My thoughts drifted slightly, thinking of Hopwil's outburst. In the midst of his anguish, the shadow warriors fluctuated in and out of existence. I needn't look to know he was right behind me.
"Hopwil, it is time." Said I with a snap of the neck.
He gave a small nod in reply.
"We move onward?" Came the sudden voice of Tariq, who stood adjacent to Hopwil.
"towards the center of this cursed canyon. There, something lays."
Muffled footsteps approached from my left. I turned to face Talia, who stood with a solemn look on her face.
"I won't be able to help with the fight." She sighed, glancing over at Hopwil with concern.
"This battle more than metal. You've proved yourself, so I ask that you follow, as I still feel that you are with us for a reason."
She looked at me curiously, then smiled lightly. It was calming to see her do this, so much so, that it nearly extinguished my bloodlust. Soon I realized they were waiting on my plan to move.
"I shouldn't do this, but if it's in the service of eradicating the crossworlders."
I quickly shut my eyes, feeling mana boil within my retinas. I slowly opened them, revealing the mark that only priests of the cult were sanctioned to use.
On each black eye, was now a glowing blue pupil. I had intended to do this earlier, but my magika was focused on combat. As I stared outward with my new vision, I hoped to see disruptions in the gentle tides of reality. I could tell the others were curious to what I had done.
"Eyes Of Selection. It allows a priest to discern how far pupils have come with their magika training. I will use them to find what we're looking for."
It's hard to describe what the world looks like from the perspective of magika. But it's incredibly different. I had been sentenced to lashings in times passed for attempting it.
At first it didn't seem obvious, but there was something off about this place. The flow was reverse what it should have been in certain places, but otherwise steady. Most prominent was the canyon wall to our left. Far back inside of it was something comparable to bright. It shone out amongst the rest of reality. Mentally marking the location, I relaxed my focus, the true world returning to me in a haze.
"I see our objective no more than a kilometer. We must move fast though, the Demon's Bane cannot hold the abominations off much longer."
Thanks to our air-rider's suppression, and Hopwil and Tariq decimating the enemy around us, we met little resistance while moving to the location. Anything we found became a race to see who could kill it quickest.
"That was my kill Hopwil." I groaned as the priest picked up his gobling corpse and threw it aside.
"Far too slow." He smirked in return.
A strong hand tugged at my shoulder, and the Pridean warrior spoke; "this indent in the rock looks unnatural, was the disturbance near here?"
I paused, observing what appeared to almost be a crater in the wall.
"It's not close, but that's not to say there aren't tunnels that might lead to it."
"So it's underground?" Tallia asked.
"I guess so, I thought maybe a there was a cave or something more obvious."
In the back of my mind, I had been wondering if someone had orchestrated the whole event. That maybe we were walking into a trap. I had pursued this thought multiple times on the trip here, always arriving at the fact that my mad voice had pulled us this far, and that there wasn't much choice left but to go through with it.
If this was a ruse, and we were moving into a situation far worse than the previous.....we'd likely die. We would be caught in the open, with a telepath who could project her(I assumed from the voice)words inside my head. What else could she do then? Render the land around us without air? Drive us insane with screeching voices that could pierce our innermost sanctuary?
We would disappear. The Blessing of Androma would be swept away. Aethian culture would be obliterated against hoards. Thereafter would be devoured piece by piece.
And what bothered me, was that none of this was as terrifying as the thought of these people around me dying! Tallia, Tariq, Hopwil, I wanted them to live! The thought of Actorial being crushed to a glowing pile of sand wasn't as frightening as these others dying because of my mistake! I hated myself for this. That my pride as an Aethian was being crushed by these bonding feelings. But also, I questioned my pride, and my beliefs. I found myself clutching the spyglass my mother had given me.
Why am I so lost mother. My love for my brothers is wavering, am I growing attached to these people?
I could of sworn I heard her laugh. But only a memory was dancing in my mind.
"Ziyous, your friends are going to explore the city. Go and join them before it's too late."
"I don't make friends with humans. Cruel and ignorant."
My mother wrapped her arm around me with a hearty chuckle.
"I saw you looking at that pink haired girl Ziyous. You obviously don't think she's cruel and ignorant."
I pulled away from her in immense embarrassment, several crew members around me couldn't contain their giggles.
"My word Ziyous, so fast also!" Yelled one Navigator on the scaffolding above.
"Come on dear,"my mother smiled,"You need to swallow that arrogance and go have fun. If you can't learn to interact with other cultures, I might just have to drop you here for a while."
"You still leave me gifts." I murmured.
"That's not what I asked, but alright." Replied a certain psychotic elf.
I shook my head, returning to the problems at hand. The indent that Tariq had noticed was indeed very peculiar. Almost like some giant had struck the canyon wall with all his might.
To your left, three paces.
Instinctively I followed, stepping carefully after the directions. I combed the rock with my hands and sight. It was harder to look at this rock than other rocks. Looking for something like a hole on a black backdrop is rather difficult.
Tallia was the first to take notice of me doing this. She looked over the walls for a few moments before pushing me aside. I raised and eyebrow as she stood on her toes, reaching for somewhere above the place I had been looking. Suddenly, her hand caught hold of something. She pulled and a triangular rock fell broke from place and hit the ground, revealing a hole in the rock.
"I can't reach inside." She sighed.
"I'll do it." Hopwil said.
Instead of walking over and reaching in though, he lazily summoned a circular band of light that lifted Tallia into the air. She yelped in surprise, glaring behind her. She cautiously reached her arm into the wall.
"There's something in here. Like a lever."
"Throw it." I nodded.
Her arm shifted as she pulled at it.
We stood in silence, waiting for anything. It came in a burst of mechanical clicks. In front of us the wall began to shift. The rock slid back in perfect coordination, opening up into a doorway. Beyond was only darkness though.
I carefully took the first step in. Followed by Hopwil, who generated a ball of empyrean energy to illuminate the surroundings. The ground was shining in a metallic appearance. The walls were finely polished rock that ended in a series of ornamental arches over us.
Soon we were moving, the darkness only getting thicker as we marched inward.
You're here at last.
.....yes, I suppose that's fair. Continue and I will be waiting.
I think we all jumped as the ground below us suddenly became luminous. Below, patterns of dim white light were leading forward, eliminating the need for Hopwil's magic torch.
"I think we're expected."