Fire, Ice, and Stone
April 18, 2016
The sun had just begun to dip behind the snowcapped mountains to the west. Its last rays stained the snow a fiery orange, which matched the belching steam of magma exploding from the peak of the active volcano they had reached. Even at the base of the mighty towering mountain the waves of heat could be felt washing over them and gave them some relief from the bitter biting cold they had endured throughout the day’s long march.
No one spoke as they neared the base of the impossibly huge mountain. Whether exhaustion or awe caused this, Jack couldn’t be certain, but he led the way with long strides, one way or another their quest had had almost reached its end.
“I suppose we need to find a way inside,” He said breaking the party’s long standing silence.
“I doubt these ancient legendary dragons have laid out a human sized welcome mat,” Stalker grumbled from the back.
Jack ignored him and continued to let his eyes sweep the cliff faces for an opening into the mountain.
Shadowknife spied it first. “Up there, I see an opening. It looks rather large.”
Jack shaded his eyes from the glare of the last of the sun’s rays and could just make out a darker blackness set out against the whites and greys of the range.
“Just the right size for a dragon to move through.” Stalker spoke again.
“That could be a good thing,” Tynilia said. “It might mean that we have found the right place.”
“Perhaps,” Shadowknife agreed. “I have no desire to climb such a height. Since all of us have the ability of flight, save Jack, I think the cost to our mana is justified in this case.”
“I agree,” Stalker said. “Let’s just get this over with. And I’ll tell you one thing, cost to my Ki or no, if there are no dragons up there, I’m flying all the way back home. The rest of you can do what you want. This trek has been cursed from the first footfall.”
Again Jack didn’t address the man of Tezcatlipoca’s statement, but instead turned to his lover and said, “Ty, if you would be so kind…” then without finishing his sentence he started his transformation into a serpent.
She whisked him up and sped off flying after the two men that had already taken to the air. Stalker indeed appeared anxious to complete the quest for he rushed ahead of the others and forced Shadowknife and Tynilia to struggle just to keep up with him.
The sheer mountain face loomed before them blocking out everything else. Massive cliffs of black stone cut into the sky like the rotten knives of titans. Snow and ice clung to the angry cliffs, but is some places appeared to have been cleared by random jets of lava. Before them the cave opened like a dark mouth and Jack couldn’t shake the feeling of being devoured as Tynilia followed the two flying men into the stygian gloom.
Jack knew that the two followers of Tezcatlipoca and certainly the Splinter Darcarre could all see in the darkness, but he had no such skills, he felt his anxiety rising as they continued to rush forward until a complete darkness claimed the group and yet they traveled further. Soon he couldn’t make out the opening behind them and still the headed deeper into the mountains.
After what seemed like half an eternity, a rosy glow built before them disrupting the absolute black. As they drew nearer to the source of the light, Jack saw that it came from beneath the ice that covered the floor of the cave. From what he could determine, a river of flowing lava run under a sheet of ice and over the years it had melted enough of it away for a soft scarlet glow to illuminate up from the raging torrent of magma below.
It made him again very thankful they flew for he wouldn’t have enjoyed testing the ice’s integrity on foot. Just as that thought crossed his mind, some kind of explosion crashed into the cavern. He saw Shadowknife tumbling by them for a moment as the icy floor broke into thousands of crystal shards. Tynilia tried to stay in flight, but when the roof above the ice caved in and rained down toward the lava below, both he and Tynilia started to plummet with it.
Come back next Monday to see if Jack and his allies can somehow survive.