25 Arodus, 4718
As I approached the store room, I realized that it wasn’t merely a part of the mosaic that was glowing, but the entire thing. While we were sure it meant something, there were no obvious clues. Felyx decided to return to the Senator’s bedroom to see if any of the books on history had to do with the Fourth Army of Exploration. Cornelius and I returned to the bar. The paintings there were of an Army of Exploration, and now that we had seen Sir Galitian’s mosaic, I was sure it was the Fourth. Perhaps now that we had more information they would yield a clue. Oliver and Verity decided to remain and see if they could discern anything more about the mural.
Now that I knew more about what I was looking for, I was able to see that Sir Galitianwas in four of the paintings in the bar. He had his eyes closed in several of them. These paintings were of battles with the dwarves in their mines, and. were lit with a green glow. It was almost as if Sir Galitianhad his eyes closed to show he was relying on his hearing rather than his sight in the dark. Cornelius and I began to take the paintings off the walls. While he searched the walls for hidden cubbies, I began ripping the paper backings from the frames. Being a painter myself, I knew there would be just enough space between the actual canvas and the paper to stash something small, such as a key, or even a signet ring. I could see Cornelius giving me a slight side-eye as I continued my destruction. I do admit it was almost cathartic.
We heard Oliver shout that a great many of the gemstones that made up the mosaic could be depressed, but he and Verity didn’t see a pattern of any kind to it. It was about this time that Felyx came into the bar. She’d found two copies of A History of the Fourth Army of Exploration on the shelves, and one of them turned out to be hollow. It was hiding a crystal shard, and we all agreed that it was most likely the piece missing from the crystal ball embedded in the wall.
Our hunch proved correct, and the shard easily fit into the ball. After a few seconds, green mist began to swirl around inside the ball, before clearing and showing us a view of Oliver and Verity. It took me a second to realize that we were viewing them from the back of the mosaic. We could see several glowing spots, and when Oliver pressed in one of the gems, the pattern of glowing spots changed.
Felyx remained by the crystal ball, while I went into the servant’s bedroom. Cornelius took up a spot between us in the hallway that connected the two rooms. After a great deal of shouting back and forth, Felyx was able to direct Oliver which of the gems to push. For a moment it seemed like nothing had happened, before Verity yelled that a panel had opened beside the mosaic, and we all returned to the storage room.
Verity had a small velvet bag in her hand. It was probably purple at one point, but was now a dingy gray fromage. She opened the bag, and pulled from it a small golden cylinder. She handed it to Oliver, reaching in the bag and pulling out another identical cylinder. I must admit all of us were rather deflated for a few seconds until she turned it over in her hands and saw that the crest of House Voritas was engraved at one end of the cylinder. This was our “signet ring” it seemed. We finally had our way out. I must admit I am very curious about the members of House Voritas, and how they conceived of such a convoluted plan to escape these chambers if they were trapped without a ring, or why they even bothered to make the plan at all. Verity told us that there were about twenty or so cylinders in the bag as we made our way back to the unicorn mural.
Verity stepped up first, placing the crest in the unicorn’s pupil before she simply vanished… with the bag of remaining cylinders. We all looked at each other, then to Oliver, who Verity had given a cylinder to. Before we could say anything, Verity reappeared, standing next to me. I jumped, placing a hand on my chest as my heart raced. This night had far too many surprises for my liking, and I’m sure it will contain many more. As Verity handed Cornelius, Felyx and I each a cylinder, the brief thought that I was getting too old for all of this crossed my mind. But it’s far too late for second thoughts.
We each used a cylinder in turn, finding ourselves in yet another small hallway. An identical mural of a unicorn was on this side of the wall, explaining how Verity had found her way back in. A magically glowing blue lantern hung on the wall, casting the mural in a rather creepy light. Being the only one of us unable to cast a light spell, Verity took the lantern, and pushed open the pair of double doors opposite the unicorn.
We exited into another large hallway, easily fifteen feet across and nearly a hundred feet or so long before turning north into mirrored hallways. The stones making up the floor were so expertly placed next to each other that if it weren’t for the layer of dust covering them they would have looked like glass. Across from us was another pair of double doors, and we could see doorways to the left and right of the wall we had entered the hallways from, as well on the walls on the halls branching from this one. We didn’t have time to take much of this in before our eyes were drawn to the bloodtrail to our left, leading to the body of a man propped up against the wall.
The man was older, most likely in his sixth decade, with graying hair. He was wearing fine black clothing, with a senator’s badge on his lapel. He had an exquisitely made longsword in one of his hands. His chest had been viciously slashed open by something with massive claws. It seemed like he had been attacked near the wall opposite of where he had died, and dragged himself across the hallway before expiring.
As we looked him over, Felyx could tell that the body was still warm. Oliver noticed that while he had a sword, he wasn’t carrying a scabbard for it. He wore three rings, a wedding ring, a ring with a sapphire on it, and a signet ring. I took a look at the signet ring, though I didn’t recognize the crest. It was of two roosters, standing back to back. I was about to ask the others if they knew it, when I saw something begin to pull itself from the wall next to where Oliver was standing. The thing ripped into Oliver before any of us had time to react.
Immediately I began to sing. I suppose that is my reaction to danger now. Cornelius began to spell cast, rambling almost too fast for any of us to understand that the creature was a walcofinde. It jogged my memory the moment he said it. . These creatures, also called “wall confined,” were made when people were buried alive in the walls. The ghost stories we heard during the gala came flooding back. People had been buried alive here. It sent shivers down my spine. Fortunately, they are trapped within the walls that make up their tomb, which is probably why the Senator dragged himself to the other side of the hallway. The undead wouldn’t have been able to reach him. Unfortunately, the part of the creature emerging from the wall was just a manifestation. To permanently end it, we would have to break down the wall and destroy its body.
The battle happened fast. Cornelius and I both explained that the creature would regenerate and be able to manifest itself again, though with any luck it would take a few hours, and we would be far away from here.
Oliver took the sword that the Senator was holding, and was able to identify his signet ring as belonging to House Manshum. With that information, we now know that this unfortunate man is Viscount Develin. Verity found a document in his pocket: papers finalizing the adoption of Sir Guy Vastion that were only dated yesterday. We placed the document back in his pocket, and when Oliver started to take the signet ring, I suggested that we leave it with him. It is unlikely that we will be back at the senate once the chaos is over. Someone will be charged with ensuring the departed are returned to their families, and the ring will be needed to identify Senator Manshum.
Cornelius was able to tell the sapphire ring the Viscount wore was enchanted to provide some magical protections. Oliver suggested that I take it. I supposed he’s figured out that while I am singing I tend to be a bit…reckless.
We all decided to carry on through the double doors when the door down the hallway to our left began to slowly creek open. All of us turned, weapons in hand. Perhaps getting out of the House Voritas rooms would end up being the easiest part of our escape from the senate.