Chapter 5

Locke hadn’t really expected to be hanging from a rope above who knew how big a cavern in another world, chiseling away at a carved stone seal that didn’t want to come lose, without so much as a decent lantern to show him what he was doing. But then, who did?

He hadn’t even expected it when he’d agreed to help Viktor and Flik look for the True Runes. They’d taken him back to Greenhill, got a warm meal and plenty of warm ale down him, and asked enough questions that Locke didn’t have good answers for that he’d almost wished they’d left him for dead.

As soon as he’d told them that he was a treasure hunter, they’d said that maybe he should sign up with them. They’d filled him in on all the juicy details of the kind of work they were doing, and it had sounded like serious treasure hunting to him, the kind he’d always loved.

Besides, getting these True Rune gizmos had sounded like a great way to find out some info on the world. Hell, they seemed like the sort of things that stuck-up jerk Ghaleon would want, and where Ghaleon was, Locke’d figured Celes would be.

That was a month ago, and he’d found out since that the kind of work involved in getting the True Runes was the kind of work that Ghaleon wouldn’t touch in a million years. Finding a hole in the ground and getting lowered through it on a rope just didn’t seem like things Ghaleon would call fun.

Locke chuckled. Hell, if the ‘Mr. Dyne’ who was employing Viktor and Flik, (and Locke too, now) hadn’t been there for a year, Locke would have thought he was Ghaleon. It was his style, getting someone else to do his dirty work for him while he sat pretty in some mansion.

That was a big ‘if’, though. Locke sure hadn’t been unconscious for a year.

The light hanging beside him was getting dimmer, and he didn’t want to be left in the cave in the dark any longer than he had to be.

“I need a new torch!” he shouted. Not having gas lamps like the ones that were all over in Figaro had taken some getting used to. The illumination from a torch, new or used, wasn’t half as bright or steady, and every few minutes it swung over close enough to singe him.

“No problem,” Flik called down.

Locke’s torch was taken up. His eyes were just starting to get used to the almost total darkness when the new one came down.

“How’re ya doin’?” Viktor asked.

“I’ve been better,” Locke said, which got a laugh. He’d have been mad at the big man, if it wasn’t for the fact that he’d seen Viktor take worse duties than this plenty of times before. “How about you guys?”

“There’s not much to see up here,” Flik said. “No other entrances that I can find, either.”

“Perhaps this would go quicker if Viktor were to smash his head into the obstacle?” the Star Dragon Sword suggested.

Locke almost dropped the chisel he was holding when the sword spoke. He was almost used to the thing talking, but he hadn’t noticed it float down next to him.

“And I’ll bet you’d make a good chisel!” Viktor shot back.

The Star Dragon Sword didn’t have expressions. Locke still wasn’t sure quite how it was that the thing could give the impression of rolling its eyes, but it managed without moving a muscle - not that it had those, either.

Locke might have put in his two Potch on Viktor’s side, but he didn’t trust the Star Dragon Sword not to cut his rope, and he didn’t trust the floor of... whatever this place was... to be close enough for him not to regret it.

Locke wished he could take a swig from the flask of ale hanging from his belt. Flik had been right about it being good - it was maybe even better than anything Locke’d had back home, and he sure didn’t mind having a little drink now and then.

In fact, he’d drunk more than a little more than now and then.

But like it or not, he didn’t have time for it now. Besides, he couldn’t reach it without tucking away one of his tools, and he wanted to get the damn chisel work done with before they took a break for the night.

Instead, he swung his hammer again, and this time was rewarded with a crack in the stone seal. He hit it again, and the crack got bigger. A third shot seemed to be enough to break it lose, and he grabbed hold. There wasn’t much leverage, but he managed to pry it out enough that he could fit his fingers behind it.

“I got it!” he called up.

“Good job,” Viktor said. “I’d clap ya on the back, but I’d have to pull ya up, and we aren’t done yet.”

“We are in awe of your prowess,” the Star Dragon Sword said dryly.

Locke shot it a glare, then went back to working on the seal. He put the hammer away and used the chisel to pry it out further. When it started to wobble, he put the chisel away, too, and started to tug on it.

It came out faster than he thought, sending him swinging, and it falling. It took a while to hit the bottom, and when it did, it hit loud. There was an echo. A big one.

He tried not to think about that.

The crawlspace behind the seal wasn’t too big, but he could fit. “I’m gonna check the place out,” he said. At the last minute, he remembered to grab the torch and untie it from its rope, thrusting it ahead of him.

Locke blinked. Behind the seal, there wasn’t the kind of rough, ancient stonework he’d expected. There wasn’t anything rough about the crawlspace, or stone, either.

It was a dull silver color, spotless, and featureless except for a single weird-looking panel on one side.

And it looked exactly the same as the place under Figaro Desert.