Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the thrilling conclusion of this story from Olthadir, entitled
The Darkness in the Forest
Background music by Smartsound
Chapter 2, “The Darkness”
It was a joke, a jibe, meant to lighten the atmosphere and the tension my companions felt. There was a short, silent chuckle. I was a scholar and not a warrior. The did not truly expect I would speak to them. I once mentioned that we should try to speak to the kobolds that jealously guard the ore my allies often mine in the Elysium Mines. Perhaps the kobolds would prefer to create a trade agreement instead of being slaughtered and slaughtering humans. The laugh from that time was heartfelt, strong and stinging.
My companions’ nervous laugh here in the woods was soft, half-hearted. I looked into the sky at the same time the bespectacled kobold did. We saw the stars themselves had given up trying to communicate their desire for us to run and were beginning to melt in the sky. The sky seemed to be a viscous liquid and the very stars making trails in them as they slowly slid off the sky.
No one spoke. The kobold and I were mesmerized and confused by what we saw above. The others, were caught by what they saw on earth.
I have no doubt that it was a creation or abomination of the Obsidians, or perhaps it predated them, or perhaps even it created them: being the very thing that gave power to the Obsidian Eye. It wasn’t black, black is tangible. We could make things black. This was darker, deeper, more cold than any black that you could imagine. It drained the light from the dripping, sliding stars, made the torches the kobolds had set alight seem like small dying embers. It even drained the light from our very souls.
I saw it out of the corner of my eye, slithering and flowing up from the uncovered idol. It had a form, but was formless, flowing as much as simply being there. It was like a mass of slithering snakes, or a vertical pool of nothingness. I wanted to see it, I wanted to look deep within it, I wanted to use my sight and will to make meaning of it, but I was so utterly afraid that I turned away. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my friends move, being dragged towards it as if pulled by their bellies.
There were screams. Those I will never forget. I still hear them. In the wind as it blows around me here in Ardoris. I hear it in the canals, in the trees, in the grass and in the creak of the houses. The screams were like the screams we hear in our dreams, the screams from ages past that have had their volume lost as they travel countless ages to our sleeping ears. All that is left of these screams is the tremor that tenses our skin and chills us from within.
The kobold workers were all gone. I then looked at the thing, enveloped in my own fear and wishing to escape. It looked as it I was peering in a pond as I lay on the shore, but I was standing. Its edges moved like the oceans tide lapping at the shore. It slowly grew, filling the clearing with its unfathomable darkness. I watched in speechless horror as companions were slowly dragged into it, sending an unnerving black-on-black ripple to it’s undefined edge as they passed the surface. Timeless screams were filling the clearing and my mind.
The learned kobold, the only other living thing in the clearing began screaming, fanatically. It must have been its native tongue or I simply had no ear for terrestrial words. I did not know what she said. I only heard the soundless screams that came out of time.
Something hit me hard in the chest. I was hit by the kobold as she ran past, demanding that I run, “Runz Human! To stay iz worst than def!”
I don’t remember running. Perhaps I didn’t run. I awoke to a cool rain and sunlight. I was laying on my back at the end of a long rain. I was soaked. The final raindrops fell as I awoke, blinking as I watched the sun begin descending in the west. I sat up aching from laying on the ground for a long time – days I soon calculated. I was no longer in the Savrenoc Timberlands or whatever forest I found myself in, but outside in the plains near the ruins of Midras. The Spectral Peaks rose to my right.
I returned to the Timberlands as soon as I could walk. I scoured the area to find evidence of the dig site, but found no evidence whatsoever. What I did find, however, was the bespectacled kobold. This is why I believe it is the Savrenoc Timberlands that this occurred in. The learned kobold was in the northeastern ruins, huddled in a corner clutching a book. A copy of a book I read in the bookstore in Aerie about ancient and powerful magics and artefacts of the Obsidians. She was dead, and had been for days. The colour was drained from her, her eyes, still open and now glossy, looked upwards towards the sky. I remembered the melting stars, the cold darkness that devoured light and fell to my knees.
I must have run from the dig site. I must have run further than anyone and in the correct direction. I was the only survivor. I looked at the book the kobold had. It was old, older than the one in the bookstore. It was made with an odd black leather I have never seen before. I reached for it – it was a book after all – but was reminded of the darkness I ran from. I remembered the panicked shrieks from the kobold to dig faster to reveal whatever was in the ground. I left the book there. I wanted nothing more of it. I had enough.
I witnessed something utterly terrifying and beyond thought that night Whatever it was existed outside our imagination. My cowardice saved me from whatever fate my friends and the kobolds encountered.
I am in what I call my home: The gardens of Ardoris. I am writing down my experiences in the hopes that no one will experience what I have. I have done what I can to obscure the details to protect you from the darkness beyond dark.
If you somehow find the kobolds book and if you somehow locate the object the kobold and I found that night, I urge you to destroy them to further obfuscate the knowledge. I could not destroy either, it is not in my nature. And the obsidian idol weighs down my bag every day, waiting for the stellar alignment that will allow its inhabitant to emerge into our world again.