I can feel the searing heat at my back as I dive out of the room of canopic jars and the shockwave of the blast knocks me into the wall. Great… I’m never going to hear the end of this one from Ef Utan… let’s think of a story quick!
“Kenari? What happened?” Lenata asks in concern as they all hurry around the corner to see what happened.
I wince at the disapproving look from Ef and wave them off for a second as the ringing clears from my ears. “They definitely don’t want anyone messing with those jars,” I mutter and gesture towards the remnants of wax, pottery and pieces of internal organs all over the floor of the room. “But look at what was in them!”
Vedis looks and promptly turns away with a moan. “Disgusting!”
Lenata gasps in shock as she takes in the mess of reagents and organ shaped lumps. “They were making homunculi!”
“Which is exactly why I feel we need to destroy these things. In fact, I am rather determined that these things are going to go BOOM,” I conclude.
“I agree… but we’re not about to have you risk your life again,” Ef replies. “There’s got to be a better way to do this.”
“Well… I’ve got a rope in my pack, we could always tie it around the other jar, stand around the corner, and pull it down that way?” Melchior offers.
“Works for me!” Vedis grins. “Let’s do this!”
After a few minutes of careful tying, we give the rope enough slack that we’re crouching around the corner and down the hall by the tapestry they discovered earlier. Ef Utan, ever the bodyguard, is in front with his back to the explosive room while Melchior readies to pull the rope. I’m thinking of how I will explain all of this to Bast when I see her when the countdown begins.
The hallway shakes with the force of the explosion as dust and plaster rain down from above… but fortunately the majority of it was contained in the room. I look around to see that everyone else seems no worse for wear before peeking around the corner. “Woah… I think we got more than one jar in that blast.” The walls, floor and ceiling are splattered with organs and pottery shards as what’s left of the wax drains into the now exposed holes in the floor.
“Yeah… I think we’re done here,” Ef Utan confirms as he steps around to look. “Now come on, or have you forgotten that safe in the wall we found behind the tapestry?”
My ears perk up and I grin. “You know, I did forget about that!” I also forgot about the cards… because now that I think about it, I believe we there is one called “The Waxworks.” Doh! As we walk down the hallway I slip it out of my sash and let Ef walk ahead before playing it. A slight energy radiates over us all, and then disappears.
I slap my hands together and rub them excitedly as I look at the tapestry. “You said it’s psionic, right?” I ask Vedis as I scan it for any kinds of traps around where it’s hanging.
“Yup… it’s radiating psionic energy like you wouldn’t believe,” Vedis answers. “I’m willing to bet that it’s psychoportation power.”
Vedis sighs. “Using psionics instead of magic to teleport.”
I fight the urge to lick the tapestry and declare it mine. “Okay then… well, it definitely looks like the same artist who did the tapestry of the Spelljammer back at the Portaljammer Bar. Look, you can even see her signature underneath the tail. It doesn’t look trapped though…. so…” I grab the tapestry by the edges and with a flick of my wrists it flies off of its hangers and I am rolling it up to put it in my pack. “… I guess I will just store it for safekeeping!”
Lenata giggles behind me as Ef Utan rolls his eyes. “Fine… but what about the safe?”
Ah yes… the safe! I lean in and peer carefully around the edges of the small door in the wall, as I fully expect to see some traps. Okay… there’s a poison needle trap… and another…and another… and that one is a lightning spell, and… Bast help me.
I step back and whistle in shock… as I’ve never seen so many traps around a door in my life. “I don’t know, guys… I actually don’t think I can handle this one.”
“What do you mean?” Ef Utan asks in concern.
“Well… let me put it this way. If I opened this door now, I would turn into a poison pincushion just in time to get struck by about six lightning bolts… at least.”
Melchior whistles. “Well then… what do we do now?”
“Hey now, I didn’t say we weren’t going to open it, did I? When something has that many traps on it, it’s bound to be good! We just need to think of another way to do this… because I think I probably already used up one of my nine lives on those jars back there.”
“Speaking of the jars… what if we just find a way to activate all of the traps from a distance?” Ef suggests.
“We could blow it up again…” says Vedis.
“I’ve got some bottles of Alchemist Fire!” says Lenata.
“I’ve got some powder horns and extra bullets… we could use it to make a fuse that leads to a pile of ammo and Alchemist’s Fire and blow that trap door to kingdom come!” Melchior finishes with a grin.
Have I ever told you how much I love my friends?
“Okay, if we’re going to do this, we need to make sure that we have a clear path outside before we set it off,” I tell the others. “Melchior and Vedis, you two guard that back door we came in. Ef and Lenata, you guys make sure that hallway is clear. I will set up the explosion, so when you see me running outside, do try and keep up.”
“All right guys, that sounds like a plan to me. Everyone cough up whatever spare ammo, gunpowder or Alchemist Fire you’ve got to Kenari and move to your stations,” Ef Utan orders.
After a few minutes I’ve got a pile of bullets, four bottles of Alchemist Fire, and two powder horns to try and set off the world full of hurt waiting in that door. It’s only when I feel the pain in my chest that I realize I’ve been holding my breath as I carefully place the last of the bullets on top of the pile.
I back away slowly until I round the corner and give the nod to Ef Utan, who calls out to Melchior to pull the rope to knock over the candle that lights the gunpowder and… well, you get the idea.
“Fire in the hole!” I hear him yell from the back door and we all quickly run out to join him… with still no trace of activity from the mansions residents. “Well, if this doesn’t wake them up I don’t know what will!” I chuckle as we all gather outside.
I swear, the force of that explosion lifted the house off of its foundations for just a second before it settled again. We wait a few seconds for any signs of activity after our second explosion of the day… yet still nothing.
“Maybe this Marsalee is deep underground?” I wonder aloud as I do my best to tame my now static-filled fur.
“We’ll keep an eye out for her while you go check that trapped door,” Ef Utan replies as he draws his katana. “I just hope it worked.”
While the back door was intact, the door to that hallway was unfortunately in much worse shape; it took our combined efforts to remove the rubble from the doorway before I can squeeze my way through again. Eventually I make it through the rubble, burnt wax, and scattered poison needles to find that little door perfectly intact… with the traps in the process of resetting.
“F**k me!” I blurt out as I pull my tools from my sash and scramble to unlock the small door. “No…no….no…not going through that again! You can take your lightning and stick it up your…”
I breathe a huge sigh and fall to my knees in relief as the door springs open… and that’s it.