Chapter 23

Martell feigned sadness; she had an idea of what happened, but no proof. “May I at least have one of my swords? If there is anything lurking behind one of these doors I would like to stand a chance with it.”
“Oh very well, you look so sad darling. I know you could do harm to us with it, but that face and your teary eyes just cut me to the quick. So you may have one, but do not be daft about it. If I or any of my men see you raise it near us you will have more arrows in you than a porcupine has quills.” She motioned to one of the people to fetch her short sword. “Into the courtyard with you dear, we will toss it to you. Some nice distance so you may not be inclined to turn upon us in a rapid fashion.”
Martell chose to go to the path lined with canines. The realism of the carving was impressive and accurate as far as she could tell from the creatures she had encountered. She paused briefly at one that was the size of a pony, hunched over like an ape. She would have sworn its eyes followed her as she went to the door. When she looked again and nothing was different or out of place. At the door, she examined briefly if there was anything out of the ordinary to see. Nothing popped out at her and she reached down to open it.
The door swung open easily, there was a hallway going each direction with rooms leading off of it. The lighting was quite poor as little natural light made its way in. “It is open, and I am still alive,” She called back.
Lady Nattan and her men started to make their way into the courtyard. They looked around; a few headed up to the second floor and took position, training arrows downward at Martell.
“Good work, nice and simple. You can move to the next door now, you can choose again. This is getting to be fun. You know dear, a few of the men are taking bets on what the odds are you will safely open two doors here. Let us find out who amongst them has the winning bet.” Lady Nattan’s voice crackled with delight.
Martell went over to the second door. She bypassed the walkway through the statues and walked the perimeter of the courtyard. At this door, she saw it was locked with a seal of wax and an emblem of a manticore on it. Hanging down from the seal was a sheet of paper tacked across the door opening. The writing was not any language she had run across. Martell walked on after seeing that. She was going to deal with the other door first.
She stood at the third door and studied it. She could see no sign that it had even been moved by Oren. It was a good trick if he was now somewhere safe. Hopefully, he was either getting help or had a plan to save her and Tabia. She paused as she saw what looked like a wire going from the door, running back into the courtyard. She followed the taut line back down the pathway; it wrapped back up the far side of the courtyard to a downspout. She motioned for the people to clear out of the way, and then cut the wire. After hearing a feint series of clicks, three arrows shot from the wall opposite hitting the door followed by three more. Everyone waited another couple of minutes before moving. Martel felt confident that trap had been disarmed.
“Impressive work dear. You care to open the door now?” Lady Nattan teased.
Martell glared, it was far from hard work. She went over to the door and flung it open. It was a hallway similar to the other side and just as dark. The only difference was she saw that the floor had recently been walked upon. She quickly pulled back on the door to stir up more dust and at least hide the footsteps to anyone else who may peer inside.
“I will open the third door next,” Martell said. “However, I need her,” she pointed at Tabia, “to see if she can read something on the door before I do. There is a something written there and she may know what it is.”
“Very well, darling. It is the least I can do before I let my men take care of you. I shall think of it as a last request.” Lady Nattan stated, and then turned to Tabia, “Go, be close to your friend one last time.”
Tabia came over to where Martell was. As she got closer she saw what Martell was looking at. Tabia looked at the paper and immediately was able to read it. She whispered to Martell “Life for Drémore, Break the seal, Death to its enemies.” Tabia paused, “There is something bad locked up hear. Not just the wards and traps like Abbysta. These types of seals were written so that those who read the language knew not to open the door. The only people that would open them was either ignorant of the language or wishing death upon themselves. Someone from Drémore would know not to open because of the Manticore.”
“Well, we have to open it, any suggestions Tabia?”

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