Here’s another sample from The Summoning of Old Velt. Enjoy!
The two figures who darkened the entrance were of such close resemblance to each other than they might have been mistaken for brothers. Even for the trained Osmydi eye, which could pick out the physical differences in appearance that were generally imperceptible to the other six races, Despyn and Muday looked so much alike that a casual observer would have deduced common blood between the two of them. But no such common bond of ancestry existed, as the two of them had to explain more than once to those who inquired of them-usually without a problem.
Usually, but not always. Muday recalled such an occasion that occurred not long ago in one of the Valsis pubs on the south side of the city. He and Despyn had stopped in to purchase a few jugs of ale in order to bring them back to the Order, when a Talusibat male stumbled over to them in a half-drunken attempt and brought up the similarity in their appearances. In response, Muday answered-politely but firmly-that the two of them bore no family relationship. The Talusibat responded with an irritated, raucous insistence that there had to be a family bond. Again, this point was refuted, although Muday and Despyn were not quite as polite about it. Which, in turn, evoked an even more hostile response from the Talusibat, who became so angry about the denial that he spewed out several words regarding what he thought about Muday and Despyn, as well as what he thought he could do to them in order to make them learn their lesson. Muday invited the fellow to try.
A minute later, the pub keeper was paid money for the damages done to his establishment. The Talusibat was carried out and buried somewhere behind the building.
“I don’t see them.” Despyn said through crooked teeth. His sling was pointed ahead, shiners burning brightly.
Muday’s eyes circled upward and down, “They’ve got a good start on us. That’s alright, though. All we need to do is push forward and make sure they don’t try some sort of backtrack.”
Despyn glanced down the first open doorway on his right. Another tunnel-not quite as wide-stared back at him in dead, empty silence and shadows. “Not my kind of place to spend time in. Your mind can play tricks on you in a place like this.”
“Quit worrying about those side tunnels. Remember what Hopath said about staying in the main passage.”
“I know, but what if the others tried going down through them?”
“They won’t. The only safe way in or out is through this main passageway. It’s far too easy to get lost any other way, not to mention that we don’t know what else could be in here.”
Despyn glanced at his partner, grinning an ugly smile. “You’re not worried about ghosts, are you, Muday?”
The other Osmydi narrowed his yellow eyes. “Hardly. Come on, keep moving.”
They pressed forward some distance. “Wait!” Muday ordered, holding his hand up.
A low moan began to echo through the hall. Muday snapped around, his sling and shiners darting about, checking the walls, a doorway they had just passed, another open doorway ahead. Only shadows stretching over dull grey and brownish red stared back at them.
“What was that?” Muday asked, finally turning to his partner. Despyn carefully watched him in a look of anticipation.
A smirk, then a chuckle, broke the look.
Muday bared his teeth in a furious glare, taking an open palm and striking Despyn on the head-not terribly hard, but not exactly a light pat either.
“I should just shoot you!” Muday snapped.
“Ouch!” Despyn cried.
“Quit playing around! We’re supposed to be following the others, not spooking ourselves with ghost sounds!”
“Yeah, but you have to admit-” Despyn laughed as they continued forward, “-I had you going for a bit there.”
“You did not.”
“I did so! You should’ve seen your face when I started that moan! It was like-“
Behind them, there was a sudden clap of sound, as if something very large had just fallen to the ground.
They both jerked back, slings ready, illumination revealing nothing but tunnel and the faint glow of light that was the entrance through which they had come.
“Did you bump into something, or touch anything when you came in here?” Muday asked Despyn. The other Osmydi responded with a negative shake of his head.
More strained silence. Nothing else happened. The two of them turned back to the thick blackness of the main hall.
“Probably just the building itself.” Despyn spoke, “It’s old. I’ve heard Hopath talk about it a few times. Said it used to be a really popular place when the Meridian was populated with living people.”
“Yeah, I suppose so. Just wasn’t expecting to hear something like that.”
“Well, no. I mean, this place is empty. Truth be told, as quiet as it is, I’m surprised we can’t hear the others ahead of us. You know, like an echo of sound from them or something.”
“They’ve got quite a head start on us, Despyn. And I’m willing to bet that they’re being pretty quiet, too.”
Deeper they went. By now, the entrance light was almost completely extinguished, little more than a reference point of white in a universe of black. Somewhere up ahead, water was dripping and pooling, making Muday feel a bit thirsty. How foolish of him; he hadn’t even thought to take any ration satchels for himself off the slither when they started in here. Nor did Despyn for that matter. It was going to be a long and hungry trek through here. Not the way he liked to spend his time.
Another hard slam reverberated through the hall, making both of them spin around, weapons readied.
“Another structural problem?” Despyn asked.
Before Muday could answer, there was a third heavy slam. This one, however, did not come from behind them. Muday aimed his sling down the closest opening to another hallway, carefully watching to see if anything was moving toward them.
Nothing did. Only an empty corridor stared back at him. Like the main hall, this passage featured the same sort of ruddy, blotched ceiling that merged down into the grey, oddly cut designs that made up the bottom half of the walls. Overhead, upon the ceiling, were a few large, rectangular tiles, carved from some sort of mottled rock.
“I don’t see anything.” he said.
In the opposite hall, two more slams broke the brief silence. “What is that!?” Despyn asked, his words betraying an unraveling of nerve.
They looked down the other hallway. Again, more of nothing greeted them.
“I vote that we get out of here.” Despyn murmured.
Muday gave a nod. “I agree. We’ll go back to the entrance and just stand guard there.”
The two began to retrace their steps when another slam exploded through the hall. Another slam. And another.
It was as if a thousand heavy things were being dropped, picked up, and dropped again. And with each repeated slam, the noise grew louder. Grew closer.