The small black book caught fire with a WUMPF. A scholar, burning books! The thought about made Amira laugh. But no, it was true. There is a reason why some information is best hidden away from the world. Why some things are kept secret and only those who are responsible enough and experienced enough were aware of it. Why only they were permitted to use it.
The very concept went against everything she ever fought for. Her general philosophy was that information should be available for all who sought it. But oh, there were some things people aren’t meant to find. There are some things, that should never be found.
She learned this the hard way. Once, a long time ago. But it was the only lesson on the subject she required. Amira was only just in her late twenties at the time. Just at that age where even though she had already experienced and survived hardships, she still considered herself invincible. A trait found in most people of that age.
As the fire burned before her, she gazed off into the dark black of night. The firelight flickering off of her cold brown eyes. As it did, the memories began to flood back to her. Memories she had also hoped to forget,
She found herself where all adventures seem to begin. Alone, in a tavern. A place filled with drunkards who spent what little coin they earned on beer and where travelers seeking a warm bed after many long days of travel rested. It was there that she waited for her contact. Someone she had hired with what little coin she had to seek out a book that no mage dared to find.
By this point, Amira had heard of many a legend or local rumor. Stories which caused local town folk to listen in awe. Other stories spoke of curses and forbade the visitation of those locations. These stories would frighten locals and create superstitions to last for centuries. It was those stories that drove intrigued her. Drove her to explore and disprove the tall tales.
It was that hat brought her here today. Legend told of a long-dead archmage whose arcane tome lay hidden in his tomb. It was not a secret really. Everyone knew of his final resting place. It had become a pilgrimage point for mages, who would come to pay their respects to the illustrious archmage. And yet, for all those who knew of the tomb, no one dared to enter it. Once again superstition played its part and kept even the most well learned of scholars from investigating further. Rumor had it that the tomb was protected by Elara, and that all those who entered with the intent to take with the archmages knowledge out of the tomb, would die.
Amira believed none of it. Even then she had little regard for the gods, as is frequent of those who had seen true horrors. Those whose dreams cause them to relive them nightly. And so she was certain that the gods had little care for the lives of mortals. That blessings and curses done by them were really just the toils of men attempting to enforce their will on others. She had little to fear of Elara’s curse. It was all just hearsay.
A rugged man sat down in front of her with a large mug of beer. “You da mage?” Amira simply nodded as she gave him a once over. Blondish-brown hair, emerald green eyes, five o’clock shadow, no, maybe a day or two old stubble. His brown leathers were well worn, but not falling to pieces. A bandolier of small vials filled with liquid crossed his chest, mainly violet, probably healing related. He seems confident and calm, a good trait for someone about to face ‘Elara’s Curse’ with her. One hand gripped the handle of the beer mug, his other rested idly on the pommel of the sword that hung from his belt. “Very well, love. Dusk has just fallen, we will have to wait till all the drunks won’t have memory of our leaving. That alright?”
Amira did her best to hide the cringing from being called ‘love’. Quickly she redirected to the mug in his hand. “And you think you won’t be one of them?”
He gave her a grin, “What? You don’t think I can hold my liquor? I’ll be alright. Why don’t you have a drink yer self. Best to relax a bit before going on a heist like this.”
She shook her head and raised a hand to signal one of the female tavern keeps. “I don’t drink. I prefer to keep my head clear. And this is not a heist, it is an excavation.” Amira pulled a few coins from her pouch and handed it to the woman that appeared, “Two plates of what is being served this evening and a hot tea for myself.” As soon as the woman turned and left Amira reached for another pouch tucked into her light blue robe. She tossed it across the table towards him. “Half, as promised. You will get the other half when the job is complete.” He took it and watched her a moment longer than she felt comfortable. His eyes lingering on her chest before rising to meet her eyes. A look she now figured was less lewd in nature and instead his questioning where the other coin purse was hidden on her person. Then again, he was a man. She would hardly put both past him.
Hours passed before they left the tavern. The tomb itself was not far, but it was enough of a distance from the tavern to keep others from bothering them. And small trek into the forest would obscure their breaking and entering. Thankfully, the full moon made their short journey all the easier. Though Amira guessed their journey back would not be as lucky. The night was damp and she could see the tendrils of fog beginning to creep along the path. It would obscure their vision upon their return and perhaps cause them to lose their way even on the forest edge.
The rogue she had hired stopped at the front gate, gently setting his bag down in front of him. From it he withdrew a roll of lockpicks and began searching for the proper tools. He hesitated a moment, “You sure you want to do this? There ain’t no coming back from here.” Amira gave him a firm look and he relented, picking the gate lock and allowing the two of them to slip inside. The gate clicked shut behind them. There was no going back, not from here. Either they found what they were looking for, or they died inside.