Ehtelar awoke in darkness, faint rivulets of falling sand powdering her brow. Memories of her short battle in the ruins above flashed through her mind.
Rahad, the Redguard merchant who had accompanied her into the desert, was dead, taken unaware in the ruins above. His sword lay buried in the skull of the creature that did him in.
She remembered the sickening crunch it had made as steel met skull, the hideous scraping vibration in her arm as she drove it home. Then the ground had opened up, devouring the world to send her tumbling into the abyssal void below.
How far had she fallen, and for how long? Sand, then stars had accompanied her fall before the deepest darkness had swallowed her up, but she had no memory of landing.
Deprived of sight, she felt around her to gather what she could of her surroundings. While her arms were free, her legs felt leaden under the sand that covered them and she immediately began excavating herself.
As she worked, the metallic tang of blood filled the air. Feeling her leg, she felt the warm grating wet that could only be sand in clotting blood.
Cursing under her breath, she undid her belt and cinched its cold leather just above the gouge in her calf. Feeling her way in the dark, she tore several strips of fabric from her tunic, winding it surely about the wound.
If it held, her handiwork would stop the bleeding, but she had no potions to stave off infection. She would need to find a way back to her caravan soon.
Still blinded by the depthless shadow around her, she exhumed her other leg and began feeling in her pack for a token Rahad had given her.
Her fingers closed about the tiny coin. Pulling it from its hiding place, she closed her eyes and mouthed, "Ruptga." Eyelids flushing coral from the sudden light, she opened them to survey the cavern sprawling out before her.
Heavy stone blocks, shattered from the fall, lay in shards all around her. Further out, enormous pillars reached like trees up into darkness, casting long shadows out into the black.
Looking up, her breath caught in her throat as the bright eyes and maw of the lamia gaped out at her from the dark. Though unmoving, Rahad's sword still embedded in its skull, it was half a hundred heartbeats before she could look away.
Still recovering from the shock, she resumed her search and found several long, hooked spears scattered about the sand. Taking one up, she grabbed hold of her pack and slid down the lonely dune.
Boots met stone and she braced her spear against one of the mighty pillars. Using it to steady herself, she stood upright.
She took a moment to test her wounded leg. When it became clear it would not fail her, she gathered up her pack, dusted herself off, and struck out into the darkness.
In the deep quiet, muffled by the vast expanse of nothing reaching out around her, her passage was marked only by a steady staccato of steel on stone.
|Chronicles of Ehtelar|
|Chronicles of Ehtelar, Vol 1||Chronicles of Ehtelar, Vol 2|