Part 20: Tombs

11 to Wakening Sun, Voelis

Today has been all too long, and most of us have some new wounds to tend to. We utterly failed in the Necropolis today. Some heroes we are. I guess I don’t know what I expected. You’d be unhappy with me, though. Remember years ago when we had that talk? We promised each other we would be brave. I’m the furthest from brave as I have ever been.

I tried, though. Sincerely. I asked Clio if she wouldn’t mind me walking with her. I feel braver around her. Not only because she has those cool powers to help protect herself and others, but because… I don’t know. It’s hard to say. She’s I guess I just feel… better… around her.

Not that it mattered much. I trembled with every step we took. I tried to blame it on the cold air up here, and I’m sure everyone noticed and saw through the ruse. Luckily I wasn’t the only one terrified to be in this awful place. Briar seemed bothered. Dia, too. Shadow tried to hide it. Torag, perhaps, wasn’t actually scared at all. Actaeon removed his helmet but his face is just as stoic, so I couldn’t get a read on him.

I miss holding your hand, my love. I felt braver back then. I want to hold h someone’s hand now. But who would

The Necropolis was as silent as the dead interred here. The only sound any of us heard was our own breathing and our footsteps in the snow. Speaking of footsteps in the snow, Briar and Shadow found tracks up here. Shadow began to nervously joke about them belonging to “Torag’s uncle” as they were enormous and very clearly belonged to a much larger a minotaur. Torag says that he doesn’t have any family that we haven’t already met, and we decided to be on our guard in case we should run into this minotaur.

I wondered if this minotaur was friendly. As I stitch my robes back together, I realize that most certainly isn’t the case. Just another scar. One of hundreds.

Dia took us on a tour of the many tombs that marked the high walls of the Necropolis. She mentioned that some (but not all) of the tombs were consecrated, probably through some powerful magic. As such, taking anything from the tombs would give the thief the curse of the graverobber. I think that’s the same curse that poor man in Altea had. I have absolutely no intention of disturbing any of these burial sites.

The one tomb we needed to find was that of Xander Huorath, the first of the Order of the Dragonlords. From his tomb we would find the weaponry needed to defeat the titans, according to the Oracle’s prophecy. Those were the few items we could take from the Necropolis without incurring a curse upon us.

The tombs themselves are marked with a series of tall, marble pillars. Each had an inscription on the outside that read, “Death awaits any who would desecrate the great warrior within,” followed by the name of the Dragonlord. Dia, having been here before and having known much of the stories of the Dragonlords, related to us about each individual.

The first belonged to Telamok Arkelander, brother of Estor. He was remembered for being particularly vicious in life. He would not give mercy or quarter to those he battled, and he was responsible for innumerable massacres. According to a legend Dia told us, he was cursed for his atrocities. If he is still sealed within his tomb, he is likely an undead fiend, doomed to eternity as a creature of darkness.

Adonis Neurdagon was apparently the most beautiful of the Dragonlords. But Dia dared a smirk when she read that Adonis’s beauty could not keep up with his lack of skill with the sword. He must have had many admirers. I wonder what he looked like to earn such an epitaph.

Estor Arkelander’s tomb was open and no body was within. The murals inside depicted the most horrible scenes I can imagine. We shielded Clio from looking, but I gather Clio already knew. Estor was awful, and he did awful things to feykind. I hate that I have to find him in order to find a way back to Ylisse. Dia refused to come closer to this tomb, and wouldn’t speak much to it. She said her teacher refused to write songs or stories of Estor. Actaeon said that he knew the Dragonlord in life, but his tone wasn’t kind. There isn’t much love between Actaeon and Estor Arkelander, I think.

Dorian Neurdagon’s tomb had been robbed already and his body lay disfigured by the thieves. Perhaps this was done by wretched man who tried to pass his curse onto me. I wonder what happened to that man? Did he pass it to another? Or did he perish already? I shouldn’t think of things like that.

Gregor Huorath’s tomb is empty. The paintings on the wall of his tomb show the story of a great man traversing the waters of the Emerald Isles. He is absent from the final panel, though, replaced by the visage of a grieving woman looking over the sea.

Rizon Phobas, according to Dia, was one of the good Dragonlords. She was a rival to Xander Huorath, the leader of the Dragonlords, but their rivalry was friendly. She was apparently a little crass. I find that interesting. In what way?

Cosmo Phobas was the son of Rizon and became the leader of the Dragonlords after Xander passed. But, as it turned out, the role of leadership did not matter. Estor and Telamok had their war with the titans and the fey, and Cosmo’s role as leader was diminished because of it.

Nicholas Phobas was, surprisingly, blessed by Amalj’aa, the Lord of Storms. Dia explained that he was the last person to take on the mantle of Dragonlord and chose to swear himself to the titan as a symbolic gesture of peace. The League of Storms models themselves after Nicholas’s example.

Myrto the Magnificent was… how do I write this? Full of himself? He apparently used his money to buy his way into a leadership role in the Dragonlords’ order.

Isadore Huorath was the granddaughter of Xander. I guess Damon the Lich served Xander in life and likewise served Isadore much later. When she died, he interred her here and chose to watch over the Necropolis. Did he become a lich after that, or before? He must have cared for her to some degree.

Ochos Arkelander was someone that Torag knew much about. The centurions at Altea are modeled after Ochos.

Lysis Arkelander was someone else Torag knew about, but the history lesson here is much darker. Lysis was the ruler of Altea years ago before Vaevictus overthrew him. Lysis was a bloodthirsty fool, Torag said, and brought Altea through a period of gloom and tyranny.

There were two more places for us to inspect while we looked for Xander’s tomb. One was a long tunnel that led to what we assumed was where we wanted to go. Briar investigated in the form of a fox-squirrel, but she returned when her fear understandably brought her back to us. The second place was a large mausoleum.

While we debated where to go, Actaeon got a funny look on his face and began to wander away from our group. We followed him down a staircase leading to a secret tomb behind the mausoleum. Here we found his friends from centuries ago, buried quietly beneath marble, and our hearts broke with his.

I guess I always assumed Actaeon was as stoic as his mask made him appear. That isn’t always the case. Even the strongest of people can break under the right or wrong circumstances. Actaeon wept. He wept to see the tombs of his brothers. His family. And we cried with our friend to see him so forlorn.

Dia explained that this was the tomb of the Dreadwings, a group of Dragonlords under Xander that also bore the Mark of the Pierced Dragon. There were seven sarcophagi in this tomb, but only five were filled. The empty tombs belonged to Luis Dante and Actaeon Diomedes himself. On Actaeon’s sarcophagus was written, “To our fallen brother, who gave everything in defense of our leader. May he finally find the peace he sought.”

Actaeon was suddenly very animated, shaking the tears from his face. He stormed through the tomb, searching and growling. He was looking for his armor, that which the Oracle told him he would find here. The armor is gone, though, and Actaeon looked so anguished.

We left to give him a moment of peace. Briar stayed behind, I think, to place flowers on the resting places of Actaeon’s brothers. After a few minutes, they came back up to the rest of us. Actaeon gave his thanks to Briar, but Briar didn’t say what happened down there. Knowing her, it was something very kind and sweet.

We looked at the mausoleum next. It housed a large marble sarcophagus in the center of the room, flanked by large mosaics on the walls that told the story of the dragons and their Dragonlords who came to the Emerald Isles and helped the land prosper into what it is now. The bones of Selesnya Who Shakes the World. The rumor according to Dia was that beneath the tomb was the path to the underworld, but no one in Xerender could move the sarcophagus’s lid except the Five or one of the titans. We left the tomb alone, though I said a silent prayer to the Morninglord to watch over the tomb and let Selesnya rest in peace.

All that was left to inspect was the Tomb of Xander. Briar and I lit torches along the walls as we entered. Paintings on the walls showed the Dragonlord Xander Huorath fighting great battles against centaurs, gygans, and minotaurs, all while wielding a monstrous axe. An inscription read, “Those who trespass in order to seek an audience with Xander but deal with the horned ones.” We surmised this meant the large minotaur, whose tracks we had seen outside this tomb and all throughout the Necropolis.

It didn’t take long for us to start getting turned around in the narrow passageways. Clio and Torag could fortunately find their way around and remembered the paths we had taken. Torag tried to get a sense of direction by smelling but couldn’t find anything. We continued on for what was likely just an hour but felt like days.

The pattern of silence was destroyed by the emergence of the minotaur monster. In a flash of purple light, the minotaur appeared before us. he stood a head taller than Torag and almost filled the cramped hallways with his girth. In one hand was a mighty axe. In the other was a large shield. He swung the axe at Clio and Briar. My friends were able to fight off most of the attacks, but I was not. Your robes got sliced up pretty bad and they’re a little bloodstained now. Before we could react, the minotaur vanished in a flash of purple again and we were left panting in the silence of the darkness again.

We were being hunted, it seems. This minotaur could appear and disappear in just a moment, and Briar and I were low on magical power. Each of us was injured at this point, but we pressed on. We are lucky what came next wasn’t the end of us. It reappeared again, this time cutting through Actaeon’s plate armor. The soldier spat blood at the minotaur, but he was severely weakened. The minotaur disappeared once more.

Briar and I told the others that we were low on magical power already. She used some of her power to heal Actaeon, but we couldn’t do it again should something awful happen. Torag was still injured from earlier, too. Shadow made the decision for us to flee get out of there. We had to gather ourselves and be ready to face this minotaur monster again.

It’s awful. We’ve barricaded ourselves in the mausoleum now, hoping the minotaur can’t get in. I’m spent and Briar is spent. We’ve nothing left to do to help our friends. Everyone is so on edge. I’m tired and terrified. I meant to be brave today, like you said to be. But I’m not brave. I’m afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of being alone. I’m afraid of what that man did to me. I’m afraid of losing my only friends. I’m afraid of telling her I’m afraid of going back into Xander’s tomb.

That’s why I’m Flee.