From the Journal of Aframos Longjourney, Pilgrim
With notes by Avos Torr, Scholar of Rheve Library
Erevday, Twentieth Cycle, Seventh Year, 81st Turn
Fifty-Fourth Day in the Trees
We found a ruin today.
It is a tower, tall, and made of a dark stone. It is weathered, but it appears solid enough. There are no stones fallen from it, and the mortar does not appear loose1.
Torne insisted on looking inside. I councilled caution, but he refused to listen, moving inside. I told him I was certain he would break his fool neck or else bring the tower crumbling down, but he was already in the shadows. I sighed, and followed after, stooping down to fit under the doorway.
There were stone stairs leading up into the darkness, and a square hole in the floor. There were what appear to be hinges, but if there was a door set in this hole, it had long since rotted away.
Torne had lit his lantern, and was moving up the stairs, Souja following behind him. The stairs did not look like they could support my weight, so instead I turned my attention to the hole.
It was just large enough that I could fit myself through. It was a tighter fit than I had thought, but I made it through, being careful to keep my own lantern lit as I moved through.
I found myself standing a pile of old, rotted wood. I determined that it had been another staircase. Not being made of stone, they had not withstood the test of time. The room was roughly square. The walls were lined with the same stone as the rest of the tower. It smelled strongly of damp and Earth. On the walls were weapons.
There were swords and staves, shields and spears. There were stranger weapons, like a metal ball covered in spikes, set on the end of a metal stick.
I also saw a mirror. I stood in front of it, looking myself over. Torne had used my ripped robe to enlarge the other two, so I was clad well enough. In the dim light from the lantern, my scales seemed duller, especially my stripes. I noticed that I seemed broader. Had I put on weight, eating so well? Perhaps I should eat less. Though, I seem to be hungry more often than not now.
Then the mirror no longer showed my reflection.
It showed a room full of treasure. Torne was in it, and so was Souja. He was reaching cautiously for a pile of gold pieces. To his right and just behind him, I saw a suit of armor beginning to move, raising an axe up high2.
I shouted a warning, and ran to the hole, and began pulling myself up, something that took me far too long to accomplish.
By the time I was out of the hole and standing in the tower again, Souja was running past me, through the door. Torne was still on the steps, running as quickly as he could down them. He slipped about twice my height above me, sending him tumbling down. He hit one landing, and then I caught him. I took him outside. I took up both our packs, and, not letting him down, I ran. Souja followed close behind me.
When I finally stopped, several minutes away, we found that Torne's arm was broken by his fall. He will mend. I am simply happy he escaped unharmed.
It was Souja, he explained, that saved him. When he had heard my distant shout, he had not realized it was meant for him. But when Souja hissed, he had tumbled forward, landing on the gold, and then vaulted around the armor and run down the stairs.
He had not taken any gold, as any gold with such a guardian might also be cursed. I agree with his caution. I only wish he had not felt the need to explore in the first place!