XVIII: Time, Traps, and Treasure

Dave continued to explore the dark recesses of the crumbling citadel, careful to keep his exploration cautious and limited only to scrounging the necessary supplies and materials that he needed, as averse to grabbing up the priceless treasures that littered the floors and halls of the ruins. The idols and gems were most likely devilishly placed so as to conceal more traps or to lure unwary adventurers to a terrible demise anyhow.

‘I really, really hope that there isn’t much more to this place…’ Dave mused silently. ‘It’s already been several hours, and I’m starting to get really tired…the last thing I need is to spend the night in this place, with who knows what traps and creatures filling it…’

Dave took a momentary breather, checking the makeshift ‘basket’ he had created to hold the sleeping muka baby on his back and keep his hands and arms free for whatever they might be useful- climbing ladders, opening doors and chests, etcetera. Noting that the basket was secure upon his shoulder blades and not likely to fall off any time soon, he continued onwards into the slightly musty, damp air of the ruins. It took him awhile to realize it, but a few minutes later, Dave recognized from the ground beneath his feet that they weren’t heading up and out, but rather downwards into the earth itself.

‘This probably doesn’t bode well…’ He thought, despairing slightly. ‘But, then again…maybe it’ll lead me to some cave system that will eventually be our way out of this terrible place…’

Dave walked cautiously down the ever-increasing slope, wary even more so of his surroundings. Some hours later, a light began to pierce the gloom, and the musty odors of the citadel began to somewhat dissipate as well. The walls turned a slightly mahogany color, the floor tiling took on an earthy quality where it had cracked and broken to show the plant-life coming through, and the previously gloomy atmosphere brightened until it was nearly as bright as day inside the catacombs.

‘Wow. It got really bright in here.’ He thought, continuing on his downward sloping trek into the heart of the citadel, marveling at the changes in the architecture, or at least its visibility.

‘This doesn’t really make much sense though… I’m traveling further into what is likely to be the planet itself, and yet it gets lighter and brighter instead of darker and gloomier? I’m slightly puzzled as to why that doesn’t add up…’

Dave continued to walk at a cautionary pace, keeping a swift check of his surroundings going every few minutes or so, and keeping a lookout even in his peripheral vision as well. If anything happened to pop out of the still semi-dank murk, he would certainly see it and be ready for it. At least, that was the thought.

Just when he started to feel secure and stop minding his surroundings as heavily as he had been doing the whole way down, Dave heard a slight click and paused momentarily in his stride.

‘Now, what exactly was-‘

Before he could finish his thought or hesitate any longer, his survival instincts kicked in. Dave stepped of of the pressure plate he had triggered and rolled to his left as far as was humanly possible. Not only did the seemingly firm ground he had been standing on collapse to reveal yet another sea of spike traps whirring away beneath, shattering his former illusion of safety and security, but a previously hidden firebird shot off its deadly payload from beneath as well, easily able to incinerate anything in its path.

‘Whew, that was another close call…’ Dave thought, silently cursing himself for growing lax and letting his guard down one more time. ‘And I hit another pressure plate too!’ He fumed.

Now thoroughly convinced that Munchy had it out for him, wherever the evil genius was in the normal, real world, Dave carried on about his way, being careful to keep his eyes on the ground and up in the air- should any traps now descend from above to catch him off balance.

‘Odd. It’s as if Munchy knew exactly what adventurers would be thinking with each trap, each step of the way, and just when we would let our guard down… I guess it’s only because I’ve taught him so much, as has Chris and some of the others…’ He thought, slightly whimsically when thinking of Bigdrip681 and some of the other old talents in the designer community. ‘Well, he certainly learned from the best- and has probably become the master now.’

Dave laughed to himself, finally feeling marginally pleased about something, rather than horrified and desperate as he had mostly felt the past few days- especially the last hours. He didn’t laugh so much at the hilarity of it- for there really wasn’t any, but instead at the irony of it all, and the very situation he found himself presently stuck in.

The cavernous, sloping corridor now widened into a gigantic room, the size and likes of which Dave had never before witnessed. It was truly enormous, and easily over one thousand feet in circumference, and stretching to an unknown, unfathomable height- most likely back up to the surface itself. He whistled and slowly turned in a circle, drinking in the change of scenery, and truly beginning to both dreadfully hate and appreciate Munchy’s talent for design.

‘If I wasn’t trapped in here in this deathtrap, I would be applauding and commending his efforts and work on what surely took him days to complete.’ He thought, seeing the irony rear its ugly little head once again.

With these thoughts, and more, in mind, and the muka baby still asleep despite the events of the past ten or so minutes having transpired, Dave headed off towards the center of the giant room in order to attempt to get his bearings.

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