• Published 10th May 2016
  • 1,866 Views, 411 Comments

The Titan's Orb: Rising Storm - Old Man Dusters



While Callum and the Mane Six continue their quest to find the shards of the Titan's Orb, their path ahead grows only more deadly as they are now stalked by a relentless shadow that will stop at nothing until they are vanquished...

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Chapter Thirty: Hot Sands and Cold Tombs

“We can’t be lost, we can’t be, we’re so close!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

“Look around, do you know where we are?” I retorted angrily.

She took to the air and started circling above, desperately trying to find the shard, or anything that could lead us to it; we needed to get out of the sun, without water, we’d be dead within a matter of hours.

Without warning I heard a faint scream from behind me. I looked around to see Fluttershy had tripped and was sliding down the dune, she didn’t stop until she made it all the way down to the bottom, rolling over a few times and remaining motionless in the sand.

“Goddammit…” I exhaled, going after her.

Quickly striding down to her, I knelt by her side and instantly felt a wave of dizziness and distortion from jogging and almost fell over. The others all looked down from the dune and waited with fearful anticipation.

“Fluttershy!” I hoarsely shouted to her.

She looked up to me with a deathly expression, grains of sand were dotted on her eyes, her nose looked drier than burnt parchment, this heat was going to kill her.

“I can’t… I can’t…” She began to weep, too dehydrated to shed tears.

“Fluttershy, get up.”

She shut her eyes and whimpered more, occasionally gasping for air as she underwent hyperthermia.

“Get up!”

She ignored me and continued to pant with exhaustion, letting her head go limp on the hot sand.

“For fuck saaaake!” I hissed as I put my arms under her.

With all my remaining energy and might, I lifted her up and into the cradle of my arms. I felt like I was going to be sick, my head was just too hot, my temples were throbbing, every part of my inner being told me to drop her, that her additional weight was simply too much to bear. I battled my instincts and placed her over my shoulder and kept on trudging, until I miraculously joined the others at the dune’s peak.

“Drop her.” Twilight ordered.

I remained silent and looked at her curiously.

“You’re our guide, if you pass out, we’re dead. Put her down and make her walk like the rest of us.”

“She isn’t as strong as the rest of you, she needs helps.”

PUT HER DOWN!” Twilight growled.

Completely ignoring the outburst, I strode past Twilight to continue examining the horizon in hopes of seeing some sort of destination, the unicorn began to storm towards me with her teeth bared and I whipped around to grab her muzzle with my free hand, clamping her mouth shut firmly.

“You’re suffering a flare up from the Fel, the heat’s making it worse, get a grip, and work with me. Fluttershy isn’t too heavy, I can manage her.” I sternly lied.

She glared at me for a moment, before she regained control and nodded, apologising.

“Where to?” She asked quietly.

“It’s a gamble, but I suggest heading for that dune over there, it’s the tallest one in miles, we might be able to spot something from up there.” I proposed.

“Sounds good, let’s go.”

I turned to the rest of the group and ordered them to move out, I forced myself to remain at the front of the group, even with Fluttershy on my shoulder, I felt like it would motivate the group to press on if they saw me ahead; my feelings were well placed, as nopony stopped and we trudged on without issue.

“Is that water over there!?” Rarity gasped.

“WATER!” Pinkie squealed.

Before I could stop her, Pinkie rushed away to a flat plane of sand in the distance, not understanding how hot ground created a mirage, heating the cooler air above it and refracting the light to create the illusion of water. Rainbow Dash sped after her to hold her back, while Twilight angrily shouted back at Rarity for misguiding Pinkie.

“But… It was water!” Pinkie wailed, her mouth full of sand.

{I wouldn’t be surprised if she shits out glass later.} Stardust remarked.

I heard a loud cackle from Twilight behind me, who’d heard the comment through the collar, she then walked in silence with slight embarrassment.



After another half hour of walking, we finally came to the dune. Twilight was the first to ascent the mound of sand; I shook Fluttershy slightly and shifted her from my shoulder to my arms.

“I can’t carry you up this, you have to climb.” I said, putting her down.

“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…” She whimpered.

“Stop, not now. Don’t talk, just climb.” I demanded.

She nodded and pulled herself together, we began to make our way upward together, side by side.



We finally made it to the top, to find the others had stopped.

“No… No… No! No! No!” Twilight shouted with frustration.

I looked across the dune, to find nothing but more sand until the sky and the earth met in the horizon.

“There’s nothing, there’s nothing at all.” I breathed.

WHERE’S THE SHARD?” Screeched Twilight.

“This isn’t happening… This isn’t happening…” Rarity mumbled, walking in circles.

Even Applejack fell to her knees, the last straw finally bringing down even the toughest of us.

“I need to see Applebloom again… I can’t… I can’t die like this…”

The group completely broke down, the majority of the group fell to the ground, too exhausted to move any more, Fluttershy completely passed out and collapsed, Rainbow Dash knelt to her side and tried to revive her, splaying out her wings to shield her from the sun. I dragged my feet over to Twilight, who was on the verge of falling over as well.

“What do we do?” I asked.

“There’s nothing we can do!”

Remaining silent, I watched helplessly as the unicorn fell onto her side and began to weep.

“This is it… We’re dead…”

I knelt down beside her and held her hoof lightly, the comfort meant absolutely nothing to her as she looked at me with eyes of lost hope.

“We’ve failed…”

Letting go of her, I stood up and looked around frantically, I was not going to accept my death on this godforsaken patch of the Earth, to be roasted to death and later eaten by carrion birds.
I left the group to explore the dune, and found nothing, nothing but a smaller mound sticking out, as though a small building had been swallowed up by the sand, and we were next.

I began to see stars and coloured blobs as my vision began to distort, I felt dizzy and I stumbled forward.

“Callum!” I heard Rainbow Dash cry out faintly.

It was too late, I tried to gain balance and failed, falling forward; I turned sideways and made contact with the sand, and slid down the side of the dune much like Fluttershy had earlier. Coming to a halt as I made contact with the smaller mound, I coughed and spat out the sand in my mouth and tried to claw my way up the smaller pile. I dug my hands into the sand, and felt something hard. I forced myself up to my knees and dug as hard as I could, throwing sand back, trying to uncover whatever was beneath it.

{Sandstone…} Stardust hummed.

Guys! I found something!” I yelled at the top of my lungs, completely losing my voice.

I kept on digging and finally my fingers scratched across the large block of stone; after wiping off more sand off the top, I finally uncovered the surface.

“Chiselled sandstone…” I wheezed.

The block was manmade.



Rainbow Dash and Rarity were the only two to surface, sliding down the sand to meet me, the others had completely given up due to exhaustion and despair, allowing themselves to slowly roast upon the dune’s peak.

“What is it?” Rainbow Dash coughed.

I tried to reply, but couldn’t, that shout had finished off my voice entirely; I just continued to wipe more sand off the brick, revealing another by its side; hinting towards a whole structure being potentially buried beneath us. That’s when I had a brilliant idea.

“R… uh… n…”

“What?” Dashie asked.

“Rh… oo… nh…”

“The rune!” Rarity exclaimed, understanding me at last.

Without hesitation, Rainbow took to the air, using the last of her strength to rush back to Applejack, whom had carried my bag for me while I was carrying Fluttershy; she returned to me in ten seconds flat, cascading down the dune and flopping at my feet. I took the bag and found the rune, and then turned to Rarity with a face of sorrow.

“I know exactly what you’re going to ask, just do it.” She replied with a gulp and a nervous nod.

Planting the rune firmly in the sand, parallel to the brick, I stood above it and signalled for Rarity, whom squinted her eyes shut and prepared herself for a painful experience as she used her telekinesis to trigger the rune; the unicorn screamed with agony and fell to the ground as the stone cracked open loudly and a ring of warped light shot outwards, sand flung out in all directions and I shielded my face with my hands, the very ground below me gave way as the entire mound was cast away.

{Weeeee!} Stardust chuckled loudly.

The sand shifted so fast, it felt like I was falling, I eventually came to a halt and was almost swallowed up by the dune above as an avalanche of sand rumbled all around me; it took at least a minute for everything to stop moving, and I eventually uncovered my eyes.

“Whoa…” I breathed weakly.

With the entire mound gone, what stood before me was a carved doorway, Rarity’s immobile body draped just above it; I rushed forward and caught her just as she went over, although I fell down upon taking the weight, I broke her fall, which was all that mattered.

“What… What did you do?” Applejack slurred, her legs shaking uncontrollably.

She wasn’t the only one whom had made their way to the commotion, Pinkie Pie was dizzily waddling behind the farm pony, on the verge of collapse. I tried to tell her, but having lost my voice, nothing but a faint whisper escaped my dry lips. We stuck our heads into the doorway to discover a flight of stairs leading down into complete darkness; Rainbow Dash joined us and gasped in amazement, only to cough and splutter on the sand still in the air. She stumbled through the doorway and into the shade, I grabbed Rarity’s legs and dragged her in after the pegasus, away from the sun once and for all.



The cold stone floor caused me to groan with relief, I lay there and let myself cool down, the others did the same. Eventually Rarity was able to rise to her hooves and rubbed her temples, still in pain.

“We made it…” She creaked.

Applejack also arose and stood before me, looking up with deep thankfulness and love.

“I thought I was going to die out there… I… Thank you. Thank you, Callum.”

She came forth and hugged me tightly, I returned the embrace as best as possible and tried to speak, but I still could not, my vocal chords were as dry as my lips.

“You saved my life… You saved all our lives…” Rainbow Dash rasped.

“Uugh.” I croaked in reply.

I tried to get to my feet, only to crumple back down into a heap.

“Whoa, easy partner, let me help you.” Applejack said, coming to my side.

I rested my arm over her back and gratefully accepted her assistance, taking most of my weight for me so that I could walk. The rest of us walked further into the dark stone hallway, I could only just see Rarity and Pinkie ahead of me, and the dehydration didn’t help that at all, I still felt dizzy and sick, regardless of the cool environment.

“S-St… op…” I coughed.

We stopped and Rarity turned to face me with a look of confusion.

“Fluttershy… Twilight…”

They were still out in the sun, roasting to death, I had to help them. Suddenly, a truly gruesome image appeared in my head, Twilight’s body beside Fluttershy’s, both of them lightly coated in sand and sizzling; the thought was enough to give me one last burst of energy, like some form of paternalistic love.

Shaking myself, I turned away from the group, jogging down the passageway and up the stairs, into the sunlight once more. I clambered up the dune to the girls, whom were both seemingly lifeless; I went to Flutters first, whom was definitely out, her breaths were shallow and faint.

“Cal… Callum…” Twilight murmured.

At least Twi was still awake. I took in a deep breath before slinging Fluttershy over my shoulders, holding her legs like backpack straps and trudging over to the unicorn, whom couldn’t even lift her head to look at me, the poor mare was in a dire situation.

“We’ve found it Twilight, we’ve found the shard.” I informed her, only just getting the words out.

That got her attention, she finally raised her chin and made eye contact with me.

“Where?”

“Right below us, I’ve found an entrance, can you walk?”

She responded by lifting a single hoof, and then flopping it back down.

{Pathetic.} Stardust spoke in a deep tone.

“I’m sorry… I can’t… Just leave me…”

Her words only came to me as a small whisper, she’d most certainly be dead if she didn’t get water within the hour, as would Fluttershy. Adjusting the pegasus onto my left shoulder, I bent down beside Twilight and slid an arm under her belly, before using the last of my upper body strength to scoop her up.

“What are you doing?” She asked.

“Carrying you.” I replied, standing up properly and huffing loudly.

“No… Callum… It’s too much, even for you!” She protested.

I ignored her and balanced her on my right shoulder, and then began to walk; I was extremely wobbly at first as I got used to the weight of both bodies, but eventually I was able to walk at a steady pace. Carrying the both of them was excruciating, I could only just bare the weight. Twilight tried to mumble something to me, but it wasn’t coherent. I continued walking until I reached the stairs, where I stopped.

“You can do this…” I mumbled to myself.

Taking a few deep breaths and getting a better grip on the two ponies, I took my first step down and almost tripped instantly, but thankfully kept steady enough to proceed down the stairwell, luckily the stairs grew wider throughout the descent, allowing me to place my feet with ease, it was maintaining the balance of Twilight and Fluttershy on my shoulders that proved the biggest challenge.



At long last, I reached the bottom, and plodded down the hallway; up ahead were some braziers, somehow alit with blue flames, lighting the way for me.

{Is that what I think it is?} I thought.

{Aye lad, magic fire, and I highly doubt Rarity cast it.}

Humming with agreement, I approached the fire and stared at it with great interest; it was almost like mana, pure and shimmering with various shades of blue. I couldn’t dwindle for too long as I needed to put down the girls.

“Guys? You there?” I asked as loud as possible.

Hoarse as my voice was, the narrow stone environment carried my voice away, and thankfully I received a reply that sounded rather close by.

“Callum! Callum, we’ve found water!” Rarity’s voice echoed back.

“Water…” Twilight exhaled.

With the last of my energy, I sped down the last of the passage and found the others just around the bend, where the hallway opened into a slightly larger room, about the size of a large shipping container.

“There he is!” Rainbow Dash called, running up to me.

“Is he… Is he carrying both of them!?” Applejack shouted in shock.

I made it to the middle of the room before finally dropping down to one knee, gently placing the girls down onto the cold ground; it felt like my shoulders were floating upwards after finally being unburdened of their combined weight. Twilight slowly got up and we both inspected the point of interest; upon the wall was a large basin, like a bathroom sink of some sort, with a carved face directly above it. The face was that of a woman, whom looked oddly similar, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it; the more important aspect however, was that the face was crying, pouring out of her eyes was something that could only be passed off as a true and honest miracle…

Water.

“Please tell me you’re all seeing this too…” Twilight croaked, staring intently at the basin.

“I see it Twi…” I replied.

Twilight was the first one to drink, she crawled over to the basin and clambered up to her hind legs, putting her lips to the water’s surface; she took a few loud gulps, before looking up and gasping in pleasure.

“Oh, dear sweet Celestia… Thank you…”

Rainbow Dash was the next to drink, she trotted forward and dunked her face into the water. I stood up to approach Twilight, which was when the dizziness truly kicked in.

“Thank you…” Twilight sighed, hugging me.

“No problem.” I replied as I fell backwards, losing consciousness.


“He’s coming to.” Said Applejack.

Groaning, I felt ice cold droplets of water being splashed onto my face.

“Come on, you need to drink.” Twilight insisted.

I opened my eyes to see the unicorn standing on her own accord, how long had I been out?
Sitting up, I was hit with a pounding headache that brought on a bout of nausea, I probably would have been sick if not for being so dehydrated. Slowly getting to my feet, I stumbled towards the water source with Applejack and Rainbow Dash either side of me to prevent me from falling again. The woman’s face still appealed to me in some way, but why? Paying more attention to my thirst, I watched as continuous water streamed down her cheeks and into the basin, which was half empty.

{Half full, you miserable sod.} Stardust stated blankly.

I wobbled forward and put my face to the inviting liquid, and began to drink; the water was ice cold, it was the most refreshing drink I’d ever had in all my life! The icy sensation spread down my throat and into my stomach as I continued to drink, more and more freshness spread through me with each gulp, I could almost physically feel all my organs and mind start to run efficiently again, like a system reboot after an update and recharge.

Eventually, I pulled back and looked at the basin to find it was almost empty, I had consumed a good two litres or so, the basin was quickly refilled however, as the carved face continued to cry into it.

“I feel alive!” I exclaimed, standing up properly and giving myself a shake.

Full of life once more, I went over to Fluttershy and scooped her up with both of my arms, carrying her over to the basin. I held her head against the rim and cupped my right hand to fill it with water, the cold liquid soothed my burned and blistered hand, I simply had to keep it submerged for a moment before bringing my bowled palm to Fluttershy’s lips. The moment the cold water made contact, she instinctively began to shakily lap at the fluid. When the water was gone, I re-wetted my hand and flicked at her with my fingers, splattering small droplets onto her face, this caused her to finally come to. She opened her eyes and looked up at me with confusion.

“Cal… Callum…?”

“Hey there.” I replied with a smile.

“Am I dead…?” She whimpered.

“Not yet.” I chuckled.

“Where am I?”

“Sshh… Drink…” I silenced her.

She looked down her snout to see the fountain, I helped support her head as she plunged her muzzle into the liquid and drank like her life depended on it, (which, really, it did…)

She drank, and drank, and drank…

“Drinking for Equestria I see.” Applejack chuckled.

Fluttershy finally stopped as the fountain was emptied, and took a large gasp; she put her hooves down and stood up properly, I let go of her and allowed her to stand on her own.

“Where are we? How did we get here?” She asked.

Pinkie came over and submerged her head in the basin, (which was already nearly full again), while Rarity and Applejack went on to explain to Flutters how ‘Callum saved us all’.

“We all gave up, presuming it was all over, when Callum here fell down the dune and found a structure of some sort, with his quick thinking, he used a rune to blow away all the sand, which opened up this entire underground lair!” Rarity exclaimed.

“If he hadn’t found it, we’d all be dead by now.” Applejack mumbled.

“Gosh…” Fluttershy whispered.

Twilight brought her head up from another drink and looked towards me.

“He then carried the two of us at the same time, all the way down the dune to get us here!”

Fluttershy ran to me and latched onto me with all four legs like a koala bear.

“Thank you! Thank you!” She squeaked, nearly crying.

“Just doing my job.” I chuckled.

“So, I hate to crap on your moment, but what is this place?” Rainbow Dash quizzed.

Twilight looked around, studying the room to the best of her ability.

“Looks like some form of tomb, or perhaps a temple?”

“Whatever it is, it’s nothing modern man has discovered yet.” I replied.

“What makes you say that?”

“If it had been discovered, it would be all over the news and closely guarded. An underground stone structure in the most inhospitable part of the Sahara Desert, with automatic cold water replenishment! It’s just not possible, certainly this far out in the middle of nowhere.” I explained.

“True…” Rarity hummed.

“How this was built is beyond me…” I mumbled to myself.

“Well, what are we all waiting for? Let’s get to it and start exploring, the orb shard simply has to be down here somewhere!” Rarity chirped.

“I agree, let’s get going.” Applejack agreed.

“Okie dokie lokie!” I sang.

Pinkie looked at me and giggled, to which I winked at her with a grin. I took my empty bottles out of my bag and dunked them into the basin, just in case it happened to be the only water source.

“Great thinking!” Applejack cheered.

Everypony took off their saddlebags, retrieved their water bottles, filled them up and stored them away. With our supplies now replenished, we took a last drink at the fountain before we headed down the next flight of steps, deeper into the unknown.



The stairs led us to another a long passage, with some double doors at the end; upon pushing them open, we were greeted with a massive hall, it was so big I couldn’t see any of the walls as darkness consumed most of it all, there were great big pillars which towered up from the ground to the shadow above.

“Whoa…” Twilight breathed.

Rainbow Dash was the first one to do it, with a large expansive area, she tightened her lips and emitted a fart sound with her tongue, causing it to rebound off all the walls and consume the entire room with the sound of farts; all of us (bar Rarity), laughed aloud, to find our laughs echoed just as intently throughout the room, bringing an eerie theme to the darkness.

“That’s a little creepy…” Pinkie whispered.

Ha! Tea!” I yelled loudly in a high-pitched voice.

Everyone jumped with shock, and I was left extremely satisfied as ‘Ha! Tea!’ was continuously shouted back at me about ten times before the echo stopped and faded away.

“Never… Do that… Again…” Rarity said shakily.

I chuckled and kept walking beside Twilight, who’s left ear was now flattened to the side of her head.



We finally found something significant in the giant room, reaching the other side, we came across a group of platforms with massive stone armchair in the centre, it had great big arms on the side, it stood at least eight feet tall.

“Dear sweet Celestia… A throne…” Rarity said in awe.

Approaching the magnificent seat, I spotted interesting patterns all over the seat, it was truly fine craftsmanship. While the others simply stared at the throne in wonder, my immaturity finally kicked in with full force again, and thus I ran forward and sat upon the royal chair.

“Behold, the new king of the Sand People!”

“Get off! It could be dangerous!” Twilight barked.

“No doubt!” I chuckled, wiggling my arse side to side on the seat.

“Stop it and get off!” Twilight shouted.

“Viggle viggle viggle!” I laughed in a German accent, still wiggling.

Twilight glared at me and took a step forward, and I quickly hopped off the throne and inspected it properly, the backrest had various white hieroglyphics etched into them beneath an important looking figure, presumably the person who used to sit on the mighty seat.
That’s when I saw it.

“Oh, you bastard… You absolute bastard…” I spat.

Clear as day, the figure appeared as a man, a winged man, a winged man in a helmet.
A winged man in a helmet, with magic radiating from his hands.

“Hawnu… Fucking… Rey’eng…” I said through gritted teeth.

“What?” Twilight asked.

She stood beside me and stared at the carving, her mouth now agape.

“This is Hawnu Rey’eng’s throne.”

“How long has this bugger been alive?” I murmured.

{I’m willing to bet he helped build the pyramids.} Stardust mentioned.

{To be honest, I wouldn’t doubt it now.} I thought back.

“That explains the magic fire earlier, that was an Equestrian enchantment if I ever saw one. Fires that light up when you enter their proximity, they’re quite hard to cast as you need to channel a lot of mana into them, and even then, you need to recharge them now and then.” Twilight explained.

“Fascinating.” I replied, only half-listening.

Knowing the Tin Can Man was fond of puzzles, I brushed along the side of the seat to feel its smooth marble texture, I then tapped the base with my knuckle and found it was hollow.

“Cheapskate…” I scoffed, kicking the side of the throne, breaking the marble panel open.

“What did you do that for?” Rarity gasped in shock.

I ignored her and inspected the hole in the throne to find a small lever.

{It’s never simple, is it?} I thought, chuckling to myself.

Gripping the lever firmly, I gave it a tug and there was a loud clunk, the ground began to shake and the ponies all jumped back, all but Twilight, whom gave me a disgruntled shove.

What have you done now Callum?

I giggled deviously and took a step back to see the spectacle unfold, the stone platforms leading to the chair vibrated, before slowly sinking down to form steps to an even lower level.

“Oh yeah! Uh huh! I did it!” I sang, performing a dance on the last platform, sinking down with it.

The platform came to a halt and the shaking stopped, I looked down the new passageway to find it was already lit with rows of smaller braziers, which hung from the walls either side of the tunnel, illuminating the path with the same deep blue flame.

“Well this looks cool.” Dashie mumbled, walking down behind me.

“More like, haunting.” Rarity groaned.

“So, uh, what now?” Applejack said, joining us.

“We explore, and try to find the shard.” I instructed.

Yet again, Twilight was looked to for clarification, who nodded at me with a blank expression.

“What he said.”

I tightened my bag straps and we headed down the corridor in single file, with me at the lead and Twilight just behind me. The next floor had two possible routes, there was a small doorway to the left, or a large corridor ahead, lit with large yellow fires this time, lighting the whole corridor as if it were in direct sunlight, for some reason it gave me an uneasy feeling.

“Let’s take the small door.” I suggested.

“Thanks, but no thanks, I want to go that way.” Rainbow Dash disagreed.

“I’m with Rainbow, it’s brighter and looks more promising.” Twilight ordered.

“Very well…” I sighed and walked ahead.

I was a good few metres ahead of the group, and we were no more than a yard away from the next doorway, when something just didn’t feel right. The stone felt different beneath my feet, there was slight vibration with each of the ponies’ hoofsteps; it then hit me that the floor was hollow.
And the tiles were cracking.

“Stop.”

“Why?” Twilight asked.

“Get back, get back now!

The ponies all turned and ran away just as the tiles started breaking apart, I tried to catch up to them but the floor completely gave way and I began to fall. I threw my arms out in a mad scramble for something to grab in mid-fall, and luckily came into contact with a thin wooden bar that stretched across the gap, it was most likely the trigger which set off the trap; I latched onto it and held on for dear life.

Callum!” I heard everypony scream at the same time.

The trembling stopped as all the remaining tiles fell into the abyss below, the sniper rifle began to slip from its harness and I had to hold onto it with my knees to prevent losing it. A few seconds later, I heard Twilight’s voice calling down to me from above.

“Callum! Callum are you okay? Also, are you alive? I probably should have asked that one first!”

I looked up to see all six heads popping over the edge and looking at me from the solid part of the floor above, thankfully they had been able to reach the safe zone in time.

“So, you know that part where I suggested we take the small door on the left?” I called up at them, dangling from the bar.

“Are you hurt?” Fluttershy asked.

“Yeah, fine! Just, hanging around!”

Dashie and Applejack burst into laughter, while the others didn’t take the near-death humour as well.

“This is not funny! If not for that bar, you’d be dead!” Twilight scolded me.

“A few weeks back, that would have been ideal for you!” I teased.

Offended, Twilight let out a dainty huff and shrugged.

“You know what? Fall, see if I care!”

“Oh, har, har!” I jeered back at her.

I looked down to see nothing but darkness, who knew how far down this went…
Looking ahead, I spotted an open doorway embedded into the wall, it appeared to be the lower floor directly below the group. I began to swing myself back and forward to gain momentum, slinging the rifle into the gap as well.

“What are you doing?” One of the girls called with concern.

Not answering, I kept moving back and forth; with a really big final swing, I launched myself at the doorway and was able to grab onto the ledge, pull myself up, and stand up.

“Callum? Where’d you go?”

“There’s a secret entrance down here, head back and take that small door! I’ll find another way around and meet you guys somewhere!” I shouted.

“For goodness sake, don’t die!” Twilight commanded.

“Good luck down there!” Rainbow Dash added.

I turned around and headed into the passage to find another flight of stairs, a very long flight of stairs.

“I don’t think this is going to take me back to the six.” I muttered.

{Nope, but it goes deeper, so the shard could be down here. Be on your guard.} Stardust replied.

Shrugging with agreement, I began to descend the stairwell, which just kept going, and going, and going…

And going…

And going…

And going…

And… Going…



Finally, at long last, I came to an exit, in the form of a large wooden door that stood about seven feet high; there was also a stone tablet embedded into it, which was engraved in more hieroglyphics below yet another carving of Hawnu Rey’eng. I pushed the door to find it wouldn’t open; there was no lock either, so something was clearly blocking it from the other side.

{Knowing you, asshole, you’ve probably got a lever hidden around here somewhere for this thing…}

{You really don’t like Ol’ Hawnie, do you?}

“No, Stardust, I really don’t. The dullard tries too hard to be enigmatic, and it just makes him an overbearing bucket of foreskins.”

{That’s the weirdest fuckin’ analogy I’ve ever heard.}

“We’re in Egypt, I felt like it suited the culture.”

{Hm, fair one, I suppose.}

I scanned the door, the frame, the handle, the carving, everything, looking for a loose panel or a button of some sort, but alas, nothing to be found. I lay on my front and tried to look under the door, but the door had been made perfectly, to the point no light could be seen on the other side.

“Open…” I said.

Nothing.

“Mel’lon…” I said jokily.

Much to my disappointment, saying ‘Friend’ in Elvish didn’t really work. I changed tactics and decided to take the approach I was most familiar with, physical violence, especially against inanimate objects. I kicked the door, hard, it rattled but did not open, I then shoulder rammed it, and a faint cracking was heard.

“Stupid! Damn! Egyptians!” I shouted, kicking the door with each word.

Every kick made a small creaking sound, whatever was blocking the door was breaking; rolling my eyes, I backed away from the door and looked at the engraving of the guardian.

“You know what Hawnu? Fuck y’all, and your goddamn pyramids!”

I charged at the door and rammed it with all my physical strength, I practically dived at the bloody thing! The door finally burst wide open and I skidded to a halt. Looking at the door’s blocker, I was met with nothing but a thick plank of wood, nothing more, nothing less.

“Well, I guess even Egyptians can run out of cool ways to seal doors.”

I then turned around, and had to take a long, long look at what I was seeing, for it seemed impossible…


There were papyrus plants everywhere on a sandy ground along with a few moss covered palms dotted around, mushrooms grew around the bases of the trees; it didn’t seem biologically possible…
I then saw the most interesting thing, a waterfall about thirty feet up flowed down into a large pool, the pool had lilies and lotus plants floating on top; this place was a miniature paradise, all ignited by magical fire of different colours.

The sight before me was beyond words to describe.

“Wow…” I said eventually.

{Followed by, oh shit.} Stardust deadpanned.

From the pool, a figure began to emerge, a very large figure; it had a humanoid body with four arms, each of them tipped with thin but intimidating scythe like blades, it looked similar to General Grievous from Star Wars, only less robotic and more organic, it looked pale and alien-like, what was this creature?

“Who are you?” I asked.

The being said nothing as it left the pool and approached me, the scythes twitching slightly.

“Not going to lie, that is really unnerving.”

Suddenly, the being turned hostile as it sprung forward at me with full intent of ripping me to shreds, I quickly rolled to the side and flicked the rifle onto Piercing Shot mode, the gun leapt out of my hands as it also ripped a hole through the creature’s stomach; it let out an eardrum bursting screech and jumped at me once more, this time catching me and driving a scythe deep into my left arm.

F-f-fuuuck!” I screamed.

Punching the monster in the head repeatedly with my right hand, I desperately tried to free myself as the other three scythes began viciously clawing at my body, ripping away at cloth and flesh; I tucked in my legs and gave it a two-footed kick in the chest, sending it back a few metres, weird blue organs fell out of the gaping hole and it stumbled forward for another attack, close to death via shock and blood loss.
Taking no chances, I clambered to my feet and made a runner; it took a final dive at me, able to drive one of the scythes all the way into my back and out through my chest, puncturing my right lung and bringing me to the ground.

Nngghaaaaaaaaa!” I howled.

This was on par with Nah’Lek’s torture, I tried to roll away, only for the thin appendage to snap off; crawling away, I realised the creature had died with its final attack, and I collapsed to my side, wheezing in complete and utter agony.

{Always hated kirikans…} Stardust winced.

{There’s a kirikan down here!?} Twilight’s voice sounded in my head.

“Gggrrrrrrr…. Ooowww…” I cried, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Stardust, while also in pain, was able to explain the situation to Twilight.

{Just one, it attacked us and we’re pretty fucked up, got a spike right through the chest.}

{Oh shit, oh fuck, oh fuck! Where are you!?}

{I don’t know lass, somewhere really deep underground, there’s plants and a waterfall, we’re by a pool, and we’re in a LOT of pain, so listen out for someone crying, unless we die before you reach us.}

{That ISN’T funny, Stardust! We’ve found some stairs and are on our way.
Callum, do NOT go to sleep, do NOT!} Twilight shouted.

That’s the last thing I needed, the thought of dying with Twilight connected to my brain. Wincing loudly, I got to my feet and headed towards the pool to wash the creature’s blood away.

“This… Really… Fucking… HURTS!” I whimpered.

{Aye, I know lad, just be thankful the claws are no wider than pencils…}

“What… WAS that thing?”

{A kirikan, lad, creatures from the Everfree Forest, foul little cretins that feed on blood, their claws are lethal if they pierce the right place. Consider yourself lucky, they often never have to strike twice.}

{But how did one get there?} Twilight quizzed.

{I don’t know, and right now, I really don’t care.} I thought back.

I was gritting my teeth so much that I chipped my canines, standing up to remain mobile, I waddled to the other side of the pool and found something even more jaw dropping than anything I’d ever seen.
Through a brightly lit doorway, I came across a slightly smaller throne room, within the hall was a white marble pedestal, with a floating object above it.

“Is that the shard?” I murmured, coughing.

Entering the room and approaching it, I realised it wasn’t the shard, but something far, far greater.

It was a sword.

“I want this.” I remarked, grimacing from the kirikan claw still rooted in my body.

Reaching forward, I firmly grasped the handle, and instantly felt a painfully cold sensation rushing up my hand, through my arm, and into my body.

WHAT THE HELL!?” I yelped.

Without warning, everything went numb, and my vision was replaced with white.

And then, a voice.
Six voices, all speaking in unison.

“Greetings, Coveter of Glory… It appears that you have located Vitra ‘Aku… The Titan’s Sword…”

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