The Scrolls of Icaria by Jamie
Interlude - The Second




The two large stone statues of the half-man, half-beast creatures that guarded the crypt below the Hall of Archives stood silently, their gray stone eyes looking eternally forward, oblivious to all around them. Not that there had been any activity to witness over the past two and a half millennia since they’d first been placed there. And while they appeared both fierce and foreboding with their bull-like faces, blunt horns and stubby thick wings that gave them a strongly demonic appearance as they towered over the entrance to the crypt, the fact was that as statues, it was of no consequence how many years had passed or who stood before them as they maintained their eternal watch on either side of the thick bronze and copper door that lead into the burial chamber they guarded.


Beyond the door, within the crypt itself, the red light that now filled the silent tomb cast a fiery glow across the rough surface of the rock from which the sepulchral space had been cut. The gray, mirror-like sarullium of the urns reflected the reddish light back into the chamber, increasing the sanguineous glow that now filled it. Inside the urns, the ashes of the dead kept their own silent vigil, although like the statues that guarded their place of final rest, they too had no knowledge of the movement of time or history from the moment their lifeless bodies had been consumed by sacred fire and their ashes poured reverently into the jars that now held what little was left of them.


At the far right corner of the crypt, in one of the side alcoves, sat a large sarcophagus. Made of the same material as the urns, its gleaming gray surface shown brightly in the same red light. Strangely it, like the urns, was completely free of the millennial dust that covered all of the other surfaces in the crypt. Though unlike the urns, the light that it reflected it had also created. The large alcove had been designed for more urns, as the empty niches carved into the left and right walls gave testament to. Sitting solidly on the floor of the alcove, the sarcophagus was large and imposing. An inch-thick layer of dust covered the floor of the large burial vault. Dust also filled the empty niches that looked out from the walls like skeletal eyes.


Arching above the sarcophagus, a vaulted ceiling – carved out at the same time the niches had been created – floated above the heavy, ponderous object. It was the only space in the crypt with such a ceiling. The reddish light that illuminated the crypt and the arched ceiling above the sarcophagus revealed that this ceiling was also the only surface in the entire crypt that had been given any decoration or embellishment. On the arched ceiling, a mosaic had been placed. Set into a dark blue tile background with iridescent white tiles randomly placed within the blue field, and designed to give the illusion of stars. The effect created for someone gazing up at it was to mimic a view into the night sky.


The illusion was further emphasized by the twin Moon’s of Argon and Ajax that had also been set into the blue background, fashioned out of a series of pale colored tiles they’d been designed to appear just as they did in the real night sky. The large moon, Argon, had been fashioned from reddish and rose colored tiles, while the smaller moon, Ajax, was wrought in yellow and greenish tiles. Gilded tiles had been placed in a key pattern, forming a border around the edges of the mosaic; they glowed in the light given off by the sarcophagus, while on either end of the arched alcove, a pair of concentric circles – the ancient symbol for the two moons – had been set, using shimmering silver tiles.


At the foot of the sarcophagus, five intensely bright lights – part of the sarullium-fabricated vault itself – glowed. An integral part of the large burial vault, their smooth glassine windows were flush with the gray mirror-like sarullium they had been set into. Below the five glowing windows another crystalline window – larger than all five of the glowing red ones put together – began to shine with a pale, greenish-yellow light.


Suddenly a slight, almost imperceptible hum filled the crypt. As the sound vibrated the air, some of the dust in the niches on either side of the sarcophagus sifted to the floor. Then one of the five red lights – the first one on the far left side of the vault – changed from red to green. In the window below the one green and four red lights, there was a sudden flash as one by one, letters scrolled out to form the words: