Hallsassring’s Journey: The Story of a Nossring

Chapter 2: Welcome to Tarnath

Belltros’ Farm on the West Road outside Tarnath

Hallsassring made progress as the sun rose. She was slowly descending into a wide valley spanning the forest to the west and another set of mountains far to the east. Occasional rises broke the broad lands. To the north the lands smoothed into a plain that extended to the horizon; to the south foothills of the eastern mountains gave way to what looked to be a large bay with many docks and ships.

The openness was strange to her, so different from the valleys of the Rimmel Mountains where she was always enclosed and protected by the mountain’s tall arms. Here she felt exposed and vulnerable.

In spite of her unease, she could see that these lands had their own kind of beauty. The earth was not the rich brown soil of the Nossring Nation, but it was a healthy place where growing things were well tended and flourished happily. The fields were filled with grains and other crops she did not recognize. They added soft browns and greens to the landscape, and — she inhaled deeply — an earthy fragrance. When she listened closely, she could hear the tall grasses softly brushing each other whenever the wind gusted.

“Surely, I will find Alliss in this place,” she told herself, trying to bolster her confidence.

Without warning the low country noises were interrupted by another, unexpected, sound. A voice called out to her.

“Greetings!” It came from somewhere to her right. Looking in that direction she saw a small woods. She scrutinized the area to find the source of the voice, but saw nothing. A short tree near the front of the wood shook, and then started moving toward her. Shocked, she jumped back, crouching with her fists in front of her.

“Oh, my goodness. I am so sorry to startle you, stranger,” came words from the same voice.

Hallsassring did not move, and the tree-ish thing also stopped. She waited to see what or who it was.

The tree raised its branches — arms? — in a sign of peaceful intent.

To all appearances, it was no more than a small tree about the same height as Hallsassring herself. However, it had moved the way folk would. Looking closer, she saw two burly legs with long roots for feet that seemed to extend from the thick trunk. The two limbs that it held in the air looked as much like arms as branches, and its head was crowned with a bramble of thin hairlike stems and small leaves. She thought she saw a pair of eyes where a face might be.

Then she remembered. Her instructors had taught her about the Ten Races, ten types of sentient creatures that dominated the Tamarran Continent. One of them was a race of tree-like beings who called themselves Kamari. Hallsassring’s realization eased her concern, and she relaxed her stance somewhat, gazing more closely at this extraordinary being. In every way it looked to be a tree, and yet it moved as nimbly as any of her Nossring kin.

Her face must have given away her astonishment. Seeing this, and her relaxed posture, the creature smiled and gave a good-natured laugh.

Hallsassring rose to her full height. “Greetings,” she said, using the same language that had hailed her; Sessym, the common language of the northern half of the Tamarran Continent. She extended her arms with her hands open in customary greeting and looked to see what reaction she would receive.

The creature seemed pleased at Hallsassring’s courtesy. “Yes, greetings and welcome, stranger,” it replied, giving a polite bow in return. “Please allow me to introduce myself.”

When Hallsassring said nothing, the being continued, “My name is Belltros, and I am, as you can see” — he held out his arms and spoke with great pride — “a Kamari, though I have no tribe other than my family.”

Hallsassring was heartened to know she had guessed correctly, and that her long lessons had been helpful. However, her teachers had told her that Kamari were fiercely proud of their tribe, and it was highly unusual not to be a member of one. Yet Belltros said that he belonged to no tribe. Curious, she thought to herself, but quickly placed that aside and responded, “I am honored to meet you, Belltros.” She hesitated as she wanted to offer more than this, but the warning from her elders sounded in her head; “We Nossring are not always well-received in the world outside our lands,” and she said no more.

Belltros seemed satisfied with Hallsassring’s answer and continued, “You look to be a traveler, perhaps one from far away.” Belltros paused. Pointing to the east, he asked, “If I may be so bold, are you going to the city, to Tarnath?”

“Yes. Yes, I am,” Hallsassring answered. She was not used to such a direct question from such a strange creature.

Belltros responded amiably, “Speaking for myself, I’m not much for Tarnath. Too busy, and not enough grass or trees or fresh air.” He looked toward the land on either side and kept his gaze there, away from Hallsassring, trying to put her at ease.

After a few moments he turned back and said, “Well, I shouldn’t keep you if you have traveling ahead of you. I will wish you …”

“Hallsassring,” she blurted out, momentarily embarrassed by her awkwardness, and hoping she had not been rude. “That is my name.” She bowed her head slightly and added, “I come from the Nossring Nation far to the west.”

She was relieved to see that Belltros was smiling and had taken no offense.

“It is my honor to meet you, Hallsassring,” Belltros said graciously and with a gentleness that took Hallsassring by surprise. “It has been many years since one of the noble folk of the Nossring Nation has crossed my lands, and you are welcome here.”

Hallsassing wasn’t sure what to do. Not only had she revealed her name far too casually to a complete stranger — names are an intimacy that should only be shared when trust has been demonstrated beyond all doubt — but it seemed that this stranger already knew something about her, or at least about her folk.

Belltros could see Hallsassring’s discomfort. “You have shared generously with me, Hallsassring. If you would allow it, I will endeavor to return the favor, at least in part.”

Before Hallsassing could respond, Belltros continued, “It looks as if you have been traveling for some time and are perhaps hungry? You are welcome to share food with me.” He pointed to a table nestled just inside the woods. “It is only bread, berries, and a small cheese, oh, and a bit of fresh honey. Oh, yes, and I think there is some cream. In any case, I was about to sit down for my mid-day meal when I saw you.” Pointing again at the table, he added, “I assure you there is enough for all.”

“All?” Hallsassring posed the question to herself, wondering at the unusual turn of phrase, but quickly dismissed it. She calculated that it would be imprudent to refuse this offer, and yet it would be incautious to accept it. However, she had already disregarded caution, and, more importantly, if she were to accomplish her mission, she must take chances and find allies. The final piece of internal math that led her to a decision was her realization that she was very hungry and the food looked particularly delicious.

“I thank you for your generosity, Belltros, and will gladly share your food and perhaps some conversation.”

“Excellent!” Belltros said, clearly pleased that Hallsassring had accepted his offer. He led her to the table, chatting about where each of the foods had come from — most from his own farm.

As the two sat down at the table, Hallsassring realized that Belltros had been far too humble about the meal. There was indeed plenty for them both and for several more besides. Belltros handed her a wooden plate inviting her to help herself, and she eagerly obliged.

Our Solar System: Moralastalla

Our Solar System: Moralastalla


Mean Distance from Oma: 987 WA

Orbital Period around Oma: 31 years

Mean Diameter: 93,801 miles

Length of day: 56 hours

Gravity: 6.2 Ethems


Moralastalla is referred to in the ancient texts as “the Breathing Fekxtah.” The more mystical members of the Elzheni Astronomers Scientific Federacy claimed that this was due to a “being of cosmic proportions, born during the Second Age of the World, living inside the material confines of the Moralastalla Fekxtah.” It is not entirely clear what this cryptic remark means, and, sadly, the author (or authors) do not go into additional detail (or that detail may be contained in some of the Lost Volumes), so current scientists are left to little more than casual (or some would say, wild) speculation.

Even though this ancient tract gives us little to go on, the Fekxtah planet itself does have some peculiarities that lend credence to the “breathing” claim. The planet is constantly emitting huge plumes of gasses from its northern polar region. This creates a massive churn in the atmosphere of Moralastalla and, due to the spin of the planet, it creates a large halo around the planet. The halo has divided itself into a set of separate rings. It is believed that hidden within these rings are many small moons and even lesser (smaller) bodies. There are accounts (again, these are contained in the ancient texts) that “smoke devils” move among these small, lifeless rocky forms. If the texts are to be given credence, these smoke devils have an ability to form themselves into various shapes. They also have an ability to launch at high speeds to travel within the halo of Moralastalla and then have the ability to cling to one of these small moons, or planetoids, to halt its forward momentum, and surround the object. The Elzheni observers, who occupied Moralastalla’s Fekxtah station, recorded contention among the smoke devils for possession of the halo’s moons and moonlets. If two or more smoke devils occupied a moonlet at the same time, they observed terrific storms and churn of the cloudy substance of the devils, as if they were fighting for dominance of the celestial object. In most cases these great battles resulted in the expulsion of all but one devil from the planetoid. In the other cases, the speculation among the Elzheni was that one of the smoke devils had consumed its rival(s).

The halo of Moralastalla deserves much more attention than we can provide here. We must leave it at the idea that the halo is a world unto itself, and is deserving of years of study in addition to what studies may be given to the planet.

In addition to the halo, Moralastalla is surrounded by a naturally occurring belt of rings that rotate around the planet at a highly accelerated rate. The rings approach the planet very closely, within miles of the surface of the Fekxtah.

This brings us to the surface of Moralastalla, or, more accurately to the absence of a solid surface. There is a thick cloud cover that provides the outer shape of this planet. The clouds are in constant movement, and provide a sharp delineation between the emptiness of space around Moralastalla and the clinging, self-entangled masses of clouds.

Fekxtah Station #9:

The Fekxtah Station for Moralastalla is quite large. The accounts talk of it housing hundreds, possibly as many as one thousand, astronomers and workers.

The station sits in the upper levels of Moralastalla’s cloud cover so that it has access to both the planet itself as well as to the empty space around the Fekxtah. Though the station sits in this outer covering, it is anchored to something deep below. The Fekxtah Station is unique among all such stations in that it has this long anchor that tethers it to the planet. The tether is made of a material the Elzheni refer to as gennelith, which is a material the Elzheni crafted from other materials including some found in the outer Fekxtah of Oma’s Family. Gennelith’s properties are a strange combination of strength, pliability, and lightness of the material itself. In small form, that might be held in the hand, gennelith is so light that it is nearly impossible to feel the weight of it and its thin strands are so thin as to be almost invisible.

The ancient texts claim that the giant strand of gennelith is anchored at one end to the Fekxtah Station and its other end is connected to the hard surface of the planet which is thousands of miles below the Station.

During the early days of the use of this station the Elzheni had a vehicle that was able to descend along the shaft of the gennelith tether to carry a small group of explorers from the station to the surface of the planet. It was a terribly dangerous journey due to the tremendous turbulence of Moralastalla’s atmosphere which would often disturb the gennelith tether causing sometimes sharp, uncontrolled movements. In addition to the dangers of the journey, the surface of Moralastalla was extremely hostile. Temperatures were high and much of the surface was covered in shallow oceans of molten rock connected by streams of hot lava. Many Elzheni explorers lost their lives in pursuit of more knowledge about this strange Fekxtah, and, as the ancient texts record, over time fewer expeditions were launched until, at some point, they were finally ended and the car that traversed the gennelith tether was stored away in the least accessible sections of the Fekxtah Station.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: Resting

Dollano 23, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam


The first thing I must capture here is that Donnessling is not dead. I do not understand how that could be given how deep his wound was. It seems that it had something to do with the Stone (or “Eye”) that he carries, and with Sheshoffiss’ skill with his own Stone. These ancient artifacts are more powerful than I had imagined.

We found out from Sheshoffiss who had quickly come over to sit by Donnessling’s unmoving body. I could see that he was holding the white Eye in one hand and with his other he cupped a bit of water from the lake. Then we could hear him mutter some more of those strange words as he slowly poured water onto Donnessling’s chest where the gray shaft had speared him. We could see a soft white light coming out of both of Sheshoffiss’ hands and the light seemed to infuse the water as it dripped onto Donnessling. After a few moments we could see the glimmer of a weak green light coming out of the wound. I’m not entirely sure my eyes actually saw this, but the green light seemed to draw a gray shadow out of the wound and push it toward the white light coming from Sheshoffiss who then seemed to absorb it. Or he might have been casting it off. I could not tell, but expelling this gray substance from Donnessling seemed to allow life back into his body.

After what seemed like hours, Donnessling opened his eyes. The first thing he did was look up at Sheshoffiss and give a slight nod of his head. I saw Sheshoffiss give a sigh of relief, and he then told the rest of us that Donnessling would live. These nossring folk are a very stoic kind, but at this announcement I could feel the emotions of relief, and I think I may have seen some tears of relief run down Allsassring’s cheeks.

Allsassring broke the silence by telling Sheshoffis and Donnessling that they must both rest. He then gave the same command to the rest of us.

“Sleep. I will keep watch, but we should be safe here in this ancient place.”

At that each of the nossring found a place to settle on the hard stone floor and slept. I remained awake with Allsassring for long enough to take down these words. I would not allow any amount of fatigue to stop me from capturing these extraordinary events while they were still fresh in my mind.

I have now discharged that obligation and will also find sleep with the last image I saw before I set aside my pen being Allsassring’s back, stern and sturdy as he kept watch on the door.

Hallsassring’s Journey: The Story of a Nossring

Chapter 1: Arrived


Hallsassring stopped. The fury came suddenly and without warning, leaving her startled, confused – and immobile. She shook her head to cast off the anger, but failed. Looking up to the sky she decided to retrace her steps that day.

She had woken early, before sunrise. Quietly gathering her few belongings, she tucked each away in its proper place in her backpack. She began her walk, cheered by the thought that it was the final day of her journey, the day she would reach her destination.

The morning’s walk through the forest was peaceful. It put her at ease to be surrounded by the thriving profusion of trees, bushes, and undergrowth. It reminded her of home, which was welcome after so many weeks of travel. Her sharp hearing detected the chittering conversations of small animals hiding in the forest’s understory, and the quiet movement of those who hunted them. The path through the dense foliage was narrow, at times barely discernible. It was easier, though, than the wild parts of the woods, and less demanding than the mountains she had left behind days before.

Just before noon she had walked out of the woods into open country, a gently sloping landscape filled with wide meadows and well-tended fields of crops. The wind was freer here with no woods to block its passage, and she enjoyed the many new scents it brought her. The sky above was clear.

It had been a good day for walking.

That brought her back to her present circumstance. She disciplined herself to control the anger, closing her eyes to recall what had brought her journey to a standstill. It was not the road, the hot sun, the long walk, or even the heavy load she carried on her back. She was used to much harsher burdens and more strenuous exertion. What had stopped her was only a few yards ahead: a simple wooden sign on the side of the road that read, “Welcome to Tarnath.”

She opened her eyes to look again at the wooden marker. This time she read the words aloud, hoping that speaking them would unmake their strength. But her anger was only renewed, and she asked herself again: why does such a small thing cause such a deep wound?

At its core, she was furious that folk would divide the world into parcels to be owned and sold and bargained with. How could it be in any way natural that the lands of the world would be measured and sectioned so that one piece might be owned by one folk, and another piece of that same land was owned by another?

Her eyes wandered to the fields on either side of her. The tall grass evenly surrounded the sign. The land’s graceful contours flowed without regard to where folk might claim ownership. The lands themselves did not recognize false, senseless boundaries.

She shook her head again, harder this time. She gained some control, only to quickly lose it. Her mind had a mind of its own. She sighed. She knew because Fellspring had reminded her of it many times, and he understood his pupil well.

“Hallsassring, you are not listening,” he often said, “Your anger is a useful tool, but not if you cannot control it.” His admonitions were always accurate, much to her dismay.

She looked back at the sign. This time, she would master her emotions. She called back a memory of Fellspring that seemed well-suited to this moment. “The world outside the Nossring Nation is not like ours, Hallsassring. The outside folk believe that the lands and places of the world can be divided into pieces, and those pieces may then be given to other folk as their own, to do with as they please.” She remembered him looking at her, measuring her disbelief, and with raised eyebrows adding, “They believe that the world must be owned. That it must be conquered, subdued so that it serves their needs. They are unable to see it any other way.”

Then Fellspring would wait patiently, but always with warmth, for his student’s response.

The sign in front of her made Fellspring’s words real in a way she had not expected. She had never doubted that Fellspring was right—he always was. She just didn’t want to believe that such a world could exist. This was the constant struggle of the Nossring folk. An old race, they had been in the world since the beginning of the Third Era, and their ways were even older, inherited from others who came long before. During those millennia, they had learned that the world is in the care of its folk, that while they live it is their responsibility to nurture that world and leave it thriving for those who come after. For the Nossring this belief was unshakable, much stronger than the creeds of those who would divide the world into imaginary deeds of ownership.

Hallsassring reminded herself that Fellspring was not here. Nor were any of her Nossring kin. At this moment, on this journey, she was alone, and she now felt that absence keenly.

It was not time for such thoughts, she decided. She had a task to complete. Forcing her anger away, she stepped forward and crossed the boundary invented by the wooden sign. She shrugged her shoulders as if to shake away the sadness evoked by that footfall. Though she did not realize it, at that moment she looked very much like her beloved instructor.

She left the sign behind her. The sun continued to shine in a cloudless sky,which helped her to recover her spirits. She remembered her task, the reason she was in this alien place so far from home. Alliss had been taken from her. She had been kidnapped, dragged away against her will. Hallsassring had tracked her and her captors these many miles, to this place. She would find her in the City of Tarnath, and she refused to fail.

A new anger burned beneath her calm exterior. She knew that Alliss’ abductors cared nothing about her other than the price she would fetch from a wealthy buyer. Her fury at the Nossring Council’s unwillingness to help her gave her the strength she had needed for this long journey. It stiffened her resolve to find her companion and to punish those who had taken her. Alliss must be rescued from a life of pain and hopelessness, and that was her task. Hers alone.

With a steadied gait, she walked forward.

Be sure to come back next month for the next episode in this series — Chapter 2, Welcome to Tarnath.

Our Solar System: Dra Ag Ahaggalla

Dra Ag Ahaggalla Fekxtah Station

Dra Ag Ahaggalla

Mean Distance from Oma: 517 WA

Orbital Period around Oma: 18 years

Mean Diameter: 118,150 miles

Length of day: 11.8 hours

Gravity: 4.6 Ethems


Dra Ag Ahaggalla is Oma’s largest planet. It is in fact so large, and has so many moons, that the ancient texts described the Fekxtah as its own Celestial Family. Only a small part of this planetary behemoth had been explored by the Elzheni. This was due in part because of its enormous size, but also, and perhaps more so, because of its turbulent, and quite violent, environment.

Dra Ag Ahaggalla is swathed in multiple layers of heavy clouds that carry inside them particulates that can eat away at the raw material of anything attempting to pass through them. The clouds form into ferocious storm patterns that extend for thousands of miles and some which circulate across the entire circumference of the planet.

The upper layer of this Fekxtah’s atmosphere is several hundred miles deep with separate, distinct layers lying below it. Each layer has been given its own name by the ancient Elzheni explorers, but we will not recount that list here. It is notable, though, that the sixth layer of Dra Ag Ahaggalla is, unlike those that surround it, an atmosphere that is relatively quiet with storms that are less frequent and more manageable. For this reason it was labeled “The Stillness”.

The layer below The Stillness is as severe as the layers above; however, the clouds of this layer are much darker and thicker than any above it. Parts of it are so thick that they turn from gas into liquid and form temporary oceans that float along the wind currents and then dash into the layer below or suddenly dissipate back into a thick, sticky air. Some of the most extraordinary accounts from the Elzheni explorers tell of creatures that traveled in this heavy layer. Reports speak of tall creatures, hundreds of feet tall (or long), that fly among the violent winds and sometimes dance between them. The Elzheni dubbed these inhabitants of the Fektah the Drawegg in honor of the name of the planet itself.

There are no accounts of direct contact with the Drawegg; however, there were numerous occasions on which these alien beings would be seen close by when damage had just been done to the Fekxtah Station. Huge dents had been made in the outer shell of the station as if a giant hammer, or a hard fist, had battered its thick, metallic skin. Several accounts posited the belief that the Drawegg could speak, or at least laugh, though others argued back that it was simply the wind that they heard.

Below these top-most atmospheric layers the knowledge of the Elzheni becomes more sketchy. A number of brave (or foolish) Elzheni explorers used small vessels to explore the depths of Dra Ag Ahaggalla, but few of them returned.

Of those few that did return, two left detailed accounts of what they saw and experienced. They each made mention that their tiny, one passenger, craft had benefited them. They suspected that it was small enough that the forces of the planet had less effect on them, and that, perhaps, the Drawegg saw them as too small to be of concern. Whatever the reason, each of these ships and their explorer was able to travel thousands of miles into the bowels of Fekxtah. The deeper they went into the planet, the more dense the atmosphere became, and at their deepest extent the dense gas gave way to a sloshing liquid, which was heavy and viscous and seemed to cling to their craft slowing it down. Each pilot reported, independently, that as they went lower and the liquid became denser, it felt as if the liquid was reacting to their ship in an intelligent manner, as if it could perceive them as an intruder. At times the liquid would separate, creating an open, empty space hundreds of feet wide. This would cause the craft to suddenly fall but before it could meet the other side of this space it would be met by a thrust of liquid shooting up from the bottom as if to attack the tiny ship and hold it in its grasp. The pilots’ struggle to regain control of their vessel was significant and they survived only because of their great courage and outstanding skill. Neither of these explorers ever found a solid surface to the planet. They each noted that they believed there was simply no such thing.

We will make note of one other unusual characteristic of the Fekxtah planet Dra Ag Ahaggalla. As mentioned above, this planet has an enormous number of moons. The ancient Elzheni scientists counted over one hundred, and thousands of smaller objects (too small to be considered a “moon”) also circling this planet. Several of the moons are large, almost the size of our own Ethem, whereas the smallest are only a few miles in diameter.

The moons of Dra Ag Ahaggalla were, for the ancient Elzheni, their own separate area of study. They were highly diverse; some being made entirely of water (frozen, of course, at their surface but perhaps liquid deep inside), others a strange accumulation of oddly shaped rock, and still others (though only a few) that were long and wide but only inches thick, like enormous sheets of stone. Sadly the books about Dra Ag Ahaggalls’ moons have been lost to us, or have yet to be released to us by the Heola mayam. NOTE: The Heola mayam are those of their race who devote their lives to the protection of books, in particular, the books of the ancient Elzheni race. In the colloquial language these mayam would simply be called “librarians”.

Fekxtah Station #8:

The ancient texts tell us that the creation of the Fekxtah Station for Dra Ag Ahaggalla was one of their greatest engineering challenges, and considered one of their greatest successes.

This station was built to float in “The Stillness” layer of the Fekxtah. Getting materials to that layer of Dra Ag Ahaggalls atmosphere was a challenge in itself, one which failed many times before a way was found to navigate the hostile storms of the outer atmosphere to reach this less violent place.

The station was built as a large oblong object, with strong, metallic sides to protect it from the planet’s chaotic atmosphere. Inside the Fekxtah Station were particularly advanced Energetic engines that the Elzheni had created just for this purpose. The Engines were powerful, as they had to be to withstand the weather of this strange world, and they had to be constantly attended to adjust for the planet’s constantly changing storms.

There are later accounts that the Elzheni followed their success in building this craft by building several more so that they could position these large ships at various points in the Fekxtah. Of course, we have no ability to verify if this was true, or not. We can only report what the ancient texts claim.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: Hazzen’s Cave

Dollano 22, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

Hazzen’s Cave

My previous entry was written very late last night, or, perhaps more accurately, early this morning. We’d spent the night running and had finally found our way here to this sanctuary. I had a chance then to write, but was too exhausted to tell the whole story. I’ve now had a few hours of sleep, so I can tell the rest of the tale.

Breaking through the doors was not difficult. They were held on their hinges by little more than rust and the brittleness of old age.

We had left behind the folk from Tellin Town, and Allsassring led the rest of us (the nossring and me) through the building. He seemed to know the passageways. I’m guessing he had a talk with Donnessling or Sheshoffiss, or both, who had in turn gotten information from some ally or informant in Berimandry.

At one time, very long ago, the building must have been home to someone very wealthy. Now, though, it had fallen into disrepair with many parts beyond recognition.

Donnessling and Sheshoffiss took up the rear to defend against the constant attacks from the tall malevolence that had followed us into this place. We could see flashes of green light or white light accompanied by loud cracks as the Energy behind the lights snapped into existence. These lights were quickly followed by a grayness that dimmed the other lights and the lights of our torches.

Allsassring led us on, through hallway after hallway sometimes following stairs down, but more often following stairs up.

Suddenly, Allsassring shouted out to Donnessling that we had reached “the door,” and Donnessling soon appeared at our sides. We could hear the battle between Sheshoffiss and the gray creature behind us. Donnessling motioned to a number of the fighters and they scurried back to aid Sheshoffiss.

Donnessling was exhausted, his clothing torn in several places with gashes along his chest and side. They seemed freshly gouged from his form, but I could see that, even as I watched, they were healing themselves with a soft green light along their lengths.

The green light stopped and Donnessling winced, and drew from his pocket the purple stone that he had taken from Begkragk. I could see Allsassring looking at him with great concern, and seeming prepared to hold him up should it be necessary.

Donnessling drew a breath, closed his eyes, and raised the Eye of Zanyr in front of him. He recited the words of an ancient tongue and as he did the purple stone grew in brightness. Just as the light was reaching out to the surface of the wall at the end of the corridor, we heard a hard thud and felt the jolt of something powerful. I looked back and could see three of my nossring friends lying on the floor in pools of their own blood. Four others had surrounded Sheshoffiss who was casting forward a white light with both of his hands. The white cloud was violently mixing with a grayness that seeped into it, distorting its shape and diluting its brilliance. With a cry of outrage Sheshoffiss suddenly forced the cloud of white light to envelope its gray foe to swallow it whole, and, with an explosion that shook the walls and floors of the building around us, it hurled the tall gray creature back down the corridor.

The nossring around Sheshoffiss started to move toward the creature, but Sheshoffiss held them back. “It is only stunned for a moment or perhaps two. We must run.” He then collapsed into the arms of two of his protectors who ran back to the rest of us, with the other two backing toward us, vigilantly watching for whatever might happen at the other end of the corridor.

At that moment, we heard a different cracking sound, but this one was more mechanical. I turned to see that a door had opened in the wall revealing a passageway cut through rough stone.

Donnessling croaked to us, “Go! Safety lies down this way.” He looked at Allsassring, and without hesitation he commanded us to follow him into the darkness.

Once everyone was through, Donnessling once again raised the purple stone in his hands and softly sang another ancient chant. As the door was closing a bolt of sharp gray, like a dark silver lance, flew through the door and buried itself deep in Donnessling’s chest. He slumped and the nossring warriors near him caught him as he fell to the ground.

We ran down the stone tunnel and could hear the shrieks of the gray creature behind us and its attempts to break the door we had just come through.

A short run led us into the expanse of a domed cavern with a small lake that brought a freshness to its space.

“Hazzen’s Cave,” Allsassring told us, “We are safe in this place,” and we laid Donnessling’s body at the water’s side.