Ivan, Sheba, and Kraden accidentally put the whole world in peril while investigating the buried ruins of the Venus Tribe.
Lalivero's squat stone buildings had never seemed so welcoming as when the caravan finally reached the desert town. After two weeks of travel, arriving at their destination was an enormous relief, a feeling which was amplified by the sight of the blonde girl waiting for Ivan and Kraden at the city outskirts. Ivan whispered a few instructions to his assistant, then hopped off the wagon to greet her.
"Welcome to Lalivero. I see you brought some friends this time." She said, grinning at the procession of wagons.
"Yeah, I guess I did." Ivan responded. "Hammet decided it was time to expand the trade routes, and Iodem-"
"Oh, shut up with all that. You know how much I hate merchant talk." He did; One night while sailing to Prox he had tried to explain to her how Master Hammet did his business, and wound up with nothing but blank stares and frustration. "Where is Kraden hiding himself?"
"Oh, he's in one of these wagons. No doubt boring some pretty young thing to death with tales of lost civilizations." As if on cue, Kraden tumbled clumsily out of one of the wagons and began walking towards them.
"Hello Ivan, Sheba." He said, brushing dirt off his pants. "I was just explaining the history of Lemuria to the young lady in that wagon when she suddenly shoved me out. She must have known you were over here." The two wind adepts simply rolled their eyes at each other. Kraden was a genius scholar, but his social skills were somewhat less developed.
"Welcome back to Lalivero, Kraden." Sheba began. "I'm sure you're eager to get to the tomb, so why don't we head down there now?"
"Well, certainly!" Kraden declared. "I can't wait to see what's inside. If we're lucky there could even be a history of the people! Many leaders of ancient tribes were buried with a recorded history so that they could continue teaching..." Ivan tuned Kraden out as he followed Sheba across the dunes, away from the town.
"So, how far is it?" he asked quietly.
"Not far at all." Sheba replied. "We'd have found it years ago if it hadn't been buried beneath almost a meter of sand."
"That's a lot of sand. How did you find it?"
"The dunes shifted just enough for a protrusion on the top to poke out. Someone tripped over it. Writes itself from there."
They were coming up on it now. It was composed of solid stone, something that would have been impossible were it not constructed by a clan of earth adepts. The rectangular shape was massive when you stood beneath it. The stone doors were half again as tall as Ivan. Sitting atop it was a tall obelisk, no doubt what the Laliveren had tripped over.
The stone doors were sealed tightly, and covered in a circular pattern of runes. Ivan walked up to it and pressed his hand against it. It was certainly an imposing structure. Something about the arrangement of runes didn't sit well with him. He turned to Kraden.
"Can you make anything of these runes?" he asked. Kraden came forward and inspected them carefully.
"I'm afraid not." the elderly scholar answered. "It looks like the language found inside the Lighthouses, but these are eroded far past the point of illegibility."
"All right, then let me have a go at getting this thing open." Ivan said, taking a step backwards and wiping off his hands. He extended his hands, and reached out with his psynergy. Indeed, he could feel the yellow bands of power circling the tomb, preventing it from opening. He prodded it with his own power, and felt the bands quiver and contract under his gentle pressure. Throwing caution to the wind, he siezed the bands with his purple psynergy and tried to pull them asunder. Immediately, they snapped back iron-hard to their original state, sending his power wheeling away. Ivan bent double, lutching his chest in pain, as the backlash washed over him.
Sheba called out his name and rushed to his side, but he gently brushed her off. "I'm fine. You were right. That thing is sealed up tighter than Hammet's treasury. I'm actually starting to have second thoughts; Whatever's in there, somebody certainly didn't want anyone getting at it." Before Kraden could voice any objections, Ivan hushed him with a gesture. "Don't worry, Kraden, I'm still in. So, Sheba, do you want to steer or shall I?"
"I've been working on these things for a few days now. Give me some power to work with and I should have these doors open in no time." Sheba replied, pulling her gloves off and getting ready to get to work.
Ivan clasped her hand in his own and began feeding psynergy into her. She took it and used it as her own, reaching out towards the sealing enchantment once more. Instead of seizing it as Ivan had, however, she directed all the power at her disposal at one corner of the shape formed by the overlapping bands. She struck it hard, stabbing at it with their combined psynergy like a spear. The bands wavered and strengthened, trying to resist her assault, but soon the whole construct began to collapse. Within moments, they had faded, leaving behind no sign of their passing.
"Good work." Ivan said. Then he raised his hands towards the thick stone doors and hit it with a barrage of lightning bolts. The doors crumbled and fell to the ground, the fragments red-hot from the assault.
It was pitch black inside, so Ivan and Sheba used their psynergy to create a small light in their hands. Beyond the entrance, there was only a wide staircase leading down into the earth. It went deep, so deep that by the time they reached the bottom they could no longer see the top.
Once they reached the bottom, they found themselves in a octagonal stone chamber. Four pillars rose up from the ground to support the ceiling. All around the room, smashed stone tablets littered the ground. Kraden bent over the fragments sadly.
"I knew I shouldn't have expected much," Kraden said quietly, "But I thought maybe we'd find a tablet or two. Some clue to who they were, where they went...but there's nothing here."
"Are you sure you can't salvage anything?" Sheba asked sympathetically, leaning over him. Ivan walked past them and raised his light up.
"No, there's nothing to be had here. It will take years to piece even a fraction of one of these together, and even then we'll never know for certain if we had it right. It would probably have been-"
"Kraden," Ivan interrupted, "You might want to have a look at this."
As Ivan raised the light higher and higher, more and more of the figure sculpted into the opposite wall came into view. There, carved in relief, was an enormous mass of serpents. The stone snakes crossed over and looped around each other that it was impossible to determine which head went with which tail. They had only one thing in common: Each snake was biting the tail of another.
Kraden was awestruck. "By the Gods," he yelled, "Look at that! It must be nearly twice as tall as I am! And the complexity of the piece is astonishing." Unable to resist, Kraden ran up to the wall and began lightly rubbing his hands over the only snake low enough to easily touch. Suddenly, he stopped moving his hands and adopted a puzzled expression. "Hmm. This stone seems out of place..." he carefully slid the loose stone into the more suitable position.
Kraden fell back in surprise as the snake began moving. Its fangs released from the snake it had bitten down on, and slithered along the sculpture into a different position. One by one, all twelve snakes released their prey and moved into a different configuration, creating a gap in the middle. A split in the wall appeared along that gap, and like a pair of enormous doors, the two sides swung out towards them.They came to rest against the support pillars, leaving a large gap in between. Out of that gap stepped a young man.
"Well, it's about time somebody showed up." He said.