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Rising Sands

Sand shifted beneath his cloth shoes with every movement while dust hung thick upon the air, making each breath difficult as it parched his throat. Just to the right in the dimly lit room his companion was feeling it as well though perhaps less so, the waterskin hanging from a belt was surely the reason why. Yet here, out of the sun and scorching midday heat, at least the pair were not being baked alive as their third companion had been, his body left for the vultures and scarabs that stalked the land to consume, flesh and bone. The desert was a cruel mistress indeed to those not prepared.

Pressing on regardless the pair made their way further along the passageway. Torches set in brackets on the wall lit by some outside force as they neared each of them, flickering light sending their shadows dancing upon the floors and walls and to them it seemed as if the shadows were mocking them, or perhaps warning them away. Surely that could not be the case however, shadows warning them? Preposterous.

His companion stepped beside him, snapping him from such thoughts. The mans tongue snaked from his mouth, licking his once again cracking lips before pointing ahead. Just out of range of the light, there was a doorway. Greed, humanities bane, flooded their minds as they found fresh energy renewing their tired limbs. They rushed forward quickly and so failed the notice the flash of red eyes in remaining shadows.

What greeted the pair was beyond what they imagined, beyond what they had been led to believe! A trove of gold, gemstones and more lined the edges of the room. The torches set the gems alight and sent a dazzling aray of colors all about the room. Such vivid greens, such breathtaking blues! Riches they had been promised and rich they would be! No more to cater to the wealthy, no longer would they be looked down upon as filth upon the streets. With only a bagful each they would be set for life.

Dusty, dirt covered hands eagerly began to grab at the wealth laid out before them. Neither could quite decide upon what to pilfer next until, with an intake of breath each, they saw the true prize. Set into a sarcophagus nestled in an elaborate stand, a trio of rubies greater than the size of a mans fist stole their attention away. A knife flashed out and with a nod to one another they began to work. One man pulled on the gem, the other began to pry it out. One by one, each ruby was freed from its resting place. Blinded by their work they failed to notice how cold the room was becoming, or the sound of an armored body coming from behind.

The rubies deposited safely into another bag were tied to a belt and the pair, eager to leave this place now that their goal was fulfilled, turned and were greeted by the face of death itself. Clad in bone, clad in plate and wielding a wicked mace, death swung for them. Darting out of the way they sprang, that spiked mace crashing past and shattering the tile floor as it struck. Yet with surprising speed it turned to pursue its fleeing victims, these trespassers who dared enter the domain of its resting master. Unused to being awake after so long however... The thieves easily began to gain distance as they dashed through the hallways, desperately trying to remember the path they took.

Along the corridors they noticed in even further rising panic, ghostlike beings gliding along the walls. Ethereal hands reached out to reach for limbs but the men were too fast, adrenaline fueling their evasive attempts. They saw the ladder however, just a little further. All they had to do was scale it quickly and they would be free. The first man quickly grabbed hold of the rungs, fleeing for his life as he rightly was. Clambering out, he turned and grabbed for the hand of his friend. For a moment, he had a firm grasp and began to pull him upwards. The slighest of triumphant smiles for a moment graced his face before he saw a large cat with fur of blackest night and eyes a murderous red leaping forward. No time to shout a warning before the beast had latched viciously on the exposed arm and with a bone grinding sound, tore the arm apart.

"No!" was now all he could cry as stricken by the impact and pain, his friend toppled backwards into the darkness with a soul shattering scream. The sound worsened as he landed, the scream gaining yet more terror before a mace came slamming down and ending the sound with a single sickeningly wet impact. Above and knowing his last friend was gone... The man turned and fled into the sandy surroundings, no destination in mind other than as far from this cursed place as he could.

Death on the other hand, was reaching down and taking hold of the bag the thief had held. The cat, its job done slunk back off into the shadows knowing it had done well and would return for its fill of the body later. Death, or rather Valen as he was known before, made his way back into his masters presence. Emptying the bag of its contents back to their place he turned his gaze to the sarcophagus and stopped. The rage at the recent intrusion erupted as he made note of the missing rubies. His lord, his Pharaoh, could not return without them! Imbued with the energy of the sun, the essence of flame and giver of life as they were, the three keys to returning to life were of the utmost importance! And he, the bodyguard, had failed.

A form of vitality he had not known in years surged through him. A roar of anguish and hatred shattered the now silent tomb, echoing off the walls and making it worse. Crashing sounds began ringing out as more guardians awoke at the sound. Gathering together in the hall they noticed the missing gemstones as well, and soon their grief and anger rose as one.

The thief, the mortals of the above world... Too long had they gone unchecked. They had forgotten what lay beneath the sands, forgotten what happens to trespassers and worse. They would, however, be reminded. Oh yes they would as Valen, the guards under him, the entire tomb itself would not rest until every last coin had been recovered. Every gemstone, every trinket. And most of all they would find the Rubies of the Sun, and they would destroy the ones who carried them.

This was their sacred task. And if the mortal world had to burn until all had been righted? So be it.