Chapter 64: A Faerie Lake
As waves lap the shore,
so does Fate gently push us,
Ever to our end.
Inspired by Shakespeare*
Having now searched the entire kitchen/dining complex, we returned to the upper portion. There were still many places we had not been yet. We found ourselves in an empty room, with carvings on the wall. They were stylized faerie faces, in a similar style to our helmets, back home. The White Faerie said they represented faerie gods. Some had been defaced by the orcs, but five still remained in pretty good repair.
Hosei checked and said there was nothing magical in here. Then he said the ones who carried the Crystals of Chaos, they registered to his magical sight as creatures of magic. A sad look passed across Ravena's face, but no one said anything.
Res Li said that the tongue of one of the faces seemed to be a trigger for some sort of trap, except that it had been destroyed. It apparently was supposed to do something to the next room.
He then looked into the next room. The other door opened into a stairway that ended in an octagonal room that he said was somehow linked to this metal tab. But he could not tell how.
We reached the opening to the other room and looked in. It was also empty and contained the same types of carvings on the walls. Res Li said one of the walls was actually a door. He returned to tracing the metal tab from the other room, but could not find the anchor point. Hosei reported that the mouths of the carvings in this room were magical.
It occurred to me to ask the queen, who should surely know. She did: this was the king's bedchamber, and it was trapped. The lever above was actually the mechanism to disarm the trap. Baku ran back quickly and disarmed the trap before we continued.
The queen said it was now safe to enter the room. I stepped forward first: if she lied or was mistaken, it was my responsibility. I had promised to help her, and I led the troupe. Nothing happened, and everyone followed me in.
It was a pleasant place, although the furniture was long gone. There were no faerie bones, nor disquieting bloodstains. Res Li said the wall-door opened to a staircase back up. He stuck a finger in one of the carved eyes, and opened the door.
Through the hall we came to two other rooms: the vault and the counting-room. In the vault, we found a map with notes, that matched Ravena's map. We continued on past another trap that Res Li took care of. In another room, we found a list of traps the faerie expedition had made -- no surprises for us. Another room was a mostly empty throne room, with two thrones. Apparently one for the faerie king and the other two for his trusted warlords.
At one point, I had to remind Kyosuke that we do not just wander aimlessly through doors, but must have Res Li check them first: deadly traps are everywhere. In a fit of pique, he immediately jumped through a door that Res Li had not yet checked. Luckily, nothing happened. I had to sternly tell him not to do that again. He is young and impetuous and does not fully understand the obligations I have to watch over my charges. If it were only he and I, things would be different, of course.
Eventually, we reached several inter-connected staircases. Two led to the front and back of the audience chamber, and the other to a ledge that overlooked the lake. At last, we could see the lake! There were two other overlooks on our level, and several exits from the lake itself. Res Li said the water seemed quite shallow.
There was a large throne on a rock rising out of the water. Hosei said everything in there reeked of magic, especially the throne. Even the overlook we stood in was bathed in magic. Surely down there was where we would find the faerie catacombs, and the final of the four Crystals. Res Li said the throne and the rock were solid.
Besides the obvious exits we could all see, Res Li said there were a lot of hidden ones, too. With the two remaining passageways, Ravena figured out which one would take us to the lake, and it did.
The expedition had been gathering rocks from the lake and gathering them at the entrance we stood in. There was also a piece of paper with numbers and names on it that we never did figure out:
Certainly they were names of kings who were buried here, but the numbers remained meaningless. None of us could discover anything important about the rocks themselves.
"Like as the waves make towards the pebbl'd shore,
so do our minutes, hasten to their end.
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,
Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,
And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand."
~William Shakespeare, Sonnet LX