Gold and Glass I

There was a certain beauty to Fort Ail at sunset, despite its ruin. Terilan smiled at it from the treeline as he waited for the dragons to finish bringing in supplies.   It was night by the time that was done, but the exploration had to continue. Terilan called for his team, and they climbed into the first floor hallway.   The fort was dark. Terilan lit a torch, blinking as he adjusted. "Stick together, you hear? No one on their own." And he headed down the hallway.   It didn't take long to find the stairs to the basement. Terilan waved his second over. They looked at each other, nodded and headed down, hands on the wall to help them not fall.   They did their best to be quiet, but there were still the taps on the floor of their boots. Terilan's second kept an eye behind them, while Terilan scouted ahead. Eventually, they entered a large room at the back.   "Esten..." Terilan murmured, tugging on his second's arm.   Esten turned around, and their eyes widened. In the center of the room sat a glass coffin, open--not empty.   Her hair was a crisp white, like freshly fallen snow, and her skin so pale her veins showed clearly through it. Her chest rose and fell slowly, and she was wrapped in a golden blanket. Dust fell around the coffin like a curtain.   "By the gods..." Esten whispered. He stared for a moment, then grinned and nudged Terilan. "Time to kiss the lady awake, huh, Ter?"   Terilan's gaze snapped to Esten, eyes narrowed. "Don't make me smack you." He moved closer to inspect the coffin, then decided to save that for later and stepped around it to look more around the room.   Drawers against one wall held jewelry, vestments, shoes, all golden. In one was a mirror, which Terilan lifted carefully. The glass was clean, but reflected him upside down. He frowned and set it down again.   Well, dropped it--it was almost back down when Terilan heard a loud crash. He spun around and saw Esten sprawled across the coffin.   "Esten!" Terilan hurried over to the coffin, reaching it just as the woman's eyes shot open.


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