Yseult Shadowrun – Dust of Ages Part II

   The adventures of Yseult were a spin-off from the main Shadowrun campaign – a complex mystery spanning thousands of years. Just the thing for an ambitious detective.

   Yseult considered… Moving a hundred tons of rock without breaking anything – or using modern conveniences like explosives or earth-moving equipment – was going to be a job, even with the aid of Kepikhait’s magic. Fortunately, he’d worked digs – and agricultural projects, construction work, and similar projects – before.

   Humph. Until recently, she’d have said that learning magic like that was a complete waste of a mage’s potential.

   Well, live and learn.

   She had Kepikhait send out some watchers to search for any open routes down – but didn’t hold out much hope for that. If there had been any that watchers could find, there probably wouldn’t BE any magic left to attract her: Hitoshi would have sent that fox of his down if he didn’t have a shapeshifting spell himself.

   Well, it would be a hell of a lot of work, but the pair of them could probably get down there within the day. A nuisance, but anything powerful enough to show up through that much shielding material was well worth knowing about – and probably saleable, even if it was nothing like the stuff going on in the crypt.

   Kepikhait had to agree. He might be a practical mage rather than a professional shadowrunner, but he wasn’t immune to the lures of wealth, power, and fame – and digging wasn’t as hard as a lot of other spells, you just had to keep concentrating.

   Once they got down there, it began to look like someone had dropped a huge pile of stone on top of some sort of building, also crudely carved from stone. Part of it had broken, and part of it had been driven into the local rock.

   That didn’t make a lot of sense; it should have shattered, the local rock had been in one piece instead of being weakened by internal tunnels. Instead, the local rock had fragmented – and the structure had been driven into the rubble. It looked like some of it – apparently what was sticking up, since it had been driven into the rock at an angle – had crumbled afterwards, contributing to the pile of loose stone which had concealed the rest of it.

   The semi-intact area seemed to consist of several areas full of smashed-up wood and odd remains on one side, and some benches with a scattering of bronze tools, some bits of crystal, a supply of bronze and copper ingots, and a small forge, on the other. What was left of the tools was fairly familiar, but hammers, files, and tongs were the same everywhere. The smashed up wood and such could be any kind of stockpile, it might have been boxes or shelves a very long time ago. Storerooms and some sort of workshop? Smashed-up shelves and boxes? The benches looked a bit like an traditional enchanters shop – or what might be left of one after a major impact and a few millennia of neglect.

   In the lowest area on the end there was a sizeable room, inscribed with many odd symbols, and with a massive chunk of crystal at the center – which was where the magic was coming from.

   Well, the massive chunk of crystal was probably another device that focused, amplified, and channeled magic, just like in the crypt. At least this one wasn’t active and trying to kill them.

   In fact, according to Kepikhait, it wasn’t doing much of anything at the moment – although he had to admit that he’d never actually seen anything like it. Despite a few rumors and trid programs, as far as he knew there was nothing like that for real. He could see why it hadn’t been found before – without a mage along, who would think to dig under all that broken rock? – but he couldn’t tell much about the crystal.

   He did offer to try throwing a minor spell at it. If it really was capable of absorbing and channeling magic, that might tell them something.

   Yseult was pretty doubtful about that – but a lot of careful mundane examination produced no particular results. It was held in place by a set of bronze hoops – a bit like an oversized jewel setting – and the pillar was an integral part of the floor. The fist-sized chunk of crystal seemed to be more-or-less unflawed, and there were a selection of mysterious symbols – although they weren’t much like the ones in the crypt. A different magical style or tradition perhaps?

   There did seem to be several repeating sequences though, radiating from the crystal. Something to help direct whatever effect the crystal transmuted magical energy into?

   Well… perhaps a small spell.

   She got her weapons ready, just in case – but all that happened was that the floor shook a bit, some rocks shifted, and there was a bit of a grind of rock against rock – all of it pretty subtle. She’d barely felt it – and it had seemed to come from all around her.

   Kepikhait had been watching. To him it looked like a kinetic spell, discharged into the structure – although it had obviously been far too weak to actually move it.

   Kinetic? Designed to move a building made of solid rock? That would involve vast amounts of energy. Wait… The corridors and floors were slanted, the structure seemed to have been driven into the rock – and if all the rubble had come from this “building”, it would have had to have been huge – and it would have had to impact with immense force. For even this much to survive, it would have had to have been far stronger than any natural stone.

   The crypt had contained a few depictions of flying ships… A huge one? Made of stone? Driven and reinforced with magic? But made of granite? Still, if the magic level had been high enough… It would be able to take a bigger hit of course… How powerful had mages been during the last age of magic?

   Powerful enough to build an entire civilization driven by magic – and to be driven into hiding in fortified crypts hidden deep within the earth.

   Had they been fighting each other, or had they been hiding from something even worse?

   If it had been a ship, something had brought it down. Very hard. Leaving dead humans and dead reptile-things. A boarding action? That would explain it’s current predicament.

   They cleared away the loose and balanced rocks before experimenting any more. They might shake something loose otherwise – but vibrating the place seemed harmless enough to go ahead with a few more experiments. She had Kepikhait gradually step it up, throwing bigger and bigger spells at the crystal.

   Sadly, either Kepikhait wasn’t powerful enough, there wasn’t enough amplification, or there were missing factors: he could get a bit of shaking, but nothing more.

   Still, it was proof of concept anyway.

   So Hitoshi had come here, dug up some ancient magical artifacts with links to the crypt – and had gone there to collect some scrolls. Had he known what he was looking for or had that been a random choice? What could have led him here?

   Next stop, the tomb of Ramesses the Great. She could notify the Egyptian government of her new findings – and tell them to send out a larger team and another mage. Who knew what kind of finders fee – or hush payment – she might be able to get?

   The government was perfectly willing to talk about that; they were curious as to what had led her to poke around at such an apparently-pointless location. They offered her a choice: 50,000 nuyen or 25,000 nuyen and a 5% cut on any net profits that resulted from new magic or useful discoveries recovered from the site. She went for the 25,000 and a percentage – but simply told them that her personal interests had led her to poke around at the site.

   Besides, that gave her an opening to ask for permission to explore the tomb of Ramsees the Great – just another “bit of intuition”.

   They gave her permission – but insisted on sending an official representative along – although they were quite willing to make sure that their representative was a pretty good mage.

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