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5
Barrows on The Avenue of the Dead

Just before sunrise, he heard something which sounded like singing – and he opened his eyes to find out what was the commotion. It was not really commotion on the large scale of things, instead it was more lasting in his head. The creeping nature of light – which was barely visible – he remembered that it was called “ wolf's tail” by people of the Inner Sea, made an impression. Right now it was a lighter blue that the shade of night, but was still not morning. But he knew he was certainly awake, with a mourning dove far away above him. It did not surprise him that Loria was awake, and it only partially surprised that Gwynwyffer was already scrolling up her bag that she had been sleeping in. which meant at this he should get a as well. With practiced movements he was ready at the same time as Gwynwyffer – she was surprised how fast he could be ready. Then in the morning mist, has he heard the warbling of birds, and the low humming from both of his companions – he surveyed the situation.

Though there were low clouds, still it was just before morning. This meant that the sky was mostly clear and would become clearer as the sun rose. The Hunter's bright star was just winking out, with daybreak to come in about an hour. Then he turned his attention to the ruins – on his left – and the Barrows – on his right. Right now, he was facing West – and in the distance he saw the mountains which surround the vast inner city – called Lake Benath by its inhabitants. The problem that he was facing was this – should they go directly for the earthmaster dome – or should they explore the Barrows, in case they would come out this way again. Because there was something unusual contained within their twists and turns.

Turning his head towards Gwynwyffer: “I am the about exploring the tombs before venturing to either the ruined fortress – or the dome. What do you think?” most women would be flattered to be asked, but not Gwynwyffer, she took it as her due.

“If it were my decision, I would definitely explore the Avenue of the Dead – before we venture to the glass dome.” She of course was speaking of the psuedo-stone, which they both knew was not glass at all, and in fact they had never seen glass that was anywhere near the size. Not even close. Not that it was transparent, more translucent – it did not have that opacity of real stone, but it had the solidus that reminded one of it.

Realizing that something was wrong, he again kicked himself - because Loria had become invisible again, and he almost discounted this. Obviously, it was not just seeing that was absent, in this case, he did not even think of her. He wondered whether this was true for everyone, or if it was only him.
Two of them went up the gentle slope that carried them to the Avenue of the dead. The Avenue was East West facing, and has a white cobblestone layer which is about 10 yards across. Once they were on the road, it was clear that it was rather easy going compared to the dirt or grass. It was clear that the builders paid attention to this, for which he was grateful – it reminded him of the roads which the legionnaires marched on.

Though it was about an hour after sunrise, there were still shadows on barrows. Coming from East to West, there was a difference between the newer ones and the older ones. The ones, at the East and closest to them, were made of stone. There were five of these, largest one being by itself, with no pair along the southern side of the road. But the other four were placed to along the south side into along the north side. The nearest two work different in their nature, along the southern side there was a cross, wall on south side it rose up to form a trapezoid. Then the next two were basically the same, this being like the other trapezoid shape. Then there were five pairs which were just a mound, though they formed an oval like construction. It was obvious that they grew larger until the northern one had a distinct series of smaller burials which made it seemed grander somehow grander.

The last one on his left was completely different from the others. Either the 10 mound, or the four stone burials. First of all it was more than twice the size, and it was made of stone, but an entirely different kind of stone. It also does not have a runic stone between the road and the Barrows, but instead the writing is more modern script. The legionnaire imagined that there were names, but he was not close enough to read them. The two stone like barrows near him had been ransacked, and pillars were strewn to get at the contents. Or at least that is what he hoped, the other possibility was to ghastly to think about.

As silently as if she had been enspell, Gwynwyffer came up on his left shoulder, and waited just a minute, before asking: “ so what do you think of Lothrim's Avenue of the Dead.” He was going to reply, but then from behind them, the sun rose above the trees. There was something magical about it, and they could pull see a reflection in the last tower. The reflection was brighter than anything other than the sun, and swirling of many colors. For a moment it blinded both of them, and even when it did not – there was something elusive about it. There was no denying that it was meant to be an attractor, leaving no doubt that it wanted to be looked at – even though there was a darkness to it.

“That is exceedingly odd, and I would guess that there is some kind of illusion to it.”

“You do not know much about magic do you?”

“I work with miracles, not magic.”

“Illusion is a specific kind of magic, and there is no illusion to that. It is magic, but not all the kind you are speaking of. Mind you, there is illusion about the place, but it is a different spell entirely.”

“What are you saying?”

“In all my other voyages to this place, this is the first time that anyone has seen that, as far as I know.”

They had had conversations before, and he knew that Gwynwyffer and Loria had been here before. 

Though how many times he could not extract from either of them. Though he had many attempts at this in Trobridge. Apparently it was one of the myriad things they would not talk about.

“Are you say that it is new?” He queried.

“To not saying that. What can be said that this is the first time that anyone I know of, has seen it. When it was conjured, this is not public knowledge - though someone probably does know, but is keeping it a secret.”

There was a great deal of information, both said and unsaid, for the legionnaire to ponder on. But what should the apparent to anyone, was that the dome was important to the earthmasters, and venerated by succeeding waves of humans. And looking around him made him suspect that there was either something attractive, or repellent, to the elves. Which one would be answered by whether Loria was closer to the dome, or further away from it. There was something, not in his ears, but in his head. It was a kind of moaning, and distinctly heard the elves residence in it. Thus he imagined that there was something about the dome which disturbed Loria, but this was a speculation. Perhaps by talking with her, he would finally get out of her what it was. At least that was his hope, but hopes where the two of these were concerned were often frustrated.

In the end, they were transfixed by the multi-colored round object on the penultimate tomb – so some unknown wit had called it – and begin to walk towards it. Every so often one or the other had seen in the shadows of one of the crypt what looked like a face, or a body. But when they looked more closely, it did not seem to be anything. But they were careful nonetheless. Perhaps there were gargun. He did not want to think of what could be worse, though his mind conjured up visions. This went on as he glanced under the oak and maple trees. The also noted that there were no inhabitants – human or otherwise – that he could see. He hoped it was because they were absent from the area, but he rather doubted this.

Without a great deal of aplomb, the two set their courts for the second tier of the mausoleum, to discover what had created this flash, which was now gone. It was odd pacing this pyramid, holding some secret that was new to both of them, there was a kind of excitement in it – a thrill which was cerebral in nature, like a great artwork. It was at least an hour before getting to the base of it, it was stressful – and it seemed that there was magic involved. Every step was torture – so while they were excited, they were also tired even though the sun had not reached 8 o'clock. Finally they had to rest, and waited for an hour before tackling the obelisk itself.

But tackle it they did, though there were no stairs – and each of the four layers was almost 15 feet tall. At first they tried to climb it, but that did not work – it was just too high. Finally, the legionnaire cupped his and lifted Gwynwyffer – and then jumped on to the next level. They did this again, and it was smoother then figuring it out the first time. Then they did it again, knowing that they would probably find out what the material was that caused for a moment the flash that they had seen in our ago.

Once they were on top, they moved towards the east, and sited the exact point where the gleam had occurred. And finally they did so. At first they imagined that it would be a part from the repository, and would be obvious to all who had looked for it. But this was not the case, instead there was a6 feet wearing on the crypt itself, and why it was visible only when the sun had just crested became obvious.

A sorcerer had tried to open a way in to the barrow, only to be entombed himself. One could just barely make out his position, because he walked, and then was caught. In the bright light, one could see him, as if the vault was telling everyone that this is what happens to those who profane the dead. There was a chill in of their bodies, clearly there was still magic, magic which was lethal in its intensity.

“I can see that you and Loria are not the only people to test this place.”

“We know there is protections on these monuments. Especially the Barrows.”

“At least you are disturbed.” Because he distinctly saw her shaking like a leaf.

“Who would not be? Perhaps one of the undead would pass this off, but know one else.”

“Perhaps this is why no one comes to this place.”

They have had enough warnings, it is only the stupid or the clever who attempt to abscond with the precious contents. The gargun and the Chelini do not have to do much. But we are here just to make sure that there are no inhabitants, nothing more. Now that we know that this is not a threat, I think we can discount it.”

“I think we need to test this.” Very suddenly he reached into the barrow. He was wondering if he could reach inside, and found out that he could. “That is what I thought – this portal is open. I can reach inside” Then he held his hand away. “It's cold.”

“This is surprising you? Are putting your hand inside what looks to be solid, but it is not.” In the late morning light, though they could see a figure, it apparently was there. “ it seems to be what my people whisper is a hologram.”

“Have never heard that word before, explaining what you mean by it.”

“It is a way of encoding the three dimensional image, from a two-dimensional construct.”

“Still do not understand what you mean.”

“It is still a mystery to me, as well. But it is a technique – from where is another question – where a two dimensional image is projected on to a three-dimensional object. I studied this once upon a time, but it was a long time ago.”

“This is a subject which is a mystery. How does a flat image and as if it were a sculpture? Makes no sense.”

“But have seen what it does, and we should move away from it... taking note that there is a hole here.”

“You still do not understand, what if something comes out of the hole. What are we to do? We cannot just leave, and hope that all will be more the best.”

At this point it was Gwynwyffer turn to ponder. She thought for a great deal of time, and then responded: “ the problem is that if we reach into the tomb it will probably be very cold again. So it seems like we have to leave things as they are.”

“Could we plaster, or something that will cover the hole?”

“Do you have something?”

“No, not all.”

“Since it seems like a kind of magic that neither of us possess, it seems that we will have to live with it, even if that is not the best solution.”

“Perhaps when we find Loria, she may be able to shed some light on this.”

“Do not tell her this – but this area evokes great pain and her. It is part of the earth master complex, it seems that it eats at her, in ways I do not understand. Is probable that the same properties which make her attuned to the monolith inside the dome, also are painful.”

“You will have to explain this better than you have.”

“She can tune to a structure, but it is painful for her and indeed any elf. What I do, simply put, is erase the pain as she is working on it. That is really what I do, she does all the work. But I basically massage her mind. let us depart from this place, we can do nothing about it.” the legionnaire agreed with this, and he helped her down before jumping himself. The rest of the day they wandered all of the Barrows, but found nothing in them – but they had to inspect each of them thoroughly. At times they thought they found something, but in all of the cases it was just rubble.

They then camped at the same place, and for just an instant – each of them thought they saw the elf – along side the Avenue of the Dead. They did not see what she was doing, but he noted that the position was the same as Gwynwyffer's explanation. That is, the elf did not like the tomb or anything inside it. He looked again, and saw her – perhaps chanting. The moon – called Yeal – was just a sliver, but it was bright all the same. It seemed to him that she was praying to it, but that could be an illusion on his part.

He went to sleep, but it was a disturbed sleep. He then got up well before the sun, and he saw Loria still pray at her appointment spot. He doubted that she had moved, and therefore he was worried. It was not exactly human, but then that was natural. The elves were a different kind of creature, and he would have to adjust to their rhythms, then begin to understand their patterns.

It occurred to him that sleeping was not going to happen, so he got up and practiced with his short sword. Eventually Gwynwyffer got up as well, and meditated – though he did not know upon what. 
That back there equipment, and set off for the fortress, though they kept a close eye on the Penultimate Tomb– and hoped they would not find the ultimate tomb.

Gradually, the Avenue of the Dead grew smaller, and the fortress grew larger. It was not the greatest structure that they had ever seen, their was no wall which had escaped damage, unless it was hidden. The other thing that was interesting was that the rock that it was built on was black, and very precious. It would have to be from a long way, perhaps from Azadmere, or beyond. But then if one had a portal, the distance would not be a problem.

Coming from the direction of North, they found little of the walls. It was almost as if coming from the north was a tide – perhaps of Jarind – who swept aside all that they found. If one believed the tales, the foul spawn was that hated. Here and there they stopped and looked at the walls and other things, taking time to admire the structures, as if they were simply viewing. Then they found something.

It was old, it was ruined, but the complex was definitely gargun in nature. It looked like it had been deserted for a long time, but they would have to make sure of this. Gwynwyffer seen this before, but had realized the extent of it. So rather than dig, they discussed what to do. It was here that Loria's absence was most glaring. Then, the two humans slept.



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