Lora could feel her heart beating so hard it felt as through it was about to burst through her chest. Looking up from her prone position in the corridor she could see the hail of arrows that had just flown over her, now embedded in the wall at the end. A black ink oozed from the tip of one of the arrows, onto its shaft and then dripped onto the floor below. The Amazonian woman had seen these before; poisoned arrow traps.
Picking herself up and dusting down her shorts, Lora’s trained ears caught another familiar sound and she leapt into the air. Sprawling both her arms and her legs she swiftly found the walls of the corridor and clung onto the craggy surface. Looking down she saw what she fully expected; the floor had opened up to reveal a pit laced with sharpened stakes.
It took Lora the best part of three minute to clamber down from the wall onto a safe part of the floor. In addition to being cautious, Lora had taken the time to secure a nearby vine to the corridor roof above the pit in order to assist her exit of her surroundings. She had lost track of the time she had spent in this temple. It took her at least an hour to dodge the traps on the ground floor and as she each ascended each of the twelve storeys, the new floor was smaller yet filled with even more traps. So far Lora had been shot at by at least a dozen poisoned arrow traps, avoided seven pit traps, dodged nineteen spears that shot out of various parts of the corridors, and encountered fifteen corpses of other adventurers that had been foolhardy enough to ascend the interior of this particular temple in Lustria.
Opening the door at the end of the corridor, Lora discovered a short corridor only a few yards in length and ending in a set of spiral stone steps. She had ascended eleven similar sets in this temple thus far but her research told her this was the final flight. Oddly enough there was no sign of activity in what she suspected was the final corridor. No footprints, no corpses, no missing parts of rock, not even a broken tripwire. In fact there were no tripwires. Lora ran her hand through her long, sweaty red hair. Then she realised. No one else had ever made it this far up. She had outlasted all of the other adventurers. This made the last chap on the floor below her who had been charred to the bone by a runic fire trap her nearest competitor. After mulling the situation for a few moments, the Amazon woman reached into the small pack attached to her belt and retrieved her water skin. Swallowing the final few drops of water from within, Lora crouched down and threw it down the corridor, skimming it across the floor. It shot harmlessly along the length of the corridor and crashed into the bottom step at the end.
After waiting a few more minutes, Lora decided that enough was enough and she was only going to discover any more potential traps by venturing down the final corridor herself. She proceeded with caution. Every step she took was as light as possible and began with her eyes and ears scanning her immediate surroundings. It took twelve strides for Lora to make it to the steps at the end of the corridor, but they took longer than any of the strides in her entire life. She bent down and picked up her water skin. It was then that she heard it. A click followed by an unknown sound. Almost like thunder but with some kind of a rolling noise. Then another click. More rolling thunder. A third click…
Lora was halfway toward the door when the ceiling disappeared and a gigantic boulder that filled the corridor landed precisely where she had just been stood. It then became obvious to Lora what the rolling thunder sound was as the boulder began rolling down the corridor after her! Even though the floor did not seem slanted, the boulder quickly began to gather pace and crashed through the doorway Lora had just ran through. But Lora was now at full sprint and thanking herself for tying the vine to the roof above the pit that was now in front of her. With cat-like reflexes she drew a throwing star from her belt and used it to pin the vine to the corridor wall whilst simultaneously rolling into the pit. Both her arms and her legs shot out to her sides as she pinned herself to the inside of the pit with a sharpened stake just inches from one of her eyes. Barely a second later the boulder crashed over the pit and continued its rumble of terror further down the passageway.
Grabbing the vine pinned to the wall, Lora clambered out of the pit and retrieved her throwing star. It was only then she noticed the gash in her arm as one of the staves in the pit must have caught her. She took off her belt and tied it around her arm to stop the bleeding before heading up the final set of stairs. The steps were identical to each of the others she had ascended in the temple and ended with another identical door. Taking a deep breath and scanning the frame for traps, Lora opened the door.
The room beyond was far from flattering. For an adventurer like Lora, this was quite the anti-climax. No vast treasure trove. No glittering jewellery. No collection of arms. Instead, here was a simple box room with a single hole in the far wall where daylight shone through. Two strides were all it took for Lora to reach the hole. She bent down to peer through and gaze upon the lands of Lustria beyond. From this vantage point she could see the entire continent stretching as far as her eye could see. Everything seemed to move in slow-motion as the few people she could see looked like ants at this distance. Lora’s eye then caught something unusual. She blinked and rubbed her eye to check she had seen it correctly. She shuffled to one side to allow her other eye to look through the hole. Yes, she was certain. A giant four-legged grey-coloured creature was striding across Lustria, its trunk swaying in front of itself as it made its way across the continent.