The staircase wasn’t long, only going down about five metres, but the temperature was noticeably hotter than it had been in the ruins above. The chambre itself was long, rectangular and surprisingly intact. The entire chambre was a bright white marble with glass cases scattered around.
Axra moved over to examine one. It had some kind of jewel inside, oval-shaped and bright red, and a plaque in some strange language.
“Hey, Bon,” Lysara said, gesturing towards a case. “Isn’t this pendant pretty?”
“It is,” Bonnie said, glancing briefly at it. “But I doubt it’s what we came for.” She turned to Twila. “Do you detect any magic?”
“A lot,” Twila said. “There’s magic all around us. Every case down here may very well have some kind of magic item in it.”
“S… so, do we have to, you know, check all of them?” Lilly asked.
Twila shook her head. “Not at all. There is one source of magic that’s significantly above the rest. That should be Zerstörelicht.”
“That’s my Twila!” Axra declared. “Lead the way and let’s grab it.”
“We should advance with caution,” Bonnie stated. “Given the security around this place there are probably golems about.”
“Not necessarily,” Twila said. “This was probably a basement to a museum or possibly a research facility. They almost certainly used dark elf guards.”
“And your basis for thinking that?” Bonnie asked.
“Golems can be useful for sending into battle but they’re more than a little inflexible,” Twila answered. “Getting them to distinguish between an authorised person and a thief… Well, if they could readily manage that feat then we’ve forgotten much about crafting golems.”
“Besides,” Axra said. “There aren’t any golems in sight. They’d post some at the entrance if they used them, right?”
“That does seem probable,” Bonnie conceded. “Just the same, it would be prudent to show caution.”
“True,” Twila agreed. “We’ll be careful going forward.”
The group followed Twila forward. Axra and Lilly flanked her. Bonnie and Lysara brought up the rear, looking around for any signs of trouble.
After eight and a half minutes of walking they reached a marble pedestal with a pure white, unstrung bow resting on it.
“That’s Zerstörelicht ?” Axra asked. “A crummy wooden bow?”
“It… I… I don’t think it’s wood,”Lilly said. “Th… the texture is… wrong for wood.”
“It’s definitely not wood,” Twila observed. “But I don’t know what it’s actually made of.”
“Whatever,” Axra muttered. “Let’s just grab it.” She took a step forward, but Bonnie put an arm out to stop her.
“There may be some kind of security measure,” Bonnie said. “I’ll grab it.”
She moved forward and carefully reached for the bow.
“Wait,” Twila said. “There’s some kind of spell around it, probably some kind of trap. Let me dispel it.” Twila chanted quickly and gestured towards the bow. A bright light flickered and went out.
“Great,” Axra said. “Now let’s…” The ground rumbled around them and she nearly fell onto the ground but Lilly caught her and pulled her up.
The eastern wall had slid open and a large creature gazed out at them. It was spider-like with eight legs and eight yellow eyes. It was six metres tall, almost reaching the ceiling, and ten metres wide. It had long, sharp fangs and several odd protrusions along its back.
It rushed straight for them, its legs sliding easily across the ground.
“Don’t worry, I’ll handle it!” Axra declared. She drew her blade and charged back at it. Its eyes glowed briefly and a beam of light slammed into Axra, forcing her sword out of her hand and tossing her back. With a gasp, Lilly moved to catch her, getting dragged to the ground with her, but doing her best to cushion Axra’s fall.
“Princess!” Bonnie cried. She charged the monster, only for one of its fangs to fly at her, attached to the main body through some kind of chain. It coiled around Bonnie. The creature lifted her into the air and slammed her roughly into the ground.
“Bon!” Lysara screamed.
“I’ve got it,” Velvet said. “Man, what a pain.” He strode briskly towards the construct, braced to catch whatever it threw at him. It swiped one of its legs at him. His arms caught it, but the creature easily tossed him aside.
“Barrier!” Twila shouted, snapping her fingers. A shimmering field appeared around the construct. “Lysara, grab Bonnie. Lilly, pick up Axra. Reginald, get Velvet!” Twila ordered. “Hurry, I can’t hold it long.”
Lilly was in pain from the collision, but she managed to crawl out from under Axra and pick her up. Lysara moved to her fallen love. “Still breathing,” she muttered. “Thank the Gods.” She picked Bonnie up and tried to not dwell on her wounds or think about how much blood she’d lost. Reginald reached Velvet quickly and hoisted him up with some difficulty.
“Forget the bow,” Twila muttered. “Just get out of here.”
“Wh… what about you?” Lilly asked, noting that Twila had developed a severe nosebleed.
“I’ll be fine,” Twila answered. “I’ll run after you when I can’t maintain the barrier anymore.”
The creature’s eyes glowed and Twila’s barrier shattered. She cried out in pain and nearly fell over. The monster was striding right for her.
Twila hurriedly chanted as it approached. This was going to be tough. If her timing was off… She shook her head and tried not to think about it. The creature was almost upon her.
“Cheetah’s Speed!” She cried. She moved rapidly, barely avoiding a blast from the monster’s eyes, Fang clutching onto her back.
She bolted back towards her comrades. They were starting their way up the stairs when she reached them, but the construct wasn’t far behind.
She fumbled in her bag and quickly found the summoning scroll. She pressed her hand to it. “Summon!” A reaper materialised and instantly moved against their opponent. “Summon! Summon! Summon!”
She kept going, summoning reaper after reaper and sending them to slow the menace. The reapers were being easily dispatched, but it didn’t matter. Her friends were almost up the stairs. Finally, the scroll shattered in her hand, its final charge used. She hurried up the stairs after her friends. Their opponent reached the bottom of the stairs just as she was going up into the ruins. It looked around as though confirming that it was alone and went back the way it had come.
“Thank the Gods its not following us,” Twila muttered.
“What was that thing?” Reginald asked.
“I… I think it was that,” Lilly said. “You know… the sleeping destroyer.”