The Sleepers of the Marsh
Part Four – A Fallen People
The corpse lunged forward at Peregrine, pushing through water near up to its waist to get at her. It’s skin had shrivelled up and was bleached of all colour to the point of translucence, its eyes washed out and slime and weeds were tangled up in its limp hair.
Peregrine swayed aside from the clawing hands and hacked down with her sword, holding it in a two handed grasp. The edge of the blade cut deep, half hewing the creature apart. Even so, it did not stop. Ripping the sword clear, she drove it into the creature’s throat and gave it a vicious twist. The head detached from the body and the creature collapsed before her. The head bobbed along the surface of the water while the rest of the body half floated, drifting away.
Peregrine and Blade had entered one of the buildings near by to the island, one of the larger ones, made of a dark stone unlike that which had been used to construct most of the rest of them. Upon entering, Blade had whistled up a light, an orb of arcane bronze illumination that drifted just above his head. One side of the building had subsided more than the other, leaning down to their right as they entered into it. The water flowed deep in that part of the building, almost too deep to wade through. They hugged the wall on the other side, headed towards the back of the building, to where a raised area could be made out, one mostly dry, and it was from there that the drowned one had come, pushing through the water to meet the oncoming Peregrine.
“Unpleasant looking things,” Peregrine noted, pushing the floating head away from her with the blade of her sword.
“They do lack in the viewing, one must admit,” Blade agreed, picking his way through the water behind Peregrine.
With the creature dispatched, the pair continued on deeper into the building, to the back of it, clambering up steps submerged beneath the water onto the raised area. There sat a block of some form of red stone, within which glittered tiny shards of crystals that reflected and scattered the light of the arcane orb. On the walls around the block of stone could be seen paintings, ones much faded with age and the touch of damp.
Blade wiped clear some of the slime from the wall with a gloved hand, studying the images as he did so. Peregrine left him to it, for she was far more interested in inspecting the block of stone which she believed to be some form of altar. She put her shoulder to it and attempted to force it aside, to see if any hidden treasure could be uncovered from below it.
“It would appear that at least part of the mystery has been solved,” Blade announced after a while, stepping back from mural that he had uncovered. Peregrine turned her attention to it from the unbudging altar to look at it. On the wall could be seen images of men much like Ket, though these appeared far from the primitive folk he and his family were, for these men were clad in long robes, their hair and beards braided, and they were labouring on the construction of a tower, while all around them were the images of a city.
There was also writing upon the wall, though the script was of a type that neither had seen before, being one of flowing loops that were bound between straight lines that ran from top to bottom.
“Ket’s people built this place?” Peregrine asked. “They have fallen far if that is so. What could cause such a thing?”
“Perhaps when the city sunk into the marsh they were left with no where else to go, their condition reduced to that of mere survival,” Blade mused. “It has happened before though not to such an extent as we see here, for they seem to have even forgotten that they built this city.”
“What is that building?” Peregrine asked, stabbing her finger at the image of the tower that was being constructed. “It looks important.”
“It does indeed. There was a building that I spotted further into the city that would appear to match the image. I feel it best that we check it out.”
Peregrine laughed. “If there are any answers to be had in this place, not to mention treasures, then it would be there.”
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