The sisters stood before two massive oak doors on the East end of the temple. The right hand door had a smaller wicket gate built into it. Maya stepped forward saying, “Allow me.”
Maya produced a small cage from the folds of her saree, which contained two white mice, each about the size of a hamster. They blinked and looked expectantly at her.
As she removed the first, which had a single black line of fur across its neck, Gwendolyn asked, “Is that a, um, familiar?”
“No it’s better than that,” Maya responded, setting the rodent down in from of the door. “It’s a Trap Rat.” The mouse moved surprising quickly along the threshold, sniffed, and then climbed the posts and lintel, then climbed down and sat by her foot.
“No traps on the exterior,” Maya announced.
They readied their weapons and Gwendolyn gave the wicket gate a push, it opened smoothly and quietly despite its weight and age. The peered into the gloom beyond, which had an eerie glow to it rather than the total darkness they had anticipated. The foyer chamber, a space about ten feet square was empty, and they could see the towering nave beyond.
Maya again let the Trap Rat loose, and it scurried about the space, it stopped in four places and deposited a pellet which gave off a weak glow of its own.
“Don’t step in the poo,” Maya instructed. They entered the space, keeping the edges of the chamber avoiding the area between the glowing pellets. When they were safely in, Maya took her short staff and gently pressed on the floor in the isolated area. Immediately a trap door opened and they could briefly glimpse a dark pit before it snapped back.
They cautiously moved into the nave. At each side of the foyer chamber was a small alcove. The two were designed the same with a granite table at its back wall with a tray of three identical glass decanters upon it. There was a strange inscription written is gold lettering above each table.
“It’s written in the old tongue”, Breena said. “The one on the left says, ‘Traveller be refreshed.’ The one on the right reads, ‘Devotee be revived.'”
Maya for the third time let loose the rodent. It repeated its investigations, but returned with out leaving a marker. Maya then took the second mouse from the cage, and stepped into the “Traveller’s” alcove. This mouse bore a vaguely skull-like patch of dark fur on its back. She set the rodent on the table, and it went to the first bottle, sniffed its stopper, and then suddenly fell on its side, with its tongue hanging out.
“Poison,” Maya announced.
“Is it dead?” Thilda asked.
“Sort of,” Maya responded, just as the mouse shook and regained its feet.
It repeated the test on the middle bottle, with no reaction, and then “died” again on the third.
“We can take the middle bottle, it is a strengthening potion,” Maya said. “It makes the weak stronger and rives the fatigued.”
In the “Devotee’s” chamber two bottles were similarly found to be “reviving potion,” which gives some measure of healing to those who are injured.
Breena nodded knowingly as Maya explained it to the others.
“They are yours Breena,” Gwendolyn promised, “unless we need them to get out of here.”
Beyond the alcoves were rows of wooden pews facing an elaborate sculpture at the West end of the nave. At its centre stood an eight foot tall marble statue of a beautiful woman. Her figure and features were of the type which occupy teenage boy’s fantasies. At her feet were life-sized granite figures of four men, each was bowed face down before her. The men were positioned at the four non-cardinal compass points and had the garb and features of different lands. Gwendolyn readily saw that one represented the kingdom. a second was Ralulee, but the others were in outlandish attire she didn’t recognise.
Throughout their investigations, nothing stirred except for the party and the mice. To the north of the statue was a narrow doorway. The party moved towards it with care. As they passed through they could see it was a long passageway to some sort of cloisters. But, immediately past the doorway lay the body of a Ralulee warrior. He was not more than a week dead, and was fairly well preserved as it seemed that his organs had been removed. Closer investigation revealed that he had three large talon wounds across his chest, and another set on his right thigh.
“He has been eaten,” Breena declared.
This tale follows: No Man Shall Pass
Many of the ideas contained in this episode were inspired by the Wizard Mortidor, long may he and his mice prosper.