Gin’s Journal, Day 40, Page 95
So, we left the resurrected mother giant with her baby and continued on our journey.
As we traveled, I took the time to investigate the small globe Theren found amongst the giant’s cache. It was a small sphere made of thick glass and I realized it to be magical in nature. I figured out its power word and discovered that it could emit a magical light, either an artificial illumination, such as a lantern, or mimic the light of a sun. I had never seen true and pure sunlight, unobscured from the dark clouds above. It also had the ability to hover five feet off the ground and follow its master. This globe was truly a wonder.
By late evening, we arrived at Vod’s spire. It stood ominously amongst the other giant stone crags in the still waters; its pinnacle disappearing into the darkness above. A waterfall mist surrounded us, moistening our hair, skin, and clothes, but it felt sticky and heavy. We saw no vegetation or animal life anywhere as we approached and only the cascading sounds of crashing waters from the spire’s waterfall could be heard. There was a bitter chill in the stagnant air, gnawing at our skin, and a pungent, foul odor assaulted our senses, giving us a slight burn to our eyes and a turn in our stomachs. We felt a sense of dread, despair, and doom… we felt as if we were back home.
“So, what’s the plan, Gin?” Tamar asked. “Where’s the door? How’re we getting in?”
“That is a good question,” I replied, and, based on the information Malum had gathered, put my plan into action.
It was a multi-step operation. First, we would need Tamar’s flying fey steed, the giant bat. She would carry one of us up into the cavern above and drop, whomever chose to ride with her, into the running waters of the cavern. That person would dive into the water and swim beneath the great door; the same pathway Malum used to escape. Once on the other side, the person would pull the latch, which hopefully would open the door. Then Tamar would fly in, pick up the swimmer and carry them down the left passageway that Malum discovered further inward. I advised against the right passageway as that most likely would lead to a dead end, or so I thought. Once through the left passageway, Tamar would drop off the first person and return to the boat. Then it would have been a simple caravan service, with Tamar picking one of us up, one at a time, and carrying us through the cavern and to the designated gathering spot. The first person dropped off would obviously have to hide until the rest arrived.
Theren insisted that he perform the first part of the operation. At first, I thought he wanted to ride with Tamar, but he said he felt comfortable enough to ride by himself along with Sasha. He said that Sasha would be the best candidate to swim under the door and pull the lever. Tamar and Balor seemed comfortable enough with the idea, so I shrugged and consented.
Theren, and his giant snake, saddled the giant bat, and off they went.
I had a sense of déjà vu at that moment, but I couldn’t quite place it.
Five minutes later, Tamar’s steed came crashing down into the plunge pool of the waterfall. Its motionless body emerged to the surface and floated up against the hull of the ship, disappearing with a fizzle of fey magic
“That didn’t look good,” I said.
“Gin, something’s wrong. I think Theren’s in trouble,” Balor said.
“You think so, Balor?” I said, rolling my eyes.
“You better fly up and see what’s going on up there.”
“Balor, you think I can simply fly whenever and wherever at my whim?”
I rolled my eyes again, but this time in frustration. If only they knew. I evoked the power of the Umbra and took flight, following the waterfall up.
The cavern entrance was a thousand feet above. Water poured out of its entrance with pure power, and though I was several feet away from it, I could still feel its force. I saw Theren and his snake, outside entrance, clinging onto the side of the stony spire, just outside of the entrance, hanging on for dear life. He was wet and shivering.
“Well, hello there,” I said, hovering next to Theren.
“Gin!” He shouted. “Get me out of here!”
“Now how did you get yourself in this predicament?” I asked.
“You didn’t tell me about the hairy man-beast things! They had these tentacles and they nearly killed us. Now get…me…DOWN!”
“Hair man-beast things? Malum never saw them. Interesting.”
“Interesting?! That’s all you have to say?! You almost got me killed and that’s all you have to say?! Get me out of here.”
“Hang on,” I said. I flew towards the entrance and hovered several feet out away from the opening.
“Gin!!” Theren shouted. He said something extraordinarily offensive in the elvish tongue and made a rude gesture towards me. I don’t believe he realized that I understood him and I could only smirk in response.
It was too dark in the cave and I could not see anything inside. I pulled out a small string that was attached to one of my pouches and tied it around the small, magical globe I examined earlier. With the other end of the sting, I tied it around Malum’s tiny bird leg. I said the command word and the globe erupted in magnificent sun light. After giving Malum instructions, the invisible bird flew into the cavern, pulling the floating orb behind her.
The darkness of the cavern melted away with the sunlight, exposing the running waters beneath and all the nooks, crannies, and shards of the cave, including the three beasts Theren mentioned, hanging along the walls and ceiling. They were large, hairy beasts with huge mouths full of razor-sharp teeth and wicked tentacles for limbs. They roared at the light and lashed out with their long limbs. I released my Umbra tendrils upon them.
“Gin!” I heard Theren shout again. I continued to fire my tendrils into the cavern. “Get me out of here!”
With one last lash from a tentacle, the creatures shattered the floating orb, ending its light source. They roared in triumph, but I continued to release the power of the Umbra upon them, hovering out of the cavern and out of their reach.
Two of them escaped further into the cavern, disappearing in the darkness. The third one, the most confident of the three, rushed towards the edge of the entrance. We locked eyes. I released another tendril, but missed. Yet, the force of my miscalculation forced me to fly back several feet. The beast latched its tentacle on a nook in the ceiling of the entrance and swung out towards me, and its other tentacle reached out towards me.
“What are you doing?!” I heard Theren shout. In the corner of my eye, I saw him pull something out of his pocket.
Either it was blasphemous intervention of the Umbra, my sub-conscience, or blind luck that protected me. The tentacle missed me, but only by a couple inches. Had I not flown back those few feet, I would have most likely been entangled by the tentacle and things would have gotten much more interesting.
In frustration, the beast swung back and hurled itself along the ceiling of the cavern to disappear in the darkness. I ordered Malum, who was still invisible, to follow. It was difficult for Malum to keep an eye on them, as their dark bodies blended with the dark cavern, but she followed them to the end where the large, stone door was located. The three took defensive positions in front of the stone structure. Malum noticed the head of Sasha dive into the dark waters, and what appeared to be towards underneath the door.
I flew towards Theren, but he wasn’t there.
“Theren, where are you?”
“I’m right here.” He had turned invisible.
I felt him grab me and latch himself onto my back.
As I flew down to the boat, with Theren gripping me like a vise, I began to think that perhaps it was a good idea that he went in first. Now we knew what we were dealing with and could plan accordingly. And down below, I saw Tamar flying up the face of the spire.