Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the conclusion to this great story from Olthadir, entitled
The Darkness in the Waste
Background music by Smartsound
Chapter 2, “The Waste”
We arrived at the crater at midday – at my expressed intent. The sun was hot overhead, but it allowed us a good deal of time in the light.
The shards were scattered around a crater, floating. And there was a central cluster made up of large pieces that were much larger than myself. And they were black, very black, but still, thankfully, earthly black.
Maybe Savenroc was a dream.
Sonya got straight to work, measuring the shards, testing their density, collecting samples of the earth below. She wrote a good deal in her book. She spent the whole day and far into the night writing her observations.
The night was peaceful – thankfully. I watched the campfire light reflect dully off the floating shards. I remained a safe distance away from the crater. Far enough to see her while she worked, but far enough from the shards themselves. She worked through the night. I simply watched.
The stars wheeled overhead and nothing happened.
We didn’t talk the next day. She kept working and I grew anxious. Either something was going to come and devour us or I was truly mad. I began to wonder if I imagined the events of Savenroc forest. Did my friends even exist? Were my last few years of reclusion a lie? If nothing was happening here I began to question the validity of my memory.
I could hardly stand it. I went towards Sonya and began talking – asking questions to see if my recollection of events matched what I told her days before. She ignored me, raising a hand to hush me.
“Listen. That hum. The frequency… I’m trying to measure it.”
I spoke to her again, trying to get her to understand but she hushed me. The look in her eyes was terrible. A moment later she returned to scribbling in her book.
I grew even more anxious, feeling the low humming in my chest now as I walked around her and looked over her shoulder at what she was writing.
Lines. Waves. Scribbles.
She turned the page and scribbled on. It was nonsense. I looked for her first volume and flipped through it. She started coherently, speaking about physical measurements, harmonics, apparent weight of the shards versus how high they levitate. Then halfway through the book, scribbles.
On the fourth last page stood a testament to her madness. It was a page so full of ink it bled through to the back cover. She drew a circle hundreds if not thousands of times, creating a frightening representation of the void I saw years ago.
“You didn’t want me to come here originally,” Sonya said, standing a safe distance before me, dagger in hand. “It’s because you wanted this all for yourself. You couldn’t finish your own research, you were too afraid. So you want mine.”
I started walking backwards. She matched me, step for step.
“There is no research,” I said, turning the book towards her. “It’s only scribbles.”
“Of course it is!” She screamed, her shrill voice echoing off the shards. “I don’t want you or anyone stealing it. I have learned so much. The void is endless, unfathomable. If I can use it…” she trailed off, her eyes wild and wide, furious at my perceived betrayal. She stopped in mid step and the sun set.
Above her I saw purple lightning arc between shards. I smelled ozone and felt the cold chill wind of emptiness. It was here, I recognized it. I wasn’t mad, it was all real and unimagined. Before I could search the darkness for a sign of the void Sonya lunged at me.
I don’t carry weapons. I stopped after Savenroc. I saw no point. If I was killed by a weapon, I would find peace. Anything would be better than existing in the void. All I had was her journal to defend myself with. I moved to block her stab as I turned, giving her less of my body to hit. The sudden force of her attack propelled by the strength in her entire body overwhelmed me. I fell on my back, my head hitting the dry ground. I moved as best I could to avoid the descending blade. My eyes had sparks in them. I tasted blood in my mouth from the fall, I must have bitten my tongue. Sonya struggled on top of me attempting to wrench her dagger from her journal. I kept twisting it trying to keep the blade trapped somehow. It was the only way I could defend myself.
I am ashamed to record what happened next. I assure you, dear reader, that I was defending myself. I had no choice. As you see, I was near death, being attacked by someone gone mad.
I timed a counter push as she tried to draw the dagger from the journal, slamming the dagger’s pommel into Sonya’s face. It hit her in the mouth, cracking teeth. I pushed again, hitting bone. I pushed again and again. I pushed countless times, feeling bone, flesh and blood rain down on my hands, the journal and my face…
I am writing this in Ardoris, safe as I ever was. I am alive, writing this months after the events I just wrote down. I killed Sonya. I crushed her skull with the blunt side of her dagger and her scribbled nonsensical journal. I still feel the blood on my hands.
You may not believe me. It was the shards. It was the void they were a part of. They turned Sonya against me, it turned her suspicious. It turned me into a murderer. Yet, as much as I know this is the truth, I am wracked with guilt. It is the only reason why I am writing this. I have killed because of the shards, because of the Obsidians and their desire to explore beyond Novia. Sonya could have lived a full beautiful life if she didn’t become curious and find me.
But what of me? I have survived two encounters with the void. I have changed because of them. What does that make me?