Authors: Brae Wyckoff
El’Korr held his hands open in a sign of peace, “We mean no harm.” The figure relaxed a bit, so El’Korr questioned, “Why are you here?”
The hooded one slowly removed his head covering. The heroes were surprised to see he was just a teenaged boy, his unruly brown hair tousled by the hood, his eyes darting from one person to the other and back again—confused and frightened.
His voice trembling, he said, “I should be asking why are you here.”
Raina walked toward the young boy, “We came to pay our respects to Captain Yasooma.”
He glared into her face, pointing his dagger at her in an attempt to halt her approach. The boy growled, “He is nothing but trouble.”
“Why do you say that?” Xan asked.
“He placed a curse on his family. Death is all he has left behind.” His voice trailed off, and he flipped his dagger in his hand, pointing it toward himself.
Raina quickly uttered a single word, “Thairmo!” The child’s blade instantly became hot in his grip and he let go. El’Korr and Rondee grabbed him so he would not run away or try to hurt himself. He did not resist.
“You are a mystic?” he reveled in awe.
“Yes. Now what is your name?”
“Well met, young Lufra. My name is Raina. This is my brother Xan, and my dwarven friends, El’Korr and Rondee.”
“I’ve heard of dwarfs, but I’ve never seen one before. The elves have travelled through periodically down at the docks, but never dwarves. You truly are hairy creatures.”
“Why did you try to hurt yourself, and what is this curse you speak of?” Raina diverted him back with her questions.
“I’m his great, great, great grandson,” he said, motioning to Yasooma’s tomb. “I came here to find out why the curse was placed on our family, but the tomb is sealed just like my fate,” he replied solemnly.
“What makes you think like that?”
“Because of what has happened in my life. My mother died when I was born, and Father was killed on the docks in an accident. I have no more family.”
“No other relatives?” El’Korr asked.
Xan reached out and lifted the young boys head to look at him, “I have a friend that once told me a curse is meant to be broken. Perhaps we can help.”
“He angered the sea gods. There is no way to stop it. My dad warned me of the curse and told me there was nothing we could do and that it was our lot in life. I must now accept my destiny.”
“Now that is just a bunch of gnome-riddled nonsense. We will open the tomb and the truth of the past will be revealed. You can be certain of that and nothing else. Will you help us, young Lufra?” El’Korr held out his hand to Lufra and the boy grabbed hold of it.
Rondee held the torch up to read the etching on the door.
“Beneath the waves I lie;
break the surface to rise again.”
“Do you know what that means Lufra?” Raina asked.
He shook his head.
“Klello, me Malehk,” Rondee said.
“Klello? What is that?” Xan asked.
El’Korr answered, “It means clue.” He read aloud the writing on the door, ‘Beneath the waves I lie; break the surface to rise again.’ I saw waves on the mural outside. Perhaps there is some deeper meaning to the pictures,” El’Korr finished.
While inspecting the chiseled impressions, Lufra spotted something amiss and pointed it out to the others.
“You have a good eye, young lad. Take a look, Raina. This particular crest of the wave seems isolated from the others.”
The elf mystic ran her fingers across the smooth carved mural. Raina moved her hand along the edge, and closed her eyes as she released the magic that coursed through her body. A hidden button within the image was revealed. She pressed it in and a loud click startled everyone. The stone door of the front entrance opened with a loud grinding sound. They quickly moved to the doorway leading into the ancient tomb of Captain Yasooma.
“Make yourself useful lad, and hold the torch,” El’Korr stated.
“You want me to go in there?” His voice turned suddenly shrill.
“Time to face your fears. We will be with you. Now stay behind us in case we run into any critters.”
El’Korr pulled out his dwarven war hammer, unslung his shield, and entered the tomb. “Rondee and I will lead the way; our dwarven eyes can see well in the dark.”
Rondee walked passed Lufra and pulled forth a tiny golden mallet. The young boy’s forehead wrinkled in contemplation of the wild dwarf’s toy weapon. Xan then caught his attention; the sound of steel being pulled from its scabbard—a longsword.
“Lufra, you go next,” Raina said. “All will be well.”
She guided him with her hands to turn, nudging him forward. As they descended the stairs into the dark, cold tomb, the flickering torchlight created long shadows and danced off the smooth stone walls. El’Korr’s magical plate mail clanked with each step he took downward. When the heroes stepped onto the chamber floor, a fine dust of many ages was stirred, giving witness that no one had been in the tomb for years. A sarcophagus rested
in the middle. Statues depicting military seamen at attention lined the perimeter walls. The group fanned out and surrounded the resting place of Captain Yasooma.
El’Korr said, “I’ve been in many burial sites like this one and I’m not a novice at recognizing a potential threat. Rondee, watch those things while we investigate.”
“What is he talking about?” Lufra whispered to Raina.
“He is referring to the statues.”
“What about them?”
“Some places have dark magic that will cause the inanimate to become animate.”
“You mean the statues could come alive?”
She nodded, “Do not worry; you are safe with us.”
Suddenly Lufra thought the statues were moving. Fearful, he whipped the torch around crazily creating frightening shadows.
El’Korr grabbed his shoulder, “Calm yourself, and bring the light closer.”
Lufra gulped and nervously moved toward the stone bed in the center.
“What are your thoughts Xan? You have been too quiet,” El’Korr said.
“There are no markings to indicate a curse, but I have a strange feeling of heaviness. I suggest caution.”
“Telling a dwarf to be cautious is like telling a Baruvian cat to take a bath. How about Rondee and I slide the lid off and see what we are dealing with? Everyone ready? Lufra, step back.”
Xan shrugged, “Why not?”
El’Korr nodded to his trusted protector, Rondee, “Try to be, cautious,” he scoffed.
Rondee grinned, revealing his yellowed teeth, and then began to push the stone cap. The sound of grinding rock echoed in the chamber and then finally the weight of the lid tipped off the other side; one end rested on the ground and the other leaned against the stone coffin.
The adventurers squinted while Lufra shuddered at the sight before them—the remains of the famous Captain Yasooma. He wore a regal white uniform, and his arms crossed over the sabre laid on his chest. The skin of the cadaver was a withered, bluish grey, and its face was sunken with teeth that protruded from curled up lips. A look of pain distorted his deathly features. The chamber filled with a putrid smell of decay.
El’Korr said in disgust, “That’s not only the body. The stench of a demon is here.”
The heroes waited, deathly quiet, staring at the corpse in the sarcophagus.
Lufra pointed, “Did you see that? The sword.” He stepped forward and suddenly a quick gust of whistling wind fluttered the flaming torches and a slithery, raspy voice crackled from the shadows, “Who dares to enter my domain?”
Every one of them was jolted as they turned this way and that, their glances darting around the shadowy tomb.
El’Korr, making light of the matter, taunted, “Well, looks like we have a hider. Come out and reveal yourself; we are not leaving.”
Beads of sweat formed on Lufra’s brow; he was visibly shaken. He looked to Raina with wide eyes; she placed her hand firmly on his shoulder, and nodded to calm him.
Xan stepped forward, placed his blade tip on the ground, and knelt down on one knee, “In the name of all that is good, in the name of all that is pure, we banish you from this place!”
From the shadows came a howling shriek. At that moment, Xan was hurled backward by an invisible force into the wall. He fell to the ground grimacing in pain, his sword clattering beside him on the stone floor.
“Don’t do that again, Elf,” the whispery voice crackled.
Rondee assisted Xan to his feet and retrieved the elf’s weapon as El’Korr insisted, “Show yourself, dark spirit.”
In answer to El’Korr’s demand, the invisible demon’s whistling wind once again hurled Xan, this time with Rondee, through the air and slammed them both into the wall, with their arms and legs hanging like rag dolls. They fell to the rough floor, grunting and fighting for air. They crawled on all fours to stand with the others.
El’Korr turned to Raina, “We could use some help right about now.”
The powerful Sheldeen elf mystic said, “I can help once I see what it is. Get it to reveal itself.”
“That is what I’m trying to do.”
Throughout the bizarre happenings, Lufra, shaking and gasping for every breath, stared down at his deceased third generation grandfather. He was overwhelmed by a vision which overlapped his natural sight. He watched as incorporeal waves began washing over the cadaver before him.
He could almost hear the lapping, and smell the sea salt, but then the clear water turned to an inky red.
He was snapped back to reality when Raina grabbed his arm and cried, “We need to leave.”
The teenager resisted and pulled away, “No! I have to do this.”
Raina watched as Lufra approached the corpse of Captain Yasooma. She started to follow him, when suddenly the impact of the powerful force of the demon pushed her away. A loud ear-piercing screech filled the room and the heroes winced in pain and covered their ears.
Unphased, the boy turned quickly to El’Korr, “I need water,” he cried.
“Yes, do you have any?”
El’Korr took a vial of holy water from his pouch, Lufra grabbed it, took off the cork and poured the contents over the corpse. As the blessed liquid touched the withered body, a ghostly plasmatic hand formed and immediately wrapped its fingers around the throat of Captain Yasooma. El’Korr stared in disbelief.
“It turned red,” Lufra whispered in realization. “My blood. It’s my blood we need!”
Without hesitation El’Korr understood what Lufra was saying. He drew his dagger to cut the boy’s hand and draw the blood needed to complete the ritual. However, before he could carry out his intentions, the beast of darkness manifested on top of the tomb. It swung its skinless red arm covered in purple veins mightily against El’Korr’s face; sending him sprawling across the floor. The creature whirled to face Lufra; the hideous monster’s razor sharp blackened teeth extended from a snarling snout. He sneered at the boy, his elongated jaw nearly touching the nauseated young man.
“You lost your inheritance, child,” the scratchy tone of the demon said. “You will be forever mine.”
Although Lufra was in near shock, he was aware that he had not completed his mission; his blood must mix with the holy water he had poured on his grandfather’s corpse. Determined to complete his commitment, he steeled himself and then slammed his jaw down on the rough stony ridge of the sarcophagus, opening a wound that spurted his blood against the screeching beast and onto the deceased Captain Yasooma.
At that very moment, a blinding light burst forth from the tomb, consuming the vile creature whose screech grew to a guttural roar that pained
the ears of the heroes until the beast of darkness dissipated and the wrenching sound faded away and there was silence. With the creature gone, the spectral hand also vanished from around the Captain’s neck.
The heroes gathered silently around the ancient crypt and saw that the countenance of Yasooma’s gnarled face had changed to an expression of peace.
“How did you know what to do?” Xan questioned the young man.
Lufra pointed into the sarcophagus, “I don’t know. I think maybe he showed me.”
At that moment, an apparition appeared in the tomb; an angelic being with beautiful, unfurled white wings that turned blue at the tips. A bright aura glowed in and around its face, shielding it from scrutiny. Standing eight feet tall, the muscular seraph wore a silver kilt that reflected the flickering light in the tomb. Gold straps crossed over his shoulders down its midsection to connect at the waist. Each piece linked together to form the shape of an arrow.
It spoke in a deep, powerful, melodic voice, “Heroes of the realm of Ruauck-El, you have defeated Niberius, a fallen one assigned to the Yasooma family. It is my honor to fill the open position as the Yasooma family’s guardian.” He turned to the child, “Approach, Lufra.”
The boy looked at the others, who nodded for him to obey the command. He took a step forward. The angel of light reached down into the sarcophagus and retrieved Captain Yasooma’s pristine weapon—a sabre. The curved, single edged steel blade sparkled. Gold etchings were engraved from top to bottom. As the celestial being held the sabre, a sizzling sound came from the weapon as the letter ‘Y’ became engraved by unseen hands on the large guard over the hilt.