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Veronica

 

By the time Elizabeth made it down to where Veronica was waiting, the teenage Danger had already gotten out some additional lights, although it was still rather dark. Elizabeth found that they did not appear to be in a room, but something like a hallway. It was barely more than six feet wide, but towered close to thirty feet upward, arching inward toward the top. The other most notable thing about this strange hallway, was that in one direction it sloped upward, disappearing into darkness, while the other sloped downward, similarly fading to black before any visible end. The additional light Elizabeth added certainly helped, but still did not illuminate either end to the hallway.

 

"Welcome to the Grand Gallery." Veronica said with a small smile once Kam had joined them down in the pyramid. "Down that direction are a few tunnels and a number of chambers, including the Queen's chamber." The teenager stated, indicating the portion of the hall that sloped downward. She then turned back the other direction. "Up this way is the King's burial chamber. I was thinking it might make most sense to start up there."

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"You are the expert."  Kam replied with a smile as he shed his own harness and neatly folded it before setting it to the side.  He peered down into the dark in each direction as the Danger scion spoke.  "We'll follow your lead."  he agreed readily, "Is there anything in particular we should be on watch for or?"  he shrugged, the Dakanan prince liked well defined goals this more exploratory adventure went against his overly methodical grain.

 

Kam pulled a hooded flashlight from a pouch at his belt and shone it in the indicated direction, "Nothing for it but to begin then I suppose."  he stated flatly as he began to carefully make his way up toward the king's chamber examining the walls floor and ceiling for any hint of a hidden passage or switch.  "The stones sit so cleanly together it is hard to imagine such refinement with but hammer and chisel."

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"Mm-hm." Elizabeth pulled her wisp in close to look at the stones they were passing, her mask's design becoming a single abstract eye as if that was any kind of help. "I guess when all you have is a hammer and chisel, you get pretty good with it? I guess a lot of problems are probably solvable if you throw a lot of money and people and time at it! It seems like they took these places pretty seriously."

 

She pulled back, standing upright again and brushing her fingertips against the wall as they walked. "I'm not sure I like the whole king-at-the-top thing, though," she said, cocking her head and glancing upwards into the void. "I know a lot of old, royal weddings weren't all romance and roses, but it still feels kind of sad that they're buried so far apart with all this empty darkness between them. 'Yes, you've been a wonderful queen and a boon to our people. When you die, you get the basement.'"

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Veronica

 

The walls of the hallway were fairly smooth, with only a few traces of wear along some of the surface. Veronica gave a small nod at Elizabeth's comment about ancient stoneworkers becoming skilled at their craft. "It is something you see around the world, the craftsmen working on the great ancient structures of most civilizations were truly skilled at their work." She stated as she started up the Grand Gallery toward the upper chambers.

 

"Well, just keep a look out for anything that seems out of place. Stone work that seems off or asymmetrical comparted to that around it. Any significant discoloring could be a clue as well." She stated as they went. "We tried to be on the lookout for anything like that, but to be honest, once we got to the upper chambers and found the undisturbed contents, we may have gotten a bit distracted."

 

"Of course, there is also the possibility that what we are looking for may not be visible to the naked eye and could be something Liz or I would need to detect.” The teenage Danger then added. "When I was here last, my mystical sight had not yet manifested."

 

At Elizabeth's other comment about the separation of the two chambers, Veronica gave a small chuckle. "Well, I should probably clarify, the phrase "Queen's Chamber" for spaces such as the one below us has long been part of the terminology for Egyptologists, very few now believe that any queens were ever buried in any of those chambers. Instead, a pharaoh's queen, or queens in some cases, were usually buried in their own separate tombs or even smaller pyramids located near that of their husband. Perhaps not much better, but still not being kicked into the "basement.'"

 

The trip up the Grand Gallery was rather uneventful, with nothing along the walls standing out to any of the three teens, by normal sight or Veronica or Elizabeth's magical senses. One thing that Elizabeth and Kam began to note after awhile though was that the walls of the hall were narrowing ever so slowly as they ascended. By the time they reached the top of the hall, the passage that had started out a little over six feet wide had narrowed to just a little over three feet.

 

From the now narrow hallway, the room beyond opened back up to a wide space, a rectangular room with a fifteen foot high ceiling. To the right on the far wall was a low doorway that lead in to darkness beyond. Along the perimeter of the room, just set off from the walls, were a number of raised stone surfaces, like long tables made entirely of stone. But perhaps the most eye catching element of the room, unlike the walls of the Great Gallery, the walls of this room were covered with hieroglyphics and other drawings.

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Spanning the width of the hall with his arms Kam paused for a moment in the entrance before slowly turning to peer  down the slope once more.  "Is this narrowing hall a common architecture of such tombs?"  he asked uncertainly, "Such means could be used to disguise a hidden space or?"  he shrugged as he finally turned and entered the kings chamber shining his light across the hieroglyphs looking for anything that suggested a use for the mask the SHADOW agents had failed to steal.

 

Looking at the other decor of the room he tried to gauge what would fit through the narrow door and what would have had to have been installed before the pyramid was complete.  "Nothing leaps out to me but?"  he turned a questioning eye to the more mystically talented teens, "I may lack the perceptive prowess we require."

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"Mmm, don't sell yourself short!" Elizabeth had been gazing at the hieroglyphics, playing her wisp across them as if it would reveal anything at all from a language she couldn't speak; staring at them was starting to make her eyes swim, like she could almost touch some useful meaning that was just out of her reach. "I don't know how Veronica's stuff works, but I have to actually see something to 'see' it," she said, making air quotes around the second 'see'. "We'll keep an eye out but looking too hard for glowy bits might make the more mundane things harder to find! It's good to have all kinds of eyes around."

 

In the interests of not pursuing a hieroglyph-fueled headache any further, she shrugged and started toward the low door, peering into the darkness there. "Were all these tables full of the stuff you brought back, V? I don't know if I'd make a stone bench if I wasn't going to keep something important there for a really long time."

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Veronica Danger

 

"It is a common feature in several pyramid designs." Veronica replied to Kam's question. "So far no one has detected any sorts of hidden chambers or the like behind the narrowed sections of the walls."

"There are actually several unused open spaces located above us, one above another." She then added, pointing up toward the stone ceiling above. "Most believe they serve some structural purpose to help displace all the weight that would otherwise be sitting on top of this section of the tomb, as the center of the next room is directly under the tip of the pyramid."

 

As Kam studied the contents of the room beyond, he noted that the stone benches arrayed within the room would have been an extremely tight fit to bring up through the narrowed hallway, so were likely brought into place before the upper sections of the walls and ceiling were added. As the Dakana prince was studying the benches and walls, Veronica turned to Liz's question. "Yes, when we first made our way up here, many of those artifacts from the exhibit were sitting out on these benches, a layer of dust and sand covering them."

 

The teenage Danger then turned and began studying the walls and other interior of the room, likely looking for anything that would give them a hint at the mystery of the death mask. "While I have to look in the direction of something to detect any magic within it, I have learned that this third sight can see through many means of trying to mask or hide the object." She stated. "I am not seeing anything in here that is out of the ordinary in terms of magic."

 

The three teens spent a little more time examining the walls, floor and areas around the stone benches, looking for anything that seemed out of the ordinary. But there was nothing that really stood out, any more than the fact that this was a tomb thousands of years old. The air was a bit heavy and still. As Liz focused on the darkness of the door on the opposite side of the room, her light illuminated the area just beyond the door, reveling a short hallway, really no more than a yard or so long, before opening back into another room beyond.

 

Once Veronica and Kam came to join Liz, Veronica shone her flashlight toward the next room. "That is the burial chamber of the pharaoh." She stated, before moving forward and crouching down slightly to move through the low doorway and toward the room beyond.

 

As the three teens entered the next room, their lights spreading illumination into the room, they found themselves in a square room a bit larger than the room they had just left. The ceiling rose high up, almost lost in shadow above them. The first thing to draw the attention in this room was a raised dais in the middle of the room, upon which a stone sarcophagus sat. At the base of each corner of the dais was a stone obelisk standing at least seven feet tall. Even from where they were at the door, Kam and Liz could see writing on the closest obelisks. Spaced out around the dais were more of the stone benches, and once again, the walls of the chamber were covered in paintings and hieroglyphics.

 

Beyond the dais, in one of the far corners of the room was a massive pile of sand that rose more than halfway up the wall to where an opening similar to the one they had used to enter the pyramid was, only thins one was about a third of the size.

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Kam traced a light touch along the carvings along the walls in amazement and likely fruitless searching for some kind of catch or lever.  "I suspected."  he acknowledged Veronicas reply with a slight sigh and shrug to Elizabeth, "I know where my skills lie and this is not it."  he laughed a good natured chuckle from low in his chest.  He followed into the burial chamber a tight fit as well and looked around with interest at the carvings on the obelisks, "Much of this must have been in place before the tomb was complete."  he opined as he looked past the sarcophagus and frowned.

 

"Ah,  I assume that was not here when last you visited?"  he asked gesturing to the sand and opening.  It was likely not a good sign.

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"Maybe we're lucky, and it's just been slowly building up?" Elizabeth asked, eyeing the sand. Or the dig uncovered it and they haven't tried to clear it out. Or, I don't know. Sand ghosts? We have to be positive!" She sounded less positive than she wanted to sound.

 

Still, a new room with new things to explore - she made a slow circle, inspecting the walls and the dais and the obelisks, leaning forward and poking at the latter with one careful finger, like she expected it to light up and intone dire warnings. "Someone has a really impressive bed, don't you. Doesn't he? Is he still, uh, in there?" She turned her head to look at Veronica, a pair of concerned eyebrows crudely drawn across the top of her mask. "Maybe he knows what's up. Speak, spirits, and be heard, and so on."

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Veronica Danger

 

"Actually, Elizabeth is mostly on the mark." Veronica replied as Kam and Liz asked about pile of sand back in one corner. "That was at least partially here when we first entered the tomb, and has been leaking in through one of the air shafts like the one we came in through. It was buried under the sand for thousands of years and is still close enough to the sand that the winds blow more in. The only reason the way we came in was not similarly filled was it had been covered and had remained so after being buried."

 

Moving up close to the central dais, Liz and Kam found the small obelisks were covered with sections of hieroglyphics between carved scenes. On the obelisk Kam had moved up to, several of the scenes appeared to be of battles, with a large Egyptian pharaoh (identifiable by his headdress), leading Egyptian armies against some enemies. Liz found images of a male and female figure approaching a throne over which a sun was position, its rays reaching out to touch the two figures as well as what appeared to be farmland depicted around them.

 

"No, Sanakht's mummiform coffins and his mummy have been removed. If our visit to the exhibit opening at the museum had not been interrupted, they were in one of the last rooms." Veronica replied as she slowly walked round the outer edge of the room, having to move around the pile of sand, studying the walls and having a slightly far away look. "You are right Kam, a number of things were put in place as the pyramid was being built, but it is still somewhat amazing some of the things they were able to get up here after it was done and the Sanakht had died."

 

She stopped after making it most of the way around the dais and looked back at her friends. "I am not sensing anything magical here either, other than Elizabeth and her mask." She stated, a slight look of disappointment on her face. Liz was similarly not picking up anything in the room other than the magic emanating from Veronica and the objects she carried.

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Nodding with a hint of disappointment but also relief Kam looked away from the intruding sand, while it was certainly best that no others had gained access to the tomb he had hoped it would be some clue as to what they needed to find yet.  He paced the room methodically taking mental measurements as he examined the surfaces and walls for signs of unexpected wear or hidden edges or switches that might reveal more.  

 

"Did your parents record the hieroglyphs for translation in here?"  He questioned uncertainty, "Can you make out any of this?"  he gestured to the scenes on the obelisks, "Or anything look out of place?  Older or newer iconography than Sanakhts era?"  Turning he shrugged absently.  "I'm not picking up anything that points to missing space or hidden chambers.  Is this where the mask was found?"  as he asked after the artifact he absently poked at the sandfall in case it hid some mystery in it's depths.

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Elizabeth clasped her hands behind her back, frowning behind her mask at the room. "I don't see anything either," she confirmed, peering about. "I mean, Veronica is always all glow-y, but nothing that's here jumps out at me. At least the designs are interesting?"

 

She gestured at her obelisk, her wisp drifting in to light it. "It looks like...accolades, maybe? A blessing? 'These two were really great, so great that the sun blessed them and the crops,' kind of thing." The young trickster shrugged, turning back to the others. "A picture book of how great this guy was before he, you know. Got turned into a mummy. With his mask. Was that anywhere important? In a story it'd be, I don't know - mounted on a wall, eternally gazing at something significant or symbolic."

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Veronica

 

"Yes, the mask was found inside the smaller coffins that rested within the stone sarcophagus, on Sanakht's mummy." Veronica replied to Kam's question. As she walked over toward one of the small obelisks. "And yes, we did take photos of all the hieroglyphics we found in this chamber and elsewhere in the pyramid." She then began, tracing a finger lightly over some of them on the obelisk. "We have been working on some of them over the last few years, they are rather standard for such a tomb, as Elizabeth said, recounting the pharaoh’s accomplishments in life and his connection with the gods, from which he descended."

 

She then looked over to Liz and shook her head slightly. "No, the death mask should have no significance in life, it is intended to word the pharaoh’s spirt against evil after he dies and allow him to recognize his body after death so he could return to it from time to time. I have not seen anything in the writings here or elsewhere to suggest why this mask might be different, or why it possess a faint magic that is clearly intended to open something. I was wondering if there might be something more in any of the writing or paintings here, something I would not be able to see now through a picture but could if I saw them in person again. But so far no luck there either."

 

She then looked back over toward both her friends. "I thought this might be the most logical place to begin looking, as this was where the mask was located. But seeing as we have turned up little, we should probably move the lower chambers to see if there might be something down there."

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Gazing down the hall toward where the queens chamber lay Kam smirked, "Pharaoh as key queen as lock then?"  hemused with a shake of his head, "Some things never change I suppose."  he sighed as he started down the hall toward the lower chamber.  "Architecturally it makes somewhat more sense to put any hidden rooms lower in the pyramid."  he did agree however and let his light play over the relief lined walls as they moved on to investigate the 'Queens Chamber',  "You mentioned the Queens chamber was not usually actually the tomb of the Queen?"  he asked Veronica looking back over his shoulder, "I assume that was true here as well?"  

 

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Elizabeth nodded, her light trailing after them as they made their way down. "The queen's own tomb might be worth looking at, if we don't find anything here," she said, still casting her eyes around the pyramid as if it would surrender more secrets if afflicted with just a tiny bit more curiosity. "Assuming we know where it is, anyway. You never know - maybe someone wanted to split the important stuff up, or make the whole weird metaphor literal. You'll have to be better when you get a tomb, Kam!"

 

She turned on the latter, her voice still cheerfully good-natured but a red X roughly splashed across her mask in what looked like ink or paint. "No keying queens' locks for you, that's a weird thing to put in a grave. At least be really nice to them first. And you have to have at least one giant rolling boulder trap."

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Veronica

 

"Unfortunately we are not certain of the location of the tome of Sanakht's wife." Veronica replied. "The GPR, ground penetrating radar, scans we did to locate the pyramid when we first came looking for it also revealed other smaller structures are buried nearby. All of those are still currently buried and we cannot say for certain they are other tombs based only on the scans." The teenage Danger continued as the three finished their examination of the pharaoh’s burial chamber, failing to locate anything that seemed out of place.

 

As she took the lead to start making their way back through the antechamber and towards the Grand Galley, Veronica responded to Kam’s questions. "Yes, like many of the pyramids from later dynasties, there is a lower chamber below us. A number of Egyptologists believe it was used to house a life size statute of the pharaoh to assist his spirit in moving on to the afterlife. If the chamber here housed anything, it was robbed long ago, for we found it empty. The bottom entrance of the Grand Galley had been sealed off when the pharaoh was laid to rest, so if tomb robbers had gotten into the lower chambers the seal kept them from reaching the upper chambers. By the time we found the pyramid, something had caused the seal to crack open, allowing access to the lower chambers."

 

Soon the three teenagers were back in the Grand Gallery, making their way down toward the darkness below, passing the rope back up to the outside as they went. As they continued down, the air in the pyramid seemed to get a bit more stale and heavy.


Eventually the Grand Gallery came to an end where several large slabs of rock had been set down. However, one of the slabs had cracked and a large section fallen down into a hallway below, creating an opening more than large enough for the teens to pass through. A rope ladder had been attached in place at the opening, allowing an easy descent down into the area below.

 

Unlike the Grand Gallery, this passage way appeared uniform in width, a least six feet, but had a much lower ceiling, barely reaching seven feet high. The walls were smooth rock, occasional grooves visible as sections of rock met.

 

"It is down this way." Veronica indicated, pointing off in the direction that would lead back toward the center of the pyramid.

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Kam paused as he followed the ladies through the cracked slab examining the edges under his light for a moment.  "Odd that this stone would crack though."  he mused as he continued through the gap and down the far side, "It would bear less weight than the surrounding stones,"  he glanced quizzically to Veronica for confirmation, "Clearly the engineers of the era were able to create fitted masonry that would serve without such wear." 

 

He ran a hand on the far edge before turning to descend after the others, "If done by human hand though it is not by means I am familiar, explosives would cause much more damage to the surroundings, and manual removal would not create such a shear."  He had neither the tools nore specific skills to analyze further but it stuck out to him, "If this room was accessed and emptied but the other left intact the opening must have come after the initial robbery..."  it didn't add up entirely but he had a feeling the missing pieces had something to do with S.H.A.D.O.W and the attack on the museum.

 

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"Maybe it just had some vein or imperfection running through it?" Elizabeth was not a geologist, and tried very hard to remember what the nice Freedom Leaguer had talked about when he'd covered a science class at their school; she didn't have much luck. He had been really nice and some of the students had paid attention, but her mind had been elsewhere. Literally, in fact - she'd audited the class with a clone. "Or maybe nobody broke in at all."

 

She pulled her mask away, her wispy light darting into her hand to illuminate her face from below, casting unsettling shadows on a face that was, even still, full of barely-contained mirth. "Maybe," she said, in as spooky a manner as she could manage, "maybe nobody had to break in....because something had already broken out!"

 

She cackled, throwing the light back down the hallway as an unseen voice filled the air. WHAT SECRETS HAVE ESCAPED FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB? it asked, a pitch-perfect radio serial narrator. WHAT SECRETS STILL REMAIN? TUNE IN, AND FIND OUT!

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Veronica

 

Veronica smiled and gave a small laugh at Liz's antics with her illusions. "It is still something of a mystery." She admitted to her friends. "There are no tool marks and there does not appear to be any imperfection in the stone. So we have not yet come up with a good answer." She paused a moment then gave a small shrug. "Maybe this mystery with the mask might provide some answers, assuming we have not been misled by that Thule Society sorcerer."

 

The teenage Danger once again shone her flashlight back down the tunnel in the direction she had indicated they needed go. "I guess we won't know one way or the other until we search the rest of the structure." She stated as she started forward once again.

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GM

 

The trio made their way down the corridor that led them deeper into the pyramid. After a dozen or so meters, the low ceiling and narrow walls opened up into a large, rectangular room with a ceiling that rose up nearly into darkness above. Unlike the two chambers higher in the pyramid, this one had no stone tables nor a sarcophagus, it was merely an empty room. There were more drawings and writings on the wall, going up nearly hallway toward the top of the high ceiling.

 

The three teens fanned out to start searching the area, Veronica and Liz trying to use their more unusual senses more than their normal ones. As it turned out, it was Kam that first noticed something out of place in the chamber. As the young noble was moving across the room towards a far wall, something about the floor seemed slightly off, causing him to halt for a second look. Upon closer inspection, Kam was certain one of the stone slabs of the floor was ever so slightly lower than all the other sections, which were smoothly joined together.

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Looking down curiously Kam shifted his weight from foot to foot and ran a toe along the lip of the uneven stone, "I may have something."  he called out and crouched pulling one of hte small brushes from the dig site out of one of his many pockets.  He slowly dusted the edge he'd found looking to identify the outline and shape of the depression.  When the others joined him he pointed out what he'd found.  "Could be a pressure plate for a counterweight of some kind."  

 

Running a finger along the edge he tied to determine how smooth the action might be taking care not to trigger whatever it might be prematurely.  His technique was as exacting as it was slow and cautious though he had no idea what might happen if force was applied.

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"Hmmm." Elizabeth bobbed her head back and forth, trying to place their group in a mental image of the pyramid. "A trap door, maybe, too? It'd be weird that it wasn't flush, but a pressure plate should probably be flush too, unless either one has settled or worn away."

 

She reached into her cloak, pulling a comically over-sized mallet, the haft of which she slung across her shoulders. "Brute force is probably an option, but not a very good one!" She grinned anyway, rolled her creation's handle to spin its head for dramatic effect. "Maybe we can give it a tiny nudge, see if it has a little bit of give or shift against the rest of the stones. We might want to check the walls and ceiling for any suspicious hidden holes or traps or stuff like that first, though, just in case."

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GM

 

Dusting along the edges of a section of the floor, Kam found that there was a rectangular section about three feet by four feet that was only a slightly offset from the rest of the floor. As he felt along the edge, it seemed no less solid than the other sections of floor, his light examination not giving him any indication of how it might be triggered. Some of the dust on the section had been disturbed in the past, suggesting that at some point since the pyramid had been rediscovered someone had walked over the section.

 

As Liz moved over to where Kam was examining the section of the floor and discussed possible means of getting it open, she noted a fait trace of magic emanating from the stone. It was so subtle that she had overlooked it when they had first entered the room, possibly because her attention had been focused higher, such as the walls of the chamber.

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Veronica

 

Veronica moved over to her two friends as Kam was busy dusting off the section and trying to make some initial determination of what it might be they were dealing with. Like Liz, the teenage Danger now could see the magic that was coming from the stone. Focusing her gaze more intently on the magic, Veronica studied it for a few moments in silence as Liz discussed possibly checking around them for any possible traps that might be connected to it.

 

"This is it." Veronica said at last, kneeling down near the section and looking over at Kam and Liz. "This is the lock the mask is intended to open."

 

She paused a moment, and then continued, "So, are you two ready to see what happens when it is and where it might lead?"

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When the margins were fully revealed Kam rocked back on his haunches looked over the section of floor with a wary eye.  "Seems solid as the rest but someone has been here since the discovery."  he suggested and looked up to his cohorts as the magic was revealed to them.

 

"As ready as one can be."  Kam replied with a nod as he stood and took a step back from the pad, "Any idea what it does?"  he asked before they ended up transported in time or to another dimension or whatever else the ancient magic might do.  He took up a wary stance and nodded to each of the young women in turn, "No time like the present, I have your backs."  As how to activate the magic was quite beyond his skill set obviously.

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