The following story is based on Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. All characters, that were originally in the game by Silicon Knights and Nintendo are property of those companies. The characters Richard Cale and Yvette Cale are characters from my own stories. All other characters are original.

Chapter 6: The Gates Discovered

I. Richard

The second Richard Cale saw the purple mist coating the floor of the binding hall, he knew what was there. "Damn. We have a Gatekeeper in here." He looked around the room, and blinked for a moment. The room appeared to be empty. He looked back at the others and said, "Get against the wall. You definitely don't want a Gatekeeper behind you." Once they all did so, he just said, "I don't see it, but this room doesn't have a smooth, or general shape. It could be in a niche."

With those words in mind, he moved out into the room, minding the huge pit that the Black Guardian had used as it's base. He shuddered, remembering the fight he and Peter Jacobs had with the Black Guardian. It had been the one of Chat'turgha's and the memories of that encounter still haunted Richard. As he ventured forward, he hoped that Mantorok didn't have a Black Guardian. He did not want to see what such a creature would look like.

His thoughts were interrupted when he heard Bishop Phillipe shout, "Watch out behind you." Instinct took over, and Richard twirled around, holding his sword up just in time to stop the bladed tail of the Gatekeeper. He was stunned that the thing was behind him, but held the blade at bay. After the briefest of moments, the tail retracted, and the most frightening thing happened. The Gatekeeper vanished from sight. This action made Richard immediately take a few steps back. He had not expected that trick.

Now, he hoped that this new trick wasn't paired with faster movement. Even the ones he had seen that had no legs moved with a motion that was like pacing. He did know, however, that the creature was gazing at him. All Gatekeepers had a gaze that drained one's sanity the longer it was locked on them. He backed up to the wall, and waited. As he did so, he shouted to the others, "Keep an eye out. These have a nasty trick at their disposal."

Just as he finished that statement, the Gatekeeper appeared, spreading its wings. In that brief moment, he saw that the creature didn't have legs, but a mass of tendrils. It even had tendrils at the tips of its wings. It also didn't hesitate. The tail started to come down at him, and he ducked to one side. When heard the tail hit the wall, he could tell it struck hard, and gotten stuck in the wall. The creature was stuck.

Richard didn't hesitate. He had enchanted his sword prior to coming here, and it still glowed with the power of the Goddess. He straightened up as best he could, and swung the sword. Even though it was close quarters, he managed to swing it in a way that cut the creature in half, bringing the creature's head off in the upswing. The lifeless body quickly collapsed, as best it could with the tail still stuck in the wall, and then disappeared.

He didn't relax, since he wasn't certain how safe the room was. After a moment, he did relax a bit, as the mist coating the floor lost its purple hue. He took in a calming breath, knowing full well he would have to restore his sanity, and then called the other. "All clear. Luckily, there was only one in the room."

He watched as the others walked over to him, then quickly cast the spell that would restore him. He was thankful that the Goddess' rune allowed peaceful restoration of health, sanity and magickal abilities. He needed to think, however, of how to combat this new twist. Once everyone was near him, however, it was James that gave him the idea, although indirectly. "Those things can turn invisible, just like you must have done when you came to the college."

Richard turned to look at James, and the college student offered an explanation. "I saw you leaving the building Professor Marsh had his office in. I think you must have noticed it too. Almost everyone else acted like you weren't there, so you must have been invisible. I think only certain people can see you at that time." He then thought about the statement. The Reveal Invisible spell, which he had used to turn invisible to most using the Goddess' rune, had only turned him invisible using Mantorok's rune, and revealed using the runes of the three ancients encountered before. He even remember the Goddess telling them when they first used it that it could either reveal or conceal.

He looked at the others as he realized what had to be done. "Alright. These Gatekeepers can be invisible, but there is a spell to reveal invisibility." He quickly explained the runes involved, thankful that the Goddess did not need them to use the Tome of Eternal Darkness to cast the spell. He then cast the spell, watching as the rune surrounded him and a golden haze was added to his vision. He heard a few gasps, and saw some were about to speak, but he held up his hands. "Just cast the spell. This way, if there are any more Gatekeepers, we will see them."

Soon, three more circles of runes appeared, each around one of the others. Just as quickly, the spells took effect, and Richard understood why they had initially gasped. Each one had glowing yellow eyes. He wondered how that would appear to others, but Phillipe asked the important question. "How long will this last?"

Richard motioned to door at the far end. "Hopefully, long enough for us to find what we were looking for and then get back. If not, we need just the time to cast the spell to cast it again." He had explained why when he explained casting the spell, and everyone nodded, signaling they understood. He then led them out of the binding hall, and into the catacombs of Oublie.

II. Phillipe

Bishop Phillipe recalled his passing through the catacombs on the way to the Binding Hall, as Richard had called it, and noticed a slightly more evil feel to the air. He noticed, as well, that the corpses that had gotten up had disappeared. He would have felt grateful for that, but with the last encounter they had had, it worried him more.

For that very reason, as they climbed up the steps to the level above, he asked the question on his mind. "Richard, when I came through here earlier, I has seen the bodies get up. Should we be concerned about them being here now?" Just as he finished the question, he could tell the others seemed visibly stunned by that news, except for Richard, who just paused.

After a moment, he saw Richard turn to face him. "In all honesty, I'm more concerned that they aren't here. I know for a fact that any zombie that is aligned to Mantorok is completely skeletal, and easily dispatched. Given their emaciated shape, I doubt a Bonethief would inhabit them, and even hitting them with a torch will kill them. If they aren't here, that either means they were gathered elsewhere, or used by a Gatekeeper." Phillipe could see that those words made everyone shiver. He wasn't sure which part of the words caused more concern. That another Gatekeeper was about, or that the corpses would be gathered someplace else.

As they neared the door that led to the room where one could head up to the Cathedral, he heard Amber Snow ask a very good question. "Any idea how many zombies we might be facing? I ask since I know catacombs were usually used as final resting places for some people." Phillipe had never considered that, even after he saw the corpses rising.

He paused for a moment, and noticed everyone else did so as well. The cathedral had been around since the time of Charlemagne, which meant there was possibly centuries worth of corpses. There had also been the times the cathedral had been used as a field hospital. Some stories had stated that some of the wounded disappeared from the church as well. That thought made him shiver, more so now that it would have before.

Finally, he spoke. "In all honesty, I do not know an exact number. On a plus side, Amiens has never been an overly large place, so not many people died each year. There was an increase in deaths during the times of the Inquisition, and the wars." He noticed Amber flinch at the mention of the former. "However, I don't know if all those bodies were buried here in Amiens."

He noticed Richard was now opening the door, as he responded to the last statement. "I would say none of the bodies from the wars and the Inquisition. The ones from the former were consumed by the thing that had been in that hall we had come from. The ones from the latter, sad to say, died when they were turned into a massive pillar of stone and bone." Phillipe felt a cold shiver go through him. The church would have never done that, even to heretics.

Once the door was open, and they had stepped through, Phillipe stopped when Richard put an arm up. In the room that served as a junction for them, he saw a monk. It had to be one from the cathedral, but he was pacing and mumbling. He glanced at Richard, who just held a finger up to his lips. He understood. Silence would be needed, since the monk was obviously looking down.

With extreme caution, he and the others stuck to the walls of the room, and quietly moved to the door they needed to go to. There would be no telling what would happen if this monk saw them or not. If this monk was a follower of Mantorok, then the monk would turn on them. If not, they might believe the lie that Phillipe had killed the Pope. The fact was Phillipe could not be certain that this monk might even be someone who realized the truth, and would help them.

The fact ended up being that the monk had gone mad. Just as they had reached the door, the monk lashed out at an oddly placed bust. He almost gasped when the monk grabbed the throat of the bust and started saying, "I know you killed his eminence, Phillipe. You even put demons in the other monks. I don't know how you did it, but you did. God will forgive me if I kill you, since you in service with the devil." As the last word was said, the monk threw the bust, and it almost hit James.

That action caused the young man to react. Phillipe was thankful that the young man's reaction wasn't lethal. He noticed the monk looked surprised to see James, but before the monk could speak again, James had managed to hit the monk with a blow to only knock him out. After the event happened, he noticed the boy was looking at the monk with a questioning look. "Do you think it is safe to leave him here?"

He was about to respond, when he heard Richard say, "It's the only option right now. We can't cure him of his insanity here, and if he comes to while we have him, he will most likely try to kill us." He then saw the young man sigh. "I feel bad that we have to do this, but it is the only choice." He then watched as Richard headed towards the door that was opposite the door they entered.

The second they entered the hallway, he felt the atmosphere change. It felt like the evil was more in control the farther they walked. He also notice a worried look on the others' faces. Phillipe could sense their fear and apprehension growing. As they reached what had appeared to be a small library, part of him wanted to turn and run. All the others appeared to have the same thoughts, except for Richard Cale. The man just looked at the room, and then motioned forwards. "The altar as at the end of the hall. If it helps, take a calming breath.

He did so, not thinking it would help at all in such and evil place, but he did feel better. He was even surprised when Amber said, "That did help. It even felt like a bit of comfort, similar to what I felt in Ehn'gha." He blinked, and then thought about it. There was a bit of that comfort there, but the sense of evil was starting to make itself known again.

When they reached the altar, he heard James say, "Maybe, since Wicca is apparently the only pure religion left, you can detect the Goddess's essence. That should lead you to where it is hidden." Phillipe found himself nodding in agreement, since it felt right. He also felt that the prosecution of Amber's kind centuries ago had been wrong.

In that moment, he noticed that the wall behind the altar wavered, and then disappeared. He felt a stunned look cross his face, and noticed it on the others. What surprised him most was Richard's reaction. Richard immediately raised his sword, and said, "Last time I was here, I did not see that tunnel, and part of me is wishing I wasn't seeing it now." He then saw the man noticeably shudder, and then move cautiously into the tunnel.

The group followed, and Phillipe felt his skin start to crawl as they moved down the tunnel. The place looked unholy, and unnatural. The walls were not built, or dug into the ground, since they looked like they had been grown. Everything had a purple hue to it, and a feeling like death and decay was everywhere. He noticed movement up ahead for a moment, and thought a person was ahead of them. That thought disappeared when he saw a skeletal corpse move forward. He almost screamed, but he saw Richard behead the thing with ease.

The man looked down at it, and calmly said, "A zombie aligned to Mantorok. Let's hope that is the worst thing we'll see." Almost, as if Richard had prompted the creatures, Phillipe saw more shambling towards them. He saw Richard move forward to meet the creatures, and then recalled he had the other hand-to-hand weapon. He quickly moved forward, attacking the skeletal corpses.

As he and Richard lead the way, fending off the corpses, he noticed that Amber had stopped right near an odd alcove. At first, he had thought nothing of it, but then he saw it. There was an odd container, one that looked almost organic, like everything else in the place. She had pulled it out, and something in him said they had found what they were searching for. Before anyone could say anything, Amber opened the container. In that brief instant, all they saw was a bright yellow light. He didn't dare swing his weapon, but all he heard for a moment was just the four of them breathing.

When the light faded, he looked around, and noticed that all the creatures were gone. It was just him, Richard, James, and Amber there. He now saw what Amber was holding. It looked like a hand, but it seemed more to be a glove of some sorts. Could it be that the item was what had inspired the Hand of Jude hoax. Before he could comment on that, he heard James shout, "I don't like that rumble. We need to get out of here." Phillipe found himself agreeing with that thought.

III. Lucinda

Lucinda Tepes, who had just finished co-coordinating efforts to have her company help with the search for those who had been killing people, was sitting in her office when a mind-splitting headache hit her. She knew what it was. Her master, Mantorok, was in pain. That meant that the item must have been found, or something linked to it. She started to reach for the weapon she kept with her, and heard Mantorok say "Prepare to be brought to the one shrine. One of the Goddess's followers hid something there, and the others found it."

She gasped in both disbelief, and horror, but put both emotions aside. She needed to be ready to destroy the threat to Mantorok's plans. No doubt, it was part of Alexandra Roivas's group behind the discovery. She had tasked Roberta Ossein to find a way into Ehn'gha, since no one seemed to be getting through the fire at the Roivas estate. Would this mean the Bonethief would be recalled from that task, in order to help, or would it be left to her?

She received an answer as the world took on a purple hue, and it changed all around her. In seconds, she was in an almost organic looking shrine. She instantly knew that she was also in Amiens, France. This made her smile, since the fresh death of the Pope increased all the forces at work. She could summon more than the zombies that were in the catacombs. Since they were the weakest of all creatures linked to Mantorok, they were only good for spell fodder.

She paused for a moment, and concentrated. Her family had been in the service of Mantorok for centuries, and with that, she was the latest, and mastered many skills. One of those skills was being able to cast multiple summons. Soon, she had a Horror and Gatekeeper by her side. She looked at the two creatures and said, "Some of Lord Mantorok's foes are here. We must destroy them." Without another word, she started to head through the catacombs of Mantorok's domain.

The big difficulty would be finding her foes. Mantorok had teleported her to a place deep in his shrine, which meant it would take time to reach where ever they were. There was also the added difficulty that, while she was certain it was close to the point where the shrine touches Oublie Cathedral, she wasn't certain were, or how close to it, they were. Inward, she hoped for a sign for where to go.

She received it the second she hoped for it. The sound of gunfire echoed through the place, and Mantorok made sure she could locate it. She started to run through the hallways, eventually reaching an area with organic looking containers. One had been smashed, and she could feel traces of the Goddess all over it. Just turning a corner not to far from her, she saw Richard Cale, and she could tell he had seen her. She started to run, especially as she heard him shout, "Move. Mantorok has brought Lucinda here. We can't let her get that item."

Hearing those words made her pick up her pace, as well as fueled the bloodlust in her. She had know that the Cale's were part of the Goddess's chosen leaders, and now she had the perfect chance to kill one. Of course, they were formidable foes, but all it would take from her would be one scratch, and her blade would kill him. She might even hold off on using the blade, thinking how much fun it would be to prolong his death. Those thoughts gave her another boost in speed, as well as a boost in magickal power.

She had made another turn in the path, and saw that straight ahead of the fleeing group was the entrance to Oublie Cathedral's catacombs. Once they passed that point, things would get complicated, especially if some non-converted monks were about. She quickly cast a magickal attack, and cursed as the group kept running, now noticing that Amber was with them. She also noticed that Amber's hands were glowing, and figured the girl was holding the artifact. That was not a good sign, and it fuelled her fury as she shouted, "Amber, you bitch." Those words echoed through the tunnel as her quarry ran into the catacombs.

IV. Amber

Amber Snow almost faltered as she heard Lucinda's voice echoing up. She wasn't sure if she had heard right or not, but she could have sworn that Lucinda just made a verbal slur on her beliefs. The fact that it happened in the catacombs under one of the buildings of the largest persecutors of her faith may have made her think that. Of course, it could have been just the fact that Lucinda was there that unnerved her as well.

She pushed through the fear, though, and followed the group back through the catacombs. As she ran, she heard James say, "How the blazes did she end up here in Oublie. Does she have access to that teleportation thing?" That was an unnerving thought, since it would mean that she had access to the underground city that they were calling a sanctuary.

She didn't know if Richard's response made her feel any better. "No, we made sure the Goddess' protection is all over the area. Most likely, Mantorok has a way to teleport his minions between his various shrines." After a moment, she heard him follow that thought up. "Damn, that makes matters worse. Especially if we may have to go to his heart." That last comment made her shiver.

The shiver also served to distract her senses, and she ended up barreling into the monk they had encountered earlier. The man was obviously still out of his mind, but his eyes went wide when they focused on her. She jumped away, luckily, with the group that was now opening the door to the binding hall, as the man spat out hateful words. "You vile witch. You have desecrated this house of God, and damned the Bishop. God will forgive me if I send you to your dark master. He will forgive the right..."

Everyone froze at that moment. The monk had stopped speaking as a purple light started to go through his body. Soon, his body did something that was impossible. It ripped apart in front of Amber's eyes, and each little part exploded. She backed away, making sure she was with the others, but no matter what, they all ended up coated in what little remained of the monk's body. If anyone else had seen it, they would have lost their minds.

She almost thought that had happened when she heard a chilling female voice laugh. She recognized the voice as that of Lucinda Tepes, and looked on to see the woman step forward out of a fading purple glow where the monk had been. "It always feels good to do that. Mantorok likes those sacrifices, but I'm sure he'll enjoy all of you as well, especially you, Richard Cale." Amber took a moment to glance at the leader of the team, and noticed that he did look nervous. He had obviously not seen anything do that, but he might have been aware of it.

At that moment, she felt the power of the artifact she was holding start to flow into her. She also noticed that Lucinda had paused in her steps. She dared a quick glance, and noticed the hand holding the artifact was glowing with a yellow light. In fact, the artifact was now on her hand, like a glove. She returned her gaze to Lucinda, who now appeared worried. She held up her hand, and just said, "He won't be getting anymore sacrifices today, Lucinda."

She knew how to cast spells, at least the ones Richard had told them. This one just came to her. Little runes appeared around her, and then the lightning flew from her hands, and struck the other woman. The action made the other woman jump back, and for a moment, the woman looked much older than she had a moment ago. The action had obviously stunned her as well, while one of the creatures that had been with Lucinda was now on the floor, flailing like they were fatally wounded.

At that moment, she heard Richard shout, "Back to the hall. It's the only safe way back." She nodded, and then followed the others. As she did so, another notion took her mind, and she started putting up barriers. As they moved, she heard him say, "The artifact must have given her the knowledge to cast spells. She's cast an attack spell, and now barrier spells. No wonder Amber had to come with us, she was meant to use the artifact."

When they were at the Binding Hall, Amber put her hand down, and started to gasp. "I don't know how many spells I cast there, but it was exhausting." She bent over and put her hands on her knees. At least she was certain it would take Lucinda and her minions time to get through all the barriers. She then looked over at Richard, and said between gasps, "Does casting spells always have that affect on you?"

She watched as he nodded. "It does, which is why I usually space them out. When you don't have enough power to make them work, you could seriously injure yourself, or others." She then watched as he looked at the item in her hand. "No doubt, it had a good deal of power in it to begin with. Hopefully, the barriers won't go down too quickly."

At that moment, they heard a muffled explosion from back the way they had just come from. It was James who asked the key question, the one she figured they already knew the answer to. "You think they got through one of the barriers?" After a moment, a second explosion followed.

She was surprised when Phillipe helped her move. "No doubt. James, get her other side. She's worn out, and God would not forgive us if we let her fall victim to that evil woman's magick." She realized what the Bishop was referring to, and she felt thankful for that. The way that monk died was disgusting, and no one else deserved a death like that.

She didn't see Richard, which told her the leader of this mission was behind her. She did hear him, however. "Let's just hope someone gets word to them to activate the portal. I don't think we will be able to wait here too long." She didn't say anything, but she held up the artifact. In that instant, the portal opened on its own. She heard Richard let out a low whistle of surprise. "Ok, that artifact is powerful. Get through, and pray it closes when we are all through."

She saw Richard move forward, not jumping through, but motioning for them to go through. She was thankful the others were carrying her, since this last bit had already made her feel exhausted. In fact, as the warmness of the portal surrounded her, she lost consciousness, and before she blacked out, she hoped it didn't mean they were all dying.

V. Percival

Professor Percival Marsh had been standing near what they figured was the console for the portal device. Alexandra had told him to wait there for a sign after he had told her about the latest find. It had been both exciting, and disturbing, and the leaders of the group in Ehn'gha had to know about it. No doubt, when the others arrived back from their mission, he would have to relay the news to them. He just hoped he would recognize the sign when he got it.

What he didn't expect the sign to be that the one portal burst to life in yellow light. He almost reached out for the button, as well as to shout out an alarm when four figures rushed through, the one being carried by two others. Once they were all through, the portal disappeared, and all four collapsed to the floor. He quickly ran over to them when he realized who they were. Out of concern for his favorite student, he rushed over to James Mulroy, and tried to help the young man up. "What happened? Why were you running like that? Was Miss Snow hurt?"

He had to wait until everyone caught their breath before anyone answered him. He was not surprised that the one who answered was the leader of the group, Richard Cale. "We had encounters with a few of Mantorok's minions, starting with a Gatekeeper. After that encounter, we ran into a mad monk. No doubt, he lost it seeing the corpses shamble off. Luckily, we had no more major encounters until we found the artifact, which Amber is wearing. Then Lucinda appeared, and she had a blade that tore the monk to shreds."

For a moment, Percival Marsh blinked as the words jogged a few thoughts. Since he studied ancient cultures and lore, he had found multiple tales of a blade that would destroy a living thing with a touch. While the legend had been found in many cultures that could never have had any contact with one another, they all agreed on the shape of the blade, and its effects. Every culture called it their variation of what in modern day English was 'The Total Reaper'. To the civilized cultures, it had been described as barbaric. To the cultures that had been called barbaric, it had been considered as a blade beyond evil. In a voice so low, he said, "The Reaper is real."

Much to his surprise, it was Bishop Phillipe who reacted to the words. He could see the shock in the man's eyes as the man spoke. "That was the Reaper we saw. I know the Vatican had been rumored to be searching for the blade, but I only thought that to be rumors. I should have realized it was real, especially after that encounter with the Gatekeeper. The stories the church had heard was it was fashioned from a demon's horn, and destroys even the soul." The words caused a group shudder.

After a moment, Professor Marsh turned his gaze to the artifact, and for the first time, everyone got a good look at it. While the legend in the book never fully hinted at what it was, it appeared to be like a gauntlet. This was the first thought, except that it seemed to be almost molded to the delicate hand of Amber Snow, and had what appeared to be a small weapon molded to it. Upon further inspection, he saw more runes on it. "Good grief. I'm seeing runes appear on it. This artifact must be only part of the Goddess' relic."

That got him a reaction from everyone. Unfortunately, it was groans from almost everyone. The only person not groaning was Amber, who just seemed to nod. Somehow, the girl seemed to have changed a little, as if the power of the Goddess was giving her a confidence boost or something. "I had that feeling. When I used it, it felt like it was incomplete. If it will help, I think I know what some of them are."

He looked at her in amazement, and then at the relic. Already, in the short time they had been in Ehn'gha, he had started understanding the runes found in the city on sight. He had asked Alexandra about that earlier, as well as Dr. Lindsey, and they both said that that was normal here. Now, here were new runes being introduced to them, and they could be deciphered easily, or with slight ease. The words started making sense, and he could start to get an idea of where the next part was.

The runes also reminded Professor Marsh of the reason why it was him waiting for them to return. He looked over at Richard, and said, "I just remembered. Your wife and father-in-law found something. I think it was another tunnel, but there was something odd about it." He noticed that Richard had straightened up at that, as if a bolt of fear was going through the man.

He watched as Richard started to head out of the building, but heard the man say, "Where is it located? If it is a new tunnel, then not all of it is under the Goddess's protection. Something might be lurking in it." He understood without asking, and quickly relayed the location of the new find. When the others left, he return his gaze to the artifact on Amber's hand, and tried to make sense of what he was seeing, and recalling the old legends.

VI. Alexandra

Alexandra Roivas looked at the mouth of the tunnel she stood before, and shook her head. It was a very disturbing find, since they didn't know how safe it was. As she looked at it, she said to Yvette Cale, "Any idea where it goes to, and how safe it is?"

She watched as her friend pulled out a map of Ehn'gha. It had been one of the pages from the Tome of Eternal Darkness, but it had been removed, and luckily still worked. The page had a mystical quality that could project each level of an area in a different hue. This one, ironically enough, was underneath the level most of the city was on. She then saw Yvette bite her lip as she answered the question. "Not entirely sure, since it seems to point in the direction opposite of the town. For all we know, it could leave to another area of the city, or a cave network."

That answer made Alexandra frown in frustration. "So anyone could get into Ehn'gha through here. If Lucinda manages to convince people that we are hiding in some caves outside town, they could invade." It was definitely an upsetting thought. Many people who could see and hear the truth now called the underground city both home, and sanctuary.

She watched as Dr. Edwin Lindsey step out of the mouth of the tunnel. "At least it is safe from the creatures. The Goddess's protection lasts for a bit into the mouth. I've already spotted a few runes of Mantorok a ways into the tunnel. We will have to extend the protection, and it is best to do that when things are secured as we go. How soon will Richard and the others be back?"

She was about to shrug, when Yvette looked towards the stairs that descended to the area, and ran past her, jumping into the arms of Richard. She gave a slight smile, still a bit envious of the relationship the pair had. "I'd say they are back." She heard a slight chuckle come from Dr. Lindsey, obviously enjoying that his daughter still had that someone special in her life. She knew he was a widower, and he understood the love the two were expressing.

She then walked over as Yvette disengaged herself from Richard, and looked at Richard as the others, except for Amber Snow, entered the room. That started to worry her, but before she could ask, Richard answered the question. "Amber is alright. She helping Professor Marsh right now." She gave him a quizzical look, and Richard calmly said, "The artifact we found is just one of many. There is more to find. So what is this about a tunnel?"

She looked back at, but decided she needed to know about the mission first. "In a moment. First, I want to know what happened. How did you get through the portal? What else did you run into while in France?" They were both questions that needed an answer, especially if they now had two security risks, instead of one.

She was stunned when James Mulroy answered the questions she asked. "Well, Richard had fought the Gatekeeper that was aligned to Mantorok when we arrived. Apparently those things can turn invisible." She blinked at that, and then glanced at the tunnel, wondering if one of those Gatekeepers was in the tunnel.

As if to alleviate her fears, Richard said, "They are still accompanied by a colored mist. I see none of that in the tunnel." That relaxed her, until Richard said, "After we dealt with that, we made our way to the artifact. Once we grabbed it, Lucinda managed to teleport there. She killed a monk who went mad, and it wasn't pretty. We managed to escape, since the artifact seems to channel the Goddess. It was what opened the portal, and then closed it behind us. Next time we activate the portal, however, we will make sure those co-ordinates are out of the device."

Alexandra nodded, and then turned to face the tunnel. "Well, that just means we only have to worry about this tunnel. As you can see, it was in the basement of one of the buildings." She moved to the mouth of the tunnel, and pointed into it. "Most of where it goes is speculation, but regardless, we will need to secure it as far as possible. The magic will keep Mantorok's minions out, but he could use others, not magickally aligned to him."

She watched as Richard moved forward and looked into the gloom. "You may be right. I have heard of stuff that allows soldiers to see into the night. If one of the political leaders decide we a threat to national security, they would move in with the military." She saw Richard pause, and then she heard the sound. It was small squelching footsteps; the unmistakable sound of a Trapper.

She pulled out a revolver, and motioned everyone to be quiet. After everyone was quiet, she softly said, "Someone, bring a light. Anyone with a gun, follow me, and stay quiet. If the creature we hear is what I think it is, we need absolute quiet. The creature is blind, but has excellent hearing." She saw James pull out a gun, and noticed Yvette was now holding a revolver as well. It was Bishop Phillipe who grabbed a flashlight, and the small group started to advance.

VII. Roberta

Roberta Ossein had been trekking through the caverns for some time now. In the service of her, or at least they thought of themselves as her until they moved to a new host, lord, Mantorok, Roberta knew she had to find another way to Ehn'gha. She was already aware of the caverns in the mountains, and that one might lead to the underground city. She had been about to give up, until she heard the conversation echoing through.

She remained quiet as she heard about what had happened at Oublie Cathedral, and Mantorok's haven there. The first artifact had been hidden there, and now they would search for another one. The artifact also appeared to speed up their transportation process. She even heard about how they had defeated a Gatekeeper of Mantorok. It was all very disturbing. Mantorok's Gatekeepers remained invisible, until they struck.

She then heard the familiar noise of one of the zombies shuffling along. Those were the weakest of Mantorok's minions. There had been a few that had died in the cavern, and their corpses made find grunts. No doubt, however, their condition made them easy prey for flames. It did, however, give Roberta an idea.

No doubt, when they started claiming the tunnel, they would stop at each of Mantorok's symbols, and replace it with the Goddess's symbol. It would take time, but Roberta could wait. Not in the tunnel, of course, but somewhere else, and that would take two of the little things it had found. Since they were aligned to Mantorok, she could pick them up.

Roberta looked at the thing, a Mantorok Trapper, which had horns, and some bony shell. These were harder to kill, but they stayed hidden. She whispered to the creature, "I want you to head down the tunnel. Your job is simple, to be spotted, and to die. They will then start to claim this tunnel, and once they do, I can return, safely inside the barrier." The creature bobbed a bit, then jumped to the floor, making its way to the tunnel end.

Soon, she heard gunfire, and the creature's death squeal. That was her cue. She held the other Trapper, and started to antagonize it. As a rule, the little creatures would not use their suicide attack, unless provoked. Soon, the creature was squealing, which Roberta could tell made the advancers pause. It would be a short pause, since the creature finally did its suicide attack.

In a flash of purple light, everything changed. Instead of being in the tunnel, Roberta was on the floating islands of the Trapper dimension. It was, if you knew how to survive, a safe haven. She could even watch what happened at the point she entered from. It was the best place to hide in, and a perfect spy post. Roberta then made her way to the point that returned her to the dimension.

As Roberta expected, the group moved forward, but not extending the barrier yet. With the trapper, decaying, they would not know who, or what had been caught by it, or not. It could not hear them talk, however, but that was fine. All she would have to do was wait. In time, Roberta would return, but that would be after they secured more of the tunnel. Until then, she would wait, and plot the best way to take out the biggest threats to Mantorok.

Author's notes

I want to thank all my readers for bearing with me as I work on this story. I know there has been a good deal of time between postings, and that is in part due to the many projects I've been working on. Since April, I've been working on a month series on Comic Vine, which is exclusive to that web site. I'm also married and have a child, and those duties have to take priority. I've also had a change in my employment status in the past few weeks, and have begun searching for another job. Still, I am not done with this story, and I plan to do more work on it. Planning for the next chapter will begin shortly after this posting. As always, you can keep track of my work on my writing progress blog, the link found in my profile.