Where are we? Not on Gilgorgon’s mountain that is for sure. Not unless this is the deepest pit under the lowest depth of the dwarf’s kingdom.
But then how did we get down to wherever we are?
Nothing smells right. And the air is filled with the strangest sounds – beast or … or … or what?
Rayjil seems quite content. Like she’s been here before. But Gibley seems most anxious, and beside himself with fear. It is everything I can do to keep him moving.
I must get the word out. We know for sure that Willie has something to do with this. I must tell what happened. Even if it is just so I can understand it myself. Maybe it just helps to write it down.
We have been in darkness so long. Even down with the dwarves, it was never dark upon dark. Gibley tells me that this place in the stories of his people was a place of punishment for those that practiced evil. A just punishment for those cruel to dragons.
Rayjil continues to be happy and not at all upset with us – so I question Gibley’s belief. She also guards our path and nestles with us during our times of rest.
Then there are those times that Willie can be seen flitting by. Besides the glow from Rayjil’s chest, his is the only light down here. It is a wonder he does not see us when he passes so closely.
Another being dogs our steps. I feel its presence, but nothing is in sight – if perhaps only a inky black against the ordinary black. Then I saw this shape interacting with Willie and could see both were in flight, and my guess was that here was the black bird we have sighted in the past on our adventures.
Lately I feel that they have become aware of our presence, and come at us, first from one side, then from the other. Thankfully they keep their distance, for Rayjil shakes her head at them, and the sound of those silver bells on her necklace cause them to flee.
What are they after?
Rayjil appears to know her way about this landscape – not actually recognizable as such, yet it feels like one – with the sensation of descending and ascending in a snake-like side to side motion forward.
Gibley has gained some confidence. Primarily I think because nothing untoward has befallen us so far. He even has had the presence of mind to remember some things tucked away in the pouches attached to Rayjil’s saddle. Most helpful has been the jewel mounted on a ring that the goblin has donned. It is brighter than the light from that of our dragon’s chest. It does, however, give a green cast to everything.
In those times when my thoughts come off of myself, and onto our friends, I think of how they must be so worried about us.
I do believe that I am now seeing more of our surroundings. Gibley tells me he sees no difference- but he never complained about the darkness in the first place. Maybe because his bulging eyes are larger?
A couple of times we have tried to motivate Rayjil to carry us back – mounting her and attempting to turn her with the reins – but she refuses – or gently ignores us – a refusal all the same.
I feared we were becoming inured to our situation. That all changed when for no apparent reason fear invaded each of us and I called out for Merlin’s help.
Gibley and I still shiver. And it is not just from the cold. A living fear yet clings to us. And my heart’s call is for our friends to come and bring us home. I know if he knew, Dunfallon would be with us in an instant. And Meribabell and Rumble right behind him.
Rayjil continues to take us deeper into this well – for I do believe now that such it is. She fears nothing.
In moments between shivering my goblin companion cites a rhyme about the Crack of Doom guiding us. I ask him to repeat it afterwards and he can not remember any of it.
Rayjil continues her march forward. Gibley now believes there must be a reason for such strange behavior. That set me speculating – that is, until Willie made a series of runs at us.
I am unsure as to which of us was the target. But at base I think he was trying to separate me from my companions. And would have too – if not for the sudden apparition rising up out of the depths below us. One look at that figure trailing a mess of rope and Willie fled away. I recognized the apparition as the dark elf Hawk.
And he wanted to talk to me.
The dark elf thanked me. Just for being willing to talk. Even when on the other side he remembers the time I was kind enough to ask after his well being. He had a simple request. He wanted me to extend his greetings to my friends when I see them again. Especially to Merlin.
Then he told me all about the conversation he had with the wizard back when the goblins held him prisoner in their outpost. Merlin had been severe, and as it turned out truthful in a prediction he pronounced over him – he described exactly this place in which he finds himself.
And he wanted us to know that he would do his best to shield us while we are here.
Having said his piece, the elf abruptly excused himself and fled away. On his heels a cold biting wind visited us, and my goblin friend and I were once again shivering with fear.
The fear is past. All because Rayjil dragged us to our feet and kept us moving forward.
Every now and again we spot Willie away off in the distance. And though we do not see the black bird we do sense its presence too. But somehow I feel they are being held at bay.
Gibley says it is all due to Hawk. He thinks that the elf is trying to make amends for his past deeds.
That may be so. Will it get him out of here? Who knows?
What will get us out of here?
Rayjil has slowed her pace and appears to be looking for something or someone. Both Gibley and I cling closely to her. We both have the sense that she might bolt away at any moment and leave us behind.
It is strange to think along those lines that she would abandon us after the closeness that we have shared so long. It would break my heart to see that trust which I treasure evaporate into the nothingness that is all around us.
Rayjil has halted. She made an elaborate ritual of chasing her tail before bedding down for a long sleep. She included both Gibley and me in her coils, but so loosely held that neither felt threatened.
We kept watch in turn. It was Gibley that alerted us to the approach of the dark elf Hawk. I noticed Willie and I think the black bird circling in the dark distance, so at last I was sure he was holding them back.
At the last he sidled over to me with a strange message – he wanted me to know that our dragon received her gifting from the blood of the dark elf warrior which had been absorbed into her eggshell before she hatched.
Gibley tells me that something is coming. He feels it. I can tell Rayjil senses something also. Strangely I do not.
I have been comforted – odd to say – by everything Hawk has shared with us. Whatever it is that is out there I am confident that ultimately it can do us no harm.
For the first time ever I have sensed fear in Rayjil. We are still stationary in the same spot as before. But instead of her normal nonchalant self she is cowering at every flutter of darkness. It takes both of us to soothe her (after reining in our own fears).
Gibley believes that the master of this place is very near. And thankfully the light from the goblin’s ring reaches further out.
That and the heft of my sword swells my courage.
How odd I was thinking- to have a dream in this place. I know it was a dream for I was all alone – even though I knew Rayjil and Gibley were with me. And Hawk in a more solid form came up to whisper in my ear.
He told me the secret weakness of the enemy and said to prepare for his arrival. And then added a severe warning for the future – to beware of the dwarf with a crown and the ancient goblin.
And then the elf was gone and I could see where we were once again. And the darkness was growing. No longer shades of demarcation.
Our ordeal is now thankfully over. And I record this simply in hopes that this knowledge will help the world I live in and the peoples who inhabit it. That it will somehow protect everyone from the ravages of that most hate filled presence.
Gibley, Rayjil and I were planted squarely in front of that burgeoning thing. A force from it swirled around us, making it difficult to breathe- as it was sucking us and the very air towards it.
Then, we launched into the plan that Hawk had left us with. The goblin forced his emerald ring into Rayjil’s gullet and she reacted by ejecting it at our tormentor in a stream of fire from deep within her glowing chest.
And we saw the fearful entity before us – hideous of visage – be consumed with fear itself – and recoiling in haste to get away from the glorious light.
At the very moment the tolling bell called us back to our world.