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  • Preface


    Something in the darkness scrambled to hold footing against the abrasive northern wind. Driving rain, thick as maple syrup, pelted them in several hours of long bombardment. They moved through the rich grasses. The wonderful assortment of nature's scents filled the clean air all the more with each falling drop of water.

    "What is it?", inquired a squat form, in a dirty hooded cloak, who looked as though it had ridden through three leagues of prairie dust and dung. Everything was coated in old food, purple liquid stains and mud. A white flowing shirt, now mostly grey, tied off to the left side with a thick brass wire, aged with a blackened patina. Forest green leggings and black calf-high boots completed the outfit of the sharp featured being.

    A low fire on an eastern ridge sprang to life for five solid minutes then was quickly extinguished by the downpour. Fourteen similar, heavy breathing, presences trailed behind the solitary one. A few stood at only a height of two and one half feet, and the others were no more than four foot tall with the exception of the rear guard, having a gain of nine more inches from youth. Their width, however, was significant. The mortal forms cut at the grasses and weeds with huge hatchets and elongated copper scythes.

    "I see a large pool of blood, still warm, heated by I know not what," replied an aged group member.

    A bright flash of yellow lighting suddenly illuminated the part of the land where soil met rock, which lead further to flat granite sheets, and gave way to the base of a mountain covered by conifer and an interloping section of cherry-wood.

    The strange group pressed on into the night, then they rounded a rocky outcropping.

    On the ground lay a score of black oval stones, each appeared to have one foreign symbol, an intricate design pattern, carved deep into it's top. A film of reflecting moss permitted the sighting in the mysterious half moon light.

    A tiny, intelligently carved, rock aquifer swelled with hot blood, it surged through a channel and poured down from an unknown site and position from above the rise.

    Down, down the vermilion blood flowed until it fell in a squirting pattern on to the faces of the black stones, dripping fast until it filled every indentation to it's complete surface and total capacity.

    Soon after completion an odor such as sulfur filled the wind agitated fresh air. Then, without warning, a forty foot round boulder had burst apart in to eight main fragments causing an uncommon blue dust to fill the sky and smaller pieces of rock to fly outward, to land two-hundred yards away. The destruction on the side of the foothill revealed a ragged entrance to a wide cavern. It's depth can only be guessed at, how far it goes under the mountain is their primary dilemma. In order to achieve the journey's end, they must learn of which directions the tunnels might unwind, and discover what lies in the cavern chambers. The cave looked unfathomable in the weak illumination of the countryside.

    Next, the party quickly walked together and gathered in to protective formation. The assemblage lined up in a five-pointed star pattern, something was afoot. A new action, accompanied by grinding noises and whirling metal overwhelming for the wanderers occurred. It was at first a soft orange glow seemingly all powerful at it's core, emanating from what looked to be fifty yards inside the cavern and attached to it's ceiling, or at least placed below a treacherous stalactite.

    The light grew stronger, then it began to shine with a fierce aura. The colors seemed to spin through the spectrum for a moment in time, then the flashing brilliance became brighter still, then turned into a white-hot false orange with violet highlights. The powerful force increased exponentially until it simmered at an uncomprehending level of canary and soon became encircled with a fine sanguine edge. In the near front of the intense orb, mixing with the dust, there appeared to be cardinal snowflakes floating on the winds as air and gravity began to pull itself inward
    towards the cave mouth, and down a hidden decline. A thin indigo mist formed, like a writhing snake, from nothingness at the cavern floor, then emanated from it at a thirty degree angle, then dissipated, leaving only the extreme origin. A highly burnished, unknown, source of light, and sensory distortion.

    The chieftain remarked, "What glows like a captured sun in that tunnel? It burns me many times tenfold by only squinting a glance in it's horrid magnificence!"

    The pack of searchers then heard more noises from deep inside the cave. It sounded to them as echoes, in a rhythmic pattern. The sound continued to repeat.

    In the gloom filled distance, their senses detected
    the canter of some kind of quadruped.

    * * * * *

    Last edited by lemec; 05-29-2014, 11:30 AM. Reason: Revision

    "With a deep, not-unhappy sigh, Elric prepared to do battle with an army." (Red Pearls)
    - Michael Moorcock