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Feb 27, 2024

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Reinventing the Lightbulb - Part 9


Previous - Reinventing the Lightbulb Part 8


The tunnel may look dark from the outside, but once inside and a few feet in past the door, there’s a soft glow, and a torch set into the side of the wall. It looks just about to go out though. Deeper in still are more torches, and more light. At least enough to see.

Raziel keeps his rifle out and ready, and grabs one of the more brightly burning torches, handing it to Zorro. “You don’t mind, do you? My hands are kind of full…and it will be easier to light the fuse with that, anyway.”

Zorro puts away the flint and steel, and grabs the torch, following along, “Not at all.” He can use the torch to light the bomb anyhow!

Raziel nods, and proceeds farther into the pyramid, but keeping within the light of the torch.

And the tunnel seems to go on forever, and there’s this thick cord of ropes attached to the door that goes right through the middle, making it kind of annoying, and also kinda useful…. maybe sorta. Anyway, eventually the two reach a pretty big room, with about ten more tribals. But these look different, clothed in nothing but a loincloth, and they aren’t armed. Plus they freak out at the two and run off down the passage at the other end of the room. The room itself is square, with a post in the middle, and a spindle in the middle of the post that the cord is tied off too. There are handles on the edges of the spindle, so apparently one would close the door by turning the spindle. Also, there’s a platform right above the entrance to go outside, and a boulder positioned above it, tied around with ropes and cords that run through a rudimentary pulley system, that connects to the ground at a winch which works just like the spindle on the pole.

Zorro looks up at that, and points to it, “I suspect we’d best move out of the path of that before they get a chance to use it.” He scurries to do so.

Raziel nods as he visually inspects the various systems. “This is more…intricate than I expected.” He moves well out of the way of the boulder before looking around at the other doorways. “There have to be more rooms around here. But where would they have taken Viktor?” The tiger looks up, still thinking. And there must be a way to get at wherever the statue fell to.

Zorro nods, “It is quite surprising.” He looks around, “Keep your eyes peeled.” The fox tries to reason on the direction of where they’ve been. “I think we’ve walked around… such way in the pyramid, that the statue should be…” He points in a direction, “That way, though, that assumes it went straight down, and that my sense of direction is right.” And it says nothing of what’s in the way in that direction.

And that direction looks just like all the other directions, except is where all the tribals ran off into, and that sounds sooo appealing right now. But it is to the center of the pyramid, so there’s that.

Raziel shrugs. “I…honestly have no idea. My sense of direction isn’t too reliable in places I’ve never been before. But it’s worth a shot.” The tiger keeps his rifle ready. Just in case…

Zorro pads along with Raziel in that there direction of plot advancement.

And it just goes on like the first one, this time without the door rope. And then, all of a sudden, an even bigger room, about four times the size of the first, although there isn’t much in it except a giant square pit. And what’s weird is the pit is nearly perfectly square, and the stairs spiraling down into it are made of metal instead of earth or stone.

Zorro pauses, and doesn’t move forward. “This feels like a trap.”

“Of course it is…” Raziel says, resignedly. The tiger steps up to the edge and looks down, however.

Zorro examines the stairs, checking for mechanisms which might allow them to lay flat or something.

The stairs seem like normal stairs, except certainly not built by any tribals. Unless they were super advanced and were blasted into primitiveness by something. Otherwise, they seem sturdily built and unmovable. The pit itself however, is very deep and would probably kill you if you were pushed into it, which would not be a good thing. Luckily, it’s not so dark, as lighted torches go all the way down, spiraling with the stairs. Still can’t see the bottom. Tribals and their stairs. Jeez.

Zorro pauses, and hmms, “Well, we can go back up the stairs if we need to. The tribesmen outside are all tied up or dead.” The fox looks to Raziel, “And I suspect that this stuff is… Svargan. Perhaps it’s why they built the pyramid around it.”

Raziel nods. “And since there don’t appear to be any real ‘rooms’ up here except those that control the doors, I’m guessing Viktor was taken down there. Besides, I didn’t see any way to get up the pyramid from in here, so well have to go back for the statue later…”

Raziel sighs. “Well…here we go.” He leads the way down the stairs - carefully. Solid or no, railing-less steps around an incredibly deep pit are not to be taken lightly…

The way down is quiet, except footsteps on metal stairs. Perhaps the tribals wizened up and are waiting for them at the bottom of the pit, or maybe in their panic those that ran off kinda just fell in to their dooms. Or maybe they ran off to the other rooms with winches and spindles and boulder things.

Raziel continues heading down. Eventually, he decides to ask the fox a question. “Do you ever get the feeling that weird, unexpected stuff only ever happens to /you/? Not you personally I mean; I feel that way too. I’m just saying, who ends up on adventures like this? It’s utterly improbable. And yet, it still happens.”

Zorro looks up at Raziel, with a grave look in his eyes, “All the time.” He looks forward, and continues down the stairs, “All the goddamn time.”

Raziel curses inwardly. He didn’t even think about Zorro’s story…and the cat. “My point is, why does that happen? Of all the people in Loka, how does this stuff happen to the same people, over and over? Are some of us just…predisposed towards having things like this happen? I can’t imagine we bring it upon ourselves.”

Zorro keeps walking down, “I think maybe we do. We’re out wandering, attracted to interesting people and ideas, and there’s always a catch.” He smirks, “Of course, if that weren’t the case, maybe we’re all characters in some story book, written by someone trying to make it big.” He sighs, “One day, one day…”

Raziel shrugs, and continues walking downward in silence. The tiger is not comfortable with the notion that he’s not in control of his own actions…but perhaps the fox has a point. One, anyway.

The way is long and it goes very far down. At one point, the room they entered the pit in can’t be seen, but looking down, neither can the bottom. What feels like a good couple hours later, maybe more, maybe less, they finally make it to the bottom, and…….. nothing. No dead bodies, no angry tribals, no nothing. Except a perfectly rectangular metal sliding door, looking to be permanently open, leading down another corridor made of metal.

Zorro looks to Raziel, “Looks like the only way is the way forward.” He keeps looking around for signs of danger, or anything particularly interesting.

Raziel nods to the fennec, “It appears so. This place is strange, that’s for sure. Viktor had /better/ be down here, though, after all that time spent walking. I’d hate to know we came down here for nothing.”

Zorro just hopes they didn’t eat him, but he doesn’t vocalize that concern. Geez.

Raziel investigates the open doorway, taking point once more. Why does he have to be the pasu with the gun, every time?

Zorro thinks it’s because he is the pasu who made his own advanced gun. And when you do that, you tend to carry it with you.

The doorway just looks…. old. Like it stopped working forever ago, and the tribals just use it to get to the pyramid. If one were to look closely, they could even see a light at the end of the tunnel, a very bright light. Apparently it’s daytime now.

Raziel blinks. “Don’t tell me that we just walked all the way to the bottom of the cliff, and this is nothing more than a back door. There /has/ to be something out there. Something important.” There has to be.

Zorro squints, “It can’t be the way out. If it were, they’d be idiots not to have flanked us earlier.” The fox pads forward cautiously, looking around for signs of danger.

And the hallway is just… bare. Still cold hard metal, but nothing functioning, if anything functioned at all. Still though, it seems these tribals are at least sorta clever with long periods of time, so traps could be set someplace.

Raziel shrugs, but keeps his rifle ready. “We have no idea what their motives are. And we very well might have taken out most of the guards they have. I’m not about to take that on faith, though…” The tiger carefully advances with Zorro. “The real question is; if it’s not an exit, what /is/ out there?”

Zorro frowns, “A skylight, I hope.” He looks low to the ground, since he’s close to it, what with being a fennec, and searches for any traps. Any tiles that look odd, any tripwires…

Aaaaand….. none to be found, at least so far. It just seems more and more like an empty, cold, lifeless hallway that sucks the very soul from you as you continue to walk down it. At least metaphorically. It’s just super depressing and dark.

Raziel, seeing Zorro’s intention, begins checking the walls at head level. It simply wouldn’t do for the tiger to set off a trap that the fox can harmlessly walk under. Assuming there are any traps. But this temple does not have a track record of making things easy…

Zorro shivers, hugging himself a little, though not too much— he’s got that torch, after all. “It reminds me of the strange place where we saw our friend for the last time. The one I told you about…”

Raziel chuckles nervously. “Yes, I remember. I certainly hope it isn’t like that, though. I’m the cat in this party…”

Zorro chuckles darkly, “No worries, you’ve already broken the pattern by having all your body parts intact.”

Suddenly, there’s a sort of click, like stone being chipped away by a chisel, and a large boulder rolls down the stairs, and due to a natural slope in the chamber, rolls right into the hallway. And so here it comes rolling down the hallway, threatening to crush the pair, getting about five feet away before just stopping. Like it got stuck. Then it starts to crack, and little chunks of it falling off, and then it bursts completely, shooting rock chunks everywhere, two hydraulic pistons in the floor and the ceiling pushing large and solid panels together, completely obliterating the rock by crushing force alone. Once nearly pressed together, the Svargen trap having bested the tribal trap, the crusher just kinda… stays there. It might be releasing pressure, but it’s gonna take a long time before it settles down, if ever.

Zorro’s fallen onto his rump, eyes wide as he sees that machinery chew up the boulder. “Holy &%*$. Did you see that?” He blinks, getting back onto his feet. “Well, we can’t go back that way.” The fox frowns.

Raziel gawks. “That was unexpected!” He looks around, his heart racing. “I think we should go. Now.” He’s tempted to just run down the hall, trying to avoid any other traps…but he’s not going to do that is the fox isn’t.

Zorro certainly isn’t. What could follow them from that side? They already swept it for traps, and the boulder has been obliterated. “Let’s not panic. Just keep looking sharp.” The fennec’s eyes start scanning again, “You watch the top and forward, I’ll keep along the ground and lower areas. Stop if you see /anything/ out of the ordinary.” He mms, “For… what passes for ordinary around here…”

Raziel nods, and complies. It’s a good plan, after all. The tiger continues to check the upper walls and ceiling. He comments absentmindedly, “I’m not sure if we should be concerned or relieved that there are so many traps here that they impede each other. Probably the former…”

Zorro nods, “Definitely the former. I’m much more frightened at the concept of Svargan traps anyway…” He bites his lip, shivering at a memory, “I’ve seen what one of their weapons can do. I’m thankful it was destroyed.”

Raziel scoffs. “I’ve seen what their weapons can do as well. And I’ve been shot by one. Granted, it was probably far more mundane than whatever you saw…” The tiger clutches his rifle more tightly. “Regardless; we should be /extremely/ careful.” That pretty much goes without saying, but Raziel isn’t always the most eloquent person.

Zorro nods, “If you had been shot by this thing…” He shivers, “There’d be no more /you/. Just… fricken gone. A pile of ex-tiger…” He swallows, and shakes his head, “S-sorry, I’m not helping.” He goes quiet and focuses on looking for traps.

The possibility of being reduced to a ‘pile’ does nothing to make Raziel feel better. It does, however, give him more incentive to check for traps. The tiger glances back at the light at the end of the tunnel. How much farther can it be?

Soon enough the two reach upon a spot in the hallway almost completely charred black, the metal of the hallway warped and sunken in. Little stalactites that look like cooled droplets of metal hang from the ceiling, not having fallen fast enough to drop to the horribly melted floor. In the disfigured walls, ceiling, and floor, there are two sets of three jet looking things, seeming to be what caused the horrible burn here. They stay dormant however, probably nonfunctional and out of fuel, though the sight alone…..

Raziel stares at them, and crouches as low as the fennec (possibly lower) as he passes. “I don’t understand. Did the Svargans get some kind of sick satisfaction from shoving traps into every available inch of their structures? Or did they just like unswervingly lethal contraptions because they were /able/ to make them?”

Zorro frowns, “OK. If these things are just stuck on the wall to burn things, I imagine they’d have to be switchable. They couldn’t keep them on all the time.” He frowns, and pulls a pen out of his bag, tossing it at one of the devices.

The pen just clinks away, obviously not setting off whatever cruel device this was at one point.

Zorro hmms, “Raziel. Maybe go grab a heavy chunk of boulder that cracked off over there, and toss it on the tiles? I just want to make sure nothing will go off.”

Raziel sighs when nothing happens. “I’d hate to see the poor sod that set this off the first time…” The tiger nods, and walks back to the crushed boulder - retracing his steps *exactly*. He’s not taking any chances. When he gets there, he picks up a few chunks of rock, depositing them in his bag, and selects a decently sized chunk to carry back.

Zorro keeps watch forward while Raziel does so, just in case anyone or anything might be coming.

Raziel tosses the rock onto the tiles ahead, trying to get it to slide a bit, instead of just striking one.

And the rock slides over a good two tiles, and does nothing. Seems whatever this was, it’s done for good.

Zorro takes a deep breath. “I… think it’s safe to cross. Or as safe as it’s going to get.” He looks around the melted area and beyond, checking to make sure there aren’t traps waiting just on the other side of it. He’s going to be vigilant!

Raziel cautiously walks over and retrieves the rock. “I think I’ll hold onto this for a little longer, in case there are any more ‘surprises.’” The tiger actually bothers to make finger quotes. He follows Zorro, and continues his trap checking duties. “The end has to be up here somewhere… What is it with this place and really long hallways?”

And he’s right, the end is pretty close, still a bit glaring with the exit also being a tight, nonfunctional open door of metal, but at least the two can make out that it’s a door. Of metal. And by how close the door is, there might be no more traps, or yet one more. Who knows?

Zorro doesn’t stop checking, certainly. He finally hops across the molten section, eyes darting around.

Raziel nods to Zorro, “Keep checking the walls and ceiling, but for the floor, how about we do this;” The tiger sets the decently sized rock down, places a footpaw on it, and slides it as far along the floor as it will go. He then walks back up to it and repeats the process. “Think that will work?”

Zorro hmms, “Well, if we do that, we’re just as likely to activate a trap. I’d rather spot it and not activate it. But I could push it forward if we don’t see anything. That would give some confirmation.”

Raziel shrugs. “Fair enough. Anything that reduces our chances of horrible death is fine in my book…”

Zorro checks around the floor and lower areas. If it looks clear, and Raziel doesn’t see anything on the ceiling, he kicks the rock forward.

And the trip to the door goes uneventful. No traps, no weird noises, no strange looking anythings in the walls ceiling and floor, no anything. There might have been a trap, heck, there might have been even more traps, but years of being ancient for years has probably caused them to just….. not work. Or at least not be as sensitive. Probably the first, or maybe both. Anyway, the door shines bright out to a green field and crumbling buildings of concrete and metal, the decaying remains of some Svargan settlement or something. Maybe an outpost, or even a labor camp. The answer is lost in time. Whatever it once was, it’s now a large graveyard of debris and sharp pokey chunks, the husks of what remains of the buildings empty and destroyed, crumbling even further. And then of course, this ancient ghost town is the wellspring of a new village, wooden structures built atop the old stone ones, post fences and cobble streets run through the place, little tribal children running about while their parents work away, doing whatever it is tribals do. In the center of the small village is a fenced in area, with all sorts of livestock placed inside, and on the outer edge is a pretty good sized hill, with a small shack looking thing placed at the bottom, and beyond that is another fenced in area, filled with what look like cages. Anyway, the village is busy it seems, with sounds of laughter, business, and general civilization going on.


Next - Reinventing the Lightbulb Part 10

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