Levi looks through the obsidian plug at you all. He seems to be on the verge of stepping through, then his face darkens.
"I heard you all earlier. I was going to go through this with you. You saved my life the day before yesterday, and I will never forget that, but you are starting to turn against me. I heard what Gnaeus Cornelius said earlier. I cannot trust you any more. I will go, and I will find the Lilim, and I will undo the mistakes that brought us to this pass. I am truly sorry to do this to you, but you left me no choice. Sooner or later, one of you would have done me harm."
Levi traces a tetragrammeton in the air, and murmers a kabbalistic koan. The light winks out, and suddenly, the plug goes dark.
"Levi obligingly mutters some Hebrew numbers, holds his fingers in a few symbolic poses, and conjures a light. He holds it at the centre of the parabola. The light reflects, but it scatters. The obsidian plug mottles and warps. Distorted views of a room beyond twist in the stone."
"This is not the correct light."
"She left it for us to find. She must know there is no way through. She left the make-up on the door, to give me a clue that I would follow. She did not come this far. She just left the clues, and went out the way we came in. She knew I would follow. Whatever is through this door, she wanted it to claim me. I am so tired. I wish I had never found the Solomonic gates. I have had no rest since I found them. I brought her forth to serve me. To give me a chance to rest. Now she uses my instincts and habits against me. You are right. We should rest, and you should not trust me. I am hungry for power. I always have been. I sought magic, before I knew what it was. I sought a bride from the hells, before I knew what she was. I brought her here, into this tomb, and that is what freed her. The contract I wrote had a flaw. I wrote on it that she would serve me to the end of my days, as long as I remain on Earth. This place is not on Earth. I brought her down the stairs, and bade her dig the hole. That is how she broke the bonds of the summoning. She took the book, then she walked past the pool that housed Aiolus. The defenders must have been told to stop any human that passed. Ruth is not human. She walked past, then left signs that she had come this way, to lure me to my doom, and left out the way we came in. She left yesterday, before I even came to find help in Constantinople. She left as soon as my back was turned. I know she did not pass this door, for it is warded against her kind."
I did not close the door last time I was here. That must be what is different. this room was old, and dusty. I found the wall crumbled, and used it to hide the book, but this is like that room, but clean and newer. The skeletons are made to look ancient. Look. The dirt on them is thespian staining. The fish are in water that has tannins. That is how they stain themselves.
"It is called the key of Solomon, for it is the code that opens the Book. the Book is called the Gate of the Sephiroth. The key is a code that can be read with Gematriya to open the Gate. All of Hebrew magical tradition is footnotes to the contents of the Gate. Even Solomon himself, wisest of the wise, did not live long enough to open the last chapter. Lycurgus has dark allies. With their help, he may be able to stop time, kill with a word, and wish for his heart's desires. If the Lilim are capable of reading the book, they could reclaim the creation and put the children of Eve to the sword. I sought a way to destroy the book. My old mistress told me that one who opened the last page would have the power to destroy the book, but that the book would claim them and consume them."
Getting a hold on himself, and wiping away the tears and snot of his collapse. "I am truly sorry to have brought you to this pass. I was desperate. Men were after me, and I placed my trust in one who did not merit it. The book is important. I have been running for a long time, to keep the book out of Lycurgus' grasp. You saved my life, You gave me shelter, and, for the first time in a long while, you gave me hope that all was not lost. I don't know if you can ever forgive me for leading you into this peril. I hoped to reward you. I had to keep secrets for a long time. I travelled under disguises, I could never tell anyone the truth, until I met you. I am not complaining of my burden. I see in your eyes that you are angry. I deserve it. If you wish to take my life in vengeance, I will not stay your hand. I only ask that you do what must be done, and find the book. It cannot be destroyed by mortal hands, and it contains words of power that would take many lifetimes to master. The book came into the posession of Solomon the king, and was the source of his magic. The Solomonic tradition of magice is contained in it's entirety in that one volume, and one of the wise who can read it, can remake the world as he sees fit. The book contains rituals for animating the dead, for commanding the elements, for summoning and binding creatures from alien worlds, and for much else. It is the single most powerful tool of magic I know of. I do not know where it is. I no longer know who holds it, but I know that power like that is dangerous. I was a scholar before the book tempted me, and it made me hunger for power like some hunger for the poppy. I learned secrets from the first two chapters only, for the book is strangely enchanted. One can only turn a new page when one has mastered the old ones. I am truly sorry that I did not tell you all that I knew. I should have given you a chance to turn away, and save yourselves, and in my greed for the book, and my selfishness, I didn't. Do with me as you will."
"She is not a wife. I summoned her, and used her for my pleasure. I bound her with the book and warded it against her. She was under ritual compulsion to never touch or read the book. She has broken the compulsion somehow. The lilim are not human. Lycurgus is vain and powerful, but he is still human. It is worse for us if she has given it to her people. They believe the creation is theirs by right, and we are usurpers on their birthright. I..."
Distraught, and starting to strike his head with his fists. Levi speaks, but is not loud."I thought I could control her. I thought she was mine. I never let her on top for a moment. I thought the charms would hold. I left the book with her. I left the name of God in her hands. Woe unto us all. I have undone us."
"Do you doubt my word? Look! I shall open the door to the true tomb."
Levi moves into the next room. He places his hands on the sarcophagus.
"Barach Yesod ultus apa YHVH"
The surface of the sarcophagus twists and stirs, warping away into some space between spaces. Perhaps the stone was never there. A stairway, cut in hard granite, descends.
"I give you the tomb of Lysoskevos...."
Levi sees, at the same time as you all do, that there is writing on the wall of the stairs into the tomb, in Hebrew and Koine. The letters were written with charcoal.
Although the room was fairly small, everyone except the two Goths was in the room with him. You can read the part that is in Koine.
It reads: "Should Rafi Angelos read this, know that I am beyond your grasp. The book of power belongs now to the Lilim. Crawl to your masters and tell them that Lilith's kin have claimed the name. You shall have no power over us. We rise above you now, sons of Eve."
"It is safe. There is a ladder. The rungs are intact, but a little slippery. The last one down should close the door, so the light can't be seen. Come down and help me find the...Here they are. Anach nadra, tustach bied tieb Iskra!"
A pale blue light shines on the stairs, like the light of a full moon. It comes from a coin in Levi's hand.
"Ruth should be here. Maybe she is inside the tomb, becuase of the rain. It is right here. Careful, master Papyrus. Your feet are close to the door. It is closed, but the trapdoor is old wood, and you are a heavy set man. The door is a pace to your left. Gentlemen, You are on the threshold of a place of power. We must be careful going in."
You are all on the roof of a square tomb that has been buried by centuries of mud deposits.
I stashed our equipment in the wall of the tomb, inside. There are three torches there, and some rope and oil. Ruth will have used up the candles by now. We are close now. Another five minutes, and we should be at the mouth of the outer tomb. The door to the hidden tomb is a short way inside. Let's kill this watcher and be on our way.
To modius, quietly. "I know that you are a Christian, and you may think my gifts are from the Adversary, but I tell you now, my magic was penned by Solomon himself, and is the magic of the very heavens. I may need to show my power tonight, to protect what is mine. If I do so, do not interfere. I swear to you that I am on the side of good, and may God strike me blind if I lie to you."
He watches for a reaction.
"You have, for good or ill, become involved in my troubles. Some of you have lost blood for me, and one has lost his house. I owe you all, and I will do my best to repay you. This city is not safe for me. I will get my wife, and not come back this way. Isat has a tube of gold coin, that was mine. I grant it equally to the five who helped me last evening, out of kindness. It is not enough to discharge my debt to you, so I will tell you a secret." He looks briefly at Stratos, sizing him up. He seems to decide it is safe to talk. "In the hills of the dead, there is an old tomb, that was robbed many years ago. Although thieves took all there was to be seen by mortal eyes, they were unable to see the true door to the tomb. It was hidden to all but arcane sight. I will show you this tomb, and the door. It is the tomb of Anaparos the sorceror. There will be wards and guards on the tomb, but also fabulous wealth. Enough to keep you all in luxury for a year, at the least. That is where my wife may be hiding. I am to meet her at midnight. We have a few hours. I can give you torches, and will help you in other ways. What you find in the tomb is yours. I have means. What say you? May I repay you for saving my life by showing you a tomb of old treasures from before Paul and Peter and the Christ?"
It hurts, but I am learning how to move with it. It is swollen. I am really hungry, but I don't want to eat with the damage to my gut. Someone came to the door and listened about three hours ago. They tried to look inside, then they went away again. I stayed very still, and didn't want to move much. That was just before the downpour. Did you see the rain? you are so lucky here to have rain like that.
I am worried for Ruth. She has been in the hills of the dead for more than a day.
Levi is walking steadily, trying to ignore the significant pain he must be in. He looks toward the fire, then speaks in a soft voice that will not carry far.
"Once we retrieve my stash, I will buy clothes for all of you. You saved my life, and possibly more. One of you has lost the roof he let me under out of kindness. One of you may have gone to his reward. I will not let such a debt go unpaid. There is great wealth for the taking in this world, and I will make sure none of you go hungry again. Lycugus is a threat to all we know. That must be my focus, but I know things that others have forgot, or never knew. I know where great treasures are hidden from mortal eyes, and I know how to find them. The book is one such treasure. We can talk more when we know we are safe. I must save my breath."
He looks at Isat with a frank look on his face.
Levi says quietly and quickly to Isat "It is me they want, but Rafi is a killer. He will spill blood whether it is needed or no. Is there a back way? Leave me a blade and go to Ruth. Say to her 'Would you like to buy some paper?" and she will know I sent you. I put some coins in a bone tube in the gutters on the apse of the temple by the grain gate. They are in the Southwest of the roof of the temple. Take the coin and get Her out of here. Don't worry about me, save yourselves."
"A man named Lycurgus wishes to find something I bore from the holy land. He has a man called Rafi who is chasing me. I was trying to reach a senator here in Constantinople who has ties to my people. I was waylaid and found myself here."
"My wife came to the city. She is outside, hiding in the tomb of Lysoskevos on the hills of the dead. She has the book and the key. Find her and get her to the senator. You must do it, or they will get the book, and give it to Lycurgus, and with its power he will bend the empire to his will. He will command men with the tongue of god and make the skies rain fire. He must not have them."
"YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY CAN DO!"
"The last thing I remember was Rafi stabbing me before I could get to the senator. Everything went black. I thought I was on my way to the other side. I did not feel him cut my ears off. Is He here? Hibernius is here?"
The man looks like the blood loss has affected him more than he knows. His hands clutch reflexively at his side, like they are used to finding something there but it is missing. He suddenly looks scared again.
"Who are you? You want to find them don't you?"