Descent Into The Necropolis of Atun-Katur
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Two suns hang on a blue sky, their oppressive rays descending on the desert below. They burn and rage in an eternal dance across the sky, but the inhabitants of this land, a few insects and lizards, do not seem to mind. One lizard in particular, small and red like one of the suns, is quite content in its existence, having just caught a delicious meal. Its dinner time is quite rudely interrupted; however, as a strange wave of force and a sense of electricity in the air washes over its scaly body. Flight-or-flight kicks in, and it skitters away with its prized possession still in its mouth, just in time before a hole opens up in the air where it used to be.

A small, green foot steps through, toes sinking into sand.

"Oohoho! That tickles!" says the short man with big ears, four yellow eyes, and a flaming bird on his shoulder, as he steps fully through. The hole collapses behind them, leaving them alone in the middle of an empty desert.

"Alright, let's see," the goblin says as he reaches into his wine-red robes, pulling out something akin to a compass. Opening it reveals a complicated series of blinking meters and whirring pointers that swing across the screen in a chaotic, noisy mess. Pointers with hoops in their ends move across the screen, constantly changing position relative to each other, but one seems to stay near the middle more than others. The goblin called Sqr'lk studies it for a few seconds, before pocketing it with a smile.

"This is the place, Salvador! The lost world of Atun-Katur. Those old snobs back at the Club will regret not believing that the Library could still have Ways that lead here," he snickers as he begins trudging in the sand, the giant backpack on his back shaking with every step.

The phoenix takes off to patrol the skies, while the goblin makes way below, not discouraged by the sweat pouring from his wrinkly skin or the occasional desert breeze throwing sand in his eyes. The suns begin to dip closer to the horizon, but the sea of dunes still sees no bounds. There are no determining features, no natural formations of any kind, no plant growth, and certainly not any ruins left behind by a long gone age.

After hours of walking, Sqr'lk finally sits down, the phoenix swooping down next to him. It caws.

"Indeed! It has been a while since we last went on a proper adventure, hasn't it? Nice to get out of the Library every once in a while, don't you think?"

Salvador caws louder and pecks at the ground.

"Yes, I suppose it is a little bit disappointing that we haven't found anything. The ancient records say that this is whole area is where a mighty kingdom would have once stood. You'd think there'd be some ruins left."'

Getting increasingly frustrated, the bird hops on the ground and caws repeatedly. It flaps its wings to brush some sand away.

"Salvador, why the ruckus? It is hardly time for-" Sqr'lk says but stops mid-sentence, as he finally sees what the phoenix has been trying to point out. Sticking out from the sand is a white stone with a round edge, having clearly been shaped by a stonemason.

"You beautiful bastard! Step back would you?" he says and retreats himself, beginning to gesture and flail with his arms. In a great whoosh, a powerful downdraft descends on the desert, throwing heaps of sand to the side and carving a pit into the dunes. As the sand displaces, the stone is revealed to be the top of a pillar, of which there are multiple, all set up on the sides of a path leading up to a large doorway covered by a slab of stone. Sqr'lk throws his hands forward, and then back again, as the wind follows his command and tears the stone cover free, dropping it on the sand with a loud thud that almost manages to drown out the maniacal laugh of the goblin.

"Hahahaahahaa! I should have never doubted us my friend!" A newfound brisk in his pace, the goblin enters the structure, cries of excitement echoing across the desert. Unnoticed by him or his bird, a cloaked figure emerges over the dune, watching them descend.

Progressing through the ruins, the patter of Sqr'lk's footsteps and the crackling of Salvador bounce from stone to stone, echoing through the corridors, their heavily hanging curtain of darkness only pierced by the glow of the firebird. Occasionally the patter is replaced by unintelligible muttering and scribbling, as the goblin stops to look at a broken pot or a carving on the wall, sketching them in his worn notebook. Distant scraping and dancing shadows catch his attention from time to time, but the scholar convinces himself that his mind is just playing tricks on him. Regardless, he increases his pace.

Eventually, the corridor opens up to a larger room, in which a dark shadow slumps in the corner, the orange light of Salvador bouncing off the corners of its surface. Creeping closer. Sqr'lk gingerly pulls at the corpse, its fragile, dry surface cracking slightly under his hands. It flops on its side, mandibled head twisting into a position comparable to a kinked plant stem, its compound eyes staring blankly at the scholar. He jumps slightly, fingers of fear briefly brushing the back of his neck. Taking a deep breath, he gathers himself and inspects the corpse closer.

"The scarring on this carapace, it's… necromantic. Poor soul, must have been a horrible way to go, whatever the cause." Dust falls from the ceiling as a scrabble comes from somewhere within the walls. A shadow darts across the edge of his vision.

Sqr'lk spins around in a battlestance, arcane energy beginning to coalesce around his hands as his four eyes scan the darkness for danger.

"Who's out there?" he shouts into the silence. "Come out slowly and peacefully and we won't have a problem."

Heavy footsteps echoing from the corridor become gradually louder, Salvador's light throwing the huge outline of a figure onto the opposite wall. The shadow bears gangly limbs with long, sharp fingers, a huge pair of horns and a long, slithering tail, a stinger crowning the end of it. It emerges out of the corridor.

"In the Ancestors, Atryphos! What on Earth are you doing here?" The emerged figure is tall and slender, with blue skin and bulbous black eyes. A long, jeweled tail swings back and forth under a robe very similar to Sqr'lk's. He lets the spell fizzle out.

"Frankly, I don't think that's any of your business," the horned man says, looking anywhere except directly at Sqr'lk.

"None of my business? You're tailing me! Are you seriously so incapable of finding your own research subjects, that you have to follow me across dimensions just to leech off my work?"

"Now hold on one second, I was just simply…" Athryphos begins to ramble, but Sqr'lk shuts him out as something else catches his attention. The same scrabbling from inside the walls. He lifts up a hand, telling Atryphos to shut up. He does not.

"Would you holster your ego for just one second and cease your blabbering," he whispers. "We are not alone."

At that, Atryphos's eyes go even wider, his protruding mouth drawn to a thin line. Sqr'lk begins to recast his spell as the scrabbling becomes closer and louder, approaching from multiple directions. The walls begin to buckle and bulge, something crawling and impacting against them from the other side. Shapes of hands and insectoid heads begin to press through.

"I suggest you-," Sqr'lk begins, but Atryphos has already sped past him and into the next corridor, deeper into the structure. Sqr'lk promptly, looking over his shoulder to see dozens of hollowed out corpses of humanoid insects bursting through the clay walls, their mandibles flexing for the first flesh they've seen in decades.

Running as fast as his little legs can carry, Sqr'lk needs to duck and weave constantly, as hungry hands burst through the walls, grasping for his flesh. Like a bullet, Salvador darts through the narrow space, his orange glow contrasted against the flailing outlines of thorny arms.

"Stranger danger! Stranger danger!" Atryphos screams from between sobs, which echo and amplify throughout the dark ruin.

The corridor emerges into another room, except this one has no floor. Rather, it likely used to have one, but it has degraded and fallen way long ago, leaving nothing but a gaping pit of stalagmites and sinkholes. In a showcase of surprising agility, Atrophys climbs up and clings to the wall of the room, kicking off and gracefully crossing the gap and landing on the other side. Sqr'lk follows shortly behind, grabbing onto the legs of his waiting bird and letting himself be carried across.

The rooms and corridors become less chiseled deeper in, more akin to natural formations. Somewhere ahead, Sqr'lk can hear the churning of water, whereas the chittering and scampering of the zombies grows ever more distant. He enters what seems to be a natural cave formation, with an underground river running through, and stops to calm down. Atryphos has done the same, now leaning against the side of the cave.

"What now?" he asks with heavy, shaky breaths.

"There is a river here. Which means it leads to a body of water somewhere. If we just follow it, we should be able to-" Sqr'lk's entire world shifts as something heavy drops from the ceiling and impacts with him, sinking its claws into his flesh and throwing him off his feet and into the water. It enters his lungs, setting them on fire as he flails against the opponent. Despite the effort, his hands find no purchase.

The mandibles of the insectoid squeeze into his shoulder, terrible force forcing them to snap shut through his flesh, bone and tendon, a cloud of misty crimson trailing behind them as they are pulled by the current. A muffled scream pierces the water, as Sqr'lk sees something burst through the head of the husk. It falls limp, letting go off Sqr'lk and breaking on the stones as Atryphos's tail slings it off. Both now in the water, they grab each other to brace themselves as they enter a dark pit.

After what seems like an eternity of tumbling and crashing from stone to stone in inky darkness, the rivals eventually exit out of a crack in a cavern wall, from which the river descends into a waterfall. Screaming, they drop, the impact with the ground forcing water and whimpers out of their mouths as they writhe in their pains, only to open their eyes to find spears pointed at their faces.

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