Chapter 17 - Land of the Ancients

Nightfall: The Trek Continues - Day 10: 3:00pm

My hand instantly went to my sword hilt as I heard the sudden scuttle. I was, admittedly, a little jumpy. It was better then being off-guard, I suppose. I had been walking without incident for several hours.

I glanced about the corridor, which looked exactly the same as all the other corridors I had used since I left the volcano core. It was most likely just a rodent, but rodents don't get to a place this deep unless there is something to eat. I must be nearing something very out of place, hopefully a camp with the Queen's troops.

I pressed on, thanking the fact that my intuition, guided by those beings, led me forward.

- James: A Brief Rendezvous - Day 10: 3:00pm

I heard familiar footfalls rushing towards us. I noticed Jyre duck into the bushes immediately. I saw up ahead, running in a full sprint through the trees, my agent, Marcus. He was dressed in his undercover Hammerite outfit. I had sent him along on the taskforce to keep an eye on Dan. I wondered what he had to say.

He came to a halt before me, not even panting. Most of the heavy metal a Hammerite wears on his uniform had been removed. "I knew I'd find you here."

"What have you to tell?"

He took a deep breath, and then suddenly dropped to a sit, legs crossed. "You had best not be going where I think you be going."


"The former villa, er, lodge, whatever you call it, is swarming with Hammerites. All the shadows in The City couldn't get you past them unseen. They've got the foolish notion to build a tower on that spot!"

"Oh my, that's typical, isn't it," I said, slightly annoyed that I had not anticipated this.

"Aye, that it is." He yawned, and then stretched his arms, leaving them behind his head.

"I shall have to find another route," I said after a moment's ponder.

"Uh huh. You had best find yourself another way in, if going after the master is your plan."

"Yes, quite". As I thought, he proceeded to twist his body into some rather unusual patterns.

"What are you going to do then?" His feet met behind his head.

"Did you go down into the tunnels?"

"Yup, sure did."

"What did the walls look like?" I had a hunch, but kept my fingers crossed.

He scratched his head. "Um, well, they were red stone, with some type of crosshatch pattern on them. Looked to be a result of how it was tunneled."


"Oh, so you know another way in then?" he said, slightly curious.

"I do. Thank you, Marcus, for your help."

"Hey, anytime, mate." He sprinted off, the way Jyre and I had come.

Jyre slowly got up out of the bush as he ran off. "Is he a spy?"

"Yes, a very good one too," I replied.

"What... What was he doing to himself? Getting all twisted up like that?" she said with no small amount of disgust in her voice.

"Hmm? Oh, that. Just some exercises he likes to do. It gives him energy. Come, Jyre, we have a new destination, a much nearer one, I may add."

"Where?" she said, following me.

"An ancient burial site, a crypt, mostly derelict - I hope."

- Jyre: A Minor Siege - Day 10: 3:40pm

Moving through the woods towards the crypt, I noticed James was suddenly on his knees, pointing something out to me. He must have asked me something because he was watching me expectantly. I glanced at what he was holding, some sort of bone, broken near one end. My eyes went back to the shadows I had spotted in the sky. "I'm sorry," I murmured, "What did you say?"

"See this bone? Look at the tooth marks."

I stopped listening after the first few words. The shadows I had spotted had started to move toward us in a most un-cloud like manner. I watched them warily, certain they were not birds.

"It's important for you to learn these marks, Jyre."

I nodded, having no idea whether my response was appropriate or not. The shadows were starting to take on shape. There were two of them, perhaps the size of a golden eagle, or slightly bigger. Winged, with tails. I couldn't make out anything in detail. "Uh, James..."

"Jyre, pay attention. These are mongbat tooth marks; you need to learn to recognize them. Mongbats are stealthy and dangerous foes."

Something screeched behind me. I dove to the ground, covering my ears with my hands. When the dust cleared, James was gone. I glanced at the ground but saw no sign of tracks. Then I lifted my eyes and saw him. He was in the clutches of a third shadowy shape, being carried up into the air. I could make this one out more clearly and the sight made me shudder. Its body was that of a monkey but sprouting from its shoulders were the wings of a bat. I froze for a second, staring at it. Only its loud shriek brought me back to reality.

It was over the forest now, a frantically kicking James clutched in its arms. I checked the sky for the other two. They were still some distance off. I hadn't even realized I'd readied my bow until I had a broadhead arrow clutched in my fist. I nocked the arrow, focused on the beast carrying James and closed my eyes. I could see it in my mind, flying away from me over the trees. My muscles started to shake from the tension but I kept the bow taut until at last I felt that little tremor pass through me that told me I had a bead on it. The bowstring twanged and the arrow flew. I was running before I had a chance to see if it struck home, aware now of the beating wings that signaled the other two beasts were close. I heard the third beast shriek, this time in pain, then I was beneath the cover of the trees and out of reach of their hated wings.

Something crashed through the branches behind me. I dove to the ground once more, expecting to feel the clutch of the beasts any second. I heard a branch creak then there was only silence. I waited apprehensively for what seemed a long time before rolling over onto my back and looking behind me. What I saw made me laugh. It was James, snagged on a branch, his feet dangling above the ground and his arms flapping uselessly at his back as he tried to untangle himself. After I stopped laughing, I cut him down, easing the fall so he didn't break his neck.

"Thank you!" James went on, rather sheepishly, "Maybe you could let me know when you see them next time?"

"I suppose. After all, I promised Corinne I'd take care of you."

"And, as usual, I need it. Still want to see that bone?".

I did, actually, but in the scuffle it had been lost, and we headed onwards towards the crypt.

However, our ordeal was not yet over. I heard muffled wing beats, and realized they were returning. All three of them circled above the open ground that stretched before us, their eyes sweeping the shadows in which we stood, searching. Their wings beat the air powerfully and when they drew close enough I could feel it rushing past me. I singled out the one I had injured easily enough. It listed to the left, its wing hanging limp every few seconds then suddenly beating the air madly to stop it from falling. It was slower, less maneuverable, but still, it was a threat. I stepped back into the deeper cover where James waited and crouched down, drawing a broadhead from my quiver and nocking it. He was sat with his back against a tree, whittling away at a bit wood with a small knife. I hesitated, more than a little confused by his strange reaction. Then I lifted my bow, trying to follow the erratic path of the injured mongbat. I closed my eyes, followed its path with my mind, waiting for that special moment when I would release the arrow. The sound of metal scraping wood filled my ears. I sighed and slowly lowered the bow. Turning to face him I asked, "What are you doing?"

James explained, grinning impishly, "Monarch owls eat mongbats. I'm making a whistle to imitate the call of the monarch owl, to scare the mongbats away."

Crazy. That was the only way I could describe it. Using a little noise to frighten off beasts like that. I couldn't help but shake my head again when I realized he'd gone back to his whittling. Those things were trying to kill us! "Couldn't you come up with something a little more direct?" I asked.

He paused, and thought a moment, then wrapped some handkerchiefs around the tips of my arrows. As he rummaged in his pockets, he explained, "How about makeshift fire arrows?" Then he poured oil on the handkerchiefs, and rigged a crazy contraption of matches on the arrow tips. "Worth a try, at any rate."

I forced James, his whistle and the insanity of his fire arrows out of my head. I lifted the bow carefully, the fire arrow already set in place and slowly drew it back. The injured mongbat came back into view. I followed its movements for a few seconds - closed my eyes. And realized I was just as crazy as James for doing so. But there was something inside me; my sixth sense, Aulden had called it, that let me focus on one single thing, living or otherwise, and follow it with my mind wherever it went. Which is exactly what I was doing now. I learnt how it moved, predicted its course and brought the arrow around. And all of this happened in just a few brief seconds. I felt the pull on my blood that told me my aim was true, hesitated a split second to make sure it held true, then let the arrow fly. The bow thrummed in my hand. The arrow sang as it left its perch. Wood crackled and spat.

Wood? I asked myself as I opened my eyes. What -

I had hit a tree, right in the center of its trunk. The mongbat must have flown behind the trunk whilst I was taking aim and with my eyes closed I hadn't noticed. I watched for a second as the fire from the arrow started to eat at the tree's bark. "Oops."

Behind me, I heard an eerily resonant "hoo-hoo-hoo hoo hoo." Turning, James was still wearing that impish grin, scanning the sky. The mongbats were fleeing. I looked at James in amazement: his whistle actually worked.

"Heck, all this studying has to be useful sometimes."

I just shook my head, and turned back to the path.

- Nightfall: Checkpoint - Day 10: 4:00pm

There were four of them standing in front of the gate, and four behind. The gate was iron, and it was in the middle of a wall that spanned a large corridor.

I hid behind a railing on a balcony, overlooking a large chamber. The chamber was square, with a flat roof. Four pillars, also square marked the center of each quadrant. The chamber had corridors leading off from all sides, large corridors with brick walls, not the small narrow earthen walls I had been navigating. I conjectured that another passage was under the balcony, for each of the other passages had a balcony over it. The wall with a gate in it was a small distance down the corridor opposite from my balcony.

The walls were made of stone, a deep brown color, and cut into perfect rectangles. The stones were large, large enough to be too heavy for one man to lift. The floor beneath me, and in the chamber below, was laden with much smaller gray stones, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, yet affixed firmly to the ground so that none would budge. Lit torches circled the room, placed there by this labyrinth's new occupant. It looked as if the wall and gate were fresh constructs as well.

I turned my attention back to the gate and the guards. Some of them seemed quite human, but there were two, one on each side, that were most definitely not. They stood about seven or eight feet tell, hard to tell at such a distance, and were black from head to toe, or rather foot, for they didn't seem to have toes, just a pointy foot. They wore what looked to be a tight suit of black armor, but judging by the way they moved, it was not armor, but exoskeleton. Their heads were angular, and shaped very oddly, almost insect-like. They stood upright, very still, but when the moved, it was a very quick, jerky motion. I had seen insect-beasts before, but they were not quite like this. Perhaps this was another breed.

I studied my options. There was a good chance that my destination was behind that gate. Not only did it make sense, but my extra-cerebral guidance told me so. I could try a direct assault, but those insect critters seemed fast, and if the one on the other side of the gate chose to run and warn the others, there would be hell to pay. I could try to sneak by, putting out all the torches and then hopping over that 18 foot wall. That didn't seem feasible. I knew there had to be some perfect solution. There always was.

I heard footfalls coming from below me. I stopped breathing and listened hard. I saw a group of men, rat-apes, and those black bug-beasts walk out from under the balcony to the gate at the far end of the chamber. With the humans this close, and below me, I was able to get a good look at the uniform. It was mostly black and silver, made from a mix of plate, painted silver, and chain, painted black. Their helmets were black, with the symbol of The Eye, the Trickster's emblem, painted on the back.

The group approached the guards, and stopped. The bug-beast from the party, and the bug-beast from the guard group approached, and simultaneously lifted up a golden medallion each. They then both nodded, and one of the human guards began to turn a crank, opening the gate. Some of the humans from the party were conversing. The rat-ape was engrossed in the scratching of himself below the waste. None were looking at me, so I took this as my cue.

I slipped the sen-saronde onto my head, and dropped down from the balcony, with a very small thud. I then darted forward, and, taking a huge risk, stood in the back of the party, in a place that seemed logical for the last man in a patrol formation to stand. The gate finished opening, and the party, along with me, strolled through. Several of the humans saw me, and exchanged confused glances at one another, and a few hushed words. I eased their tension with a smile and nod of greeting in their direction. The members of the party had not yet noticed me.

I felt the hairs standing up on the back of my neck as we passed through the gate, and passed the other group of guards. They too began to whisper amongst themselves, undoubtedly wondering who the stranger was, but accepting it because I was with a group that had a medallion pass. As long as the party I was with did not notice me, I should be fine. I was walking a very thin line indeed.

The corridor made a ninety-degree turn, removing us from the view of the guards. It was time to move. I pulled out my pocket watch. I quietly drew my sword from its sheath, and as the second hand of the watch touched twelve, I gently touched the man in front of me with the side of the blade. He petrified instantly, along with a brief shimmer or yellow light which was drowned out by the torch light. He would reanimate within about two minutes, so I had to be quick. After returning the watch to my pocket I went on to the next man with the same results. Next in line was the rat-ape, who was petrified just as easily. After I took care of the third man all that was left was the medallion-bearing bug-beast. Since I had no intention of turning the medallion to stone, and didn't feel like trying to get the thing away from the critter after he re-animated, I altered my tactic a little.

I took a swift stroke to the thing's neck. The sound and sensation was not unlike chopping a thin and wet tree trunk in half. The disembodied head petrified in mid-air, and shattered as it hit the stone wall. The petrified body was frozen mid-step. A more painless death one could not ask for.

I went back to the first man, and pulled out my pocket watch. It had been one minute, forty seconds. As he de-petrified, with a similar shimmer of light, he paused in confusion, which I ended with a quick jab with my fist to the back of the neck. He fell unconscious. I did the same to the other men, and the rat-ape. By then, the headless corpse of the bug-beast had "thawed", and fell to the ground with a great echoing crash. I casually lifted the medallion from the floor where it had fallen (it's hard to keep a medallion around your neck when you have no head), and was on my way. Was this the perfect solution I had been looking for? Maybe not. It had worked, though.

The medallion was gold and had a slightly different symbol of the eye. The eye normally had a crescent slash above it, but in this case it was a coiled vine, and the eye seemed half closed. A red gem marked the pupil of the eye. As I continued on my way, I pondered the significance of this change.

- Jyre: Into the Crypt - Day 10: 4:30pm

Our footfalls sounded dead to my ears, muffled by the still air and layers of dust that covered everything. I think I would have preferred to go without the torch's flickering light but doing so would have left us both blind. The flames made the shadows dance, giving life to the very darkness that surrounded us. It was unsettling, to say the least. Seeing James walking calmly in front of me helped, but still, I couldn't quite shake the feeling that I didn't belong here!

I tried not to look at what we were passing, but my eyes seemed to have a will of their own, and every so often they'd slip over the chambers in the walls that contained the village's dead. The chambers were stacked three high, each of the six foot long crevices appearing to have been carved out of the stone by hand in the same way as the passage down which we now walked had been. Some of these chambers had since been bricked up and others now held the coffins of the dead. Perhaps what really bothered me were those that held nothing but the skeletons of the dead. There were no markings to acknowledge who lay there, or personal possessions to ease their journey to whatever afterlife they had believed in. Just plain, unadorned bones. And cobwebs and spiders, and in some cases, rats.

When my gaze came to rest on the still fleshed corpse of a naked young boy I froze, my mind numb with shock.

- James: Myths Best forgotten - Day 10: 4:30pm

I noticed that Jyre was beginning to get spooked by the crypt. With good reason, though I believe her eyes, guided by a mind blessedly devoid of higher education, only dimly guessed at the true horrors at which it hinted. She stopped by a recent corpse, staring. I put a hand on her shoulder, and tried to decide if I should tell the truth, or lie. She saved me from the decision, shrugging off my hand and showing her readiness to move forward. Had she noticed the sigil faintly carved in the back of the chamber? I did; and hoped its implications were false, and Jyre was too lost in her own thoughts to notice that I turned pale.

We moved further downwards, leaving the burial chambers behind. At the same time, the quality of the stonework began to improve. Before long the passageway had widened to over ten feet, and bas-relief columns were carved into the walls. Soon, the carvings extended between the columns as well, in bands about a meter high. These bands appeared to depict several types of strange, unearthly beings, perhaps canine, perhaps amphibian, engaged in the blasphemous worship of gods never quite displayed. The bands were separated by smaller stipss carved with ornate geometric designs which followed a queer five-sided symmetry never intended by any human Euclid.

"What are those?" Jyre queried. "What myth is this?"

She looked troubled, and I knew the moment for some of the truth had come. "No myth, Jyre. The beings that carved this area are probably depicting themselves. The crypt above is of the Arcane Society of Nogad, a human cult which worships these beings as gods."

"Like that boy."

I lied. "Yes." The truth was worse; the boy was probably dead of natural causes. No sacrifice to Nogad would have appeared in the crypt. A worse fate was reserved for them. Unfortunately, this did little to quell her curiosity.

"So this is another of these things relating to dead gods, hmmm?"

"Don't presume they are dead, though feel free to wish it. Remember: 'That is not dead, which can eternal lie'. The Mad Arab knew what he wrote of. Don't write them off."

- Jyre: Dead Gods - Day 10: 4:40pm

More ramblings about supposed gods and their ways. Why did he go on about them? I mean, if they really existed... Why would they bother with mere humans? Why would they care? I knew from experience that no one ever cared for someone they considered beneath them. I was little more than an insect in other people's eyes. It seemed ludicrous that people could honestly think there were "higher beings" out there. Beings that took some sort of interest, be it for good or bad, in what to them would be petty human life. It was just some petty need those people had to feel more important than they really were. After all, if some grand "god" took an interest in their tiny lives, then surely that meant they were "special"? That their lives had some sort of purpose? I snorted and shook my head. Couldn't they see that life's only value was the value we gave it ourselves?

I would have asked more but James had already moved on and Daneel was somewhere ahead. Still, there was something terribly creepy about the carvings and I was glad to be moving away from them.

- Nightfall: The Art of the Bluff - Day 10: 6:00pm

The architecture was much different now. Rather than simple square passages lined with simple rectangular stones, everything was much, much more elaborate. At the moment I was walking down a trapezoid-shaped corridor, with a wide floor and narrow ceiling. Familiar glyphs were carved into the walls, illuminated from behind by an unknown, most likely magical, source, filling the passageway with a soft orange light. The floor had an odd pattern with interlocking tiles of four, five, and six sides. Something about it made me think of a serpent's scales.

I came to another checkpoint. Unlike the other, this one made a sharp contrast with its surroundings. The plain brick wall and iron gate was alien amidst the splendidly crafted corridor, and it seemed genuinely sinful to have it there at all. I walked up confidently, keeping my gaze fixed on the tall black bug-beast guard with the other medallion. I stopped several feet in front of him, and raised my medallion, just as I had seen before.

Something was wrong. He did not raise his in return, instead he, or she, or whatever it was, stepped closer, moving its head from side to side looking me over. It then looked into my face. Its eyes were large black bulges on the sides of its head. Suddenly it spoke.

"Whwhwhwhaaaaat hhhhhar'r'r'r heeu'u'u?" it said, with it's chittery, breathy voice. I managed to interpret the words as being 'what are you?'

"That is a stupid question." I said in my usual authoritative voice.

It began to chitter madly. "H'h'h'h'aaayye do not k'k'k'k'k'noa h'h'h'h'h'ore f'f'f'f'assssse," it said, which sounded almost like "I do not know your face."

"Fool, as if you expected to be familiar with all of the Lady's men. Grant me passage, beast, lest I have you ground into meal." I said this with a sharply bitter tone.

It began to chitter incomprehensibly. I waited, quite nervously, for it to open the gate for me. One of the humans suddenly left his post, and approached the bug-beast.

"Ahem, I think that - " his speech was cut short when the beast, in a thrash of anger, swung its arm across the man's face, the hook-like hand gashing deeply. The man let out a piercing scream as he fell to the floor.

"F'f'f'f'ooolsssiee MANFLESH. Yea w'w'w'will speakk'k'k'k wh'wh'wh'en spok'k'k'ken to!"

The man, weeping from the pain, got up from the ground, and pulled himself back to his post, his hand clenching the ripped skin of his cheek.

The beast turned back to me.

"Wh'wh'wh'wh'where is's's's the p'p'p'p'patrol?" it said to me. Oh yes, that's right, they would be expecting the patrol I had rendered unconscious by now, wouldn't they? I had to come up with an explanation fast. But then I had another idea. It had worked before.

"THAT, is a stupid question! Allow me passage, BEAST."

It began once again to chitter madly. It pointed to a man, and spoke a word that it seemed to say with much greater ease than any of human tongue, yet I did not understand.

The man, fearful, quickly turned the crank and drew open the gate. I wanted to go over to the wounded man, and tell him that he shall soon be freed, but that would risk blowing my cover. Plus I had no way of knowing if these men were truly slaves, or serving alongside the beasts of their own free will. I couldn't imagine.

I walked through the gate without looking at anyone on either side. I went along my way. I could feel that I was getting close.

- Jyre: The Precursors' Village - Day 10: 7:00pm

I tried to remember every little detail on the map that James pointed out to me, filing it away in case I should ever need it. Not that I expected it to be of much use. I preferred to find my way by feel and my sense of direction was horrendous to say the least. But still, if trouble did find us, it was best I was prepared.

I studied James' face as he made his final preparations before we headed for the temple he had shown me on the map. He looked apprehensive but determined and when he noticed that I was watching him he smiled. I dropped my eyes, embarrassed, and studied the ancient stones beneath my feet. Some of them were worn smooth by what must have been the passing of thousands of feet over uncountable years. Others still seemed to hold the same roughness that had been theirs since the day they were laid. There was no damaging wind or lashing rain here to bring damage to this ancient place. The colors of the tiny tiles that had been used to make up the map were unbleached by the light of the sun. Standing here, staring down on it, it was hard to believe that this place was now deserted. James said softly, "No time like the present" and headed towards one of the streets; I hurried to catch up.

The feeling of timelessness was quickly lost as we left the plaza to turn into what at one time must have been a main street. The very first house we passed was half-sunk into the ground, the rear wall more so than the rest so that it was tilted away from us. The door, if there had been one, was gone and through the open doorway I could make out the glow of the lava that now claimed the ground floor. If there had been anything left inside when it was abandoned it was now gone, eaten up by the fiery liquid. The road which we walked was cracked and uneven. In some places the cobbles still clung stubbornly to the earth, in others, subsidence had pulled them down and only rough broken earth remained. In other places the damage was not so extensive. When we came to a house that stood almost untouched I felt a sudden urge to go inside and learn more of these ancient people. I glanced at James questioningly and he seemed to understand. We veered off the road and crossed the short span of broken ground to the house's doorway.

When I stepped inside the entire room lit up with a gentle blue glow. Looking up I saw a thin light fitted tight against the ceiling and found myself wondering what ancient magic could have been so powerful that it still held now.

- James: Fall of the Precursors - Day 10: 7:10pm

The house was surprisingly well preserved, despite the small stream of lava that ran through the center of it. The heat had blistered the paint from the walls, and the few flecks remaining were insufficient to decipher what the friezes might have been. The rock itself seemed, amazingly, almost completely undamaged by the lava. As we turned to go, Jyre asked, "Why did they leave? What happened?"

"We do not really know for sure; it happened too long ago, and the end was sufficiently cataclysmic that very few records of the event have survived. From what has been pieced together, a massive volcanic eruption destroyed much of the city. How or why it erupted is unknown."

"And no one survived it?"

"Very few, and those who did claimed that the lava was 'alive', and in some cases even wilder tales of mythic beasts. Most researchers suggest these are the myth-making reactions of a people faced with a catastrophe they do not understand. However, their technology was quite advanced, as you can see from the lights. Simple vulcanism was something they understood - and should have been able to control."

"So they didn't expect it, and made a dumb excuse."

"Perhaps. It would be rather human! Note that the most outlandish tales hint dimly at a late ruler who attempted to harness dark forces. These served for a time, and the civilization was propelled to new and greater heights by their aid; but then the servants revolted, bringing it to ruin. Nobody knows the truth of it. Or, at any rate, nobody I'm aware of."

Jyre sighed. "And nobody bothered to come back and find out the truth?"

"Apparently, the event was so terrifying that everyone fled; and by the time anyone felt like coming back, the routes had been lost through time, fading memory, and the immense destruction."

"So how did you know how to get in? Or is that a secret?"

"A good question." I grinned. "Over the years, its rumored wealth has made it a target for treasure-seekers. Some of them have even found parts of it, and brought back treasures ranging from exquisitely crafted jewelry to fragments of the Pnakotic Manuscripts. However, a given route rarely seems to remain open long; somehow, the entrances often seem to close. They are often associated with cult tombs such as the one we came through; so, well, I went this way on a hunch that the tombs would link again."

As we turned to go, a flicker of the light made me aware of something scratched into the wall near the door. Looking closely, I was surprised to discover, crudely scratched long ago into the wall in the ancient's runic alphabet: "HE is coming. HE is Q."

The Q was the sigil of the Trickster. Could the Trickster truly have had a hand in this ancient event? I realized we might need to find out. After explaining the message to Jyre, we agreed to keep checking the buildings we passed en route to the temple.

Our investigations revealed only a few of these messages from bygone years. Nonetheless, these warnings, apparently left for friends or family, consistently claimed that "HE", "SHE", or "THEY" were coming: and used the sigils of the Trickster and the Lady to refer to them. Moreover, disturbingly, we found a fragment of a thin metal Imperial message-foil, which read, "...outbreaks in northwest... servants of the flame... Semperus denies knowledge... Nike cannot be found... suspect list..." Semperus - "the constant one". Nike - "Victory". Was this a coincidence?

As I pondered on this, Jyre stopped on turning a corner and began to look around. When I caught up, I found our path blocked by a massive collapse. We could not go over nor under nor through. Eventually, Jyre spotted what appeared to be an animal burrow of some sort. Despite deep misgivings - what could an animal, capable of burrowing through such rock, be capable of doing to us? - we entered the tunnel. Just inside it we stumbled across a lamp - evidently modified to work away from the wall, for as we picked it up, it turned on, bathing the area in a cold blue light.

- Chapter 16 - New Alliances / Chapter 18 - Calm Before the Storm

Correspondence of Thieves copyright, 2000, Steve Tremblay, Lytha, James Sterrett, Alexandria Thomson, and Daniel Todd.