The Chapel of Lies, true to its name, only appeared to be abandoned.
“Tracks in the dust,” Rinta mused aloud, running a finger along the bricks in the ground. He pointed. “They go that way.”
A dusty altar sat at the far end of the chapel, bare of any gild or ritual cloth. A jagged crack ran down its central mural, passing through the forehead and chin of a carved face with bulging eyes and a lolling tongue.
The footprints in the dust ended right at the base of the altar.
V’vendy narrowed her eyes, spinning one of her arrows around between her fingers. “Secret door?”
“Secret door,” Rinta agreed. He regarded the altar and sighed. “Before I smash the face of the Hidden Murder God–who is actually the God of lies–does anyone see a quieter way to get in?”
“I got this!” Uuco said, stepping forward, chin held high. “I reckon there’s a password!”
The Nobble cleared his throat and recited some passwords:
“Foot!” Uuco barked in annoyance. “Stylus, washboard, haircut!” He kicked the altar. “You rascal, open!”
Nothing insisted on happening.
Rinta knelt down before the altar, running a finger over the mural of the Hidden Murder God. “Aha!” He exclaimed, pressing on the Hidden God’s left eye. The button slid inward with a click.
Corax snorted loudly, a nasal squawk that echoed through the room.
“Is something wrong?” Lady Ira asked, arching an eyebrow.
“Nothing, nothing,” Corax mumbled, scratching his snout with his talon. “Just a joke between us hidden gods.”
With the screeching groan of stone against stone, the altar split in half along the crack, two gears sliding the stone pieces left and right. A set of stone steps led downward into a dark corridor.
“Well then,” Lady Ira said, turning to look at everyone. “Do you still wish to come? This will be worse than everything we’ve faced before.”
Each Pilgrim stayed silent, readying their weapons and spells with set, composed expressions.
Lady Ira nodded. “We are grateful,” she said softly. She drew her short sword with one hand and cradled her harp in the other. “Quickly then, before we loose our nerve.”
The Pilgrims descended the steps. After ten heartbeats, they hit the bottom and emerged into a dim dark hallway.
“I’ll glamour some light,” Uuco offered, fingers wiggling purple sparks into existence. He paused. “Wait, no,” he muttered. “It’s about time I used that.”
Reaching into his waist pouch, he fished out a black disk, a mirror made of burnished, gleaming obsidian.
“Is that the mirror you took from the Underworld King?” V’vendy asked. She frowned eyes distant. “Was it really only three days ago?”
“Shhhhh…” Uuco whispered, running a finger around the circumference of the mirror.
An image formed within the mirror, traced in orange lines. It was the image of an oval and a circle, a simple icon of an eye. As Uuco watched, the eye’s pupil twisted into a spiral, then split in two.
Uuco held the mirror up in the air, the eye symbol forming itself into more and more complex shapes.
The light from the mirror spread out into the chamber.
Orange lines glowed with a pulsing light, tracing their way down the walls, forming strange murals and illustrations–
–Armies with shields and spears, clashing on hills, fearsome beasts with claws, tails, fangs and spines, especially where there shouldn’t be.
Symbols of the eye buried in the obsidian mirror, constantly twisting and changing.
Uuco nodded in satisfaction. “The Zealots used mirrors like these to unlock their sacred spaces,” he said, “back when they held me.”
“When they held you?” Rinta asked.
“Aye,” Uuco said grimly.
Rinta’s eyes narrowed slightly as he understood. “So you have more in common with that sleeping Roarer than I thought,” he said.
Uuco simply grunted.
“The last time we talked about our histories, the Lady Ira’s house burned down,” Ira said. She strode forward. “Let’s keep moving–“
The moment Ira set her foot down, the glowing wall murals flared to bright proportion. A voice boomed out from the wall, reverberating through the underground space:
“WHAT IS THE TRUTH THAT EVOLUTION TEACHES?”