For several seconds, the companions just stood there looking, their eyes fixed on the doorway in expectation of something coming out. It was much darker on the other side, and from what they could see, the reason for that was that the “back-door” they had found opened into a room of some sort, certainly not into somewhere under the open sky. Some light from the other side found its way to the companions, so the room couldn't be completely closed off from the rest of the temple city.
It was Ruzzella who took the initiative. “Well, if none of you's curious enough to find out what's behind that door,” she said, “I certainly am.” And with those words, she slipped past Emrald and through the now open passage.
“Shouldn't we first check for traps,” Kyle asked her as she stepped into the darkness, “or at least whether that room you're going into won't collapse on you?”
“Naah, it's fine.”
Kyle turned towards Seyran. “She sure is confident. I suppose she knows what she's doing?”
“Nope,” Seyran answered and sighed. “But really, it's not like we could talk Ruzzy out of it anyway.”
“No, you couldn't,” Ruzzella laughed from inside, “and really, someone's got to go in there anyway. I mean, who would you send – Emrald?”
“I can recognize an unstable wall when I see it,” Emrald said. “Can you?”
Ruzzella giggled from the dark. “Yup. In fact, I'm looking at one right now. Over here. It's already collapsed.”
Kyle stepped closer. “Does it look safe to walk in there?”
“Let me shed some light on the situation,” Ruzzella answered, and then the room suddenly became much brighter as a new light, that of a burning flame, appeared within.
Slowly, Emrald stepped through the doorway and looked around, and as he waved to the others, Seyran and Kyle followed him. The room they entered smelled wet and musty, and its walls were covered in moss and had plants growing in the gaps, much like the outside wall of the temple city. The wall to the far right, however, had collapsed entirely, together with part of the roof, which is where some of the illumination in the room came from. The rest of the light came from Ruzzella's right paw, into which she had called her fire elemental and which was now engulfed in flame.
The room was devoid of any furniture, and Seyran looked at Emrald in confusion. “Any idea what this place was used for?” he asked.
Emrald shook his head. “Everything that could give us a clue to that is gone,” he said with a worried look on his face, “and honestly, it's a miracle the rest of this room is still standing. We'd better get moving.”
Carefully moving around the debris that littered the ground, the companions stepped over the remains of the collapsed wall and out into the temple city. Ruzzella was the first one out and waited for the others, and as they joined her, Seyran looked around.
“Any signs of our megaraptor?”
Ruzzella shook her head. “Not yet,” she said, “but from now on, I think we should be very quiet. There's something about this place I don't like. Like there's an ambush waiting to happen, and it's not us lying in wait.”
“Megaraptors aren't exactly the most stealthy creatures in the world,” Kyle noted, but he had lowered his voice already. “Still, you're right about being quiet. We have nothing to gain from alerting our prey to our presence. The megaraptor will be out on the hunt at this time of day, and if we can find its nest, we can set up the same strategy we did with the pack yesterday. So that's what we should be looking for.”
“Any suggestions where to look?” Seyran asked.
Kyle shook his head. “If it were a pack, it would be easier, but megaraptor stragglers are more unpredictable. We'll just have to keep our eyes open. At least we're not in much danger of running into it by accident.”
“It'll be outside the city, hunting in the forest,” Kyle explained. “There's definitely not enough prey to find in here to keep a monster that size alive.”
Emrald looked surprised. “Are you certain?”
“That our prey is outside the city right now.”
Kyle nodded. “It certainly can't go hunting in here.”
“That's strange, then,” Emrald said. “It leaves a big question unanswered.”
“How does it get out of the city?”
“Through the-” Kyle's eyes suddenly widened. “Whoa, you're right!”
Ruzzella looked from Emrald to Kyle and back. “Right? Right about what?”
“What I'm trying to say,” Emrald explained, “is that I don't see any way for something as large as a megaraptor to leave or enter this city right how. The only opening in the wall big enough is that front gate. But, as you have seen yourself...”
“The spider's web!” Ruzzella realized.
Emrald nodded. “Probably even strong enough to hold a megaraptor. And if the megaraptor had been strong enough to break it, there wouldn't be a web now. The spider who made it is dead.”
“Isn't it possible that the spider made the web just in these last few hours,” Ruzzella chimed in, “after the megaraptor left to go hunting?”
“It would be,” Emrald said, “if wainwright spiders weren't nocturnal.”
Seyran frowned. “So, what does this mean? The megaraptor's in the city with us, right now?”
Emrald nodded. “Exactly.”
“And what it also means,” Kyle added, “is that we're going to have to be really, really careful.”
Knowing that the beast they were stalking could be literally lurking around the next corner, the four companions very slowly and systematically made their way through the temple city. Except for one main building and two larger side buildings next to it, all other structures in the complex were nothing but ruins, but even these ruins still provided plenty of cover for them, though they had a hard time imagining where a megaraptor would be able to hide.
Ruzzella was still more than a little nervous about their surroundings, claiming something didn't smell right, but even the others could now notice that something felt off, here on the temple grounds, as though some unseen presence lingered around, looking upon the intruders in disdain, and they all felt its watchful gaze on them.
Even Emrald, usually calm and collected, seemed to be on the edge, slowly and deliberately setting one foot in front of the other as his head turned into every direction, looking for any signs of whatever threat hung in the air. Eventually, he took a deep breath, stopped and readied his war-fork.
Seyran looked at him, reaching for his glaive as well. “Do you see something?” he whispered.
Emrald shook his head. “No,” he whispered, “but I cannot shake the feeling we need to prepare ourselves for something. I don't see or hear anything, but... I really don't know why, but I think there is something lurking, and it is close.”
“Yeah,” Ruzzella hissed, her whiskers twitching. “As though it's just around the corner – though there isn't anything around the corner. It's driving me crazy – my eyes and ears tell me we're alone, but my guts disagree!”
“Hush,” Kyle whispered. “Too many words.”
Ruzzella glowered at him, but she said nothing. Instead, she pointed at her ears. They were turned away from the conversation, covering the direction the friends were not looking at. Kyle looked at her for a moment, then seemed to understand and nodded.
Suddenly, Seyran had an idea he really didn't like. “Emrald?”
Seyran pointed downwards. “Cellar, maybe?”
Emrald seemed to consider that for a moment, but then shook his head. “Soft ground”, he whispered back. “And too wet for a cellar.”
“Then where?” Ruzzella bared her teeth in frustration. “There's nothing up here!”
“Cellar's possible,” Kyle noted. “Unlikely, but possible. Earth magic.”
Again, Emrald shook his head. “I'd sense earth magic.”
Kyle looked at him. “Magic you don't know yet?”
“Hm.” Emrald considered that for a moment. “You're right,” he eventually agreed, “possible.”
“So?” Ruzzella looked from one to the other.
“Buildings,” Seyran whispered. “The big one. The other two are too small for a megaraptor.”
Ruzzella grinned. “Let's go!”
With the same care as before, the companions moved across the temple city, towards the side where the gate was. They had seen what seemed to be the main temple building from there – the large, elaborate structure – and if there was any way underground large enough for a megaraptor to pass through, the entrance had to be hidden inside there. Anywhere out in the open, and the companions would have certainly found it easily.
Walking slowly and covering all directions between the crumbling walls, it took them almost ten minutes to make their way, but eventually, they were standing in the large open space before the main temple. From here, it looked even more impressive than from outside the gate as it now loomed over the companions, its strange, moss-covered walls giving of the impression of something alive rather than a mere stone building. Even more surprising was the fact that it had an entrance gate of its own, about fifteen feet in height – and that gate seemed to be still intact!
“This could be a problem,” Kyle murmured as he looked upon the massive doors before him. “These look heavy.”
“Or maybe it spares us a problem,” Ruzzella objected. “If this gate is shut tight, we don't need to look behind it.”
Seyran nodded. “Let's see,” he said and walked towards it. “Emrald, come with me. It looks like these doors open into the temple; maybe together we can at least get one of them moving if we-”
He hadn't even finished his sentence when the giant temple doors started opening by themselves, slowly swinging apart before him, apparently effortlessly. Most impressive of that all, though, was that they didn't make a single sound as they moved.
“Or,” Seyran said, “maybe it'll be easy after all.”
“Nothing is as easy as it looks,” Emrald warned him and stood next to his friend. “Don't drop your guard yet. If this door opened for us, it may also open for the megaraptor.”
Kyle nodded and drew the shorter two of his swords. “Weapons ready.”
He needn't have reminded the others. Emrald already held his war-fork in a defensive stance, Seyran had his glaive out within two heartbeats, and Ruzzella, nervous about the temple anyway, had apparently expected something to happen the instant the doors had started opening and was also standing ready for a fight, muscles flexed and claws extended.
And then the temple entrance finally stood open, and nothing inside came charging towards the companions.
The light that fell through the open doorway illuminated the room before them well enough to make out a few details. It was only a little wider than its entrance but seemed to stretch back up to the entire length of the building. Thick stone columns inside held up the ceiling, and a looming shadow in the back could only be some kind of altar, though the room back there was so dark that only Ruzzella's eyes were able to see more than that.
“Aw man,” she complained, “really?”
Seyran eyed her from the side. “What is it? What are you seeing?”
“Nothing,” Ruzzella sighed and relaxed her stance. “There's nothing in that temple.”
“That shadow in the back-”
“Nothing alive, I mean.”
Kyle walked a little closer to the entrance but stopped before passing through. “At least,” he said, “this place IS large enough for a megaraptor to make its home in here. We should take a closer look.”
“But this is the last place it could have been,” Seyran said. “We've already established that if it is in the city at all, it can't have left.”
“We still can't rule out the possibility of an underground location,” Emrald reminded him. “There may be a way in and out of the city we haven't found yet.”
“Though I agree with Seyran – it's becoming less and less likely”, Kyle said. “I don't see any way down from here, let alone something large enough for a megaraptor to pass through.”
“And I don't see anything,” Ruzzella scoffed and walked past him, into the temple. “Really, this place stinks! It feels as though something's about to jump us any second now, but there's nowhere it could hide! Gaah!”
Emrald flinched. “Quiet, Ruzzy! We don't want anyone to hear-”
“I don't care!” Ruzzy shouted. “You there! Wherever you are and whoever you are – come out! We know you're here! Just come and get us! We're waiting!”
As she was walking ahead, shouting into every direction, the others followed her into the temple room. Aside from her shouting, it was as eerily quiet in here as it had been in the entire city, and there wasn't even much of an echo. The air was humid and smelled vaguely of decay since the walls inside were as much covered in plant life than the walls outside, though these in here were more lichens and fungus than green plants. However, unlike the other buildings with their ruined walls and collapsed roofs, the temple seemed to be in much better condition, as though it had been built with greater care – or as though something was protecting it from decay.
Walking into the room, Seyran's eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness, and within a minute, he could make out more details of the hulking altar that stood in the back of the temple room. It seemed to have been carved out of a single stone block and was a little over ten feet in height and almost as wide as the entire room. Its top had been crafted into an arch, and it had a pedestal about four feet high in front of it, probably for making sacrifices to whoever the temple had been dedicated to.
However, what Seyran impressed most was that unlike the rest of the room, the altar was entirely devoid of anything growing on it. No moss, no lichens, no fungus – just clean, solid rock. The rock would have had ample space for inscriptions, drawings or symbols of many kinds, but the only sort of decoration it seemed to have was a hexagon etched into its front – a hexagon, and that was all there was to see.
“I really don't like this place,” Kyle said as he walked around the room, slowly turning into all directions in order to cover all possible openings for an ambush. “That feeling of dread – it's even greater in here than it was outside.”
“You wanted to know what sort of gods were worshipped here,” Ruzzella snapped. “Maybe now you have your answer.”
“No,” Emrald objected, “that's not it. The altar is not the source of whatever we're feeling. It's close – but it has to be somewhere else.”
Seyran looked around. Aside from the entrance, there were two more obvious exits to the temple hall – one on the left side of the room, one on the right, both closer towards the altar than towards the main doors, and unlike them, they were normal-sized – large enough for Emrald to still fit through, but hardly enough for something like a megaraptor to use them.
“What do you think,” Seyran asked, “should we check what's in these side rooms?” He gestured towards the two doors.
Kyle shook his head. “It can't be what we came for. Our prey isn't there.”
“But it might offer an explanation,” Emrald said. “We currently have too many questions that need answering. We cannot pass up an opportunity to get answers.”
“And I just want to kill something,” Ruzzella agreed. “I don't care whether it's a megaraptor or something else. I just want that damn buzzing in the back of my head to end!”
Seyran nodded. “Then let's do it. The room to the right first?”
“Fine with me!” Ruzzella snarled and walked up to him. “Out of the way, I'm going in!”
Before Seyran could say something, she was past him and before the door, looking at it. She raised a paw to touch it, lowered it again, took another look, raised her paw again but, yet again, seemed to hesitate doing anything.
“Something wrong?” Seyran asked.
“I'm... not sure,” Ruzzella answered. “I was, a minute ago, but now that I'm actually in front of it...”
“Maybe it's trapped?”
Ruzzella shook her head. “Nothing I can see, and this door seems too simple for an elaborate one. Just a block of stone on hinges, probably not even locked. Emrald, do you see something?”
The goliath stepped closer and looked. “No,” he eventually said, “but... I sense something. It's not the door itself, though.”
“Then what is it?”
“It's what's behind it,” Kyle said, still slowly moving around the hall with swords at the ready. “Open it if you want to, but if something comes out, you're in front line.”
Seyran looked over his shoulder, towards the monster hunter. “You're not helping?”
“I'll cover your backs,” Kyle said, “and if something's inside and you manage to lure it out, I can join the fight too. But I'm not equipped for close quarters. I need room, for both swords and bow.”
“So do I with my glaive, and so does Emrald,” Seyran noted. “We're not better equipped than you are.”
Kyle shook his head without looking at him. “We'd be in each others' ways if I came in there with you. Sorry.”
“Then let's lure it out, whatever it is,” Ruzzella said. “I'll be at the ready for it. Emrald, can you get that room open?”
Emrald nodded and took her place in front of the door. Taking a deep breath, he put his war-fork down, leaning it against the wall and then placed both hands on the smooth stone. He looked at Ruzzella, who nodded and went into a stance that would have her prepared to leap at whatever danger shopwed itself.
“Ready,” she said, and Emrald pushed.
The door started to open with a very slight scraping sound, and from Emrald's surprised reaction, it was obvious that it hardly offered any resistance. He continued pushing, and as he did, Ruzzella summoned her elemental so that her paws were engulfed by fire again. The orange flames cast a flickering light onto the stone of the door, and eventually in the room behind it.
It was a rather spacious chamber, small in comparison to the huge temple hall but still of impressive size and headroom. The air inside felt dry in comparison to the dampness outside, and the walls were devoid of any growth, much like the altar had been. The room didn't have decorations or furniture of any kind, and at first glance, it looked entirely empty.
Until the light from Ruzzella's paws was reflected by the golden coffins that stood upright in alcoves in the walls.
There were thirteen of them, and each was a masterpiece of craftsmanship. They couldn't have been made out of solid gold, or each of then would have been much to heavy to move even for five people of Emrald's strength, but they certainly looked as though they were, and their surfaces had been worked into complex patterns that looked vaguely organic, maybe like roots or corals or something to that extent, though they gave off the strong vibe of being otherworldly, as though their shapes and forms were not meant to be a part of this plane of existence.
However, none of that explained the almost tangible aura of menace they emanated.
None of the three companions could move as much as a finger. Everybody just stood and stared, fright creeping up their backs. Without a doubt, this place was where the dread they had been feeling had come from. Without a doubt, these thirteen coffins held something unspeakable, something evil – and hopefully, served as its final resting place.
It was Kyle who eventually broke them out of being awestruck. “So, what is in there?” he asked.
“Nothing we want”, Seyran said, and with great effort, he managed to pull himself loose from the sight of the thirteen coffins. It took almost all of his willpower to turn his back on them, simply because it felt so incredibly careless to leave an evil like that out of his eyes, and his companions didn't seem to have it easier. Ruzzella still stared into the room as though something inside had hypnotized her, and Emrald shivered visibly as he took his hands down and allowed the stone door to swing shut in front of him again.
Only as it had entirely closed, Ruzzella gave out a deep sigh and relaxed, the flames around her paws dying down. “That”, she said, “is something I don't want to repeat.”
Emrald nodded. “At least we are now certain where that aura of menace is coming from. It's from in there.”
“Anybody know what it is?” Seyran asked.
“No,” Emrald said, “and I don't want to know. Things like these ought to remain buried.”
“Buried?” Kyle looked over his shoulder. “A burial chamber?”
“Yeah,” Ruzzella nodded, “but... not one for normal people. Whatever's buried in there should never have lived in the first place.”
Seyran seemed to think about that for a moment. “At least that gives us some explanation as to what the purpose of this temple was.”
“Either to watch over whatever evil is buried here,” he said, “or to worship it.”
Emrald shook his head. “Unlikely. The markings throughout the temple are very different from those on the coffins inside that chamber.”
“Or they were the same,” Kyle noted, “but time and decay have changed them. There could be entire paintings hidden underneath all that fungus, and we'd never see them.”
“So what do you suggest?” Ruzzella asked. “I really don't want to start cleaning up in here.”
Kyle smiled. “My suggestion? Go and check what's behind that other door.”
Ruzzella stared at him in disbelief. “After what we've just seen behind the right door, you want to-”
“Actually, that's not a bad idea,” Emrald said. “I believe we can all agree that what we felt throughout the city seems to have its origin in the right room?”
“We definitely can,” Seyran agreed.
“Then the left room should be safe, or at least safer than that.” Emrald looked from the one door to the other. “You know, that other room's purpose might even be to offer the necessary tools to contain whatever evil is buried over here.”
Ruzzella raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think that?”
“It's exactly opposite of it,” Emrald explained. “Symmetry is often used to express opposition in religious iconography.”
“Are you certain?”
“Still,” Kyle said, “we still haven't found what we're looking for, and frankly, this door to the left is the last one we haven't checked yet. I don't mind if you people want to leave it alone after what you've seen behind that other door, but I doubt whoever sent you would consider your mission complete with what little we've done so far.”
Seyran sighed. “Kyle's right – we have little choice but to at least check out what's behind that door. I doubt it's the megaraptor's nesting place, but maybe there is some way underground there, or at least some clue about where else we could look.”
“Open it, then?” Emrald looked at Seyran.
The companions walked over to the left door, which looked identical to the right one, and they took the same formation they had earlier, with Emrald ready to push it open, Ruzzella next to him ready to pounce, and Seyran directly behind her to rush inside once she was in. Like before, Kyle covered their backs, his swords and senses ready.
Emrald pushed the door, and as before, it offered little resistance, the massive stone easily sliding open with only a soft scraping noise. Ruzzella had already called her fire up into her paws again and stood ready to shine light into the room, and Seyran was certain that this time, he would be prepared for whatever awaited them on the other side. Emrald had to be right – all the evil in the city was contained behind the door to the right, and this one would offer something very different.
He was right in that it was something different. However, that didn't make him any more prepared for it.
The room that lay behind the left door was filled with an indescribable wealth of treasure.
Where the only thing of note in the chamber to the right had been the thirteen golden coffins, this one sparkled and glimmered with piles golden coins, trinkets and statues, and between them rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds – precious stones in all the colors of the rainbow, and them some. Seyran saw crowns and scepters, rings and bracelets, amulets and cups, and even a set of ceremonial armor that looked as though it had been entirely forged out of gold and silver. And as if that alone wasn't enough, there were several pieces of furniture made out of silver and decorated with gems, including what could only be the throne of a very wealthy king. All these beautiful and incredibly valuable things were just littered around the chamber, mostly pushed towards the walls, with a larger free space in the middle.
Though the room emanated none of the threat and danger of its opposite, the friends still stood awestruck, very much like they had in the face of the thirteen golden coffins. None dared say a word.
“What is it this time?” Kyle called out.
Without looking away from the mountain of treasure before him, Seyran raised his hand and waved. “You'd better see this,” he said.
As the friends slowly walked into the chamber, Kyle followed them, and his reaction to the almost obscene accumulation of wealth inside wasn't much different from theirs. “Holy-”
“Yeah, exactly,” Ruzzella said. “I've heard that some religious cults get pretty rich, but this...”
“What do you think this is?” Seyran asked. “All the donations this temple received in the time when it was still being used?
Kyle walked closer, the door behind him slowly closing. “Unlikely,” he said, “unless this temple was still in use not more than seventy years ago. And since it looks like it hasn't been tended to for centuries...”
“Why seventy years ago?” Seyran looked to him. “Anything in here that would have fallen apart after that time?”
“No,” Kyle explained, “but the crest on that throne is that of the Rostenhall royal family. One of their younger cousins is currently in training at the Monster Hunter Guild too. And his family only ascended to the throne about seventy years ago.”
Ruzzella raised an eyebrow. “So, what, there's now a king in Rostenhall who has to stand for his audiences, or what?”
“I'm just as puzzled as you are.”
Seyran scratched his head. “But who put this stuff here? Any ideas?”
Kyle shrugged. “Not at all.”
“I have one,” Emrald said. “Maybe these are donations to the gods of this temple – but not old ones.”
“What if someone is trying to return the old gods of this place back to power, and all this here is their contributions to that cause?”
Seyran looked surprised. “But that can't be! Vael is the only village that still tends to that temple, and I can't imagine anyone from there- Ruzzella, don't touch that!”
But it was too late, and Ruzzella had already grabbed one of pieces of jewelry hanging from the ornate throne, a golden pendant in the shape of a lion's head. Or rather, she had tried to grab it.
For the moment her paw touched the trinket, it disappeared into thin air, and so did most of the other treasures in the room.
Not all did, though. What remained were a few of the coin piles, though most of the coins seemed to be silver, not gold, and some of the gems and jewels stayed solid as well, though not the most impressive pieces. The armor and throne were gone, though, and of all the furniture, one delicate-looking chair remained, as did one standing mirror that hadn't even caught anyone's eye in the splendor of the other treasure.
Emrald was the first to grasp what had happened here. “An illusion!” he said. “All of this here was just illusionary magic! I should have known!”
“Just an illusion?” Ruzzella complained. “Aw, horseapples! The world's biggest treasure, and it's all fake?”
“Looks like it.”
Ruzzella sighed. “Now that's a letdown. Why would someone do this?”
“As a trap,” Kyle said.
Immediately, the others looked at him. “What?” Seyran said.
“This is a trap,” Kyle repeated. “Someone wanted to protect the real treasure in here, so he put the illusion of an even larger treasure on it.”
“How is this protection?” Ruzzella moaned.
Kyle sighed. “Simple. Whoever cast that spell knows when it's broken. For example, by someone touching it. And you just broke it.”
“Meaning, whoever laid this trap for us now-”
That moment, there was a THUMP in the distance, loud enough to hear even though the closed stone door of the room, and everyone inside flinched. However, none of them would have expected what happened next.
A voice started speaking inside their heads.
“Ah, visitors,” it said, deep, rolling, smooth and not unpleasant, but with a definite mean streak. “How quaint. I thought what I did to the last ones had been enough to keep the rest of you away from here.”
“Can you hear that too?” Seyran said. “It sounds like-”
“They all can hear me,” the voice continued, “as I can hear you too. Don't try to comprehend it. It's much too elaborate for your weak, simple minds. All you need to understand is that I am very happy to be your host for today.”
Ruzzella looked around, trying to focus on a direction in which to speak. “You, um, want to be our host?” she eventually asked. “And nothing else?”
“I will gladly be your host,” the voice said, “and I would like to show you the full extent of my hospitality. Stay a while. Stay forever.”
Ruzzella cringed at these last two words as they seemed to echo throughout her head and through the heads of her companions, but Kyle didn't seem so easily fazed. He was already pulling open the door to the room and looked outside. “Clear! Follow me, everybody!”
“Really?” Seyran asked. “Don't we have better chances trying to defend this room against whoever that outside is?”
“Whoever this is has prepared the room in advance,” Kyle said, “which is why we can hear him in here, and he can hear us. We need to get to somewhere he can't hear us.”
“Oh?” the voice in their heads laughed. “And what makes you think there is any place in the world where you are safe from me?”
Kyle didn't answer. Instead, he waved to the others, and they nodded and followed him outside, where he ran towards one of the pillars and stood with his back to it, away from the main entrance of the temple. “Stay back”, he hissed. “Stay close to the walls!”
Seyran gritted his teeth. “Are you certain he can't hear us out here?”
“No,” Kyle hissed back and tried peeking around the pillar. He didn't seem to be able to see something, shook his head and returned to his protected position.
“Who is this guy outside?” Ruzzella whispered. “And why are we so careful about him? He's alone!”
“We think he's alone,” Seyran said, “and he definitely wants us to think that. From what he said-”
“Come out, come out, wherever you are!” the deep voice boomed again, but this time, it was no longer from inside the companions' heads. This time, it came from outside the temple. “I'm waiting for you!”
Emrald's face became dark. “That voice – it's too loud for a normal man.”
“Maybe his voice is magically amplified,” Ruzzella suggested. “I mean, there was already that treasure illusion – what if this guy is just a really good illusionist?”
“I don't think so,” Emrald said. “That voice rumbles like it belongs to someone very big, not as though it's just supernaturally loud. And that hoard of treasure also fits the picture.”
That second, the temple hall darkened visibly, and the companions could see that the reason was something outside blocking the light that passed through the doors. It couldn't have been a man, or even a goliath; the shadow it cast was definitely larger. Also, they could hear footsteps, and those weren't the footsteps of a mere person but of something of much greater mass and power.
Once again, Kyle dared peek around the pillar behind which he was standing, and this time, he moved back much faster than before, immediately holding his swords before him and bringing them together to form his bow. For the first time, the companions had met him, he looked really, really worried.
“Who is it?” Seyran whispered towards him. “Who is that guy outside?”
Kyle looked at him. “Prepare yourselves,” he said. “It's a dragon.”