|Image Credit: BioWare and Dragon Age Game Series.|
"This bloody cave reminds me of an anthill." Braum spat.
"So kind of like all Dwarven cities then?" Ember offered with a snide grin.
"Not like this. Whoever put this place together must have been drunker than a fish in a tub of whiskey."
"So, like all Dwarves then?"
Braum shot him a brief glare.
The door they'd passed through had led them through a drastically smaller tunnel. Unlike the previous, monumental passages, this was more akin to a large hallway than anything else. Worst yet, it appeared less like it had been carved out by a skilled group of engineers and more like it had been accidentally formed by a giant, blind, mildly idiotic worm with a tendency to lean to the right.
The hall twisted, turned, went up, went down, double back on itself, and even featured one, lone secret door that led literally nowhere.
Braum, not for the first time in the last day, felt a fire starting to light in the back of his mind. In a decade of service to Trudd, he'd never felt particularly disrespected by the deity's plans, but ever since this recent, rather cryptic dream, he'd felt outright wronged and like someone was yanking his chain. Everything about where he was, who he'd been with, and just the general lack of clear directions was quickly getting under his skin.
"You know," Ember began. "It has a sort of a majesty to it in a way. Like a piece of art. Made by a very stupid per-"
Braum didn't really hear the depressing stone as much as feel it and immediately, unconsciously regret what he knew was coming next. He'd been in a few of these ancient ruins and it always seemed some designer or architect liked to leave little surprises for those who would come later. Normally there was at least a reason; a logic to the wheres and whys a trap might be laid.
As far as he could reason in that brief millisecond of thought, whoever put it here was just an asshole.
The slab of stone shot out of the cross section of the hallway like a hydraulic press and hit him with surprising force. With a distinct clatter and clank, he found his head and upper torso brief slammed into the far wall. He saw stars and tasted copper but, to his surprise, he wasn't dead; more beat up than anything.
He was bleeding lightly from the forehead where he'd slammed it into the stone and he couldn't quite remember the alphabet, but he wasn't much worse for wear. All in all, he could have been in much worse shape. Apparently the trap had either lost its edge over the years or it hadn't been built to try and crush such a heavily armored assailant.
The enchanted steel of his platemail was already rebuilding the cracks and dings by the time he crawled up from the dusty stone.
"Son of a rotten troll fucker..." Braum growled through the taste of blood and dirt.
"You really should watch out." Ember commented dismissively.
Braum glared a warning of pain and suffering at the summoner who, despite having just watched him slam into a wall, had remained rather cool about the whole thing. Ember and his massive, ephemeral beast simply stared right back.
Mentally, he added that to the list of offenses he'd had to deal with in the last day.
"Fine. Fine. Let the..." he stared at the eidolon that was hovering just next to the summoner, searching for the right word.
He didn't find it.
"...Let the thing go first."
"What?" Ember said with the first look of surprise and emotion he'd seen on the man's face. "You can't be serious!"
"What're you talking about? Of course, I'm serious."
"But what if there's danger!" Ember demanded. "He's not immortal after all. If he dies from some beast or some trap down here I'm gonna have to STOP. Then I'm gonna have to summon him. And then we're going to have to start walking again! I just couldn't bear it if something happened."
For just the briefest of moments, Braum wondered if they would be lucky enough to find a Dwarven tomb. This was quickly followed by considering whether or not he could fit the summoner's corpse in it.
Ember let out a laugh and waved his hand dismissively. The man's monster pushed forward through the cramped tunnel and soon they were pressing on through the hewn-rock maze.
Braum, despite his feelings of frustration, continued to keep himself between the mage and any potential danger that might appear from their front however he decided to let the eidolon have a good distance this go around in case they tripped on anymore traps.
Soon enough, the tunnel widened once again into another large hall. Unlike the ones before, however, this hall actually appeared functional. Two doors could be seen, one on the left and one on the right, both made of simple wood. Additionally, there was a wide expanse shrouded in darkness further beyond...perhaps the main area of the city?
With the exception of their echoing footsteps, however, absolutely nothing stirred.
"What do you think?" Braum asked with a motion towards the vast expanse beyond.
"I think we should figure out what's behind these doors before we move on."
He considered for a moment, glancing back and forth from the void just outside of the realm of their visibility and the simple wooden doors and quickly agreed with the summoner. After all, it wouldn't take to have something sneak up on them from behind. Nor would it pay to accidentally pass over the orb that they were looking for because it was in some study or storeroom that they just walked past.
What they found in the first door in the left was hardly exciting, however.
A little room with a desk, a bed, a single chest, and a large armoire sat quietly in darkness, seemingly forgotten by time. The bed was made while the floor and everything else appeared relatively clean and undisturbed short of a fine layer of age and dust that seemed to cover everything.
Braum wouldn't have given a second thought if not for Ember.
"Ooo~" The summoner chortled as he approached the chest at the end of the bed.
With a shrug, the paladin joined him in the little room and began to take a closer look around. The table was made of a fine cherrywood; smaller but well crafted. The bed appeared to have woolen sheets. The armoire-
He blinked in surprise.
Braum hadn't noticed it the first time, but the armoire's face was glowing softly. A ring of runic symbols that he couldn't readily recognize had been carved out of the wood; the diameter of the ring having been intersected the by doors' seam.
"Huh." he thought outloud. "Hey Ember, what do you thi-"
But he didn't get to finish his question. Behind him, Ember had been tinkering about with the chest at the foot of the bed. At the same time Braum was turning to ask the summoner about his thoughts on the runes, the thunking and clanking of Ember's mechanations were replaced by very hasty footsteps exiting the room.
A half second later, the world was on fire and Braum found himself airborne.
(Hey all, sorry about my absense for the last two weeks. In short, it's one of those times that life just catches up to you and grinds everything else to a halt. As it stands, I'm working to play catch-up and hope to punch out more of Braum's tales in the next few days; hopefully with a return to regular releases. I hope everyone's doing good and that you have a wonderful day!)