Gin’s Journal, Day 42, Page 113
“What did she say to you?” I asked Theren as he walked back towards us, away from the banshee.
“We can rest in the small chamber,” he replied. “Nothing will bother us in there.”
“That’s it? Nothing more?” I asked.
“There’s more, but I’ll tell you about in the chamber.”
“Wait,” I said. “All three of you have been pushing me to hurry us through this place and now you want to stop and rest? Make up your minds.”
“I don’t know about the others, but I’ve been trying to find a safe place,” Theren said, “A room where we can catch our breath and heal our wounds.”
“Fine,” I relented. “Have it your way.”
“And what of the other thing she said to you?” I asked, turning to Theren, who began to settle himself into a lotus position in a corner of the room.
“Not much, really,” Theren said. “She only mentioned that I would find something very useful in a dining room, to the northwest of here. She didn’t say what it was or how it’d be useful, but I think we should check it out.” He closed his eyes and readied himself to enter into his meditative trance.
I stopped pushing him for more information. He was either telling the truth or lying. In either case, I would get nothing else from Theren.
We all agreed to rest for over a day in the room, and yet, I was not tired at the time. I wanted to continue our exploration and discover more layers of truth about this world, but my companions were exhausted and quickly fell asleep.
I leaned against the wall, watching them sleep and thought of our next course of action. It was then, that the Umbra came upon me once again in full force: the silent echo of screams; the piercing brightness of the darkness; the ravenous appetite of oblivion – all of it consumed and overwhelmed my being. The burning pain had, once more, returned to my eyes and it took all my strength to prevent myself from crying out in agony. I closed my eyes and rubbed them. I focused my thoughts on my sister – her life, her tenderness, her love – to distract myself from thinking on the pain; a trick I had learned when the gaze of the Umbra had infused itself onto my eyes before. When the pain became tolerable for me to function, I opened them and saw that the darkness in the room around me was gone, and I saw everything as if it was daylight. The Umbra had granted me once more with more power. Some might of thought of it as a boon, but I knew it as a curse and there was nothing I could do.
Harnessing my new powers, I envisioned the spire’s waterfall entrance and I teleported myself just outside it, and before I could fall, I cast my fly spell and flew down to the Water Bug. Merrill was shocked to see my arrival (and my new eyes), and questioned why I had returned. I quickly explained to him that we were abandoning the Water Bug to the tide and that Merrill would have to travel with us through Vod’s Spire. I confessed that I believed there was a teleporter within the spire that would send us somewhere far away.
“Where exactly?” Merrill asked.
“To the source of the world’s calamity,” I answered. I instructed Merrill to prepare himself and mentioned that we would leave in an hour’s time.
Knowing that it would have been difficult to carry both Merrill and Malum with me, I dismissed the familiar. When Merrill was ready, I cast fly again and, carrying the Halfling up into the air and in front of the spire’s waterfall entrance, from where I had teleported before. I envisioned the sleeping chambers of my companions and teleported there.
In the center of the room, I began to assemble my summoning ritual. I told Merrill to stay in the corner of the room and not disturb me. It took me a long hour and all my reserved Umbra energy to summon Malum back to this pocket of reality, and she returned in the form of a shrike. I was tired then, so I curled up on the floor, and fell asleep.
I awoke to the sounds of my companions getting up. They were surprised to see Merrill in the room and asked him how he got there. He told them his story and how I had retrieved and teleported him to the room, and how excited he was to investigate an ancient teleporter. This surprised the three companions and I realized I had never told them what I had learned through my research about a teleporter in Sinarthaax and that it was a reason why I insisted that we explore Vod’s Spire.
Theren seemed miffed by the revelation of my teleporting power. “You had the power to do that and, yet, you let me go up to the waterfall by myself? Hell, if you can teleport, why you need a teleporter?”
“It doesn’t work that way,” I replied.
It was then that he noticed my eyes.
“What the…?” he said, taking a step away from me. “What’s wrong with your eyes?”
“A gift from the Umbra – a painful gift,” I said, rubbing my eyes.
“A gift? What do you mean?”
“Leave him alone,” Tamar interjected. “He’s had those eyes before. Nothing you should be worried about. It’s Gin.”
“Nothing I should be worried about, eh? I’ll be the judge of that,” Theren said under his breath.
My companions and I agreed that Malum should go out and scout the area before we traveled any further into Sinarthaax, or Vod’s Spire. Malum turned invisible and flew down the corridors. I closed my eyes and attuned my senses to Malum so that I could see, hear, and smell what he saw, heard, and smelled. Malum flew towards the large area with the pyramid-like building that I had discovered before and explored the area. The wyvern was still there.
A streaming river surrounded the pyramid-like complex. There were bridges that crossed over the stream that lead to passageways, continuing onwards to the north and west of it. The northern passageway was a bridge that led to a dead-end and appeared to be occupied by giant tentacles from the waters below– a place I thought best to avoid. The western passageway opened up to a small chamber with a large statue of a regal elven warrior in the center. But what concerned me were the two giant, floating octopus-like creatures moving about in the chamber. They had horns on top of their jelly-like translucent bubble-bodies and tentacles that dangled underneath their bodies, scraping the stone floor. I couldn’t tell which side was the front or back, or if they had eyes, ears, or a mouth. I instructed Malum to stop and return. Even though she was invisible, I did not trust those things.
I relayed all this information to the others and we agreed to try and sneak past the wyvern and reach the western passageway.
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry and the wyvern took notice of us as we tried to sneak across the eastern-side bridge. The fight was unmemorable, at least for me. But I did acquire a wyvern’s tail. Maybe it could sell at a good price to the right person.
As we walked along the outside of the pyramid-like building, we came upon what appeared to be its entrance, double doors of fine metal.
“Gin, you want to go in or keep going?” Theren asked.
“This building looks important,” I said. “You think this could be the place the banshee mentioned?"
“I have no idea,” he said.
“It might be where the teleporter is,” I said.
“If there’s a teleporter at all,” Theren mumbled under his breath.
“We really shouldn’t pass it up,” I said.
Theren checked the doors to discover that it was not locked. He slowly and silently opened them and saw inside a large, open area with stone pillars along the side walls. Hanging from the center of the chamber’s ceiling, dangled a mass of giant black tentacles that slithered and twisted about on themselves. Scattered about the room were shambling undead. They turned and saw the elf.
Theren quickly closed the door. “Nothing but undead in there. Let’s go.”
“Wait,” I said. “What exactly did you see?”
“Undead and a bunch of tentacles hanging from the ceiling in the center of the room. We should just keep going.”
“What about the far end?” I asked.
“I couldn’t see that far.”
“We need to check it out,” I said. “Did the undead see you?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. Hard to say,” Theren replied. “If you want to check it out, then by all means, you can go in first.”
“I’ll do it,” Balor said.
“We’ll bottleneck them,” I said. “We don’t go in, but let them come to us, one at a time.”
Balor opened the door and the undead slowly approached us. Malum, still invisible, flew in as the scout for further into the room.
‘There is someone here,’ Malum said to my mind. ‘A woman. Elven.’
“Is she hot?” I said out loud. My companions turned towards me.
‘For an elf, I suppose,’ Malum replied.
“There’s more in there,” I said to the others. “An elven woman.”
“I think I see her,” Theren said, releasing an arrow into one of the undead.
From out of the shadows of the far end of the room, an armored, elven woman stepped forward. Her skin was ice-pale and her hair, long and black. She wore a flowing skirt with a crown of thorns and wielded a wicked looking staff. She was beautiful, but undead.
The elven undead cast a spell and a gust of wind nearly pushed Balor and Sasha away from the door and down into the stream of water, but they held on.
“Ha!” Balor bellowed. “I’m not gonna let a wind bag of a pasty elven zombie princess push me around!”
The other undead converged on the door and began to attack Balor, who was blocking them from exiting.
The wind spell continued to assail us and I knew we had to stop the woman elf quickly, lest one of us slip and let the wind push us off the floor and into the moat below.
I took a step back away from the door to get a better angle of sight to the elven woman. I stared into her undead eyes – black like her hair, and for the briefest of moments, she enraptured me. (Beauty has always been a weakness of mine and it was most unsettling that that this beauty came from something I abhorred.) I held my breath, whispered into the void of nothingness, and prepared the way for a new guest to the Umbra.
I winked and blew her a kiss. Within the blink of an eye, four massive, black tentacles appeared and wrapped themselves around the undead elf and then, “poof,” the tentacles and the woman were gone.