The Guardians of the Cataombs


I thought I had a solution and demonstrated by lowering myself carefully by my arms and resting my elbows on the edge of the sitting place.  This way I could reach down further with my legs and feet.

It seemed to work nicely and I was able to smartly tap one of the stones with the flat of both soles. To the elation of my companion, or companions, the stone instantly slid away into the darkness, taking another smooth, wide slab with it.

I was personally quite pleased at this early success, but less than overjoyed to see that the hole left by the stones was particularly dank, dark and uninviting.  I was evidently supposed to go down first – that much was blatantly clear – and the others had, indeed, silently fallen back, leaving an atmosphere of expectation in their wake. I headed forth without delay, without even reason as my guide.

I had half expected it to be a treacherous descent but when I jumped (for jumping was the only way down) I landed lightly, but wetly, on the floor of the catacombs, not very far beneath the hidden entrance that was embedded in the ceiling of the tunnel.  It was dark and muddy down there and – whilst I was thankful for my protective foot-covering – I was more than aware that the golden boots, apart from literally giving me the ability to make an entrance, were more than likely to attract attention which may have been unwanted.

So thought it best to disguise my beautiful boots by giving them a generous coating of mud and slime. Gifts such as this had a tendency to invite tremendous envy, which it was not my wont to stimulate.

Although it may have been a shame to forgo the degree of admiration the boots would have been sure to attract, I forgot about footwear and purposefully headed out into the tunnel. I was aware that at least one other person had come down with me – this being the brown-haired girl, who was quiet as could be – and I was almost 100% satisfied that I hadn’t been tricked into entering some deadly trap.There may also have been a third present, I was never sure.

The tunnel was wide and seemed to lead in an obvious direction (seemingly west) which was the direction I went in. The walls were not entirely plain and bore quite striking geometrical patterns in places, but the overall look of the catacombs was somewhat ominous. I tried not to think about it too much.

As I passed without heed to any hidden panic, I looked to my left and saw that the guardian beasts were lurking together in a swampier cavernous area.  We were apparently walking on a fairly narrow path by the side of a river or pool of indeterminate depth. The guardian beasts were at that moment on the opposite bank.

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