“I’m a little disturbed that you were flirting with Marta’s hunter. Were you that upset with her?” asked Izabela.
“I wasn’t flirting.” Dmitrio blushed. “Well, not much. I was trying not to. Actually, he was doing most of the flirting. I suspected he just wanted to ensure my continued cooperation.”
Izabela just smiled at him as she refilled their cups. “Did you find a way in?”
“Eventually, though it took a nudge of aetherium to open the door.”
They were standing in front of the triad of boulders once again. Two hours of searching had yielded no suggestions of an entrance. Teri had even climbed down to the base of the hill to look there and had come back shaking his head grimly.
“There has to be a way in. Doesn’t there?” Mal said uncertainly.
“One would think,” said Teri. “Maybe a key or a magic phrase?” They both looked at Dmitrio expectantly.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Let’s try aetherium. Your meter found it strongest around these boulders?”
Mal nodded. “I couldn’t pin it down to one set of rock faces. There’s traces of raw ore all throughout these rocks. Probably why they were selected. The meter can’t distinguish between raw and refined aetherium.”
Dmitrio rubbed more of the aetherium paste on his palms and ran his hands over the boulders as he circled them. Silver-orange tendrils snaked out, testing the rock and seeking small cracks and crevices. His head throbbed with the effort of directing it as he concentrated on finding traces of past aetherium activity. The south-facing boulder lit up as the tendrils traced out symbols and a doorframe. Dmitrio took a step back.
Mal gave a low whistle. “Impressive. What does it mean?”
“They are spell glyphs; wind, freedom or movement, and solid. I think they just need to be activated in the correct order,” said Dmitrio. “Knowing what I do of Erinn and our family line, I’m going to guess that the sequence is Wind Frees Solids.” He pressed the sequence and nothing happened. “Hm. Or maybe it is Solids are Freed by Wind.” Stone ground on stone as a circular panel slid away. A small thorn projected from it. Dmitrio pressed his palm to it, the thorn pricking him and drawing a few drops of blood. They trickled down a groove to a small rust-colored indent. “Let’s hope it finds enough of Erinn in me to pass.” The ground shook as the door opened onto a damp stairwell.
Mal scowled. “So dramatic.”
Teri handed him a handkerchief. “For your hand.”
“Thank you.” Dmitrio wrapped his palm, putting pressure on the wound.
“Does your family make a practice of locking doors with blood?” Teri asked dryly.
Dmitrio saw the twinkle in his eye and smiled faintly. “Thankfully, no.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’d expect Marta to use such locks.” Mal lit a lantern. “Shall we?”
copyright 2015, all rights reserved, Kimberley Long-Ewing