This was it. This was the place where the mapmaker had said the treasure would be- Mirror Serpent was sure of it. He peered about, shivering with a nameless fear. The darkness within the crumbling, fire-gutted ruins of the monastery was absolute, the chill palpable.
With four quick blows from his sledge, the wall crumbled inward, two-hundred years of dust exploding outward into Mirror Serpent’s face.
When his coughing subsided, Mirror Serpent shook his head, and brushed dust and masonry from his hair. His fingers trembled with anticipation. The wall unsealed, Mirror Serpent peered inside, ready to gaze upon the riches within. But he recoiled. There was only a withered, mummified corpse, in ancient monk’s raiment, and in its hands, a flickering lantern.
He backed away. The corpse regarded him steadily with empty eyesockets, draped with cobwebs. The lantern remained burning.
“Perhaps,” Mirror Serpent rationalized, “perhaps it is sustained by some vapor in the air.” He knew that in some places, there were clouds of fog that ignited violently.
His fear somewhat abated, he gingerly approached the mummy. If he was going to come out of this with profit, he might as well take the lantern.
He stepped closer. The ancient husk’s gleaming teeth, displayed through receding lips, smiled at him from the flickering gloom. He stood eye to eye-socket with the withered thing.
He reached for the lantern, brushed it with his fingertips, and has he did, the mummy’s long-held grip gave way, and the ancient bones fell away. The lantern collapsed the floor, all light extinguished, and all life as well- Mirror Serpent shrieked in horror as his flesh caught flame, and his charred bones settled to the ashy floor.
The lantern lit once more.
The Upheld Lantern functions as an exemplary lantern, one that never has to be refilled with oil, or the wick relit. That is, until it is dropped or set down- when this happens, the lamp extinguishes, and all living beings in a hundred foot radius burst into flame, dying horribly as all but their bones are reduced to ash. The lamp then relights.
The monk in the above story was walled away, and took a sacred vow never to drop the lantern, lest his monastery be destroyed.