Chapter 94: A Treacherous Expedition
At the Nocturne Mercenaries guild hall, PJ was facing Clawdia as the toddler was passed to the fox. "You sure you can manage Talon for the day? He's been real fussy - Oh, and he chews on everything!" Clawdia asked, a bit flustered, why trying to explain her son's behavior.
"Hey, you know I love looking after the little guy." PJ grinned, taking Talon in her arms, to make a silly face at him and get a laugh from the rather young child.
This made Clawdia smile, shifting to hand over a bag with his supplies inside, and placed a chew toy in her son's tiny hands. "Well okay, you be good for aunt PJ, okay Talon?"
"Kay mommy." The little one giggled, burring his face in the fox's chest fluff.
"I'm sure he'll be good. You excited to meet your new uncle, little guy?" PJ grinned to the kid, excitedly.
"Yes!" Talon mewed, mirroring her enthusiasm.
"So, things are getting serious with this boyfriend of yours?" Clawdia inquired, visibly happy for her friend.
"Is that really a surprise? He's pretty great!" PJ laughed, before saying, "I'm sure you'd like him, when you get to know him."
"Maybe." Clawdia nodded, faintly teasing in tone.
"So, what are you and the guild doing exactly?" Asked the fox.
Clawdia sighed, looking over to the others getting ready with supplies and tools being taking onto the aviation unit in the garage. She then turned back to PJ, "We're going on an escort mission to help with an expedition that's researching a historical landmark in the outlands -but." She got a faintly annoyed expression, "Our client is extremely late."
"At this rate we won't have much daylight to work, with once we get there." Sheila complained, as she passed by them, carrying a bag of food to the aviation unit.
"Cool your tits, Sheila." PJ teased, having gotten more comfortable around the wolf. "It's not even noon yet."
"We agreed to meet in the morning!" Sheila pointed out, having to briefly raise her voice as she passed into the back room.
"It's his loss if he doesn't get here on time." Alterone remarked to the wolf, clearly unbothered by this.
Just as he said this, the entrance doors pushed open, with a bellowing voice of enthusiasm graced the Guild hall, "Greetings and salutations, my dear comrades! Are we ready for our adventure into the unknown?" Intruded a youthful male dog with pink fur, wearing an explorers attire. He had a large pack on his back, becoming visible as he turned to the dragons in the room. "Watson Wiley, dear chaps, pleasure to make all of your acquaintances." He smiled, which received a copious amounts of strange looks from the men as he marched up to the ladies. "The field and excavation team has deployed to the site and are awaiting our arrival. Do hurry along." He said, heading straight to where the aviation unit was located, as if he owned the place.
"Well-" Sheila took a deep breath, looking to her friends and clasping her hands together, "whose ready for a plod out into the outlands?"
"At least it won't be boring with that guy there." Zaeed commented, as he dusted off his slacks.
"This is gonna get annoying fast." Alterone grunted.
Ignial however didn't have anything to say, just watching as Clawdia gave a quick hug to PJ and Talon before the fox took off - having given the dog weird looks in the process. Clawdia then turned to where Watson Wiley headed and then to Sheila. "This should be eventful." She said, as the two headed after the explorer.
The group had gathered in the aviation unit with Ignial in the pilot's seat. Sheila was the first to approach with new customers as usual, "Well then, it's lovely to finally meet you, Watson Wiley. My name is Sheila, and the rest of my crew are Clawdia, Alterone, Zaeed and Ignial." She gestured to them one by one, as she introduced them all, in her usual friendly tone.
"Ah yes, jolly good! I'm thrilled to finally make your acquaintance. Mrs. Whiskers-Flint has told me good things about all of you lovely people, when we spoke over the rotary." He said, taking her hand to shake it, "Do have a seat, I am sure our journey will be long, as it is to the far off sector of the outlands." Wiley said.
Alterone seemed disgruntled as he watched this dog talking so closely with Sheila.
"Coordinates?" Ignial spoke up, peering back.
Wiley shifted to lean forward, with his gaze on Ignial, "Ignial, dear chap, have you not been informed? Gracious me, well that just will not do!" Wiley rose from his seat to waltz over, and hand the dragon the coordinates of their destination. "Here you are! We're heading to the far off island, known as the Land of dragons." Wiley remarked, getting everyone's undivided attention suddenly.
"Say that again?" Zaeed turned to him from where he had settled on the ship, wanting to make sure he him heard correctly.
Watson Wiley turned to the yellow dragon, getting a very excited look on his face. "Have you not heard of the island of dragons?" He asked, "Dear chap, I say, this will be a monumental occasion!" Wiley shifted back to his seat, as the aviation unit started up with the buildings garage roof opening overhead. "I intended to speak of the fascinating discovery when we arrived at the dig site, but I can give a few spoilers on our trip over." Wiley said, having the eyes focusing on him, "We have uncovered a new discovery in history, where dragons played a pinnacle role before the War."
"History from before the war? Blimey, that is unheard of. It's impossible to find any books on prewar history that aren't purely speculation." Sheila spoke up. History books were not her forte, but she would be lying if she said she had not looked for something about that part history once or twice.
It was clearly peaking everyone's interest, all with exception of Alterone at least. "What's so special about this crap? We all know dragons started the fucking war..." Alterone scoffed.
"Oh, but that is where you are wrong, dear chap." Wiley was quick to reply, and with that surprise filled the ship, with questions flooding everyone's minds.
"Are you insinuating they did not?" Sheila put a finger to her chin, wondering how this information could tie to the history they knew.
"I have proof, in fact. Once we arrive, I will show you before we venture further into the site." Wiley explained.
"What exactly are we getting into?" Clawdia inquired, "The way you spoke on the phone, I thought we were helping with an excavation."
"Dear girl, you are not wrong. We are short handed, due to feral insects deeper inside." Wiley nodded to her.
"So what, we're pest control now?" Alterone scoffed.
"These are not mere pests, but sentries protecting the tombs inside. I must warn you all, there are copious amounts of traps within the site and it is quite dangerous." Wiley went on to say, "I can not emphasize caution enough."
"So we're here to fight these things?" Zaeed asked, but before Wiley could answer Sheila shrieked.
"Tombs?" With terror in the wolf's voice, she believed that tombs meant ghosts, and she wasn't having that!
"Unfortunately so...." Wiley shivered at the thought himself. "My team are no warriors, and we are in dreadful need of assistance on this matter."
"It shouldn't be any trouble. Right guys?" Clawdia looked to the others. "We've handled worse, and think about what we'll learn for it."
"Yeah, this will be simple." Ignial nodded to her statement.
Sheila on the other hand went to sit next to Alterone and grabbed onto his arm, "I am not leaving your side, understood?" She grumbled, in a more dramatically serious tone than the situation called for.
Something about that got a faint smirk, as he put his arm over the head, to rest on her chair. There was a mix of tension and anticipation from the crew as they traveled over clouded skies and as they flew by many islands. Hours passed, and they eventually reached a distant island with tropical trees, and a giant stone structure that was shaped like a dragon, with its head broken off. Surrounding the feet of it were the excavation team, working on cleaning off fossils outside of the entrance to this mysterious monument. "Well ladies and chaps, welcome-" He paused for dramatic flair, "-to the land of dragons!" Wiley exclaimed, with the mercs pressing against the windows to see out as they landed. It was an otherworldly vision, with sand covering the entirety of land, with a decayed tower in the distance, that seemed to be like a castle that was far taller, and much more narrow.
"Blimey, it's a lost civilization!" Sheila commented from where she sat looking out, "Unbelievable! I'm sure you blokes have some burning questions that very well could be answered today!" She addressed the dragons, as they went to land a slight distance away from the statue, so as to not damage anything.
"Indeed it is!" Wiley declared.
They gathered their gear and followed Watson Wiley out onto the sand, some of them having never walked along anything like this before. Shifting through the low hanging trees of this tropical place, a beach seemed to be in the distance, far passed the dig site of where the excavation team were had to work. Wiley lead them forward, guiding them to one of the gefundi running the site, and reporting to him. "Jenkins. How goes the excavation?" Watson Wiley eagerly asked the dachshund whom awaited them.
"Wiley!" The dog turned to him joyfully, "You finally made it." He had the typical explorers outfit on, with a beard and glasses to match, as well as quite the belly. "There is little you left for us to do, with those cursed beetles down there!" He remarked in a bantering manner.
"I do apologize for that, my friend. Oh, and do pardon our lateness. I had to make preparations prior to gathering our newest recruits!" Wiley turned to motion to the mercs, "These lovely chaps are here to assist with those pesky insects and lend their hands in the remainder of the excavation." He said excitedly. "Please, allow me to introduce to you, Martin Jenkins, my most trusted companion. He is an expert on excavation and handling the preservation of fossils." Wiley introduced him proudly, motioning to show them the recovered remains of an ancient dragon skeleton. "Isn't she marvelous?"
"O-oh! She's... Erm, lovely!" Sheila put on a wide grin, having noticed the bones lying on a nearby table under a tent. It was clear this made the wolf uncomfortable.
To which Jenkins gave a hearty laugh, "No worries missie, it's been dead for hundreds of years." He laughed, seeming to find himself very funny.
"Not it, Jenkins. She." Wiley motioned to show the bones, "You can tell by the shape of the pelvis here. Definitely female."
"Yes, yes. She's believed to be only sixteen, possibly a servant girl. Such a short life she lived." Jenkins proceeded to fill in the rest.
"Thats remains to be seen." Wiley said, motioning the group to follow. "Come along now, we have much work to do!"
"It is not the queen, Wiley!" Jenkins called out after them in a tired tone.
Wiley seemed to ignore his colleagues protest and led the group to the entrance of the structure. None of them had really seen a skeleton before, so while walking passed the organized bones, the remains got plenty of curious and strange looks. Following Wiley, they proceeded to walk them down the long stone staircase, that lead into the stomach of the underground chasm. They halted before a massive golden wall, where hieroglyphics lined it. There were depictions of a castle in the sky and peaceful meditations of the dragons-like ancestors. It seemed to be telling a story, which seemed to bewilder and amaze the party.
"Behold." Wiley said. "Our recent findings in history."
Sheila had pieced the information gradually, asking, "The dragon queen's castle?" She made sure to get a good look at the intricate illustrations too, very beautiful, almost stunning enough to prevent her terror from overtaking her.
"Indeed. The hieroglyphics suggest a kingdom of dragons, run by the matriarchy of a queen." Wiley said, as they looked over the symbols on the wall.
"It seems like they had a peaceful land. There is no sign of war or violence depicted here." Clawdia commented.
"This is exactly why I told you, that the dragons did not start the war." Wiley remarked, walking further into the depths of the tomb, passing statues of dragons depicted in togas with praying postures, and nude sculptures of the women seeming to be dancing or posing elegantly. "The dragons were a peaceful people, who were viewed as the most beautiful race in all of gefundi kind." Wiley continued, stopping before another wall that had been broken half way through the artwork. There was illustrations of love and beauty with other races gathered around, but then a larger focus shifted to the queen of dragons, being handed a single pale rose by what seemed to be the king of frogs. He was ugly and round, but yet he stood before her angelic presence. "I believe this frog is one of the ancestors our ruler. Expressing his love to the queen... but if you see-" Wiley motioned to the next image, which showed the queen refusing the rose, with an enraged expression on the frogs face. "He was rejected by her grace, and stormed out of the kingdom." He continued, leading their attention along the art engraved on the wall. With it stopping on what seemed to be a declaration of war from the frogs, before the remainders of the hieroglyphics were far too damaged to read. "It was the amphibians that started the war, because his proposal was rejected by the most beautiful creature in all the land. Even in other artifacts we uncovered, the frogs have been shown hold a jealousy towards the dragons." He admitted, turning to them, "but we must venture further to reveal the complete truth. However... feral scarab beetles await us in the next room." Wiley explained, motioning to the barred doors, that had visible gashes dug into them. This suggested they struggled to suppress the beetles in order to escape.
Sheila was the one to turn to Wiley again, walking over as the others peered at the carvings. This was all such a revelation... so shocking and different to what they thought they knew. "What might you suggest we do about them?" She inquired.
"I am unsure what we can do." Wiley admitted, "They are centuries old insects, that do not seem to remember gefundi." He explained, "They are violent beasts who took the lives of several of my crew."
"Well, this is a complicated matter, love." She turned to the others, trying to think up some sort of plan of action. The last thing they wanted was to be breaking into these old insects homes and taking them out.
Clawdia turned to her. "You're thinking about the bugs too, aren't you?" She asked, seeming a bit worried, "Do you think there's a way to save them? These beetles might be the last of their kind."
"If there was a way to move them, that would be our best option." Sheila nodded to the cat, though she wasn't sure how to do that, "Perhaps if there were some sort of chambers in there, but I'm assuming we don't know that."
"Ah yes! There is one in fact! Perhaps we could use the sprung trap to confine them!" Wiley exclaimed.
"What, like lure them inside and trip the trap?" Clawdia asked, glancing to the others, "Could we pull that off?"
"Do we have bait? What would even get these things to go into a trap?" Zaeed spoke up too, not seeming convinced.
"I think she means to have one of us to act as bait." Alterone grumbled with disapproval.
"It may be our only option. Will it be worth such a risk though?" Sheila looked to Wiley.
"We must! History is written by the victor, but discovering the truth rests on our shoulders!"Wiley exclaimed, "Dragons used to be exalted and had been reduced to slaves in previous years. This could change the fate of Gefunden as we know it!"
"In that case, we need bait." The wolf pointed out, looking over her crew for a volunteer rather nonchalantly.
"Tsk. Fine. I'll do it." Alterone grumbled.
"Such a surprise." Ignial remarked, crossing his arms.
"Don't even start. Neither of you are volunteering." Alterone growled, angrily.
"I'd be resorted to using my fire, and that would risk killing these insects." Ignial shrugged.
"Pushover." Alterone scoffed, looking then to Zaeed, "-and what's your excuse?"
"Can't fly." The other dragon shrugged simply, as if it were obvious. Though, he was secretly pleased with this, no life threatening bugs for him!
"I'll say this now, I am not prioritizing these insects' lives over my crew's." Sheila turned to Wiley, with a very serious tone.
Wiley nodded, "Do as you must. Perhaps if this is successful we can research domestication of these creatures." He said. "As long as we get to the next chambers successfully, then we have achieved our goal."
"Perhaps if things go wrong, I'll step in and freeze them." Sheila added, "We still need a place to keep them however." She pointed out.
"I don't think freezing them is the best plan." Clawdia admitted, "Insects don't do well in icy temperatures. Maybe we can scare them away if it comes to it." She said, visibly the most concerned for the beetles.
"If you know how to scare a hundred something year old beetle." Sheila shrugged, but then her eyes widened, "Hold on a sec, Zaeed! You can control the voltage of your electricity, can't you? Surely a small zap wouldn't kill them."
"I think the point is to not hurt them at all?" He shrugged, not particularly wanting to fight a thousand year old beast, only to accidentally fry it.
"Tsk. My toxicity should be enough to knock them out." Alterone grunted, as if he was being discredited already.
"-or you know, kill them." Zaeed retorted.
"Well, at most they will be somewhat uncomfortable for a moment, if something goes wrong. If not, brilliant!" Sheila concluded, since they didn't really have the equipment or skill to somehow subdue these insects peacefully.
At times like this, they wished they had someone with insect expertise, but it was too late for that. Wiley motioned to follow, placing his paws to the barricade. "The hall ahead is long and narrow, but is embedded with trap tiles on the ground. The scarabs has been released from one of them." He explained, quickly.
"What!?" Alterone gawked, "You're only just saying this!?"
"Would you have preferred I told you there were dart traps as well? Oh dear..." Wiley said suddenly, before any protesting could occur. The doors began to rumble, with something shoving against the other side. It was followed with hissing and screeching of insect like sounds.
"What else are you keeping from us?" Zaeed shouted accusingly, as everyone seemed to become wary.
"Lets not panic now. I'm sure we can work around that." Sheila quickly interrupted, though seeming frustrated herself.
Clawdia nodded to this, "We needs these details, Wiley. You're risking everyone's safety by holding information from us!" Clawdia snapped, also haven't grown agitated.
Ignial nodded to this, leering to the excavator.
"Dear chaps, girls, I promise, I have the best intentions. You must trust me. I worried, if I had told you prior, you would have refused our desperate request for historical discovery!" Wiley exclaimed, anxiously as the rumbling and hissing rapidly became more violent. He was struggling to keep hold. "I'm afraid we have run out of time for explanations." He said, falling back, as his grip was lost. The doors were forced open as two massive scarab beetles, of much larger size than the domestic beetles of the kingdom, busted out, screeching and hissing wildly at the girls in sight.
"Whiskers!" Clawdia's ears fell back, as the much larger of the two turned to them. As a beetle charged her at rapid speed, Ignial places himself between it and his wife, to catch it by the horn. The smaller of the two ignored the dragons, going for sheila and Wiley, with more scurrying rapidly to the doorway.
The wolf shrieked at the top of her lungs and swung her hands up, to form an icy shield that the scarab beetle slammed its horn against! Thinking quick, Zaeed bolted over to grab the small beetle by the horn and push it down, "Sheila! close off the hole!" He screamed as the creature forced it's way back onto its feet.
Leaving the ice shield for Wiley, Sheila ran to the broken doors to see more of the creatures, "Blimey, this could not have gone worse!" She screamed as she formed yet another towering shield, sealing the entrance for the while, just enough for the rest of the beetles to not get over. The wild insects were ramming into it, with chips and cracks already forming.
"It's not going to hold!" Clawdia shouted, seeing the beetle knock passed her dragon, to continue its charge.
Clawdia reluctantly powered up her electricity and swung her tail, to spark up the beetle, to stun it briefly before hurrying to the others. Wiley got up with the shield, watching anxiously as the ice wall broke through, with six more scarab beetles that came flooding out. The dragons were quick to take on the brunt of the force, but they seemed to be being ignored entirely as they redirected their focus on the canines and feline in the chamber.
"I'm freezing them!" Sheila shouted decidedly, seeing no other way to get out of this situation unharmed. Two of these giant insects were coming her way, so she was very clearly cornered as she summoned more ice, making the chamber even colder than before.
Before Sheila could channel her power at the beetles, Alterone flew to her and grabbed her abruptly as one nearly trampled her over from behind. He set her down, turning to face the insects. "Don't be reckless." He stated, gripping to her scarf and forcing it over her muzzle. His cold gaze focused to the beetles that were rapidly appearing, with shrill shrieks and screeches of hostility.
Sheila sat on the ground, staring up at the dragon, and despite the situation allowed herself to swoon at the heroic act and smile sweetly to the man before. "(As dauntless as ever. I knew you'd save me.)"
Alterone stepped forward, unleashing his airborne toxins into the chamber, with the rest of the team quickly shielding their faces to avoid breathing it in. The discomfort was almost immediately visible on the beetles as they scurried back and halted the rampage. "Get back." Alterone ordered the others, as he amplified his powers briefly, with the nearest beetles dropping to the ground, and the further ones distancing themselves between hisses. Their wings began to vibrate, as they backed away from the toxic dragon nearing them. Their behavior seemed to shift, not like feral, erratic beasts protecting something, but as if the beetles were submitting to him in a way a previously broken in insect would do.
"What's it doing?" Ignial seemed surprised, behind the bandana held over his face.
"I don't know." Clawdia replied, before briefly having a flashback of her father breaking in one of his insects, and it was behaving in the same way. "Maybe... they're not feral." She went on to say, pondering in tone, but half certain. "Al." Clawdia called, from behind her paw, "I need you to try something. Stop using your esper abilities and hold out your hand."
"What? Why the hell would I do that?" The dragon protested.
"Just... trust me. Okay?" Clawdia stated, in hopes he would comply.
"Grrr... fine." Alterone grunted, ceasing the expression of his toxins and shifting closer to the nearest conscious beetle, and extending his hand out. "This fucking thing better not maul my hand off!" He swore.
"Be careful, darling." Sheila was quick to say, as she got up very slowly, as to not startle the beasts again. However, the beetles seemed... Subdued. Alterone managed to rest his hand on the beetle's horn with no hostile reaction from it, they were tame.
The rest watched silently, Zaeed speaking up, "Do you think the toxins sedated them?" He asked Clawdia and Ignial, who were closest to him.
"I don't think so." Ignial said, visibly perplexed by this.
Alterone stood there, unsure what to do, getting only more aggravated as he stared at this big bug. It was gross, with a mildew like scent that made him struggle to not gag. "Someone explain what's the fuck is up with these things. I'm not a damn beetle whisperer!" He snapped, struggling to not pull back in disgust.
"Marvelous! I believed the scarabs were sentries to the dragons of the ancient civilization four hundred years ago, but this discovery must mean they had a much closer bond! I say, That must be it!" Wiley exclaimed.
"If you're right, no one else will be able to go in there, unless these are the only creatures down there." Sheila pointed out to Wiley, before her attention shifted to her lover. "Alterone, try letting it go, maybe they'll remain calm." Sheila told him, seeing just how much the dragon didn't like this.
Alterone grumbled to himself, as he pulled his hand away from the beetle, but it seemed to follow, to try to nudge into him. "What the hell is it doing now!?" Alterone snapped, as the other beetles started to swarm around him making odd buzzing noises, that sounded much softer than the shrills they had made earlier.
The bugs continued to nudge against Alterone, bunting him with their horns. He was visibly disturbed by this, but some of the beetles near Zaeed and Ignial began to do the same with them. Zaeed being knocked to the ground, with one of the females sitting on top of him to nuzzle into his face.
The yellow dragon grunted loudly, winded by the weight of the animal, "I don't know... If it wants to hug... or crush me." He said, while trying to nudge it off, but it's skin had a disgusting layer of mildew and moss on it, that his hand abruptly pulled off by mistake.
Something about this seemed to make Clawdia chuckle a bit. "I think they like you guys. My childhood bee used to do this with me as a kit." She said, watching as Ignial hesitantly pet the beetles bunting his knees.
"Well, I don't like them!" Alterone growled.
Sheila had gotten up and came over to help him out, but as soon as she went to touch him, the beetles around him turned to her with that same hostile hiss they made earlier. "Eek!" Sheila retreated quickly, without even trying to fight them, "Mangy buggers!" She exclaimed, "Why do they only like you blokes?"
"It must be because they��re dragons." Wiley nodded to himself.
Alterone then growled to the beetles, as his lady fled, causing them to back off. The rest of the beetles seemed to hyper focus on Alterone, and all scurried off back into the open chamber they had previously inhabited, before the trap released them.
Wiley took advantage of this motioning for the girls and then the dragons to follow. "Hurry along, we don't know if they'll redirect their focus on us." He said, making way through the hall, "Do watch your footing everyone!" He instructed, as to avoid tripping any further traps.
The group quickly followed, albeit rather reluctantly, but they had to be very careful with their footing indeed. The stone floor tiles which they traveled across were either loose or cracked; who knew what was underneath them, or which one would trip another trap!
"I do hope you know what you're doing, Wiley." Muttered Sheila, finally able to reunite with Alterone, without the beetles fending her off!
"Dear girl, I assure you, that I AM a professional!" Wiley exclaimed, confidently, as they carefully continued along.
Zaeed wasn't paying attention however, and accidentally stepped on tile, that tripped wall darts came flying from both sides. This caused panic to arise, with the group hurrying through, along with the other dragons swearing his name. During this frenzied escape, they tripped various other traps, including a sand pit, which they struggled to get out of, before pushing in another that caused the walls to quickly start closing in on them! As they managed to get through, stumbling across the barrier caused another trap to be triggered, with a giant boulder coming crashing down behind them. Terror had taken over by now, followed with desperate swearing of urgency. Running faster, the frantic group struggled to evade further traps, along with the giant rock gaining on them from behind! Becoming winded, they eventually they made it through second floor of traps, and fumbled into a crevice along the side of the path. In this moment, the boulder violently tumbled passed them and wildly smashed into a wall, where it got stuck on impact. Relief instantly washed over them all, with each and everyone one of them laid on the ground, panting and holding their sides to just breath. They were finally able to rest without impending doom hanging overhead.
Wiley, however, got to his feet as if this were nothing! "Dear me that was quite a thrilling experience! Come along, I'm sure we're close now!" He exclaimed, hurrying ahead of them to the lower section by staircase, where a massive statue awaited them, just barely out of sight.
"Fuck...." Alterone grunted, "You clumsy idiot!" He swung at Zaeed, clearly pissed.
To his surprise, Sheila had grabbed his arm before it could reach the other dragon, "Not now!" She sounded pissed, glaring at them both with anger and pure terror lingering in her eyes.
Despite being out of breath and oblivious to their surroundings, they had to stay calm. "Tsk." Alterone growled to Zaeed, letting his lady hold him back.
Clawdia tumbled to her feet first of them, holding her hand out to help Ignial up, before extending her hand then to Sheila. "We should hurry before we lose Wiley." She said, peering over as the other dog leapt down to the lower level ahead of them.
Sheila gripped to her hand, being pulled to her feet by the smaller female. "Watson Wiley is positively mad!" Sheila stated with clear disdain, "If I had known, I would not have agreed to this bloody frightful expedition!" The wolf added, as she followed Clawdia, holding onto Alterone still, "-and not to mention, it's bleeding dark in here!" She went on complaining, rather hysterically despite sounding angry.
"Calm down." Clawdia tried to settle her friend's nerves, "He's just a bit eccentric. As for the darkness, leave that to me." She explained. "Just keep close, I can see just fine."
Clawdia lead them ahead, where they came down a spiraling stone staircase that wrapped around a giant statue of what seemed to be the queen of dragons, posed stood in a praying position. The statue was faintly lit up, though the source of the light was unknown, but her size alone was overwhelming. She was absolutely gorgeous, and it was clear Wiley had halted to gaze upon her beauty just ahead of them. The chamber, however, must have been huge, as they couldn't see any walls, or ceiling.
"I believe we have stumbled upon the tomb of Queen Kystalair Valkyrie." Wiley exclaimed, taking a torch, to light it as he held the illuminating glow around the chamber with various other hieroglyphics surrounding them and copious other chambers that seemed to have been sealed from within, as well as statues concealed in the shadows of the corners of the room.
"Hold on a moment! We're in one of the catacombs?!" Sheila exclaimed in horror! She spun on her heels and headed for the stairwell again, "I'll be waiting upstairs!"
Alterone was quick to grab her arm, "Don't be stupid. You can't see in the dark." He said, sternly.
"Wait." Zaeed spoke up, as he formed a ball of crackling electricity in his hand, he raised it briefly before it lost its glow, but they were all given a glimpse of a chamber full of stone dragons, stood regally facing the queen. One appeared inches away from the direction Sheila was heading, causing her to shriek and jump back to Alterone.
"Sweet Virgil!!" She cried in terror, holding tightly to Alterone, with her face in his chest, "We've angered the spirits here!! Do something, Alterone!!" She shrieked, visibly trembling in his arms.
"They're statues." Clawdia said, shifting to look around.
Alterone sighed, as he shifted to grab sheila closer and wrap a wing over her head. There was no doubt they stumbled on something amazing though, something never seen before. Something intentionally hidden from the world!
Wiley took his torch to follow the hieroglyphics on the wall, showing the next passage in history. The beginning of war. Examining the images, the dragons has their allegiances of other races fighting beside them. However, the frogs were tied directly with the feline and canine races. Leading the charge of the kings forces, was a lion that looked like he could be related to the Lional family. Fighting for the dragons were many of their own, with allies with winged races and others that could be deemed as lower class in present time. The tactics of the frog King proved to be deceitful and clever, overpowering the dragons with their greater number of races choosing to ally themselves in the midst of war. The Queen, herself, joined the fray, as countless of her men were outmatched and captured over enemy lines.
The queen appeared in full Valkyrie armor, facing the the king and his armor. However a chillingly familiar tiara was shown upon her head. The following hieroglyphics depicted her causing intense flames to rain down upon her enemies, annihilating a large portion of them. However, she seemed to lose control during desperation. The queen cried, tearing the tiara from her flesh, as tiny parts of her body seemed to be overtaken by bits of crystals. Rain descended upon her in this moment of weakness, putting out the flames of her head and tail. She was left weakened, as the frog king took her by he neck. The remainder of the images had seemed to have been smashed by a fist, hiding whatever transpired afterwards. However a few images remaindered upon a stone door that had been left unsealed. Their peaceful race seemed no match for the might violent amphibian army's might, with the king killing innocent dragons and forcing the remainder into slavery. One of which appeared to be the crown prince, who looked an awful lot like Ignial.
The party reached the wall's end, and stood in that corner, looking at those last few hieroglyphics. A knowing dread washed over the dragons, "Guys, you know what that looks like?" Zaeed asked eerily, looking at the faint illustration of the powerful Queen.
"Don't remind me." Alterone remarked, focusing on that tiara around her head.
"Yeah... I see it." Ignial nodded to this, not really having much to say either.
Watson Wiley came up between them, curiously observing the dragons mutterings. "Hmm, who might you chaps mean? The broodmother?" He inquired.
"Not her." Ignial shook his head.
None of them seemed to want to elaborate much past that, not even Zaeed. Clawdia noticed their behaviors and turned to them, and back to the statue.
"Well! Looks like we found the history of the dragon war! Jolly good, let's go back up!" Sheila lifted her head briefly to add, "Mission accomplished, wouldn't you say?"
"Don't even think about it." Alterone grunted, as he wasn't letting Sheila go from his grasp, so she was unfortunately stuck there.
"Indeed! I have far more research to do here! We may have further remains to bring topside!" Wiley proudly stated, hurrying to look around for any openings to further venture within the depths of this burial ground.
Clawdia however, stepped beside Ignial and Zaeed to look at the depiction of the prince. "This must have been her son... He looks an awful lot like you, Ignial." She said, peering over. The dragon sort of just started however, still unnerved.
Zaeed seemed to shake off the worry a little, taking a step back, "Could be your ancestor for all we know." He said to his half brother.
As he spoke, the floor suddenly became rather uneven, to quickly cause Zaeed to trip and fall into a cave in, landing on his back. Instead of stone or dirt, he impacted on something brittle that cracked and immediately gave way into dust under his weight. The startling noise caused Sheila to shriek and jump into Alterone's arms entirely!
"Argh!" Winced a frustrated grunt from Zaeed, who pushed himself up, but as he did so, his hand fell through what he thought was a particularly round rock. He looked down to his side to see what it was, only to notice his hand buried in debris of bone. "SKULL!" He shot up with a shriek, standing in a pit of what had to be several skeletal bodies.
"Oh, gracious me, dear chap, you've made an excellent discovery!!" Wiley hurried over with excitement. "We shall have to get the digging team to help us safely recover this encapsulated history!!" He was positively beaming with joy!
"I defiled a corpse, you weirdo!" He tried to get up, only to find he had no place to lean where there weren't remains of what seemed to be dragon bones. Various horns and spines, as well as teeth and skulls surrounded where he knelt in a mass grave!
"This is too much all at once!" Sheila screamed in terror, "Ghost statues! Tombs! Decayed corpses! Eekkkk!! What if they're bloody zombies! Alterone, save me!!!!" She shrieked, squeezing him so tightly, that he could barely breath.
"You're... choking me...." Alterone stated, through grunts that seemed light-headed.
"Everyone just needs to calm down!" Clawdia snapped at her panicking friends.
"She is correct, you were all aware that we would be working at a dig site before our departure, and thus should have anticipated this possible outcome." Wiley remarked, "This is the truth of Gefunden's history! The kingdom and it's people must learn of our findings, so we must make the truth known!" He continued, in his overly excitable manner.
"This still feels wrong. We're disturbing the dead." Zaeed had managed to get back on his feet, now having to pick tiny bones and dust from his back.
"Don't say that!" Sheila squeaked in fear of ghosts coming to get her.
"While ghosts are quite imposing, I can at least keep my fears in check, miss Sheila. If you won't help, then do fetch Jenkins and the crew. We have history to uncover!" Wiley remarked, as if it were a command.
"Alterone and I will go fetch them then!" Sheila nervously laughed, as sweat was violently perspiring from her, " Do stay safe everyone, we won't be long!" Sheila jumped from Alterone's arms and pulled him along with her the first opportunity she got. The others were left to watch as they hurried topside, just hoping Alterone would guide her in the darkness, to avoid from running into anything.
Meanwhile, Clawdia and the others were left in the chambers, with Zaeed finally having gotten out of the pit and had moved closer to the wall, where he knew there were no skeletons for him to snuggle up with. He focused on the hieroglyphics instead, the final few exactly. The victorious frog king, fallen dragon queen, that tiara. Ignial stepped over to stand beside him, as he too looked over the images, as they awaited the diggers return.
"What do you think is true?" Zaeed asked his half brother quietly, still focused on what they both gazed upon.
"All of this wouldn't have been buried away if it were false." Ignial said. "Someone intended to hide this."
"You're probably right... Though, I wonder how finding it will change things." Zaeed nodded, wondering how the king would react, and his people. His gaze moved to the illustration of the queen's son, "..."
By now, Wiley hopped down into the pit, to get a better look at the skeletons - Quite fascinated to say the least. It took a while for the remainder of the crew to reach them, due to a few bugs following them occasionally, that made displeased noises if Alterone was not at the back with them. Upon arrival, the diggers were lead to the spot that Zaeed had uncovered and were given instruction by Wiley. They all carefully got to work and hulled the remains to the tents outside of the dig site, to clean off the bones of any dirt and debris. Some of the Nocturne mercs assisted in this endeavor where they were allowed, mostly keeping the beetles at bay and helping carry heavy objects out of the mass grave. This continued for several hours...
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