The moment Deadrick actually began to get used to the falling, the lack of air and anything recognizably existent around him, it stopped, and he burst back into reality.
The Portal Dellessain had created here wasn’t the neat doorway he had made back at the Plateau- it was a rip in the air.
More than eighteen or nineteen foot above the ground, it hung there like a open mouth. Deadrick came barreling out, his legs flying over his head twice, like some sort of ragdoll. He flew for a moment, his body tensed for the impact.
He ploughed into the floor, sending a cloud of dust upwards, rolling for a moment before coming to a stop- splayed out on his back.
“Ow,” Was all he said.
He lifted his head slightly, seeing Nerui, Danyel and Bruad walking towards him. He looked to the left and saw his hat lying next to him.
He climbed to his feet unsteadily, then picked it up and dusted it off.
“I had a competition with myself as to who would have the best entry,” Bruad said, “Until you arrived, Danyel was ahead- he did this fantastic little mid-air pirouette, it certainly made my day,”
Danyel shot him a look.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be comfortable, but I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting that,” Nerui said. The band she had pulled her hair back with was gone- and it was untamed and wild.
Deadrick put the hat on his head, then looked around. They were at the foot of a huge mountain. It disappeared into the dark sky- and as Deadrick looked left and right it seemed to continue on forever as a wall of ugly, evil looking spikes.
The sky looked ill. Nefern Dale shared it’s border with Gael- and the warm blue, slightly cloudy sky seemed to hit the mountain wall, and was pushed back by the sickly green and black swirling storm above them. Even the ground below them had been warped- the rich green grass stopped about the point where Deadrick was standing, then became bare, barren and dead.
Deadrick sighed, and reached into his pocket, removing the Selleia Tether. It was aglow now, sending off a warm light that even showed through Deadrick’s hands when he tried to cover it. He had expected just to be able to pass it through the portal, but he would have to throw it.
He squeezed it with his hand, and then looked at the Portal above him. He checked which way the wind was blowing then lined himself up.
He threw it overhand, and watched it as it flew through the air; spinning wildly, and then disappeared into the Portal. The air shimmered as it entered, but then there was an even greater flash.
There was a pop as the Portal collapsed in on itself, and vanished from reality. His ears popped again slightly as the air struggled to compensate for the lack of air.
“Now we’re on our own, right?” Danyel said quietly.
Deadrick turned to him.
“What’s new there?” He said grimly.
There were a few moments of silence, before Nerui clapped and spoke.
“So, which ways the way in?” She said.
Deadrick looked left and right- realizing that the Halara hadn’t given them any sort of directions.
“Well, I’m going… this way, anyone joining me?” She finished, turning and walking away.
Deadrick, Danyel and Bruad exchanged glances for a moment, before following after her.
It wasn’t long before they found the pathway between the mountains. It was an winding, uneven path big enough for two carriages to pass each other in comfort.
They wasted no time, following it in between the wall of rock that towered above them.
The mountains that surrounded Nefern Dale were created long ago- during a war between the Mainlanders and the Syndicate. The Syndicate Mages had discovered a huge source of Ecrid below the region- and they released it, warping the landscape.
They aimed to release a powerful Condemned dragon that resided within the pool of Ecrid, and the Council decided that they couldn’t be allowed to, as it could have devastating consequences for the whole world.
When they tried to attack, however, they discovered that the Mages had used the Ecrid to create the towering mountains around the borders and coasts.
The state of the sky prevented any sort of aircraft from making aerial attacks- the Syndicate had created the perfect defense so they could work safely on releasing the Demon.
The story goes that a great hero named Dragnock and his companion Premithious fought their way into Nefern Dale and destroyed the Demon before it was fully released.
With Nefern Dale in the state it was, and the Syndicate too weak to be a nuisance, the Council decided to leave them to fend for themselves in the hell they had created.
But the Syndicate rebuilt- making themselves anew. They still followed the teachings of dark gods, but they remained within the mountains walls- thriving as a new community, even building towns and a Citadel. This was where they had summoned Juhra.
They walked for at least an hour, and with no sign of the mountains relenting, they decided to stop and rest.
Whilst everyone else rested, Deadrick scouted ahead. After walking for a few minutes, he saw something that made his heart sink.
Moving towards them was a formation of about sixty or seventy Syndicate members.
Deadrick didn’t even think, he turned and ran.
“How quick were they moving?” Nerui asked.
Deadrick had gotten back to them and told them what he had seen, and they had wasted no time in packing up their things.
“Not fast, but they’ll be on us in a few minutes,” Deadrick replied.
“Were they armed?” Danyel asked.
“It doesn’t matter, the Syndicate have some of the greatest Mages alive, they’ll kill us dead before we can do anything,” Nerui said, a spike of panic in her voice.
Deadrick’s mind was busy trying to figure out what they could do. There was nowhere to hide- the walls on either side of them were sheer- and there was no guarantee- even if they ran, that they could get to the entrance in time.
“Great, we get this close and then we die,” Danyel grumbled.
“We’re not going to die,” Deadrick snapped.
“Yes we are,” Bruad said nonchalantly, lifting his arm and pointing down the road. During the panic, none of them had noticed the group coming into view- no more than twenty or so metres away.
This stretch of the pathway was straight, and the leader of the group stopped, his eyes wide and alert, like a cats, beneath his black hood. The rest of the group froze as well, every single pair of eyes boring into them.
“I’m not going to enjoy this,” Deadrick said quietly, observing the group, “I'm not going to enjoy this one bit,”
Without a moments hesitation, Deadrick grabbed his gun and his sword simultaneously and launched towards the wall of mages.