3rd Place: Cynfire
Sphynx the fierce feline named after the famous statue in Egypt was an Egyptian Mau cat of only 2 years old. She was an bronze Mau cat with a white splotch on her chest known to some as a angel kiss and beautiful bronze coat with deep brown spots. she was an explorer and loved to adventure deep into the old tombs, where humans stopped she could continue due to her being a cat, she could get into tighter spaces. She seemed to be an ordinary cat but she was not she loved shiny things such as jewels, her favorite gem being the same color as her eyes a bright chartreuse green or yellow-green color. She wanted to find the highest quality peridot or a green garnet, especially a green garnet her absolute favorite gem was that. But what would a simple feline do with a gemstone? Simple of course! She would get it made into a tag for her collar! She heard two humans talking in coffee shop around the night hours about a unexplored tomb. She was currently outside the shop hearing them say the tomb was ancient and unexplored and they would go to it tommorrow because it was night. Luckily for Sphynx she had great sight in the darkness and could head off tonight to the tomb. The map was rolled up sticking out of one of the unknown mens bag which was laid next to him as he sat in the chair at the shop talking to the other guy. She took this as a oppurtunity to snatch the map which she slowly walked undetected and stood to the shadows. She went up to the map and quickly yanked it out of the mans bag and hightailed it as quick as her paws could to a hiding spot before she was noticed too late the men were screaming at her and chasing after her she looked for a place they couldnt get her and where she could read the location of the tomb and once she did that she could allow them to take the map because she had a sharp memory and knew all over north egypt like the back of her paw. She quickly ran into a stone wall it had a tiny opening which she slipped into and went as far back as she needed, the men were at the tiny opening shouting and screaming for her to get back here with their map she opened the map and read where the tomb would be. She then knew exactly where it was located past the temple of Bastet. She scrolled the map up and pawed it towards the entrance so the humans could take it sure enough they snagged the map quickly and left she heard them say "What could a cat want with our map not like it could read the thing" to which she heard them laugh and she was lucky this time that the humans didnt want revenge for the stolen map even if they did get it back afterall with no harm done. She looked outside and saw no one around. She quickly headed off to the temple of bastet, she began her search for the ancient tomb in a few hours. She found her way to the temple of the cat goddess to which she carefuly followed the directions of the map in her head within half a hour she found the tomb. Now she uncovered the entrance with her paws and sneaked her way in. There was a cobra a few meters in. She hissed at the snake and it hissed back it struck at her but with her quick wit and movements she avoided the creature narrowly. She leaped over it and continued further into the tomb. She soon found the grave of this ancient pharroh. By using her senses she avoided a pitfall and a few traps by leaping and jumping away. She soon was face to face with the ancient pharoh whom smelt horribly. Thankfully it was tucked away in its coffin. She searched all inside the coffin for any prized jewels although she couldnt find any trace of a green garnet or paridot she did manage to find within the chamber of the tomb alot of gold and rubies to which she wasnt interested in the gold but instead a giant ruby she had her eyes set on, it shined brillantly. The cut of the gem was a marquise cut her eyes got as big as saucers and she proceeded to step forward to pick the gem up. As soon as she grabbed the precious gem with her mouth the roof to the tomb was caving in and possibly the flooring! Next she ran past all traps she sprung previously on her way to the tomb as the roof was caving in on her. She found a way out through the roof and debri a small opening to which she happily squeezed into the space and out of the tomb to freedom with the ruby still intact in her mouth. She purred happily to herself the long hike home to her owner whom lived in Cairo a nice lady who had three other cats including Ms Sphynx here purring so proudly with a ruby in her mouth. She had braved the unknown risking her getting bitten by a cobra or falling to her death by the many traps and pitfall of that tomb to which she could have been crushed. It was a dangerious hobby for sure for her but she wouldnt have it any other way.
2nd Place: Siduri
The Mystery of the Disappearing Artifacts
“By the Primes, the artifacts have gone missing! The professor too!” the raccoon yelled as he stumbled his way through an excavated tunnel.
His teammates, a tough cat and a suave ferret, looked up. “What was that, Bernard?” the cat asked.
“I went back outside to grab more pickaxes for us and everything was gone! All the researchers were gone! All the artifacts vanished!” Bernard slumped over onto a chunk of debris. “I knew this trip was a bad idea, Allison, I knew it. Nothing but curses out in Aegypt!”
Allison, the cat, protested. “Hold on, you don’t seriously think they were kidnapped, do you?” Just then, the crew heard screaming from deep inside the tomb.
“The heck was that?” the musteline asked.
Allison turned to her ferret companion. “Charles, get the torches. The ‘Nameless King’ just kidnapped the archaeologists.”
“Whoa whoa whoa, what if they just went for a snack break-“ but Allison cut Charles off.
“If they were kidnapped, we don’t have any time to waste.” Though reluctant, Charles had little choice but to obey his adventure-crazed companions. Grabbing all the equipment they can, the team ventured into the tomb again, following the screams.
After some walking, Allison, Bernard, and Charles reached the chamber the screams originated from. Charles wafted his torch into the room, but it seemed to do nothing to ward its inky darkness. Just as they were beginning to wonder what to do, the shadows rolled back into a previously hidden figure. The figure looked like a large cat made out of the shadows themselves
“Leave now, mortals, and perhaps I will let you leave with your lives! For I am Llirm!”
“That must be the name of The Unknown King!”
Allison gasped. “Don’t repeat his name! If you do that he will regain his power!”
The dark figure laughed. Allison grabbed a pickaxe and flung it at the shadow. Before anyone could react, the shadow shifted into a snake and coiled around her! “Nngh! I can’t move my arms!”
Bernard panicked, was there nothing he could do? Allison dropped her knapsack, revealing a golden figurine shaped like a jackal. On a hunch, Bernard reached out to the idol and held on to it tightly. Light shone all around him. The figurine transformed into a jackal!
Suddenly filled with fighting vigor, he leaped at the shadow and tore it to shreds! The shadow shrieked, releasing its grip on Allison. Charles took the opportunity to grab the team’s last titanium pickaxe and deliver the finishing blow to the monster. The beast screeched, then abruptly crumbled.
Bernard rushed to Allison’s side. “Allison are you okay?”
“Oof, I’ll live.” Allison sat up, but immediately flinched backwards. “Bernard, you’re a jackal!”
“Huh?!” But just as he looked at his paws, the magic seemed to wear off, and he looked like himself again.
“Wha-what just happened? Was it just a statue...?” The three looked over what remained of the monster they thought was the Nameless King. But before they could investigate, the walls began to collapse. Charles blurted, “there’s no time, we gotta get out of here.”
The team rushed back to the entrance of the tomb, reaching it just in time. The doors slammed shut behind them, knocking the three onto the floor. As they began to recover, they heard a familiar voice.
“Ah, nice! Another jackal statue?”
“Oh Primes, Sebastian, you’re okay!”
“Huh? Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You were captured by Llir-“
“NO!” the other two cried out.
Bernard was startled, “Ah, I mean the Unknown King!”
Sebastian raised an eyebrow. “Kidnapped by the Nameless King?” He snorted. “With what time? We’ve spending all this time packing up the artifacts. We’re shipping them off to the museum in the morning.”
“Wait, so you mean the team and artifacts didn’t go missing?”
“Charles, did you really expect us all to just stand around in front of the tomb forever? We have better things to do, you know.” Charles was dumbfounded.
Bernard turned to Allison and Charles. “What did we encounter in the tomb, then…?”
As if in reply, a small breeze seemingly enchanted with magic kicked up. As it brushed past, a deep, gentle voice filled the space around them. “You fight most excellently, friends. I am glad to have been your sparring partner today. Oh, and don’t worry about ‘Llirm.’ That’s not really the King’s name.” The voice giggled, then spoke no more.
Allison broke the silence. “Wait a second, guys. Isn’t ‘Llirm’ just M’Rill backwards?”
Realization lit up Rosy’s face, “You’re right.” The group was awestruck. They had really met Lady M’Rill! Sparred with her, even!
“I think we’ve done some good work here today, team,” Sebastian said, “How about we finish packing up and head back for the evening?”
1st Place - Kay Katt
The pink furred feline stopped in the doorway, giving her eyes time to adjust to the darkened interior of establishment where the meeting was to take place. Thin rays of sunlight streamed through the narrow windows, barely managing to pierce the thick haze of woodsmoke that hung in the air, and softly illuminated a few of the thick wooden tables sparingly placed around the cramped room. The few furre seated in the cafe looked up at her curiously, but quickly went back to their conversations and beverages when they determined she wouldn't make an easy mark. Her eyes finally settled on a dark-furred canine sitting at a deeply shadowed table in the back of the room. She made her way through the smoke and gloom and took a seat opposite canine, making sure her body was between their table and the rest of the guests.
"Kay Katt, I presume", said the canine.
Kay leaned back in her chair nonchalantly and studied him. Grey and white hairs marred the otherwise glossy black fur around his muzzle, and up close she could see a number of scars crossing his body. His eyes glowed like molten gold as they caught the occasional flicker of light from the fire.
"I was told you had an object that my master may find of interest", the wolf continued.
"I do", replied Kay, reaching into her bag and pulling out a small pouch. "I think Felorin may have a use for this". Undoing the drawstring, she let a marble sized object fall onto the table. The object was orange and transparent, flickering with a reddish light from within. At the sight of it, the canine shifted nervously and moved back from the table.
"The Stone of the Seven Fires!" he whispered harshly, eyes darting quickly to other patrons, "That's impossible!". With a sheepish grin, he regained his composure and leaned over the table, confronting the cat. "Why should I believe that this is real? How could you have possibly come across a treasure such as this?"
Kay flashed a smile, the firelight dancing across her face. "Why don't you buy me a dish of the cafe's finest cream and I will tell you all about it"
Kay Katt stood atop the sand dune and pulled her wide-brimmed hat down to shade her face. Her blue eyes sparkled in the sun as she looked down at the dark structure made up of black stone half buried in the sand below her.
"We did it. We're here!", she exclaimed, "The Tomb of the Nameless King."
A dragon stepped up next to her and, with a thud, fell face first onto the dune. "Finally", he muttered into the sand, "I'm exhausted. I thought we would never make it"
Kay nudged him with her foot. "Get up Load. You are supposed to be the muscle. You cant be the tired one"
With a groan he sat up and looked up at the sun, squinting his eyes. "Maybe we should make camp here and go down to the Tomb in the morning"
"No can do.", came a voice from below. A black and purple fox crested the dune. "We are running low on food and water. We can't afford an extra day of delay. And don't look directly into the sun Load, its bad for your eyes"
"Sorry Kufky", muttered the dragon and turned his eyes instead to the land below them.
The sun beat down on the sands below, giving off a fearsome heat. Each dry gust of hot wind kicked up bits of sand, causing the entire valley to sparkle like a thousand diamonds. Among the sparkles were heavy black rocks sticking up from the sand, black enough that it seemed to darken its immediate surroundings.
"Exactly where my maps said it should be", beamed Kufky.
Load scraped up a claw full of sand and slowly let it fall back to the ground. "What are you going to do with your share of the money, Kuf?", he asked.
Kufky rolled her eyes. "I'm not here for the money, Load", she explained with a sigh. "I want to help people! The Fires, the power of creation. We can cure any illness, heal any injury. Think about it. We can make a difference!"
Kay grinned, "I have my eye on some jewelry. That's what I'll do with my share". She took hold of Kufkys paw in hers and squeezed it lightly. In a low voice, she asked, "You don't really expect to find the Fires here, do you? That's just an old sphinx's tale. But we're bound to find something of value. When we get back into town, we can go shopping. How does that sound"
With a sniff, Kufky pulled her paw away and cast her gaze onto the ruins below, "I know its here Kay. I can feel it"
"What you feel is the sun, Kufky. It's trying to burn us alive", Load grumbled, looking back up at the sun with a squint.
Kufky put a paw over Loads eyes. "A new dress does sound nice though", she said with a smile, "One with a giant bow"
Kay set off down the dune towards the Tomb, "Its settled then. No time to waste".
Kufky nodded and set off after her. Load got up with a groan and trudged off after the girls.
The descent into the valley was treacherous. Sands shifted suddenly and triggered mini landslides regularly, threatening to bury the group. The sun, despite getting lower in the sky, seemed to be getting more intense, not less. The landscape took on a deep orange hue. The blowing sand, glowing like cinders in the dying light, stung their eyes and exposed skin. But still, the party kept moving until they at last found themselves at what appeared to be a door made of the dark stone. Carved into the rock was the profile of a majestic sphinx, writhed in flame.
"This is it!", Exclaimed Kufky. "Look at this carving. A sphinx surrounded by the fires of creation. Legend has it that this is where the sphinxes were born, you know. From the fires of creation itself". She took out a pad and started quickly sketching the carving.
Kay put her paw against the door and gave it a solid push. Nothing happened. "The door seems stuck. I don't know if we can get in this way. Maybe we can find another way in"
The dragon stepped between the girls and pushed them out of the way, "I believe this is what you brought me for". Load dug his claws into the seam in the stone and pushed. A low grating sound reverberated in the air. Slowly the rock doors slid open revealing a long cramped hallway that disappeared into shadow. Hot dry air, thick with grit and dust washed out over the group.
Kay popped her head into the hallway. "Nice going Load", she said, "But I can't see my paw in front of my face. I don't know how we are going to get anywhere in there"
Kufky pulled the pack off her back and started fishing through it, muttering softly about being prepared. After a few moments, she pulled out a torch. "Load, if you would be so kind?"
"Sure thing Kuf", he said before taking a deep breath and blowing a stream of flames across the end of the torch. After a few seconds, the oil-soaked rags tied to the tip started smoldering and sparking, and eventually caught flame producing a flickering orange light and a lot of smoke. Load took the torch from the fox and started down the hallway. "Follow me, I'll lead the way".
With a nod, Kay followed the dragon, and after a moment to put the bag back on her back, Kufky brought up the rear. After only a dozen paces the group was engulfed in darkness with only the unsteady light of the torch to see by.
Load put his arm out and stopped the party. Everyone stood still. The only sounds were the hissing of the torch and the soft scraping of sand being blown across the rock. "I don't like this", the dragon whispered, "something feels wrong". Slowly, he made his way down the hallway step by step, the girls right behind him. Out of nowhere, a soft click echoed in the still air, followed moments later by a whooshing noise that sounded like a hurricane.
Kay, startled by the sudden noise, jumped back and felt a gust of air sweep past directly in front of her. She landed in a light crouch and something warm and sticky splashed across her face.
The dragon let out an ear-shattering roar and fell back, clutching his shoulder. The sputtering torch, lying forgotten for the moment on the floor of the passage, illuminated a series of blades swinging quickly back and forth across the hallway. Load, lying on his back, held tightly to his shoulder, feeling warmth oozing slowly between his fingers.
Kufky let out a yell and ran to his side, "Are you hurt? Let me see! Kay, help me get him into the light".
Kay nodded and grabbed the dragon by the arm. "I'm sorry Load, this might hurt". Load gritted his teeth and gave a nod, and together the girls pulled him back towards the entrance to the ruins.
Kufky examined his wounds by the dying light of the sun. "I have some bandages in my pack. Hold still". Digging through her pack, she produced a length of gauze and a small jar. "You won't be able to move your shoulder for a while", she said glancing at the setting sun with a sigh, "It seems like we will need to make camp here after all"
"You said we didn't have enough supplies to risk delaying our trip by another night", Kay pointed out.
"That was before one of our friends was injured", Kufky replied with a huff, removing a greasy paste from the jar and rubbing it onto Load's wound.
Load inhaled sharply and pulled away as the ointment touched the gash on his shoulder.
Kufky softly but firmly held his arm and continued to massage the paste into the wound. "We are going to have to make due with what we have. Load needs to rest. We should be able to last a few more days on half rations."
Kay looked over Kufkys shoulder, grimacing at the deep wound slashing through Loads golden scales. "Is it bad?", she asked.
Kufky started winding a bandage tightly around the dragon's shoulder. "He isn't going to have full use of his arm for a long time. Months at least. That's assuming it doesn't get infected. Who knows what kind of crud could be crusted onto a blade like that"
Kay turned away from the pair and stared at the carving, now split in half across the doors to the ruin. Her eyes traced the flame surrounding the Sphinx. "And what if it gets infected", she asked softly.
"That's what the ointment is for. It should stop any infection from taking root", replied Kufky, tying the bandage tightly and returning the excess gauze to her pack.
Kay glanced back at them, "But if it does?"
Kufky closed her eyes and sighed. "Then it will have to be amputated", she said quietly. After a moment she looked up at Kay but instead saw only a dim orange light receding into the darkness.
Kay danced through the swinging blades with a feline grace, never stopping, her footing always sure. She scooped up the fallen torch as she passed by and, when she reached the other side of the trap safely, she carefully blew on the end of the torch to stoke the flames.
The hallway was dark, very hot, and seemed to stretch on for an eternity. "At least I can't get lost", Kay muttered to herself, as she moved away from the swooshing blades. After what seemed like an hour of walking down the shadowy corridor, sweat started to drip off her whiskers and she stopped for a rest. Sitting down against the wall, she took the top off her canteen and took a long pull from the bottle.
And immediately started choking on the water when she realized she was staring directly into the vacant eyes of a skull. Coughing and wheezing she stood up and moved to the other side of the hallway only to back directly into another skeleton. The decaying bones broke apart and fell to the floor, clattering loudly. Heart racing, Kay spun and held the torch in front of her. It was only then that she noticed that, cut into the corridor at regular intervals, were alcoves containing skeletons of various shapes and sizes.
Using the flame from the torch to banish the worst of the shadows, Kay moved slowly down the passage, inspecting the skeletons as she passed. She recognized the profiles of canines, felines, even a few equines and what looked to be some kind of giant birds. Other skeletons were completely foreign to her, and she couldn't begin to guess what species they may have been in life. Lots of the skeletons were full specimens, but many were missing bones here and there, some even entire limbs. The fresh breeze from the open door couldn't penetrate this deeply into the ruins, and the smell of stale dust and rot became thicker in the air.
Kay had lost count of how many skeletons she passed when she came to a T in the hallway. Directly in front of her was a skeleton, larger than any she had seen, draped in gold chains and wearing a headdress made of ornate red, yellow and blue feathers. In one hand the skeleton, which appeared draconic, held a scepter made of gold and covered in gems. Heart pounding, she reached out tentatively and touched the scepter, mind racing with thoughts of vengeful spirits and ancient curses.
With a snort, shaking her head at her foolishness, she pulled the scepter from the skeleton's hand and put it into her bag. "This will fetch a good price at the market," she thought to herself. "Now which way to go". She held her torch high and peered down each hallway, but they looked identical. With a shrug, she turned left and walked on into the shadows.
Kay stopped some later and frowned at the torch, which was getting noticeably dimmer. She tried blowing on the flame, but the increased illumination was temporary at best. She turned back the way she came and peered into the darkness, trying to calculate how much light she might have left and if it would be enough time to get back to her friends.
That's when she heard the clicking. It started softly at first, barely audible in the silent ruins, but quickly grew into an echoing roar. Pinpoints of red light emerged from the darkness. First, a few. Then dozens. Then what seemed to be hundreds. Kay stared, frozen in fear, and then with a fluid burst of speed spun and ran in the opposite direction, deeper into the ruins.
Kay ran as fast as her feet would carry her. Away from the red lights. Away from the horrible clicking. Until all she could hear was her own heavy panting and the blood rushing through her ears. Her torch was dangerously dim, and she couldn't see more than a few paces in either direction. She stopped to catch her breath. "There's no way," she thought to herself, "that that was what I thought it was. This can't be happening. I'm just being paranoid".
That's when Kay noticed the skeletons in the nearby alcoves had their heads turned towards her. Their eyes lit up with a faint red spark and they moved slowly from their crypts towards her. The canine skeleton on the left made an awkward lunge toward Kay, raking at her with its dirty claws. She lithely sidestepped the skeleton and slammed the end of the torch into its snout resulting in a dull crunch. The canines skull snapped back and fell from its shoulders, the burning light in its eyes fading. The second skeleton, which she couldn't identify the species of, came lumbering forward at her. Not wanting to risk breaking her torch with another strike, she nimbly slipped past the skeleton and ran further down the hallway.
The once straight path quickly devolved into a complicated maze of hallways crisscrossing each other at odd angles. Kay, breathing hard, stopped for a rest. Everything was quiet. Her torch's flame had burnt down to an ember, barely illuminating the wall in front of her. Kay looked hopelessly down each corridor, each one identical to the last. Then, in the darkness at the far end of one of the hallways, she noticed a faint blue glow. With no other choice, she set off towards what she hoped was daylight streaming into the ruins.
"Kufky would have loved to see this", Kay said with awe, staring at the walls. Instead of an exit from the catacomb maze, she had stumbled into a section of the ruins where intricate glyphs she couldn't read and carvings of various figures adorning the walls glowed with a sharp blue hue. Kay closed her eyes and tried to remember if the walls she passed earlier had similar carvings. "This must be how they were supposed to look," she thought to herself. "Whatever magical energies kept these runes glowing must have dissipated in other sections of the ruins. Too bad the magic on the skeletons didn't share a similar fate," she thought gloomily.
Kay glanced down at her nearly spent torch. "I suppose I can't go back the way I came", she thought. She remembered the skeletons shambling through the darkness and shivered. "Not that I would want to. I guess I better stick to the sections that still have some light". Looking around her, she didn't see anything that indicated an obvious direction to go, so she chose a direction at random and started walking.
The blue light made it easier to see the skeleton as it shambled into view, and cast its features in a garish unwavering shadow. The skeleton was huge, draconic in nature, and was adorned in gold chains, wearing a headdress made of feathers. Its eyes burned with a brightness and intensity that reminded her of the sun setting over the desert. And it was blocking her path. Kay crouched, holding the torch out in front of her, suddenly very aware of the heavy weight of the jeweled scepter resting in her bag. "I knew that was a bad idea", she growled under her breath. The dragon skeleton moved with surprising speed when it struck. But not fast enough to catch Kay, who did a graceful pirouette and slammed the torch down onto the dragon's skull with a crack.
A crack of the torch snapping in half. The skeleton didn't even seem to notice it had been hit. It swung again with surprising speed and caught Kay as she tried to dodge away. The force of the blow sent her sprawling down the hallway. With the grace of her species, she rolled with the force of the blow and landed on her feet.
Directly into another skeleton. This one was smaller and seemed feline in nature. Knowing the dragon was close behind her, Kay didn't even slow. She leaped into the skeletons attack, snapping a paw out and hitting it in the skull to throw it off balance, before executing a graceful spin and snapping her foot into its spine, turning the skeleton into a pile of loose bones that fell to the floor in a satisfying staccato.
Kay continued running through the catacombs, choosing turns at random, trying to put distance between herself and the dragon. Eventually, she was forced to slow. Her ribs felt as though they were on fire. She stopped to examine them, and found 3 ragged slashes through her shirt, dripping with blood. The wound wasn't deep, but her skin was torn up pretty badly. "I should have brought bandages with me," she thought to herself, using a claw to tear off a strip of cloth from her shirt to tie around the wound.
The halls were silent. "At least I lost that thing", Kay thought to herself looking around. "And myself. I don't know where I am, or how I'm going to get out". Wishing she had Kufky and her maps, she chose a direction and started walking, taking turns at random. After a dozen turns, she found herself at a dead end. On the wall was detailed carving of a sphinx surrounded by flame, amidst a sea of sand. The beautifully detailed carving, shimmering brightly in the heavy black stone, was entrancing. So much so that Kay almost didn't hear the slow, sharp, heavy clicks approaching from behind her.
Kay spun around quickly, dropping into a crouch, paws up in front of her. Looming from the darkness, she saw twin embers glowing from a draconic skull, and the faint reflection of light splashing off of the heavy chains draped around the bony body. The dragon silently opened its mouth as if to let out a roar and stalked slowly toward her, leaving her trapped in the dead-end hallway. Kay retreated slowly until she felt her back press against the wall behind her. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I might not be able to destroy it, but all I need to do is slow it down", she thought to herself. Kay opened her eyes and, like an arrow loosed from a bow, sprang towards the monster. With lightning speed, Kay delivered a series of disabling blows to the dragon, targeting joints in the arms and legs in an attempt to disable the creature. Each strike felt like she was striking her paws against a stone. Each kick left her leg numb from the impact. Still, Kay continued her barrage of attacks with determination. The skeleton, indifferent to the frenzied assault, lashed out with a heavy counterattack that caught Kay square in the chest, slamming her against the wall with such force that the stone cracked.
Kay collapsed to the floor, barely managing to struggle to her knees before another crushing blow sent her bouncing back into the wall with such force that the entire facade splintered and collapsed. Chips of stone and dust flew through the air, choking her, and rocks the size of fists pounded against her body as she collapsed in a heap. Dazed, Kay lay amongst the shattered stone, barely able to focus her eyes enough to determine where she was.
The room she found herself in was enormous, with multiple hallways seemingly converging onto the single area. A bright natural light emanated from overhead, nearly blinding after the hours spent in the near total darkness of the catacombs. The floor was covered in a thick layer of fine white sand. In the middle of the room, directly in the center of a giant pool of crystal clear water, was an enormous golden statue of a sphinx. In its outstretched paws was a lavishly ornate box, decorated in red gemstones set in the shape of flames.
Kay shut her eyes and shook her head. "It cant be. I'm hallucinating", she thought. But when she opened her eyes, the box remained. Kufky's voice echoed in her thoughts, "I know its here Kay. I can feel it". With a groan, she shook off the last of the dizziness.
Kay struggled to her feet and limped towards the statue. Her whole body ached. It hurt to breathe, but not so much that she feared broken ribs. Even at a limp she quickly outdistanced the dragon, who seemed to enjoy toying with her in her weakened state. Splashing through the knee-high water, she approached the box. Kay tried opening the lid, but it was firmly locked. "Who puts a lock on a box after all of this," she thought angrily. The dragons joints grated audibly as it slowly crossed the sands toward her, its movements dripping with malevolence. Softer clicking noises echoed from the hallways around the edges of the chamber
With an edge of panic, Kay fished the scepter from her bag and started slamming it against the wooden lid of the box as hard as she could, hoping that whatever was inside it would help her escape. A large splash alerted her to the gold-clad dragon closing the distance between them. With desperation, Kay brought the scepter down over and over on the box, bending the golden rod into an unrecognizable shape. Sturdy as the box was, it couldn't withstand the onslaught. With a pop and a crack, the lid broke off. Kay quickly reached in and scooped up what was inside.
Her heart sunk in her chest. An ordinary, if pretty, gemstone. Valuable if she could sell it, she had never seen a gem that particular shade of orange, but to do that she needed to get out of the Tomb alive. She looked up. The dragon was only a few steps away, and stalking closer with every moment. Behind it, hundreds of skeletons poured into the chamber. Thousands. The dragon loomed over her, eyes burning brightly, its lipless mouth seeming to pull into a cruel grin. Kay clutched her hard-won treasure to her chest eyes brimming with tears. There was no escape.
"A single blow will be better than being torn to shreds by the lesser skeletons," she thought with a sob. Chains rattled ominously as the horror lifted its arm up to strike. Kay felt a stab of panic, then a hot surge of power ignited within her. Red light burst from her eyes, and the dragon erupted into flames hot enough to boil the water it was standing in. Its mouth again opened wide, although whether it wanted to roar or to scream, Kay couldn't determine. The dragon fell to its knees with a splash, disturbing the sand and silt that had settled at the bottom of the pool.
The power flowed through Kay, hot and pure, with an intensity that caused her to forget her wounds, her aches, her injuries and her pains. She could think of only one thing: Destruction. The skeletons wanted to hurt her. She would hurt them. The dragon, nearly lost within the cloud of steam engulfing it, kept its searing locked with hers. With a flash of white, it leaped forward to attack.
Kay wasn't scared, she didn't even flinch. The power flooded through her, burning away every thought, every emotion that would hinder her. At that moment, she didn't have the capacity to feel fear. Kay screamed defiantly and the dragon was reduced to a cloud of ash. The chains, glowing brightly from the intensity of the heat, sizzled loudly as they fell into the water with a splash. A single red feather floated lazily down and landed softly on the surface of the water. Heedless of the horde, Kay walked out of the pool of water and into the sea of bones. Everywhere she looked, skeletons fell into piles of scorched bone and soot. By the tens. The hundreds. Nothing could stand against her and the power she wielded.
"Wait a second. Hundreds? Thousands? You expect me to believe you stood against thousands of skeletons? And lived?", the darkly furred canine scoffed.
Kay finished her dish of cream and looked the wolf in his golden eyes. "You wanted to know how I acquired it. I'm telling you"
"You are telling me a bunch of nonsense. Nobody could survive all that. Not even with the power of the Stone". The canine leaned back in his chair, though his eyes never left the glowing sphere on the table
Kay smiled and leaned forward, her eyes taking on a red hue in the glow of the artifact sitting on the table. "That's how I remember it happening".