The Crown of Embers, Chapter 6: The Gate That Leads to Life

Last time on The Crown of Embers, Elisa had several nightmarish Trippy Dream Sequences, and figured that the best way to stop them was to go dungeon crawling. What will she find on her adventure? Find out after the cut.

Thinking of the escape tunnel Hector and I used to reenter the palace, I realize that of course my new home would have other secrets, many of them forgotten, perhaps lost to centuries of restorations and additions.

Elisa is convinced that there’s a secret entrance somewhere in Alejandro’s tomb. Just one problem: where is it?

Mara feels a draft coming up from the floor, so the door must be in the floor somewhere. Everyone starts pressing all the stones in the room, thinking that one of them would trigger the secret door. Elisa has the bright idea of checking the caskets for a switch. Lo and behold, Ximena finds a latch on one of the caskets that makes the pedestal it sits on swivel, revealing a hidden staircase.

Now it’s time to gather the party and venture forth again! This time the party is Elisa, Hector, Ximena, and Fernando. Mara gets to stay behind and cancel all of Elisa’s appointments.

The hidden staircase is rather unremarkable. It leads down into a tunnel that’s normally flooded during high tide. Unfortunately, that means that any evidence of assassins coming and going through the tunnel has long since washed away. It also means that there are crabs down there.

Fernando finds a narrow passage just off the tunnel, marked by some very old pseudo-Portuguese Lengua Classica text: “The gate that leads to life is narrow and small so that few find it.” Obviously this is Very Important, since Elisa’s Godstone reacts to it. So the party heads down the narrow path … and finds yet another staircase. This one leads to a massive cavern, which contains a thriving village.

So wait … there’s a hidden village underneath Brisadulce? How did nobody know about this?

Anyway, all the villagers are justifiably freaked out by a royal adventuring party appearing in their cavern. Elisa tries addressing them, but saying stuff like “Yo, it’s cool if you’re here to trade legally or dodge taxes, I’m not gonna bother you” or “You know, I could force you guys out of this cavern” doesn’t really work. So she tries asking them who their leader is. Luckily, a man comes forward and says that their leader is Lo Chato. He’s not in the village currently, though.

Elisa is curious about this – remember, she killed an animagus named Lo Chato in the last book. So how did he survive the poisoning attempt and escape his burning tent? Anyway, Elisa tells the villagers that Lo Chato is invited to the palace, then leaves. A villager then yells some mean things at Elisa, prompting her to order Fernando to fire a warning shot.

The party eventually makes their way back to the palace proper. Fernando decides to figure out how the secret door works, while Elisa returns to her room, has Hector get in touch with his contacts in the bad part of Brisadulce, and falls asleep.

——————–

Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above:
The hidden village is beneath a district of Brisadulce called the Wallows. It’s a den of scum and villainy that every ruler of Joya d’Arena has tried to improve, with little success.

Advice from The Art of War Belleza Guerra: Always cultivate allies. When that fails, cultivate fear in your enemies.

Behind the scenes notes: The OneNote file that contains my notes on the series lists three characters named “(Lo) Chato” as of this point in the series. Thankfully, the one we’re introduced to in this book will get a proper name soon. The bad news is that his name is hella long, and I’m totally not looking forward to typing it out.

After returning from that little dungeon crawl, Hector tells Elisa that he will give his life for her. Elisa has to tell herself that whatever Hector said wasn’t romantic at all – it’s his job to protect her.

Advanced Translation Time!
Here’s the text from the tunnel, translated into Lengua Classica:

Lo caminho que conduz à vida es estreito e pequeno de modo que poucos encontray-lo.

You native Portuguese speakers may wonder why I translated “gate” as “road”. That’s going to be explained in the next chapter.

——————–

Next time: Elisa has a surprise-filled evening.

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