As the fight for the tower ended, we found ourselves beside a doorway. The doorway was filled with light. Almost sunlight in quality and I was drawn to it. We’d only been underground a few days, but my heart sang at the thought of sunlight.
“We need to see where this passage leads.” I kept my voice firm and emotionless. I didn’t want anyone to know how much the light affected me.
Theresa jumped up. “OK! I’m ready.” That made me pause. If she thought it was a good idea, then it might not be.
“Um, well maybe it’s not the best idea. I just thought –”
Myntilly smiled as if she knew my thoughts. “We should check this out. If it’s another way to the Fiery Sanctum….”
We traveled down a long hallway. The light did not increase or decrease in brightness. We soon found ourselves at a tall, imposing door. It was covered in locks. “What the…?” Ian and Brus pulled up short and I stumbled into the big black bear.
Theresa rushed to the door. Her hands stopped short of touching it. Her head nodded up and down a few times. She turned to face us. “Oh yeah. This is gonna be fun! There’s like, 5 or 6 locks here. Good stuff on the other side. Bound to be, right?”
“Can you open them?” My brow furrowed.
“Honey child, you just watch me.” Her eyes sparkled.
She set down her pack and rummaged around until she pulled out a small wooden box about the size of a book. She hummed softly. “These locks probably have to open in a certain order. And, (she winked at Buzz) I probably only have one chance to get it right.”
I opened my mouth to speak and Buzz pulled me aside. “What are you doing? You heard her! I can’t —”
“Shush. She’s just messing with you. I didn’t complete my training, of course (he made a quick bow) but I handled some gnarly locks in my day. Don’t sweat it. I’m betting the whole thing resets itself if she goes in the wrong order.”
“I would just feel better if Myntilly were there to offer some intelligent guidance.” I crossed my arms.
“Indira, please. I’m not sure what I think of Theresa either, OK? But she’s the best rogue we’ve got and we need to give her space to work it in her own way. Locks, picking locks, it’s like a language. And Theresa needs space and quiet to hear what the locks are saying. Can you understand that? It’s um, it’s like when you are praying. Well, like when I’m praying anyway. I need to be still so that I can hear His voice…. Yeah. Lock picking is the same way.”
I just barely resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Buzz was being sincere and I couldn’t argue with his past experience. I’d never tried to open a lock. Not without magic.
From his vantage point, Buzz told me what Theresa was doing. “She’s starting in the upper right corner. Interesting. Risky. The first lock seems straightforward. Almost like a regular keyhole. She’s grabbed a skeleton key, but oh! smart. OK, so it’s like a pun. The keyhole is whiteish, like bone and so, ha! a skeleton key. This next one is a circle of numbers. She just brushed a feather around the numbers. I’ve never seen that, but now the circle is raised up. Psst! It’s a combo lock. Anyone can do that!”
The others overheard Buzz and soon everyone gathered to hear his explanations. no one wanted to disturb Theresa. The next three locks were simple and mechanical.
“Good solid craftsmanship, from what I can see. It’s smart to have a combination of lock types. Some thieves do better with one type or another. I favored combo locks myself. The feel of the tumblers just falling….” He caught my arched eyebrow and coughed.
Theresa bent over her box. Her finger was poised a few inches above the surface. She wiggled her finger back and forth. And suddenly reached in for a tiny pouch. She poured something into the palm of her hand. “Now this is interesting. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Theresa held her hand up to the door, paused and blew whatever was nestled in her palm at the door. Buzz took a step towards her. “I have to ask.” But as he got closer to the door, he broke into a smile and came back to our group. “Brilliant!” He shook his head with a smile. “Brilliant. Never would have thought of it. Not in a million years. It’s a magnetic lock but not like you’d think. The lock is magnetic but invisible. So to see it, Theresa blew metal filings at it. Now ta da! She can see where to work.”
There was silence for a long while. Finally Theresa walked over to us. “I’m almost done. And with each lock I felt more confident that I was using the right sequence. I just gotta show you the last lock. You don’t see it until the others are cleared. Come on.”
We walked over and Buzz whistled. “An organic lock? That is awesome!”
Sadi got closer and put her face close to the hands. “Who do you think they were?”
“Oh god! I hadn’t thought of that! Poor souls. You have to open this lock and then I can set their souls free.” I shrugged off my pack to reach for some holy water. While I was bending over I heard a SNICK sound and the door opened. Blinding light poured out of the room.
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