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I thought I had a solution and demonstrated by lowering myself carefully by my arms and resting my elbows on the edge of the sitting place.  This way I could reach down further with my legs and feet.  It seemed to work nicely and I was able to smartly tap one of the stones with the flat of both soles.  To the elation of my companion, or companions, it instantly slid away into the darkness, taking another slab with it.  I was personally quite pleased at this early success, but less than overjoyed to see that the hole left by the stones was particularly dank, dark and uninviting.  I was evidently supposed to go down first and the others had silently fallen back at this point, leaving an atmosphere of expectation in their wake.  The die had already been cast and so I headed forth at once, with intrepidity as my guide.

I had half expected it to be a treacherous descent but when I jumped (for jumping was the only way down) I landed lightly, but wetly, on the floor of the catacombs, which was not far beneath the hidden entrance embedded in the ceiling of the tunnel.  It was dark and muddy and whilst I was thankful for my protective foot-covering I was more than aware that the boots, apart from literally giving me the ability to make an entrance, were more than likely to attract attention which may have been unwanted.  Perhaps this was my moment of doubt because for some reason I thought it best to disguise my beautiful boots by giving them a generous coating of mud and slime; gifts such as this had a tendency to invite tremendous envy, which it was not my wont to stimulate.

Although it may have been a shame to forgo the degree of admiration they would also have been sure to attract, I forgot about the boots and proceeded purposefully into the tunnel; it should go without saying that I didn’t look back.  At least one other person had come in with me – this being the brown-haired girl, who was quiet as could be - and I was almost 100% satisfied that I hadn’t been tricked into entering some deadly trap.  I was less sure about the possible other, perhaps he or she had either waited at the entrance or was so discreet as to be imperceptible. “Or maybe I was so used to their presence that I took it entirely for granted”.

The tunnel was wide and seemed to lead in an obvious direction (seemingly west) which was the one I followed. The walls were not entirely plain and bore quite striking geometrical patterns in some places, but the overall look of the place was a bit ominous. I tried not to think about it too much. As I passed without heed to any hidden panic, I looked to my left and saw that the guardian beasts were lurking together in a swampier cavernous area.  We were apparently walking on a fairly narrow path by the side of a river or pool of indeterminate depth. 

GuardiansFirst City


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