7 Vhalar 716
The chasm split apart the mountain like a cruel gash. It appeared to be hacked away by a giant rather than hollowed by eons. It's innards glowed a soft blue and the light itself seemed tangible, like tendrils of smoke wisping out from the cave mouth. The same blue had condensed into pools that gathered at the cave lip and trickled over the edge to form a sheet of falling water. These too, however, did not behave to natural law and the waterfall had soon formed into ribbons and writhed about like headless snakes.
Leading up to the cave entrance, rocks floated, trees grew into a ball of knots and strange creatures scampered about, issuing calls never heard before. As if to compliment the strange scene, the flat face of a broken boulder began to bleed in trickles, until the entire rock was awash in red. Suddenly a face pushed up against the elastic surface. The mouth was open as if choking for air, but the sounds were masked by the red sheet. Hands pushed out like a newborn attempted to escape its placenta. After clawing at its surface, the red covering split and out oozed a black liquid and a horrid stench of death and decay. A figure slipped out, as if birthed by the rock.
Yet where the blood and black liquid had been, only the rock remained.
He was shirtless and had white skin. It was not pristine skin, rather it was sallow and hung off his bones like it was rejected long ago. As he drew his hair back, it was revealed where there should have been a face, there was nothing.
It was Aelig and he stood, dwarfed by the cave entrance, and for once, feeling completely normal.
As Aelig revealed himself, there was a clatter from one of the rocks and Lisirra pulled herself over it, then sat on the floating stone, her feet kicking idly as they waited on the last member of the party to show herself. Whether Lisiraa could see if Syroa had beaten them there, she declined to say. Instead, she merely gazed at Aelig as a green mist formed over her hand.
"Neat trick, Aelig. You know, your body seems to be naturally unhealthy. I wonder how it would react to an infection."
She said, as her pupils narrowed down to almost pinpricks,"It's possible that an illness would have the opposite effect on you that it has on most people."
She continued to stare at him for a moment before she turned her attention to the green mist in her hands. "Of course, I myself have yet to develop a disease that gets around our natural immunity to each others powers. But I suppose I'll have my bearers look into it."
She said idly, as she worked on the disease she was currently toying with, a delightfully creepy little number that would pull the face muscles of the sufferer into a horrible facsimile of a grin. Now if only she could get it stop rotting the sufferers teeth at a faster rate and curing their knee problems, it would suit her purposes much more.
This time, the Immortal being didn't make as flashy an entrance as she normally sought to do with Mortals. Scaring them into submission was her goal, but this time, there were no Mortals to bend and break. There was only Lisirra and Aelig, the bastard creation long rejected by his kin, waiting by the entrance of a fracture that rippled with unknown energy.
It made the Immortal uncomfortable even as she approached with her leathery wings folded and dragging behind her tall, lithe body.
The rocks that floated around the entrance of the cave Syroa pushed away with a clawed hand, moving around the larger ones till she came face to face with Cierel's daughter who was manipulating some disease in her hand. The deity of transformation frowned, her magma eyes glancing to a faceless body of a man before she took it upon herself to break the silence that had formed.
“I would tell you both to keep your mouths shut, but neither of you have the company to share secrets with and one of you has no mouth to tell them. Pity.”
Syroa waved off her allies as she rounded a rather large rock into the cave, her insults floating on the wind. “Come, I will not tolerate this place longer than I must...”
Entering into the giant chasm was like stepping into an entirely different world, one that rippled with an unknown essence and though it was seemingly familiar, it was odd and somehow dark in nature. Darker than anything Syroa had felt before. Why Treid had picked this place to confide to, Syroa wasn't entirely sure, though the woman had her suspicions if the atmosphere was anything to go off of.
“What do you both remember of Delana?”
Her question ringing against the crystal blue walls that now surrounded them. As she listened to and watched the answers given to her, Syroa continued her explanation.
“The rumors of old still carry on,”
She told quietly. “They held no merit to me till once I came across Treid toiling over them. I thought him to be crazed, finally broken by the world but it was entirely the opposite. He believed Delana to still exist, having survived beyond the Great Shattering.”
Pausing, the Immortal ventured further into the darkness of the cave, the energy growing so thick and palpable that she thought it was humming. While she walked, her body shifted into that of a bioluminescent creature typically found in Desnind's mysterious forests. She glowed a soft blue against the crystals, light that slowly reflected over the walls till they reveals walls upon walls of ancient writing, diagrams, notes, drawings— information that Treid had gathered in his thirst to unravel the mystery behind the missing Original Being.
“Only recently did I stumble across this chasm and its hidden information.”
Her finger touched on writing of the Ellune and Oscillus, etches that appeared fresher than the rest. While the glow of her body radiated against the walls, the touch of her finger lit the text in a sudden rainbow of magic, pulsing with the power within her own being. “Audrae once said, 'He knew too much.' But I believe he knew enough to bring that bitch back here...Wherever she ran off to.”
Removing her hand, thus the glow of the text, Syroa turned to the two. “Treid is incapacitated, hidden within the ice walls surrounding Oscillus. Audrae has kept his heart hidden for far too long so I wager we force her hand to reveal the heart or find it ourselves. Regardless, the man knows something and I will gladly break it out of him if it means finding Delana... Wouldn't you care for a conversation with her dear, sweet, lovely Lisirra?”
Aelig raised his head up at the chasm that loomed above. Though he had no face, he seemed able to sense his surroundings. He had felt something familiar about the place but he could not recall what it was. He was so lost in his thoughts that he did not seem to notice the figure that clambered the boulder nearby. The rocks that tumbled from the ascent, thumped the ground dangerously close to Aelig's feet. Yet he did not move nor even react to it at all.
Instead, he remained focused entirely on the chasm.
As if coming to life, his head tore away from the view. He regarded Lisirra with an inclined head, as if seeing her for the first time. The void that should have been his face bored into the eyes of his female accomplice. His mind ticked over at Lisirra's suggestion that her powers could reverse his physical ailments. He thought back at how his father, Pieren, had tried the same long ago and failed. The hope that Aelig could somehow become normal had long since been smashed after The Shattering.
He straightened his head as Syroa broke the impending silence to reprimanded her allies for their idle chatter. Syroa had noted that Aelig had not the mouth required to protest. He was content not to. Instead, he turned and lumbered up the escarpment toward the entrance.
The hiss of the deformed boughs that tugged in the wind outside had been snuffed out as they entered the chasm. A different 'wind', rushed about their ears as the walls inside reverberated with energy. Aelig felt invigorated by it and focused on Syroa's question about Delana. It was common knowledge that she had long since disappeared after the Shattering. But then Syroa had mentioned that Treid had searched for Delana during his travels...
A brilliant shimmer of blue erupted from Syroa's body. It had illuminated the walls about them and revealed a sea of inscriptions that continued upwards towards the infinite darkness above.
Treid! Aelig remembered him clearly now. Cloaked in his illusions, Aelig had stalked the Immortal of Knowledge many arcs ago. He recalled the times that Treid had come to this very chasm to labour on his writing. But Aelig had little patience to watch Treid work and so he often left him in peace.
A chiseled jaw appeared and from it flowed streams of white hair. He was tall and his clothing was tight fitting. About him was a large cloak that swept behind his feet. His cloak pockets were stuffed with old parchment notes and strange instruments. Arms were clasped behind his back and he turned left and right as if searching among the inscriptions. He stopped and raised his hand over a particular diagram. He scribed three lines at different angles with his index finger. He regarded it and stroked his chin. He sighed.
"Where is she?"
The illusion of Treid muttered, as Aelig heard him say many times. Aelig had wondered what he had meant.
Now it made sense.
Syroa had turned to them both to lay down her plans. At the mention of waking and then breaking Treid for Delana's whereabouts, the illusion suddenly widened his eyes in terror and raised his hands.
The illusion of Treid gasped and stepped backwards. He turned straight into Aelig and dissolved into a haze of smoke. Once it had cleared, Aelig remained. His head tipping forward at Syroa as if in approval.
Lisirra merely glanced at Syroa as the shapeshifter arrived, then lept off the rock to follow her in.
"Now that's not true, Syroa. I hang out with you, don't I? I've told you plenty of secrets. Like that kid who stole his brothers lunch money, or that lady that cheated on her husband. Oh, and that Webspinner. We got all sorts of secrets from him before his tongue started to rot. Shame he got distracted after that, but I suppose flesh-eating slugs have that effect."
The child-like Immortal said, her tone cheerful as she talked to her friend, or at least the closest thing she had to such.
After a moment, she took a closer look at the Immortal of Transformation. "Have you ever considered becoming a butterfly? I bet you could be a really pretty one. Ooh, or a wasp! You could be a wasp and I would give you just the loveliest venom for your stinger. Like that one that turns people rabid as it dissolves their brain! Think of how much fun we could have!"
As they entered the cave though, Lisirra fell silent to let Syroa say her piece. At the mention of Delana, her expression changed suddenly, going from a childish happiness to something far older, far darker, and far angrier. It was an expression that would have suited a ravening monster far more than the child who wore it.
"I remember her, very well. Her and all her miserable ilk.
she said, her tone no longer amused, but calm and collected, belying the expression on her face. As she spoke, the disease she had been carefully molding began to warp and twist, the cloud growing darker and moving more frantically.
As Syroa explained what was happening, what she wanted to do, Lisirra grinned, her smile stretching far beyond the bounds that should be rational. As she smiled, her disease collapsed into a liquid ooze that poured over hand and onto the floor, rotting both the Immortals hand and the bottom of the cave. Yet when seared, Lisirra's hand did not reveal flesh or bone, but a brown, hard, slimy surface that closely resembled chitin. As she closed her hand, there was clicking noise as her fingers met her palm and when she turned to look at Syroa, her eyes had rotted away as well, revealing a sickly, bulbous, yellow surface.
"Yes, Syroa. I would love very much to speak with dear Delana. Before I harvest her and use her corpse as a breeding ground for the worst of my children."
Lisirra's voice was different as well. Normally a high-pitched, girly voice, now the Immortal of Pestilence spoke in a deeper, raspier voice underlined by the sound of clicking mandibles, still female but in no way even remotely human.
Syroa slowly grinned, looking between the two as she nodded. "Then let us begin our little venture, shall we?"
Turned, the woman made her way back to the entrance of the cavern with the two in tow. "We should pay a visit to Audrae. I'm sure she'll be delighted to see us..."
In the shadows of the cavern reached a deep darkness that expanded past any wall before turning into the twinkling night sky. At least, those were not stars. They were something else, not apart of Idalos but of Emea. There in the shadows stood a woman, fixed with blonde hair and a quiet stature. Jesine watched as Syroa, Aelig, and Lisirra exited the Fracture before the mortalborn removed herself from the darkness and stood in front of the wall of code.
Jesine had spent much time watching Treid poor over these notes. If Syroa was correct, doom was sure to befall the mortals of Idalos in their vendetta to revive Treid and take from him the knowledge of the last Original Being. A noise traveled to Jesine as she turned back to the darkness of Emea, something monstrous lurked within the vast space that was the realm. Pondering on her thoughts, the mortalborn strolled silently into the shadows.