he gate lets out into what seems to be a shallow chasm in the earth -- about eight feet wide at its lowest point (where the portal opens), and about fifty feet up to the surface.
<Zahara> "You don't happen to have a map, do you? If not, I'm going to start one."
<Zahara> "Last time I was wandering around in dark tunnels, I was lost for days." she wrinkles her nose. "Of course.. that was in the Wyld. and it DID give me the idea for how to set up the Cascade properly.."
Eventually, the two discover a place where one wall of the chasm has cracked -- a hole, just about wide enough for a single person, leads downwards into the darkness.
<Zahara> "Is this it, then?" she asks as she steps through behind him, peering around curiously. She marks that on the map too.
It appears to be a perfectly innocent rapidly descending hole in the rock.
<Cerin> "I think it should lead us down there, yes."
<Zahara> "Were there traps when you were here last?"
<Zahara> "I'm getting a bit tired of almost being crushed, and such."
The tunnel leads down for a number of miles of organic cave before reaching a point which Cerin might recognize: a humongous cavern, its floor covered with unusual mushrooms and its ceiling dotted with many-hued gems.
<Zahara> "Those aren't a trap are they?" she asks, pointing to the ceiling
<Cerin> "Some of them were." he checks them all carefully for the telltale brilliant stars of essence within "Well, not so much traps.."
<Cerin> "erm, that one is safe to touch." he says after examining it carefully from down on the floor
The tunnels lead a great distance. Cerin remembers the difficulty of clearing out the creatures that had taken up residence here -- though all that effort is making the process much easier /now/.....
<Zahara> "This is easier than I expected it to be," she comments as they progress along the tunnels.
<Cerin> "If you believe it, it took us two days last time." he frowns at the memory of it "With all the rests we needed. Tunnel fighting is no fun."
<Zahara> "What was in here then?" she asks, looking around, and noticing a couple of errant bones as they pass.
<Zahara> "You could have used a nice hearthstone, hmm?"
<Zahara> "Where is your manse?"
<Cerin> "Near to Arranth, in the middle of the forest."
It is not much farther down the tunnels before the two step into what Cerin has been retracing his steps towards: a large cavern, with the ruins of what seem to be a glorious city build of reddish stone within -- rather, the remains of that city partially within, and partially embedded directly within the stone itself.
<Zahara> "I can't imagine this being built by creatures of the darkness."
<Cerin> "Neither can I...but..." he shrugs "We could spend an age trying to figure that out from up here...lets look closer."
The city is built with a sweeping architectural style, huge curves and elaborate arches cascading through the buildings in vastly improbable fashions. The city seems to be almost perfectly preserved -- very little damage to the actual structures is evident. By far the greatest problem appears to be the significant portion of one corner of the city which has somehow become embedded directly in the rock of the surrounding
<Zahara> "That part over there... do you think it was originally IN the rock? Perhaps this city once stood atop Creation, and was driven down by some great magic."
<Cerin> "...Perhaps. Though what force could do that. It staggers the mind." he says.
<Zahara> "The book I found... on the Adamant Circle of Sorcery. Spells of that caliber might be able to do something like this... or perhaps it was the work of several, all working together to combine their magics."
<Cerin> "Even so...such power...If this is what the Adamant Circle could do..." he smiles "You will be even more fearsome when you bend it to your will."
<Zahara> "Hmm then we'll have to be careful." she marks one more thing down in her book, then heads for the most interesting looking door.
<Zahara> "They didn't lock it?"
<Cerin> "Bertrand did say Lai had been exploring here."
The room inside is thick with the collected dust of centuries. It seems to be a fairly uninteresting room -- a stone table and several chairs surround it, with empty shelves and spartan decorations lining the walls.
It is not difficult to locate a few of the largest buildings in the city.
The door opens smoothly.
<Zahara> "So it would seem.. or maybe someone was here before us and just unlocked everything." She looks over her shoulder. "Maybe they came back after your first adventure."
Near the center of the room, beyond the seats for worshippers, sits what appears to have once been an altar. The dust tracks on it make it clear that about fifteen objects of varying sizes were removed from it very recently.
<Zahara> "I'm sure... if you can manage not to kill him right away ... we can persuade him."
A long period of fruitless digging eventually reveals a tower whose top is absorbed within the rock which appears not to have been disturbed.
It appears to be fastened shut.
The massacred door swings open weakly.
<Zahara> "I feel better now."
The first floor within this tower seems to have remained undisturbed by whatever thorough raiders cleaned out the other buildings. A variety of strange stone accoutrements and such are strewn about, along with decorative sashes and abstract tapestries in green, brown, orange, red. It appears to have been some sort of housing -- tables, cupboards, and so on are identifiable.
<Cerin> "They liked to work with stone.." picking up another, tilting it this way and that.
Most appear to have no obvious purpose, serving to be purely decorative. Others seem likely to have served as bizarre utensils of some kind, or otherwise performed fairly basic tasks
<Cerin> "How curious." he says as he tries to imagine what manner of creatures used them...
The stairs lead up several floors. The next two seem to be similar to the first, providing odd equivalents of normal human inhabitations. The fourth floor is where the building intersects with the rock....
The sight in the room is fairly remarkable -- cutting through about midway through the room is a diagonal wall of rock, into which the walls, furniture, and other objects seem to seamlessly slide. And, in the very center of the rocky wall, there is a shocking sight:
A bizarre skeleton, jutting halfway through the rocky surface.
The skeleton holds a bizarre shape, even to those used to such oddities. It has a form basically akin to that of a human, with a massive ribcage; however, three elongated, animalistic heads sit atop it, and five total limbs jut from the sides of the body at odd angles. The rock encasing it is quite solid -- it would be a project to unearth it. Cerin notices something through the rock -- the glittering of essence flows... one of the rock-encased limbs must be /holding/ something....
It is a long, trying process, but with effort Zahara can free the skeleton from the rock, revealing the object held in its hand -- a small gleaming crystal.
The crystal is many-faceted and glows slightly with a soft interior light.
The motes of Essence within flicker slightly.
The crystal accepts Zahara's Essence, and seems to flicker brighter for a second, but then fades again.
The crystal's light sputters and jerks, like a candle in a stiff breeze -- the Solars notice the room about them shift its appearance several times, but each time it flickers back to normal too quickly for any meaningful details to be made out.
There's a brilliant flash throughout the room --
Zahara sees, too quickly to study, an image of a beast with a great, tentacular crystalline device on one arm -- tendrils of light spin out of it at high speed, seem to snatch the very souls out of the human soldiers rushing towards the monster, and retreat as the bodies collapse --
<Zahara> "Looks.. kind of demonic."
Then, in an altogether different sort of vision, sees herself, holding her blue blade aloft, one of the light tendrils wrapped menacingly around it, the soulless corpses of five of her noblest warriors lying cold upon the ground at her feet.
<Cerin> "What did you see?"
<Zahara> "This thing tried to kill me. It slaughtered my warriors... but worse." she holds the crystal gingerly. "It stole their souls."
<Cerin> "may I look?" he holds his hands out for the crystal.
<Cerin> "If you knew the Adamant Circle then..It would not suprise me." he studies the crystal, then tries feeding his own motes into it, assuming Zee didnt burn it out.
Cerin can receive the first image, of the Primordial-tied beast using its horrific crystalline weapon, though no more -- the crystal still functions at less than peak level.
<Cerin> "...that was a truely horrific weapon."
<Zahara> "I wouldn't want it to be used against me."
<Zahara> "It doesn't seem to really work without the device it was in, though." She frowns. "I wonder if I could make a new one.."
<Cerin> "I am sure you can...if only we understond more of the crystals. Perhaps Ssithumi's kin to the north will..."
<Zahara> "They do not look like Ssithumi, from your description."
<Cerin> "They are closer to her than anything else. Far closer than we are to her, or the Aalorai."
<Zahara> "I wonder if they will know...how to civilize Ssithumi's savage brethren."
<Zahara> "She seemed.. sad that she was the only one of her kind that could think"
<Cerin> "They seemed to think that they might be able too. I am sure they can offer advice and hope, if nothing else."
<Cerin> "She does..she seems so sad at many things. Considering what we have now, and what we had once...can you blame her?"
<Zahara> "Then what?" she looks up at him, relaxing slightly beneath his hands
<Zahara> "We must not let them unite."
<Zahara> "Ahhhh... you're good at this." she leans back
<Zahara> "Won't it be nice when all of Creation is the Sunlands?"
<Cerin> "It will." he continues with the massage "Then we won't be fumbling around in the dark, for things we once took for granted."
Tags: (:tags Lai Misuna, Undeways, Hundredfold, Crystal Tech, First Age Flashbacks:)