continued from 20/366 – The Gallery
Morn followed Celeste to Jaque at the end of the platform. Jaque was still scribbling notes on the vellum scroll in front of him while his hands traced the various runes on the coffin’s surface.
“Any luck?” Celeste asked, leaning over his notes.
“Not yet,” Jaque replied without looking up. “This is a very sophisticated code of runes. Some of these runes fall within the enchantment parameters, others fall in abjuration and necromancy. I’m not sure how they all link, but I’m almost positive that every rune in this room is linked to the others in some way.”
“What does that mean?” Morn asked.
“It means,” Jaque sighed, “that every rune in the room is dependant on the other. Sort of like a math equation. If any of the runes are moved or altered, there’s a chance that the entire thing could break down.”
“So we eliminate any rune, and we’re out?” Celeste asked.
“Not necessarily. If you alter the formula in the wrong way, it could trap us here forever, or worse, kill us all instantly,” Jaque said, standing straight up as he ran his hands through his hair. “To top things off, Morn activated some of them, and I’m not sure why. I may never be able to figure this out. Magical formulae are complicated, but this is an entirely different thing.”
“Are you saying all of this is interconnected?” Master Scaine said, motioning to the walls of the sphere as he and Mrs. G’Lair walked up.
“That’s exactly it, I’m not sure,” Jaque said, “Maybe if I had the library at my disposal, as well as a handful of the wizards teaching us, I’d be able to figure something out. Right now, I’m not sure I know what it’s waiting for.”
“It’s waiting for something?” Mrs. G’Lair asked.
“The best I can tell, the runes that were activated started a chain reaction. It has finished one step now, and there are other runes activated but seem to be waiting for something else. Some other interaction to continue the process,” Jaque said.
Morn felt his ears warm. His head felt like it was swelling suddenly, and the air seemed to thicken. He coughed and realized that he was having trouble breathing. He pulled at his collar as his heart began racing in his chest. He coughed again as though he had something trapped in his throat.
“Are you okay, Morn?” Celeste asked, looking over at him.
“I-don’t-know,” He managed in stammering response. “Can’t-breathe.”
Master Scaine looked up as Morn pulled more at his collar and began coughing more frequently. He moved quickly around the group to Morn’s side.
“Calm down, Morn. It’s going to be okay,” He said, his voice even and calm.
“What’s-happening?” Morn asked.
Master Scaine pressed two fingers to Morn’s neck, then his temple, and finally his sternum. The monk’s expression was of focused determination.
“What’s going on?” Morn’s mother asked. “Is he alright? Is this part of the process?”
Master Scaine shook his head, “he’s having an anxiety attack. He’ll be alright.” He pulled Morn’s head to look directly at him. “You need to relax your breathing. Slow it down and work your way to big breaths, okay?”
Morn nodded within the monk’s hands and closed his eyes. He pulled air slowly, filling his lungs as far as they would go before he let it out. His lungs didn’t feel right. They didn’t feel like they had filled all the way, so he tried again, breathing as deep as he could. This time he got more air than last time, but it still didn’t feel like enough.
“Good,” Master Scaine said as Morn opened his eyes, “Keep it up, and it’ll pass.”
“Why an anxiety attack?” Morn heard Jaque whisper to Celeste, who elbowed him in ribs.
“Ass,” she muttered.
“I feel light-headed,” Morn said as he leaned against the coffin. The lid shifted slightly under his weight.
“What’d you do?” Jaque said, quickly checking the coffin, “I tried to move this earlier and it wouldn’t budge.”
Morn shook his head, still trying to breathe.
“Move out of the way,” Jaque said, gently pushing Morn back to a standing position. Master Scaine shot him a disapproving look as he helped steady Morn.
Jaque pushed on the lid, pulled it, and tried with everything he had to move it, and it would not budge for him.
“I think Morn has to do it,” Celeste said, “but I think it’s more important that we get him to calm down at the moment.”
Master Scaine and Mrs. G’Lair were talking calmly to Morn. He could feel his breath coming a little more regular than it had a few minutes ago. Fifteen minutes passed, and Morn finally felt like he could breathe again.
“Sorry,” he said, his face flushing in embarrassment.
“Does that happen often?” Master Scaine asked.
“This was the first time,” Morn replied.
“Can you try to move this please?” Jaque said, cutting through the group checking on Morn.
Morn looked to see Jaque sitting on top of the coffin. His vellum scroll had been rolled up and put away, and it looked like he was unimpressed with everything that had just happened.
“Yes, sorry,” Morn said, walking over as Jaque hopped down to the platform.
Morn placed his hands on the coffin, and with hardly any effort, the lid slid over revealing a box filled with purple glowing runes.
“I thought you said this was a coffin,” Jaque said, turning to Master Scaine.
“The research I’ve done all said that a wizard was put to rest here,” Master Scaine replied.
“So this must be the next step then,” Celeste said. “What do you think we are supposed to do now?”
“Morn was the only one able to open it,” Jaque said with a nod as though leading morn to get in.
“I’m not getting in that thing,” Morn said. “What if it closes, and I’m trapped in there?”
“So far, you activated the runes on the platform, bringing your mother’s spirit back here, then finished the resurrection by touching this box, and are the only person that could open it,” Jaque said. “If the box was going to kill you, I’m fairly certain that it would have by now. This is a process that is waiting for your interaction in particular.”
“It sounds like you’re a little jealous,” Celeste said, prodding Jaque in the ribs.
“I’m a little jealous,” Master Scaine said. “I’ve come down here many times, and nothing has ever happened. I’ve always wondered why this was built, and Morn has stumbled into something here that none of us can fathom.”
Morn leaned over the edge of the enclosure. The purple runes brightened slightly at his close proximity. One rune, where his head would lay, glowed brighter than the rest. He reached out his hand and touched it. It flared brightly for a moment before returning to normal after he withdrew his hand.
“Do you want to try?” Morn asked, turning to Jaque.
Jaque extended his hand and touched the rune. There was no change in its color or brightness.
“I want to try!” Celeste said, pushing her way forward.
One by one, everyone in the room reached out and touched the rune with the same effect. The light remained the same unless Morn touched it.
“I’m scared,” Morn said, looking to his friends and family.
“It’s fine to be scared,” Master Scaine said, “I’m a little scared as well, but we can’t fail to act because of fear. We can’t leave until whatever this is, let’s us.”
Morn nodded and took a deep breath, “Okay.”
He stepped forward and lifted himself over the edge of the box. He gingerly lowered himself to a lying down position inside the box as the runes glowed brighter and brighter around him. With a blinding flash, the lid slid closed over him as he watched Master Scaine and Celeste try to catch it, and he was alone with the glowing runes.
“Why me?” Morn muttered as the runes grew even more bright, and he had to close his eyes against the light.
Continued 22/366 – The Other Place