugger off, yer first aid fetish!" He yelled lashing out a kick at the Mummy's head.

"Right that could be a 'the' which means that would also be a 'the'"

The Mummy fell back into the coffin and an image of what would happen if the Mummy tried to follow him popped into the halfling's mind. His foot found the other stirrup and his legs began to pump away as his arms pulled hard, sending him off down the rope.

"Hm, long river, floating rock oh last."

The Mummy sat back up in the coffin and began to pull itself up and out of the coffin.
"****, ****, ****..." continued the mantra of the rapidly retreating Halfling.

"Even something, something the undying King something the humorous last ... you know I'm starting to have doubts about that final bit."
The Mummy had got to its' feet inside the coffin now, as the archaeologist slammed into the wall and desperately tried to unhook himself and start the climb to safety. "****, ****..." The mantra continued.

"Oh has!" Robert was pleased the sentence was finally making some sense.

The Mummy fixed its' gaze on the figure beginning to climb up the wall and started off after it with a long stride.

Click

It seemed such a small sound yet it managed to carry throughout the room.
"****"

Robert looked up as the room vanished in a blizzard of black darts
"Er...Kendrick old chap?"
The blizzard had vanished as soon as it had came and Robert saw a mummified foot, scantily clad in bandages standing all alone on a tile in the centre of the room, surrounded by settling dust and pieces of rag and rope.
"Oh my" Robert stood up and moved forward. "Oh dear" As he got to the edge a bloodied hand grabbed at his ankle and he jumped back.
A second hand, bruised and sore clutched at the rope, and a battered body rolled itself over the edge into the corridor.
"Thought you might have been the Mummy, old chap."
"Naah" croaked the voice. "That business with the Mummy is all wrapped up."
Robert helped the figure stand up and handed Kendrick his pack.
"Where the hell where you Library?"
"Oh I found something really interesting!"
"I'll bet" the voice dripped with sarcasm.
"It says here that even in defeat the undying King has the last humorous"
Kendrick looked at the writing "Laugh" he said massaging his ribs "Even in defeat the undying King has the last laugh, yeah! Well laugh that off asshole!" Kendrick yelled the last part into the empty room. Then he heard the rumbling noise; it sounded far off but getting closer.
He looked to Robert, and Robert turned to him.
"Oh Dear..."
"Oh ****..."
"...Shall we..."
"...RUN!"

As the dark water poured through the holes in the ceiling and walls great cracks shuddered through the walls, the masonry roared in defiance against the twin ravages of time and the water. A huge section of wall ponderously stretched forward and disintegrated against the floor, unleashing a wave of dark foul smelling water down the corridor after the fleeing pair.
"What...about ...puff the spikes traps?" asked Robert as the rounded the corner.
"I marked each trap tile with that iridescent powder, you got in Markab. Should be fine it even glows in the dark." answered Kendrick keeping pace next to him.
They rounded the next corner in a splash of water as the first small wave hit them; they turned to face the glowing, slick floor of the corridor.
"Oh it appears to be water soluble too, how novel, next time we could even mix it up as paint."
"It's paint now" remarked Kendrick pointing glowing corridor floor.
"Well yes but next time we could paint it on each trigger tile rather than ... oh yes "
"Rather than the whole floor you mean?"
"I suppose"
The Halfling turned back around the corridor and listening to the sound of rushing water the next wave was going to be much bigger. Securing all his pouches and equipment he returned to his friend.
"Seal your pouches and answer me a question..." The roaring was getting louder now.
"Why of course what is it?" The Librarian asked intrigued as he sealed his numerous pockets and packs.
"Can you swim?" The Halfling yelled hardly hearing himself over the noise.
"Can I what?" The sound of oncoming water was deafening.
"I said can you ... oh ****!" the archaeologist felt the water turn the corner before he saw it, and acted. Throwing himself back into his companion, he knocked the Librarian off his feet as the water caught them and carried them past the spike traps.
Robert spluttered as he shouted at him, but Kendrick couldn't hear what the Librarian, a few inches away, was saying, it was something about the pit. Then it hit him, they'd crossed a seemingly bottomless pit on their way to the burial chamber and the water was picking up speed.
Water pulling at his grip and fingers the Halfling scrabbled at his belt for the correct tool as he saw the rapidly approaching drop. With his other hand he grabbed his colleague to him and held on tightly, since they'd started this partnership Kendrick had to admit he'd never had so much fun.
With a loud crack the whip hit the exposed beam, the end wrapping tightly around the wood, as with twin screams, one of terror and one of delight, the two figures burst out of the impromptu waterfall and swung out into the air. The pair hit the wall on the far side of the pit and Robert using his extra height scrabbled up and over onto the floor beyond the edge, as Kendrick swung back into the water to be pushed away by the flow of the waterfall and back towards Robert.
The librarian scowled as he started to wring the water out of his socks "Only you could get me nearly drowned in the middle of the desert, Kendrick"
"Let's do that again!" the Halfling grinned as he wound the bull whip back into it's circular coil. "Oh and remember to dry yourself properly, nightfall can't be too far away, and you don't want to freeze. Do you?"

As the pair stepped out of the tombs' gate the cool breeze of twilight gently caressed them. Kendrick looked up at the first stars beginning to flash in the sky, like messengers talking between ships at night far above.
"You never know how precious life is until you've risked it, Robert" the Halfling philosophised as the Librarian trudged over to their camels and began breaking camp.
"You never know how precarious life is until you've spent any time around you Kendrick." Robert said as the Halfling joined him in packing up the camels.
For a few minutes the pair broke camp in silence, each alone with their thoughts as the packed up the camels.
"You're still sore about the water thing, aren't you?"
"The water thing? YES!" Robert exclaimed indignantly as his mounted his camel.
"I'm sorry okay" soothed Kendrick as he too mounted his camel.
"And the falling ceiling thing" Robert continued as he moved off towards civilisation.
"I'm sorry about that too,” said Kendrick as he moved his camel into line behind his friend.
"And the spike traps..."
"Yeah that as well..."
"The bottomless pit covered in the false floor..."
"Hey I didn't build the place you know…"
As the stream of complaints drifted away after the friends, the silence of the desert closed in over the tomb entrance behind them.


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