Eventually, everything falls down. Every wall, every chimney and every roof. It takes energy just to maintain the status quo. Entropy eats away at everything, no matter how perfectly constructed or engineered. Even a people with far greater technology than our own would be hard-pressed to create something large and complex that would last hundreds of years, let alone thousands.
When it happened, the sound hit first. A wave of thunder exploded from everywhere at once, hurling bodies like leaves in a storm. Both of the soldiers accompanying the group had been directly under the segment of roof that collapsed, and Antonio close behind them. The dark and dust made it hard to see, but the lightning flashes of pain coming from his legs were clear as day. He tried to move, but the pain shot even brighter, and Antonio fell himself fall back against ice-cold tiles.
For a long time, Antonio was alone with the ragged sound of his own breathing. There was an occasional hiss and skitter of dust and gravel falling between the man-sized pieces of debris. Occasionally, he thought he heard a faint voice from one side or another. In the utter darkness, it was hard to tell what was real and what was some phantom his mind had conjured into the sensory void.
His mind managed to wander, perhaps to escape the pain from his legs. Maybe he was dying, he thought to himself, and his life was going to flash before his eyes. What moved through his mind, though, were thoughts of his parents. The warnings his mother had given him: never to play with any of the artifacts taken from the Whispering Caves. The stories his father had told him about his first time going into the Caves. With nothing for his eyes to see, his memory filled the black canvas with visions.
His father, about the same age as Antonio. Walking through a dimly lit cavern. It was one of the older parts, excavated by hand. The walls were covered in the marks of a thousand picks, chewing through the mountain one swing at a time. His father sped through the tunnel, reached the transition from rough hewn stone to gleaming ceramic. The realm of Spirits and ghosts. Here a chorus of voices called, perpetually, from every direction. A constant psychic undertow dragging you out beyond the reach of the shores of sanity.
A beam of light pierced the broken stone and swept away the vision like smoke. Voices from above. At first they spoke in hushed tones, easily drowned out by falling stone stirred from their activity. The single column of illumination grew, and several more appeared as the workers above cleared the debris. Finally, a heavy slab was levered out of place and there was silence.