The Box (Part XIX)

Joeshan’s eye narrowed and he grinned mercilessly when the dragon countered the sorcerer’s magic.  He could only imagine the helplessness that the man was feeling and he prayed it was ten times the horror as when he had lost his other eye.  Malifgorranaka possessed about it an aura of power that he could feel even from this distance.

It terrified him beyond words.  His body shook with fear and a light perspiration had broke upon his skin.  It was as if the wrym had placed one of its mighty claws upon him, pinning him where he lay.

From across the cavern, the Great Flame had launched an attack of its own.  Its spine arched, much like that of an angry cat, and there came the sound of a large intake of breath being taken.  It was drawing upon the instinct of its race to attack with the strongest weapon in its arsenal, the fiery breath of the Red, a flame so hot that it could melt through the most stout of magical protections.

His hair lifted from his scalp as it was pulled toward the head of the dragon.  The clothing on his skin began to flap lightly against his skin, rippling as if he where enveloped by the fierce winds of the Great Northern Pass.  Worse still was the feeling that the air around him was growing thin, making it hard for him to breath.

There was no need for him to continue watching the battle unfold.  He knew enough of the stories to know what was going to happen next.  Even so, it took a tremendous amount of will for him to turn his attention back to the box.

It sat atop a small pedestal, an evil looking piece of stone decorated with countless screaming faces.  Each image depicted a different state of agony so lifelike that for a brief moment he wondered if the sculptor had used a living model for each likeness.  The box itself was just as the stories had told.

There was no lock.  Each side of the box was a transparent crystal, surrounded by thin platinum bars that locked into each adjacent side.  Behind the crystal, the interior of the box was filled with a clear viscous gel, floating inside of which and regarding him without emotion, was the Eye of Necrodemus.

Just as the intake of the dragon’s attack pulled the air away from him, the eye’s pupil drew him in.  He could feel his mind slipping, not so much moving to the side as it was being obliterated.  The longer he stared into the pupil of the artifact, the less of him there remained.  His hands clawed at the melted gold beneath him, pulling on the fused gems and treasures as if he were scaling the world’s most horizontal wall, quickly closing the distance between himself and the pedestal.

There was no fanfare.  No angelic chorus filled the air as his hand lifted on its own accord and touched the small enchanted prison.  There was only silence, because at that exact moment the dragon’s boilers were full.  As the dragon god expelled its mighty attack upon sorcerer, the shell of Joeshan mindlessly lifted the box and crushed it between his small hobbit hands.

 

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