What Lies Beneath
There was, without a doubt, a chill in the air. It was absolutely permeating every single sense that she had; Lyra could feel its chill upon her skin, its mild stench of mildew decay upon her nose. Even her vision, typically incredibly sharp, seemed to blur with the faint fog of uncertainty. She could hear silence as she stared down this place. It left a powdery tang on her tongue as she breathed in. This place, whatever it was, was incredibly dangerous.
This task, simple as it sounded, already felt like she was walking headfirst into a trap that she could not really get out of. Lyra had taken on the task of escorting a study team into a cave near Cedar, carved into the depths of a cliff. They had no idea what was in store for them underneath the depths of the mountain but, without that knowledge, they knew they'd need an escort. Enter the guilded mages, and therefore enter Lyra Karant; having signed up for this escort task she was willing and able to go after the things that these people were not able to do on their own. Protecting the meek was one of her core tenets; she would not allow them to come to harm, as best as she could. Therefore, by request, Lyra was to enter the cave first, discover its potential contents, and then report it back to the team, who could then act appropriately in response to whatever she found.
The cave itself was dark, which was concerning in and of itself. However, she had the tools to conquer the darkness. Her blessing of light, of flame, would be sufficient to guide her path through the unknown. A small mote of flame blossomed into life around her head, circling gently and blessing her with the gift of sight into the darkness that threatened to consume her.
Her first step in, and Lyra was ready to venture forth into the unknown.
As she looked, she began to take stock of all the new sensations that were beginning to form on the edge of her senses; she could hear the distant slow drip of water into a pool. There were the faint whispers of wind that blew through the cave, indicating at least some form of gap in the rock as it whistled a haunting melody over... something. The air was cold - absolutely colder than it should be - but her flame was here to keep her warm and shield her from that chill.
A momentary pause, however - that wasn't just a cold chill; it was something else entirely. It had to be. It wasn't a natural cold at all. It was as if something was tugging at her senses and threatening to pull her downwards into something that she could not fathom. The depths of darkness were already roaring for her, yet she could not comprehend that.
Suddenly, a flash of something flickered at the edge of her perception; whatever it was, it was something dark, moving in the shadows. She didn't know what it was, simply because she couldn't see it. Needless to say, that may have been the thing that the exploration team were concerned with. Unhesitatingly, Lyra cast out another flame mote, then another; floating globs of fire began to illuminate the chamber that she was in. She finally got a good look down at what was beneath her; the dirt here was soft, like the water table beneath it was very close to the surface. Loamy and damp, it gave off the mildew smell that she had found before. In the distance she could see a rock formation with stalactites, upon which water was dripping off.
And in front of that, a series of wooden crosses buried into the ground. Five of them, all of them painted white - almost hurriedly so - and with some form of writing on the front of it that was so faded she could no longer make it out. Whatever was in here carried the burden of death, that much she could now tell. But what was it that she'd seen earlier? There was no sign of it at all.
Scratch that. Five forms, an incorporeal blackness that seemed to produce the same chill that she had felt earlier, were all phasing through the walls. All of them stopped after they came through, their eyes - wispy black orbs that seemed to radiate their own shadows - firmly locked on her. She could feel it. It rocked her to the core. Lyra knew that she was being watched, and judged. She took one step towards the graves, and felt their eyes move with her. Another step. Then a third, a fourth, a fifth. It was disconcerting to feel them staring at her, knowing that anything could have happened at that moment if they decided to come after her for whatever reason.
She looked at the graves - and realised that the only things that were there written on the makeshift crosses were names. Faded as they were, she didn’t believe at all that there was anything else ever written on them. It was then that Lyra knew exactly what she had to do about this situation.
”Spirits, let us record your names in history so that you are never forgotten,” she said with as strong a voice as she could while so utterly nervous. They were certainly overcoming her usually calm disposition at this point. The spirits seemed to settle for a moment, then vanished back into the walls. It seemed to placate them, at least; had they accepted her modest proposal? If so, then that was all the result she needed. It was unsettling to seem to have to compete with ghosts. That was absolutely not her cup of tea.
With that done, she could let the team enter the cave and take care of their work. Honestly, Lyra was still coming down from the high that was encountering the supernatural. In a guild mage’s line of work, it was sort of common, but she was only getting accustomed to it now. Crazy as that thought was, she knew full well that she was just going to have to learn to deal with it. The team packed up and went in, while she sat down and waited. They wouldn’t have trouble, at least. Of that she was confident. Slowly, she made her way back out of the cave to where the research team was waiting with bated breath for what she had to tell them.
”So there are five graves in there - I recommend you take data without disturbing them. The ghosts of the graves are watching, but they don’t seem particularly hostile. Just document what you can and I think you’ll be okay. I’ll wait here in case you need me.”
And wait she would.
TAG: --- WORDS: 1148 TOTAL: 1148/1000 JOB: Link