In the Shadow of Kings

In the Vault of Kalak

Aryenne al

As we got closer to the wall surrounding the Golden Tower and the Templar district, we tried to make up a plan. Some of us were skeptical of helping Sariel to get the relic, but we finally decided that the vault would probably contain other valuable things, that all of us could enjoy.

When we came to the gate leading into the Templar’s district, we saw a big group of soldiers outside. They seemed to be waiting for something, or someone. Suddenly a smaller group of soldiers came running towards the gate from the city. They were protecting a man in the middle, but we could not see who it was. As he disappeared into the gate, the guards started to retreat. Peikka realized that the opportunity to get into the city was falling out of our hands and he called out to the captain of the guard. When he turned towards us, we saw a familiar face. It was Melehr Shahram, the son of the Titan.

He commanded the guards to let us in. He had orders from his father to bring us to him if we showed up at the gate. The guards at the gate were not convinced but during the confusion we were able to get inside. I had to knock down a pair of guards so that Sariel and Sarghon could make it. Then Melehr and a bunch of his guards led us into the Golden Tower and down into the cellars. This was the last task his father had given to him, and he left us at the top of some stairs. The Titan was waiting for us down there, he said.

We went down and found ourselves in a large chamber with a heavy gate covered with mystical symbols on the one side, and crossing a bottomless chasm were four sets of stairs leading down from other parts of the Tower. The Titan was nowhere to be seen. As we tried to force the door open, Musa Dyan came down the stairs accompanied by two Panthers and a group of archers. Peikka continued working on the door, which showed to be quite difficult, while we threw ourselves into the fight with Dyan and his forces. Sariel threw one of the panthers into the abyss between us and Musa Dyan. Claw fought the other one bravely. As Peikka finally managed to open the door with some help from us, we all rushed in and closed it behind us, barely escaping the wrath of the furious Templar.

We found ourselves in a room with seven statues. Over the door were familiar words written, an old nursery rhyme, known by every child in Athas:

Going back in time, to an age of which little is known,
The Princes some of the mightiest swayed,
For they wanted the world for their own.
Of the Seven that Betrayed,

Myra the Scorcher was the First,
Burning the lands to quell her thirst,

Saeke of Arala was the Sage,
Forsaking his people to learn from another age,

Wylin of Bodach, she was the Blight,
Doing what was needed for the Princes, that was her plight,

Oronis the Dirge was a prince of Kurn,
For his love to the blight, he would watch the world burn,

Daginor of Eldaarich fought ironclad,
Until the lure of the Princes drove him mad,

Kalid-Ma the Stranger was unknown to her kin,
And with blood magic, she killed them all with a grin,

Dregoth the Dread King was the fiercest of them all,
By sacrificing a generation, he survived the Downfall,
And in his stronghold he sits even today,
Plotting and scheming in the city of the Dray.

We soon realized that the statues represented the Seven, on each side of the room stood three of the Betrayers. There was Myra with her flowing robes and wild hair, Wylin of Bodach surrounded by snakes, Daginor of Eldaarich clad in armor with great sword by his side, Saeke of Arala with a feather pen and an open book, Oronis the Dirge with his lute and a sad smile on his lips and Kalid-Ma with a hood over her unseeing face and a knife in her hand. In the middle stood Dregoth the Dread King with dragonwings on his back. One of his hands held a broad sword and the other was extended, palm up, as if he was about to be given something.

There were dark spots beneath some of the statues, and we soon realized it was blood. As we examined the statues closer, we found out that the knife of Kalid-Ma was removable. Suddenly I stood with the stone knife in my hand and tested the edge at my thumb nail. It was sharp, very sharp. Behind the statue of Dregoth we found a door which could not be opened. There had to be a connection between the blood stains and the door.

We used the knife of the Stranger and all of us tried to please the dead gods and goddesses with our blood. Nothing happened… Not until I laid my bloodied hand on the cold stone formed as the hand of the Dread King. The door behind the statue opened and revealed a small passageway.

In a poorly lightened room, we found the Titan lying on the floor. He was dead. By his head sat the one legged child. He played with the Titan’s head and started to speak slowly. ”HE is in there, he is still very upset, you know.” Behind his back was a large, thick door. The boy continued. “He heard her thoughts, the restless wanderer. She has forgotten her nearest. They were wrong. They took the wrong child. But it is his turn now. He wants her, he wants the crimes answered for.” Suddenly the boy looked up and turned his head to me. “He has the Adar Na Tia, he has her heart now. The wanderer has forgotten her name, she used to be the queen of secrets, but she kept them so well that she has forgotten even who she is.” Then he fell silent and turned back to the corpse in front of him. He started patting the head again and then he slowly faded away before we could ask him about his mysterious statements.

While Sarghon and Sariel had a totally stupid discussion about what should be done with the body of the Titan while trying to keep Corrin and Legion away from it, I realized that we had to keep going. I pushed the door open and entered the Vault of Kalak.

A gigantic hall was revealed. The floor was covered with sand and in the middle was the top of a pyramid. Then I saw him, Aziru! My brother was sitting on one of the lower steps of the pyramid. There were paths leading out to the pyramid over the sand and as I walked towards the closest one, I heard the others coming through the door.

As I walked cautiously towards the pyramid, I heard the others gasp. When I turned around I saw them standing behind me, hindered to follow by some invisible force. Suddenly, a giant tentacle shot up through the sand some steps behind them. I tried to point at it and shout out a warning, but at the same time I felt something forcing me to continue the walk towards Aziru.

I tried to stop walking, I tried to talk to him, but I was forced to take first one step, and then another. There were more tentacles shooting up through the sand and in the corner of my eyes I could see my allies fighting furiously. Close to Aziru’s face I was stopped. I saw that he was holding a strangely shaped stone in his hand. It looked almost like a heart. Suddenly, I had a knife in my hand and realized that my arm moved it closer and closer to my neck. I pleaded him to stop. Alina tried to remind him of all we had done together, that we were siblings, that we had the same blood and a history together. The knife was pressed harder against my skin, I could feel the blade and a few drops of blood running down my neck. One drop landed on the stone in Aziru’s hand and I could feel a burst of power flowing from it. For a short moment it looked as if the stone shimmered.

Alina continued talking, but I heard her voice as if she was standing far away. Suddenly I saw a flicker in my brother’s eyes and I felt the pressure from the knife lighten. I could move again and quickly took the few steps up to my brother. I put the knife to his neck and only needed to do a quick cut to kill him, but I hesitated. He is my brother, whom I have been searching for since he was taken from us in the attack that killed my father. Maybe I could save him…

My hesitation was enough for Aziru to regain his mind. He looked in my eyes and laughed. “Your time has come, sister”, he said and then forced my arm to make a deep, deadly cut in his neck. The heart shaped stone fell to the ground. I picked it up and could feel it vibrate to my touch. When I looked around I could see the group still fighting what appeared to be a huge sand snake with tentacles spread all across the room.

Sariel defended Alina from one of the tentacles and slashed at it repeatedly. It seemed as if she was about to defeat it when it suddenly made a last swing, which hit Sariel. It was a hard hit, and Sariel fell to the floor with her spear still clutched in her hand.

At the same time, in another part of the chamber, the mouth of the tentacled beast broke through the sand close to where Peikka and Legion were standing. Both started to attack it and Peikka prepared his most powerful attack, the one that saved us from the gigantic sandworm in the caves. This time, for some reason, it did not work fully as planned. The attack hit, but when the beast closed its mouth, Peikka managed to push Legion out of the way, but he himself got caught…

Suddenly the chamber was still and quiet. At my feet lies my brother, but we soon realize that he is not the only one who lost his life in the battle. We will have to leave the chamber and continue our journey without Sariel and Peikka…

Before we left we picked up as many of the Vault’s treasures as we could carry. There were metal weapons, armors, rings, necklaces and gems. Then we got out from the vault, outside the Golden towers and the Templar districts. Outside the walls we met the fire. Tyr was on fire! We decided to try for the north gate and started running through the burning streets.

The heart shaped stone was still in my hands and I could not help but wonder why it had reacted with that shimmering light when my blood touched it. Does that mean that my blood is special in any way? How? Does that mean that I am part of something big? Something evil? I have so many questions and cannot wait until I can discuss them with my sister.

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Aryenne

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