Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: The Way Out

Dollano 30, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

The Way Out

A number of events from this day must be faithfully recounted.

First of all, the creature that had the gray stone in its possession, the enemy who pursued us for so long, is gone and, according to Donnessling, was hurt badly and won’t be coming back any time soon. Second, it’s not dead, also according to Donnessling. I trust that he knows.

The third thing is that Sheshoffis cannot be woken. The good news is that he’s not dead. Donnessling tried everything that he could, but the wound was simply beyond his abilities to heal, even if he had not been wounded himself and utterly fatigued as he tried. Tollerring had urged him to use the white stone, but he told us that he could not. Apparently each stone requires any new master to learn about the stone before they can use it. As Donnessling told it, the Stone and its user must bond with each other, and that process could take a good deal of time. Much more than what Donnessling had.

Note to Self: So, how is it that Donnessling could use the purple stone that he captured from Begkragk so quickly? There is more going with that than meets the idea. A good story to investigate if we live to tell the tale!

When Donnessling finally stopped his efforts to cure Sheshoffiss, he told us that he had been able to save Sheshoffiss from death, but just barely, and that the zweyjen required more skills than he could provide. He said he knew of a sorcerer’s cabal in Berimandry that could aid our friend.

Last thing, and the worst (but perhaps most expected) was that we could hear the moraktatha advancing toward us. They had clearly been frightened off by the gray creature, and then even more by the battle of lights, but at last they were regaining their courage. Or, perhaps their hunger was proving greater than their fear.

Whatever it might be, we had to leave and leave immediately.

Donnessling told us that we could not go back the way we had come. It was too dangerous, and, though no one said it, we were all relieved that we would not take that course.

The exit that we had originally sought only hours earlier was not far away and we made haste for that with several of us carrying Sheshoffiss’ unmoving form. I also noticed that Tollerring was helping Donnessling forward. They were trying to hide it from the rest of us, but I could tell. I’m sure Donnessling wanted none of his to know just how weakened he was.

The exit was not hard to find. It was a large opening and looked as though it had at one time been quite elegant. The remains of columns bordered the opening on either side and beneath there was a border trimming the doorway that had once been elegant and, I think, contained words in an ancient language. Once inside I could see that the tunnel walls were old and covered in grime. There were patches where well-fashioned tiles shone through.

I was sad to leave these mysteries behind, but time was of the essence, and I could already feel the tug of Emotion Energy from the mass of moraktatha approaching us.

As we made our way down the tunnel, I could feel the malevolent pull of those foul creatures lessen. It would seem they would not pursue us past the confines of the cavern. I could feel the fear leave me, and I could see the shoulders of my nossring comrades ease as they, too, could tell that we were now beyond their reach.

We marched through the passage for many hours. It would frequently turn one direction or the other and there were many passageways that we met and crossed, and sometimes took. Donnessling’s knowledge of this place was impressive. Even amazing, though there were a couple times when I thought I saw a quick flash from the green stone as he took a minute to consider a direction for us or a choice among alternative tunnels.

The first sign that we were near the end was the fresh smell of trees and some flowers. As the tunnel turned sharply to the left and veered steeply up we could see a bright stream of light ahead. Our pace quickened and the tunnel suddenly turned into a wide, tall cavern. At its end was a doorway that must have been at least sixty feet high, and the sunlight was now strong and clear. We covered the last few hundred yards in no time and emerged onto a wide, flat shelf far above the plains below. There, far below us, tucked into a pocket between two spurs of the mountain, was the City of Berimandry.

It was mid-day. We had traveled through the night, and had traveled and fought before that. Our exhaustion finally settled on us all. We would have continued if Donnessling had commanded it (that is how loyal his nossring comrades were to him, as was I), but he could see our state, and his was no better (likely worse), so he gave instructions for us to eat something and to rest. The words had barely left his lips when he lay down against a mossy covered side of the small plateau and fell asleep.

At that point Tollerring took charge to make sure everyone had food and he stood guard as the rest of us slept.

When he woke us, the sun was low in the sky. The last of our journey took us down the mountain and to the outskirts of the city. Donnessling led us to the house of a farmer who knew Donnessling and welcomed him with open arms, as did his family.

Here is where we will spend the night. The farmer, a man named Kellen, sent two of his sons to fetch the sorcerers who would, hopefully, help to heal Sheshoffiss from his deep wounds. They should arrive first thing in the morning.

And now my day is done. We are safe in this place and we were fed again, with an abundance of fresh food. That has restored at least some of our aches, and it gave me the strength to write this entry.

Now I will join my companions for a long night of needed sleep, and we will see what comes to us tomorrow.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: A Last Battle

Dollano 29, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

A Last Battle

We were exhausted from our exertions of the last few days, but, even more than that, we were weary from the loss of our friends. Or, at least, I was weary. My nossring companions showed little emotion, but I’ve been with them long enough to know when they’ve been affected, and I could tell they felt the loss deeply. Even so, they carry on.

Note to Self: Someday that will be me!

We started the day’s journey by trying to find the way out. The one that Donnessling had told us about. We had traveled for a while, and Donnessling had just told us that we were close when we heard a huge crashing sound up ahead. It sounded like some of the tunnel had caved in.

Donnessling sent two of his commands ahead to see what had happened. They returned soon and told us that the ceiling up ahead had caved in and the tunnel was now blocked. They told us that the collapse was extensive and not something we could simply dig through.

Donnessling looked at Sheshoffiss whose eyes were closed. He seemed to be trying to recall something, perhaps some very old memories. When his eyes opened he looked back at Donnessling, and said, “There is a place, further on, which leads out of the mountain onto its western foothills.”

“Wells’ Cavern,” was Donnessling’s response, “It is a dangerous place. For many years now it has been overrun with moraktatha, if the reports are true.”

Sheshoffiss agreed with this assessment, and emphasized how foul the moraktatha are. Snakes are bad enough, but these are large ones — some are longer than an ushen is tall — and they are particularly loathsome. The worst thing is that these creatures don’t just swallow their prey whole; they devour our selves, too. All of our memories, thoughts, and feelings become a part of the moraktatha that eats you. Not a pleasant way to die — as if there was some way to die that was.

The two of them debated while the rest of us waited. Neither seemed to like the notion of Wells’ Cavern, but they decided that it was either that or going back to the horror of the ancient city we had just escaped.

Once they made their decision, Donnessling gave instructions to Tollerring and told him to lead the way. Tollerring has taken the place of Allsassring as Donnessling’s commander. Neither of them mentioned Allsassring’s name when the assignment was decided.

It was not a long journey, and we arrived outside the cavern in the late afternoon, stopping before we entered to prepare ourselves. The plan was for Donnessling and Sheshoffiss to use their stones to form an Energetic shield around us as we moved forward and the fighters would form a ring around us to kill any that might get through. It was key that we all stayed together, inside the protective field, as we moved across the cavern to the exit.

Donnessling and Sheshoffiss stood close to each other and chanted to their stones. As the light rose, Donnessling nodded to Tollerring, who slowly led us out of our hiding place.

All of our swords were drawn and the light was enough for us to see a dozen yards in every direction.

Our gait was disciplined and slow, giving us time to search the smooth floor around us. The sleek gray skin of the moraktatha might easily blend in with the stone of the cave, making them all but invisible to us.

The minutes passed slowly. Our concentration never wavered and the stones emitted a steady stream of white light tinged with green and purple.

When we had marched about halfway across the cavern Donnessling whispered a word for us to stop.

“Something is wrong,” he said.

Sheshoffiss responded, “We know that this is their…”

We heard a soft hissing from the far end of the cavern. Donnessling cocked his head to listen carefully and drew the green stone, the stone that matched to Spirit Energy, closer.

“It is the moraktatha. They have drawn away to the far end of the cavern, and they are afraid.” He looked at Sheshoffiss. I could hear the surprise in his voice and I could see his brow furrow when he added, “But they do not fear us.”

A loud cracking sound broke the silence. The stone under the feet of the Nossring to my left broke apart and our companions fell. To my astonishment, they were sinking into stone as if its hardness had somehow become soft and malleable. I could see their eyes lit with pain.

“It is here. The creature that carries the Gray Stone,” Donnessling announced to the air around him. “There,” said Donnessling, pointing toward the other side of the cavern.

As one he and Sheshoffiss leaped forward. We were now in the dark, but could see their light as they swept toward some unseen destination.

I could see streams of green and purple light twisting themselves around each other to form a long, focused stream. Then the white light completed the braid and the three lights shaped into a sleek, powerful spear of light. I could hear sharp popping sounds and see sparks of light as the streams merged with each other making this weapon ever more powerful.

Without warning the three braided lights hurtled themselves into the dark. There was an explosion as they crashed into a dark gray cloud that had something hard and gray in its center. Something in the grayness struck back to deflect the assault, but the white light burst into brilliance and drove the spear of the entwined lights forward.

Suddenly a cry of pain pierced the cavern’s air. Then, unspeakable words in an ancient tongue rang out with what had to have been a terrible curse. When the curse completed, the gray cloud snapped out of existence and its remaining misty shards dissolved into the air.

Tollerring ran forward accompanied by three other nossring to see after our companions. I quickly ran after them.

We arrived to find Donnessling, depleted but still conscious. He was leaning over Sheshoffiss holding the green stone against the zweyjens chest. Sheshoffiss had the white stone in his hand, but it gave no light, and he was lying stiff on the floor and barely breathing.

I could see the green stone throbbing in Donnessling’s hand as he rallied against his exhaustion to try to keep Sheshoffiss alive.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: The City of Yemnash

Dollano 28 (two hours later), SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

The City of Yemnash

It was less than two hours ago that I fell asleep, but it will (it must) be enough for now.

It is time to recount the remainder of yesterday’s events and finish with where we find ourselves at this moment, provided I am given the time to do so.

Before I go on, I have to say to myself (so that I am reminded of it in later times) that I don’t want to tell this story. The events are almost too much to bear, but I am a reporter, and so I will report.

We were chased down the tunnel for several hours, and we ended up in a large cavern, though to call it a cavern does not tell even half the story. It was an underground city. At first we thought it was abandoned. The buildings were all of stone, somewhat lighter than the stone of the walls, and they were stacked one against another in many long rows. Each was many stories tall, reaching at least fifty feet from the cavern floor, leaving some room, though not a lot, between their roofs and the ceiling.

Thick, black vines covered the face of the buildings and had sprawled inside through windows, doors, and deep fissures. For many buildings it looked like the vines were all that kept them standing.

I remember glancing over at Donnessling and Sheshoffiss and seeing the looks of surprise and wonder (and fear?) on their faces. When they glanced at each other they did not seem happy about what we had found.

They whispered together and then chose a path down one of the winding lanes.

No one spoke. This place had placed a fear on all of us, and we treaded lightly as we made our way along the cold stone cavern floor.

We were only perhaps a hundred yards along when we heard the first chittering sounds. If it had not been so completely silent we would have mistaken it for ambient sounds in the deep cavern, but there was something more determined and menacing about the sounds.

We moved quickly but the sounds also picked up and some of the vines on the side of the lane were trembling.

It was when a length of vine stretched up from the floor to meet another that was dangling from a second-story window that we saw them. Allsassring and the nossring who had gone with him were splayed against the surface of the building, just above our reach, bound there by criss-crossing vines. Their bodies were ashen and lifeless and disfigured by the crushing strength of the vines.

We were all stunned, stopped in place while we absorbed the tragedy of what was before us. I think I heard Donnessling weeping.

A cry from one of our companions behind me broke our silence. We turned to see Prassalling being dragged across the cavern floor toward a doorway across from us by one of the vines. We were unprepared for how quickly it moved. Prassalling was hacking at its length with his sword but having little effect.

Three other of our companions leaped to his aid, and each hacked at the vine. But as soon as they had sliced through three others grabbed Prassalling and pulled him into the building. Another vine shot out of a window and wrapped itself around the neck of the nearest nossring, dragging him into the building as it strangled him. The others tried to help but vines were throwing themselves at them, too, and they could do nothing more than fight for their own survival.

In less than a minute we had lost two of our companions, and the rest of us gathered to charge into the building’s dark opening.

“Stop.” It was Donnessling who knew the fate of the two who had been dragged away and would not allow the same to happen to the others under his charge.

“There is nothing we can do to help them. Follow me. Quickly!”

Then we ran, once again. This time, though, we were dodging vines, which were now thrashing wildly and attacking us from every direction.

The nossring are an agile and quick folk, as I’ve learned so well during our travels. They managed to avoid most of the vines, and others they sliced apart or slapped them away with their swords. Some were caught. Some of those were freed by their companions, but some did not make it and were dragged back into the reaches of the abandoned buildings that loomed on either side of us.

I was a burden. I must say it. If it had not been for the aid of my nossring companions I would have been taken by the vines almost immediately. Several formed a guard around me and even carried me at times. I am ashamed that I was such a burden to these stalwart folk, but they would have it no other way. A few times I drew my knife and managed to deal a consequential blow to our ferocious foes, and I met with approving glances from my comrades when I did so.

We ran, and stumbled, and fought, like this for a long time, until we finally reached the end of the buildings and their inhabitants.

Once beyond their reach we looked back and saw tendrils writhing in anger and squealing some kind of high-pitched angry dreams in our direction.

Then we saw a sight that none of us will ever be able to excise from our memories. From above the walls of the buildings at the end, those closest to us, there arose a hideous, unnatural form. Like a surge of feces it rose above the walls to reach the ceiling and then poured down over the sides to the cavern floor. It was a thick, foul-smelling muck, and, as we watched it slowly extruded from deep within the bones of many creatures. There were long bones, and short ones. Most were covered in the brown goo, but some, clearly, still had meat or skin clinging to them. There were skills, some of which still bore their former owners’ eyes or a semblance of eyes created by this mass of malevolence.

The creature (and, though it emerged in several places it seemed one single thing) rose and, forming a wide hole in the sludge that comprised its shape, it bellowed at us. It was a sound as disgusting as its form. We then heard the same kind of sound as we saw that other openings had formed that also seemed to be calling out to us. The combined sounds began as deep rumblings, chaotic and rough, almost like an earthquake. Then the chorus grew to a higher pitch and became so loud we had to hold our hands against our ears. As it became louder, and I think angrier, blobs of dark spittle and detritus of all kinds flew out from each opening. The stench became unbearable and the sound was amplified by the walls of the cavern.

I felt a hand on my shoulder and saw Donnessling motioning me away from this thing to move down the corridor. Sheshoffiss was doing the same.

Slowly and painfully we made our way down the cavern. As we did it narrowed to a wide tunnel. We continued our march away from the deadly city and yet the odious sound of the hateful bellowing continued, diminished only by our distance from it.

Then came a slight hesitation in the voice, an instant of silence, followed by a huge blast that shook the walls all around us. Then there was silence.

We had lost many, too many, and those of us who remained were shaken to our core, our clothes stained by the putrid ooze from that beast.

The silence was a relief and we all, as one, slumped to the floor of the tunnel to weep for our comrades and to recover ourselves as best we could.

“This was the ancient city of Yemnash that has been lost to the world since the ending of the Second Era of the World and the beginning of our own time, the Third Era of the Fifth Age of the World.” This is what Donnessling said to us.

When we looked up at him, we could see how weary he was as he continued, “We are now safe, beyond the reach of that corrupted place. And, there is no sign of the enemy from whom we ran before.” He looked from one to another of us, “Eat something and rest. If I am right, we are not far from a way out of this mountain and a path home.”

Several hours have now passed since we stopped in this place. I ate something before I wrote my previous entry, and then I slept because I could do nothing else. With this entry I have finished our story, and can set aside my pen and rest. I will eat a bit more, and, hopefully, will find sleep again. I do not think, though, that I will find rest from the unbearable sorrow in my heart.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: Death from the Walls

Dollano 28, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

Death from the Walls

Yesterday we ran.

Donnessling had woken early in the morning or, at least, what we believed to be the morning outside of this hole inside the mountain. He was weak, but his wound seemed to be mostly healed and he could walk, though slowly.

That was when we felt the stone shake beneath our feet. Sheshoffiss immediately pulled the white stone out of his tunic and uttered soft tones to it. He looked up at us in surprise.

“It has not moved. It stands outside of these walls.”

He looked around the cavern as we felt another tremble in the stone. This time some cracks appeared in the walls and ceiling.

Sheshoffiss could not conceal his astonishment, “How could this be? This place is ancient and its walls have held for eons before our passing.”

As the shaking grew stronger three of the cracks widened, and dark wisps of clouds curled out. At first they looked like nothing more than billows of smoke being blown into the cavern, but as they fell away from the wall they slowed to a stop and formed into something more menacing. They took on the shape of strange creatures with bony heads protruding from stiff, thick cowls.

From their sides each formed long, slim arms with seven-fingered hands at their end. Each finger ended in a long, gray talon. From their black heads, I saw white slits form into eyes. One creature had two and the others had three.

We could feel a coldness inside as those terrible eyes passed over us.

I heard Sheshoffiss cry out, “Meergates!” and waved to all of us to move behind him as he threatened these creatures with the white stone. Before we could react two of the ashen creatures launched themselves at us. I saw nossring turn to face them and swing their swords through the fell beasts, but they swept through the bodies hitting nothing, each left with a deep black soot along the blade where it had passed through.

Each of the creatures captured one of our companions, holding them fixed to their spot and writhing in agony as their foggy hands reached into their chests, wrenching their innards out of their bodies.

Portalling, the nossring that Allsassring had left in charge, commanded all of his soldiers to move back. The two stricken nossring slumped to the floor dead. I can’t be sure, but I thought I saw the flick of a white tongue from their attackers as if they were licking their lips with the blood they had just spilled.

Sheshoffiss raised his stone higher into the air and tried to cast the dark beasts away from us. The three of them were momentarily shaken by the white light, but then slowly started to advance on us.

It was then that a dazzling green bolt of lightning flew toward the creatures and struck the center of the leader. It shrieked with surprise at this sudden unexpected force and it reeled back in pain. Its two companions saw their leader and retreated to its side. Donnessling was standing at Sheshoffiss’ side, holding the Stone of Darmyn in front of him.

It was then we heard another shriek, louder but much further away on the other side of the stone of the cavern. It was the shadow creature, which was still waiting for us. It had found and released creatures of Shadow Energy from the walls of this place. Even though it could not move through the walls of the cavern to attack us itself, it had found a way to release foul things that would do its bidding.

As this realization hit us, we felt another shake of the cavern’s stone and several more gaps had opened with new dark, cloudy menaces oozing from their reaches.

Donnessling cried out, “There are too many! We must flee! Down the tunnel my comrades!”

And so we flew down the tunnel protected by a final spell that Sheshoffiss and Donnessling cast together that sealed the opening behind us. I don’t know where Donnessling found the strength to lead us, but he did.

That was yesterday and we marched many long miles, always traveling deeper into the mountain. We ended the day in a place that had once been used by creatures not entirely unlike ourselves, but that story and the story of today’s journey must wait a few hours because I am too exhausted to write more now.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: Allsassring Departs

Dollano 26, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

Allsassring Departs

It has been three days, and little has happened. We wait in this immense, and very strange, cave, biding our time and hoping that the creature outside will lose patience and go away.

Sheshoffiss keeps checking. He is able to tell whether or not the creature is there by checking in with his Stone (or Eye or whatever it is). It takes him a few minutes. I don’t know exactly what he’s doing, but my guess is that he’s scanning the Energies outside of this cavern. He holds the Stone, closes his eyes and then mumbles something indecipherable in that ancient language I’ve heard before. He sometimes turns his head a bit this way or that, and then suddenly I see him jerk up, like he’s found it. Then he puts the Stone away and turns to us and shakes his head to let us know that it’s not yet safe.

Donnessling is still unconscious. His shallow breath shows us he’s alive, which is a huge relief to me, and to us all, but, other than that, he’s been unresponsive.

I know Allsassring is upset about his good friend, but he doesn’t show it. He’s taken charge since Donnessling has been out of it.

Our time has been spent exploring the cavern. If the situation weren’t so perilous, I’d be enjoying myself. There are small tunnels that extend far into the mountain. They, and a lot of the main cavern, where we are now, are covered in a light green algae that emits a soft light. We discovered that we could extinguish our torches and in a few minutes, once our eyes have adjusted, we could see very well by this eerie glow.

Sheshoffiss spends some time each day healing Donnessling’s wounds. He’ll take the Eye of Darmyn, the green stone, from Donnessling’s pocket and place it on his chest. Then he’ll pull his own white Stone (the Eye of Dey) out of his coat and hold that in his hand not far from the other. He shuts his eyes and speaks an incantation, almost singing. I heard something like, “ta eemessetra doll ara felshadala”. As the chant gets stronger, both of the stones glow each in their own color and this seems to help Donnessling.

When Sheshoffiss did this last night something quite peculiar happened. The green moss that covers the walls of the cavern started to glow, and they glowed in rhythm to the cadence of the chant. At one point I thought I saw something like a stream of smoke or cloud come out of several of the larger mosses in the ceiling and reach down to touch the green stone on Donnessling’s chest. I think everyone else was asleep, so I may have been the only one to see it. Except, Allsassring, of course. He notices everything.

Before we slept tonight, Allsassring announced that he was going to explore some of the tunnels more deeply to find a safe way out. There is one tunnel that leads out of the cavern, and then soon descends, quite quickly, down into the depths of the mountain. He took two others with him.

They’re leaving first thing in the morning, before the rest of us are up, so I said my good-bye’s tonight.

I’ve seen that tunnel. In fact, Allsassring doesn’t know it, but I spent some time following it the other day. It’s long and it kept descending into the roots of the mountain. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the feel of it. There was something unnatural about it and something that felt evil or at least dangerous. I turned back when I started smelling something terribly foul and not just foul, but like something that had been foul for a long, long time. And, now my friends are going to explore it. I’m worried.

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.