Eyes of the Dead God
August 31, 2015
The eight mismatched heroes approached the remains of the ruins with slow careful steps. Although the structure stayed obscured by the plummeting rain, they saw towering grey blocks leaning in a haphazard manner. Pillars both whole and broken stood upright or more often on their side. Darkness lurked within half destroyed building and gapped like the mouths of titanic monsters as they pressed in past the first outskirts of the ruins.
Lightning crashed like it aimed for them and again Jack wondered if it may have an unnatural source. They struggled through the rain and the litter of large marble stones when lightning stuck close enough for the thunder to leave their ears ringing. The blast also illuminated the giant stone heads that covered the slopes of this land, which Tynilia had called The Valley of the Decapitated Gods.
Knowing that their only goal was to find shelter from the building storm, Jack searched for a place large enough to hold all of them, but after two failed attempts, Stalker rushed past him. He had images of the man of Tezcatlipoca being swallowed up by some foul thing, but instead the tall man returned two minutes later.
His dark face turned toward them. “I found a bigger building that has remained intact. It is dry inside and even has enough tinder and stray wood to get a fire going.”
Jack spied a dead log and snatched it up and a few of the others followed his example as the tried not to loose Stalker through the rain.
A black door stood high enough to let one of Vile’s dinosaurs pass through. Stalker lead the way heading over to some dry leaves he must have spotted earlier. Before long he got a small fire going, while the others tried to shake off the rain.
Jack tossed his wet log over the fire and found a dry branch with leaves still clinging to it. It went up easy, but Jack knew the light wouldn’t last long. He moved to try to take in the rest of what appeared to be a huge open space.
Tynilia and Huth followed him as he traveled deeper into the structure. Almost at once, arcing rows in rows of granite benches loomed bone white out of the darkness. The benches bent like gentle crescents and stretched further than they could see before him.
Shadowknife caused them to jerk when he appeared out of the darkness. “It appears we have entered a temple of some kind.” He glanced Tynilia’s way. “Perhaps once this was a home to one of your decapitated gods.”
She shivered and hugged her little arms closer to herself. “They aren’t my gods.”
Behind them, Quez and Vel-Lenna continued to stoke the fire and its weak illumination began to keep some of the blackness at bay. Yet shadows still lingered like giant moving things as outside the storm continued to rage.
Stalker called to them from the center of the lingering dark. “There’s an alter up here, but something even more strange.”
Before they could reach him, he had lit some type of stone pedestal. It must have had enough lingering oil residue, for a fire moved in an eerie blue dance within a concave bowl.
Three things struck Jack. The first was the size of podium. A man standing behind it would have to be twice Jack’s size to use it. Behind this was an alter, also oversized, which was covered in ancient stains. Towering over all this was a statue weathered by time, but no less horrid. Six beetle eyes spiraled out from a bloated fleshy head, which clung to a body more toad than man. Foul wings fit for the back of a fly lay limp across its back. Six appendages all ended in taloned hands, although only the front four were arms, while the back two resembled the reversed legs of a canine.
“I don’t remember seeing that one’s head out there,” Jack said.
“Perhaps it is because he never lost it,” Shadowknife suggested.
“Over here,” Stalker called out again. Strike stood at his side as the man of Tezcatlipoca pointed his spear down into a well of darkness. “What do you think this is?” he asked as the others drew in.
Below them a pit stretched sixty feet across. The circle had been braced with stone brickwork, but stranger still was the thin staircase that spiraled down into the impenetrable darkness.
“Someplace I sure don’t wish to go,” Tynilia said.
“Pah,’ Stalker started. “You’ve been spending too much time with the Yiggites. We of Tezcatlipoca seek out the rewards of Darkness.”
“As do we Darcarre,” Shadowknife said. “But that does not mean that danger and death do not also lurk there.”
A scream sounded, long and female. As one, the others looked back for its source. A giant form came their way. It charged at them like an avalanche of buzzing flesh blocking out the light of the fire behind it.
The group was forced to dive to the side or risk being knocked into the pit. Jack had just enough time to see the limp form of Quez in the colossal beast’s left hand while a still screaming Vel-Lenna was grasped in its right.
He saw a flash of a jeweled colored eye as the thing flew over his head and dove into the pit.
No one appeared to be immune from the shock and terror of what they just witnessed as they hurried to their feet.
“She’s still alive and Quez might be as well, we have no choice but to go after them,” Jack said, looking at the pit and then back at the gruesome statue. It could have been a trick of the light, but Jack could have sworn he saw an insane grin on the beast where none had been before.
To be continued next Monday