Things Left Undone Book 3, Chapter 5
Hall of Jars
The voice belonged to a fairly small Karandian. It was only about six feet tall, compared to the average Karandian height of nine or ten feet. It hobbled towards them, and as it neared their half of the chamber, they came to the conclusion that it was very, very old.
"What do you mean, 'fulfillers of the prophecy'?" Marle asked, puzzled.
With a shake of graying hair and a smile that creased its face into hundreds of fine wrinkles, the ancient Karandian laughed. "Oh, ho! That's right. The great book of Vytra stated that the heroes, when they came, would hold no knowledge of their predicament." He rolled up the sleeve of his grey robe and offered a wrinkled hand to them. "Greetings. My name is Tryuiop, high priest of Aout. I can't help but notice that there are but seven of you. Where are the rest?"
Crono was wary of the seemingly friendly Karandian, what with all the evil ones they had met. "We don't know. Tell us about our 'predicament'."
"Ahh, yes. In the honor of manners, though, I must request that you accompany me to the meeting room, where I imagine you'll find yourselves more comfortable." At that, he walked off without a backwards glance. The seven adventurers had no choice but to follow. They gained nothing by running away, except maybe the honor of starving to death in the underground labyrinth.
Tryuiop was right. The meeting room was furnished with velvety padded chairs and ottomans, in the center was a low lacquered wood table, which probably weighed close to five-hundred pounds. A crackling fire lit the room from a fireplace in the middle of the front wall. Tryuiop gestured to the chairs, and they all sat down. Later, they would agree that those chairs were the most comfortable they had ever sat in.
Tryuiop gasped. "Oh, pardon my horrendous manners. You must be starving." He swept his arm over the table, and muttered a few words which were new to the companions. On the table appeared a fine dinner, with roast duck, fish chowder, fruits and apple cobbler. Red wine waited to be poured into sparkling crystal goblets.
Tryuiop couldn't have been more accurate. Ignoring thoughts in the back of their heads about poisons, enchantments or other unpleasant things, Crono and the others all dived to be the first to fill their plates. Finally, after the duck had been reduced to bones and the last drop of wine had been drunk, Tryuiop cleared the table with another wave of his hand and they all sat down to talk.
"That was delicious, sir, but we must ask you why we are so deserving of your hospitality." Magus lounged in his chair and picked his teeth with a dagger from his belt.
"I will start from the beginning, and explain everything to you up till this point. Little do you know that you have a great mission ahead of you." Tryuiop got himself comfortable, and began to speak.
* * * * *
"As you know, my name is Tryuiop. I am the high priest of Aout, and I have been such for much longer than your planet has been in existence. The followers of Aout follow the true path, which is in our own hearts and souls. We believe that the one true god lives in each of us: our own souls. Aout dictates that you must follow your own destinies. The only holy object that we have is the great book of Vytra, which was written many years before I was born by the great and wise philosopher, Saz. This book gives an account of the future, up till the point of the end of this world, Karandash.
"Mostly, the book talks about leaders and weather patterns, but there are four great stories in the book. The First, the creation of Karandash. The Second, the coming of the tyrant Karter, whom you are familiar with and I will explain later. The Fourth story is the end of the world, but the Third story is the one which you are part of. You may have noticed the large mural in the grand chamber."
The seven nodded their heads and exchanged glances.
"Yes, that picture is of you. You have come to fulfill Saz's prophecy, that eleven wise heroes from another world will come to route the demon-worshipping cults in the overworld. But I don't see how that can be done if not all of you are here."
"We're all here, but some of us are lost aboveground." Flea said.
Tryuiop pondered for a moment. "You will need to find them, then, and fulfill the prophecy."
Robo whirred his gears to get everyone's attention. "This is all great, guys, but how are we to kill all the Karandian cultists? There could be thousands of different cults, with thousands of members each. Unless your fellow Aouts will help us, Tryuiop."
Tryuiop averted his eyes in embarrassment. "Well, umm, that's a good idea, and I'd get my fellows to help you, if there were any, that is. You see, I'm the only one left. The others either went aboveground to seek their fortunes or went insane from living underground so long and became the leaders of the other cults."
Ayla groaned. "That not good. But what about other cults? How many?"
"That's the good part. There are only two cults left, the cult of Trrankil, led by Jas-chu, and the cult of Drexun, led by Struk. Both of them have about two-thousand members each. All the other cults were eaten up by those two in their missions to become supreme. Now, they are fighting each other."
"Jas-chu." Flea said. "Wasn't he the leader of that cult you guys escaped from?" She gestured to Glenn, Crono, Marle, and Ayla. They nodded in affirmation.
Tryuiop clapped his hands in glee. "Then that means they're already searching for you! They'll join forces with the cult of Drexun, and find you! It'll be much easier to kill them if they're all together." That last he added at questioning glances from his guests.
"Yeah, but still, how are eleven people (seven at the moment,) going to kill thousands of Karandians? We had enough trouble with Karter! Our weapons don't hurt you guys, and we lost the mallet when fighting him!" Marle yelled, exasperated.
Tryuiop shrugged. "The great book of Vytra doesn't say. It just talks about you eleven."
Everyone was silent for a few minutes, thinking about this new turn of events. Glenn broke the silence. "Earlier, thou mentioned the coming of Karter as one of the four stories. Tell us about it."
"Oh, yes. Karter. If you met him, I am sure he told you about himself. He was one of the most conceited people I had ever met." Tryuiop sniffed. "It is true that he was of the royal family, and most of his family died of the plague, and it's also true that he killed the rest in order to make himself emperor. But from there, his story gets slightly warped.
"The truth is that he became a tyrant. It took him many, many long years to ruin this world. He took away all our privileges, and destroyed the land in his mad search for wealth. That is when most of us Karandians went into hiding. The land slowly grew miserable, and one fell ill if exposed to the horrible air for too long.
"Karter, meanwhile, was sinking further and further into insanity. He could find no source of wealth on this planet, so he forced the scientists, who he had locked up many years before, to build him a spaceship. He became a bounty hunter, charging outrageous amounts of money to capture creatures. Part of his fee was that his employers allow him to keep the things he caught. He then preserved them in a solution made from the odd fungus on the overworld. He would drop the jars off here, in an underground cavern where no one could find them. Finally, when he could find no other planets seeking his help, he decided to just take creatures for his collection. He would land on a planet, and kidnap a poor soul."
"What about Lavos?" Magus asked.
"Lavos was from the planet Magmus, in the Voltris system. Karter captured him for his collection, but Lavos groveled so well that Karter decided to keep him as sort of a pet."
"Are all of you Karandians as strong as Karter is?" Marle asked.
"You mean was. Your friends aboveground killed him, not long ago."
Everyone gasped at this information, and broke off into their own private conversations.
Pounding the table to get their attention, Tryuiop continued. "But to answer your question, we normal Karandians are nowhere near as strong as Karter. On his travels, he captured a Styxan fairy, who promised to grant Karter a wish if he would let her go. He wished to be the most powerful creature in the universe. After the wish was granted, Karter caught and preserved the fairy anyway. Before she was immersed in the jar, though, she said 'I have enchanted a mallet on a distant planet. It will be the death of you.' This news enraged Karter, and he went off in search of this enchanted mallet so he could destroy it and remove the threat. His travels finally brought him to your planet, and he discovered the mallet there. He tried to take over, but he failed because he had never tried to take over a planet before."
Flea appeared puzzled. "Yeah. Magus and I were trapped inside that mallet. But Karter said that he had taken over hundreds of planets."
"He lied. Karter was a petty thief."
"Where are all the creatures Karter has preserved?" Robo asked.
"Only I know the location of the jars. They are in an adjoining chamber."
Ayla still looked suspicious. "How you know so much about evil alien?"
Tryuiop sighed. "I was his father, the emperor. I fell ill from the plague, and Karter took me for dead. He dumped my limp body in a quicksand pit. I awoke in this odd world under the ground, and founded Aout with the book I found sitting open on an altar. I dedicated my life to following Karter, and trying to find the eleven heroes painted on the wall in the grand chamber. Now, I have found you, and can rest."
Glenn was the only one not convinced. "How do we know that thourt not lying?"
"I can prove my story. Follow me, if you will." Tryuiop led them out of the meeting room and into the great chamber. As they walked past the mural, they were each endowed with a feeling of purpose, like their coming to be there was the work of a higher being.
Tryuiop led them to a dark section of wall behind one of the giant columns, and removed a loose wall stone. A gust of cold, foul-smelling breeze wafted out. Tryuiop climbed into the hole, and gestured to the others that they were to follow.
The tunnel was cramped, but finally, they tumbled out onto a hard floor of damp sand. It was pitch black, and in the background, they could hear the sound of dripping water. There was no echo.
"That's the second time I've fallen into some place that's abhorrably dark. Robo, will you do the honors?" Flea sighed.
As the yellow light filled the room, they saw that it was fairly small, only about the size of a basketball court. A room that small was unusual for the Karandians. And for the first time, the ceiling was visible.
As Robo's light scanned the room, it reflected into jars upon jars of pink liquid. As the light hit the liquid, it was reflected out into sickening pink light that almost made one gag. In the liquid floated numerous unidentifiable shapes. The seven companions were struck into silence.
Suddenly, the light of a torch filled the room, held by Tryuiop. He apologized for his tardiness in providing light. The others could just mumble that it was okay.
As they were looking at the jars, Marle noticed something that made her gasp.
Crono whirled around, concerned. "What's wrong?"
Marle raised a shaking finger and pointed at the closest jar, a small one about the size of her head. Inside floated a little green creature, which looked like a furry turtle with six eyes. Crono could notice nothing wrong, until he saw the creature kick. "It's alive!"
Tryuiop nodded. "Yes. Karter's method allowed him to sink his 'pets' into unnatural sleep. They are still alive, but no one knows how to get them out of it."
Magus and Flea exchanged glances. "That means that Slash and Ozzie are still alive!" They shot off into the jar jungle, searching for their friends. Magus' yell from the far corner brought the others running.
Sure enough, Ozzie and Slash floated, suspended in the pink stuff. They looked peaceful, deep in sleep. Occasionally, Slash would twitch a finger.
"What are we waiting for!?!" Flea took a great leap onto the jar, attempting to knock it over. It twirled on its base for a moment, and slowly, it fell over. Everyone jumped out of the way, not wanting to be covered with the pink liquid. Flea jumped off of the jar.
It landed with a clang, and the top flung off. Everyone expected to be covered with spraying liquid, but after they realized they were still dry and able to move, they turned their heads, opened their eyes, and looked. The 'liquid' was glopping out sluggishly.
"It's the consistency of jelly!" Marle said. They all crowded around the stuff, puzzled.
"Aye, this is good, but now how do we get Slash and Ozzie out of there? I'm not going rummaging through that infernal goop." Glenn said, hands on his hips. Everyone turned to Tryuiop.
"Why are you looking at me? I have no idea how to get them out." He leaned on the wall, attracting the others' attention to three large hooks mounted there.
"Hooks! No worry, Ayla get!" She jumped up, and grabbed the hooks by their handles, dragging them down. She gave one to Glenn, another to Crono, and kept the third one herself.
With the hooks, the job was easy. They dragged Slash out first, and Flea and Magus knelt down to tend to their friend. Ozzie, however, was harder to get, weighing a lot more than Slash. Finally, with all eight of them pulling on the hooks, Ozzie flopped out of the jar.
Marle and Robo were overcome with curiosity about the pink stuff. They knelt down by the edge of the puddle as the others were trying to wake Ozzie and Slash up, and talked.
"What do you suppose this stuff is?" Marle asked.
"Tryuiop said that it was made from the fungus in the overworld." Robo reached a metal finger down into the goop. After removing it and flexing it several times, he came to the conclusion that it didn't work on creatures that weren't made of flesh and bone.
Marle, very carefully, touched the tip of her finger to the pink stuff. She yelped in surprise and jerked her hand away. "I can't feel the tip of my finger! It's some sort of paralysis potion."
Their curiosities only increased, they returned to the others and turned to Tryuiop.
"The pink goo is a paralysis solution. You said it's made from the fungus above. Where does the fungus come from? It's everywhere." Robo said.
"Karter was contaminated on a distant planet. When he came back here, the spores of fungus he brought back with him grew, and multiplied at an alarming rate. He couldn't help but notice that when you inhaled the red spores directly, you were struck immobile for several minutes. Using that information to his advantage, he combined the spores with clarified animal fat to make the gel."
"Well, that explains a lot." Marle said.
They all returned to where the others were trying, rather unsuccessfully, to wake Slash and Ozzie. Flea tried to talk to Ozzie, but nothing happened. Crono poured the contents of his water skin on Slash's face, and rubbed until all the pink goo was gone. Slash's eyes shot open, and his mouth worked, trying to say something. "Gi-i-ive me a BAAATH!!" He yelled. Everyone assumed that he would have ran out of the room yelling and screaming, if he could move the rest of his body.
Taking his advice, they hefted Slash and dragged Ozzie out of the hall of jars and into the meeting room. Tryuiop used his magic to create a tub full of water on the table. After much scrubbing, the two were finally clean. They were placed on two of the velvet chairs until they had gotten their muscles to stop twitching.
When they could move normally again and had been told everything up until that point, they told the others about what it was like being paralyzed in the jars. It was like an endless nightmare, they said, especially when Karter would come down with another one of his jars. That was when all the trapped creatures would scream, silently, mourning for the newest addition.
"It was horrible. Nightmares you couldn't wake from, probably caused by the fungus spores getting into your brain." Ozzie shuddered, remembering.
"Yeah," Slash agreed, "and the worst part of all was when you had an itch and you couldn't move to scratch it."
Ozzie turned to Slash, looking so serious it was scary. "We have to go back and let the other creatures out. We can't let them suffer."
Everyone agreed and began to move to return to the hall of jars, when Tryuiop stopped them. "I hate to spoil your fun, but you seven," he gestured to Crono, Marle, Glenn, Ayla, Robo, Magus and Flea, "have a prophecy to fulfill. Slash and Ozzie, feel free to release the contained creatures."
The two recently freed exhibits left the room, and left the others to themselves.
"Wait a second, there, Tryuiop, we haven't actually agreed to help you yet." Crono said, arms crossed over his chest.
Tryuiop's brow lowered. "What more do I have to do to prove to you that I'm not lying?"
Robo shrugged. "We believe that you are telling the truth, but it seems a suicide mission to fight thousands of Karandians. The odds are hardly even."
"I have faith that you are going to receive some help. From where, I haven't the slightest idea. But your duty now is to find your friends."
They all agreed to attempt to fulfill the prophecy, and after being told the way out by Tryuiop, they walked the labyrinthine halls until they found a door. It opened to the overworld.
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