I was anticipating a very long journey, given what Cɪrthsta said about the location of the entrance into Eyaye, but Durittal called upon some giant flying creatures to take us there in a much shorter time.
The entrance in question is located far north of the Great Plains region that in turn is located north of the Academy. It would’ve taken weeks, or even months, to get there by foot. With these reptilian flyers, what Durittal calls the Kinniwigg, we were able to reach our destination in just one week.
The Kinniwigg is one of those odd-looking creatures – among all the other odd-looking creatures inhabiting the Forbidden Rise. Its body is very slender, but its size is stupendous. Length-wise, the Winniwigg is approximately ten meters; its wing-span is double that. The head is elongate and thin, with a mouth that encompasses much of it. Three eyes sit above the mouth, with one on each side and the third right in the middle. Its wings are made from scaly skin stretched over its spindly arms and fingers. Its tail is club-like. It possesses two powerful-looking legs ending with four long-clawed toes on its feet. The skin is a pale colour, dark on its top-side and light on its bottom-side.
We flew along the far-eastern coast of the main continent, hoping to stay clear enough away from any frontier lands that might freak out upon seeing us. Archivist-run lands are not really a problem, as their citizens are usually too preoccupied with their own survival to try looking up every now and then.
The frontier peoples, however, are notably more observant of things.
The entrance itself is actually a gaping hole in the midst of a long-ruined temple-like structure. What remains of this stone structure completely surrounds the hole, and despite the overgrowth of long grass into the blackness there’s still more than enough room for our Kinniwiggs to fly through it and into the passage-way leading from it.
The Peregrine flies in first, lighting herself up to illuminate our way. The initial earth- and life-covered walls of the passage give way to stone-masonry. The stone-work is reminiscent of that seen at the Black Tower, except far more worn.
The tunnel winds and wends about for what seems like many miles. By the time I begin to wonder if this tunnel will ever end, we are, almost immiedately, brought into a large open area somehow lit in various places from far above.
What greets us is, incredibly, a kind of vast, underground, long-abandoned city. Cɪrthsta’s light brings into view a gigantic cross-shaped atrium-like area with an extremely high ceiling.
At the very bottom of the atrium area are two vegetation-covered lanes, what I figure must once have been streets. A monumental fountain, now just a sculpture of some woman wearing ceremonial robes and a couple little holes in her that once accommodated flowing water, stands at the intersection.
Along each “street” are multi-story buildings stuck onto one another as one single structure. Many have stone balconies, indicating they were likely living spaces back in the time this place was inhabited.
Slit-like features high above us apparently connect to the surface somewhere, as sunlight is filtering in through them and even making it, just barely, to street-level.
We follow Cɪrthsta left at the statue, and continue down that street for another good long while before coming upon a large unlit niche at the end of the way. It looks almost like a gigantic well, but we fly right into it. It turns out to be a tunnel to somewhere else; a rail for what probably once supported a monorail vehicle can be seen running along the bottom of this tube-shaped tunnel.
After several hundred meters, the tube ends and the area opens up again. This new room is vast, cylindrical, and dominated by a stone statue of another beautiful-looking woman. This one stands with a warrior’s expression on her face, an impressive bust, long hair, and her right hand clasps a longsword directed downwards as if about to finish an enemy off. She stands on a stout but wide pedastol, and the floor around it looks like it can retract away to reveal another room below. The stone walls, cut directly from the bedrock as one single entity, is covered with a slowly fading script for some language I’ve never seen before. The script is probably as old as the place itself is.
Cɪrthsta lands her Kinniwigg down at the foot of the woman, and our Kinniwiggs follow suit. “Look, guys! It’s me!” Cɪrthsta proclaims enthusiastically while we dismount.
I guess that makes sense. It explains the impressive chest on the statue, at the very least. I wonder if the statue we passed back at the atrium was a likeness of Lady Light.
“Now what?” asks Kess.
“Now, I open up our way into the long-lost Realm of the Old Ones,” answers Cɪrthsta. She places herself between the two large feet of her likeness, and then turns into a beam of light that passes right up through her statue and disappears into the domed roof far above the statue’s head. The writing on the wall lights up, and then the retractible floor begins to retreat into cavities in the wall. A torus-shaped hole is revealed as Cɪrthsta returns to normal.
She hops back onto her Kinniwigg, and the rest of us scramble to do the same. We are taken straight downwards, and eventually into a dome-shaped space that has many door-sized openings in it at floor-level.
“We’ll hafta go by foot from here on out,” she states the obvious. The fifty-something openings are nowhere near big enough to fit a Kinniwigg.
We land, dismount, and Cɪrthsta tells the creatures to return home (I’m assuming). They fly off and we follow Cɪrthsta as she heads directly towards one of the doorways. Her light is the only thing illuminating our way down here. It looks like she knows her way down here, so that’s promising.
The tunnel we took ultimately brought us to an underground outpost, that has been left uninhabited for a very long time. We camped there for the night.
Cɪrthsta informed us that, starting tomorrow, our journey to the core would be fraught with tests, traps, and terrors of various shapes and forms. Each of us will have our part to play before our journey’s end.