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► Ancient Borea
Copyright © 2004 C.E. by Dustin Jon Scott
[Last Update: June 6th, 2018]
¶CXXX. They walked for some time through the fungus-filled hole, their feet slipping upon the slime-swathed molds that blanketed the cavern floor as up the slight incline they hiked.
¶CXXXI. The Swart Elves suddenly stopped, and behind them the Nymphs.
¶CXXXII. “What is it?” inquired Salacity.
¶CXXXIII. And then the sound of heavy footsteps mashing at the floor. And nearer came those footsteps, however slowly, affraying still the Elves and Nymphs; for this sound was not a sound that once heard could be forgotten. This sound was the sound of a Troglodyte approaching.
¶CXXXIV. The Lampads readied their torches, braced for what bane was about to befall them. It was then that another set of steps were heard: the sound now was that of two Troglodytes nearing.
¶CXXXV. “Over here!” the Swart Elf whispered loudly, and with his two companions ducked into the rocks, into a nearby side tunnel that even the Lampads could hardly see from where they stood. And the Nymphs followed the Elves into the hole, filing one after another into it.
¶CXXXVI. Snorting, grunting the first Under Orc came to that very pass into which the Faerykin had sought their safety. The Dryads trembled as the monster began to sniff at the tunnel’s entrance, and its horrid grey skin they could see by the light of the Lampads’ torches.
¶CXXXVII. The beast reached into the hole, but could not snag any of the Faerykin, whom by now barely tholed their fear with knotted throats. Even the Elves’ swords before them shook as their hilts rested in disquiet hands. And so the stilled Nymphs broke in flight of panic from the dire grasp of their own fears, and from deaden freeze forced themselves suddenly flee deeper into the tunnel.
¶CXXXVIII. As one by one and away from the beast as frightened deer the Nymphs sprang, so too did the Swart Elves flee, if far more slowly, keeping their quivery blades pointed at the monster that by now was squirming slowly into the hole.
¶CXXXIX. The Nymphs and Elves soon found themselves in a spacious chamber, large enough that a small family of Under Orcs could’ve dwelt there. And the Faerykin search for another tunnel, but there were none; they’d been cornered.
¶CXL. And then as they looked back to the tunnel through which they’d come, the Troglodyte began to ungrapple itself from the hole and into the chamber with them.
¶CXLI. The Swart Elves with swords readied and the Lampads with their torches held up simply stood as the beast fully loosed itself from the tunnel.
¶CXLII. The Lampads blew upon their torches, and the flames rolled forward under the Orc and began to consume it from below, and the fiery wave’s crest came tumbling fore and down upon the monster.
¶CXLIII. After only a moment the fire had spent itself, leaving the Under Orc aflame and rushing at them. Just behind it was the second Orc, which also had been set ablaze (whilst it had stolen into the chamber during the Lampads’ firestorm).
¶CXLIV. The Swart Elves rushed forth upon the Orcs in defense of the Nymphs, and with their steely blades engaged them.
¶CXLV. The foremost Orc grabbed at the first Elf it saw ere in fire was it blinded, and took her up by the ankle with one of its great arms. Then it raised her up over its head as she screamed, and as if swinging a hatchet brought her down speedily upon the rocks, spattering them with her pieces.
¶CXLVI. And one of the male Elves let out a cry and lunged at the Under Orc with his sword, and with his sword he fucked the beast’s heart, and was caught afire. And both the Elf and the Orc fell together, burning.
¶CXLVII. The second Orc seized the remaining male Elf before blinded by the flames, and pinned him to the floor, downward faced, with its talons piercing the flesh of his back. And as he flailed and screamed, his ribs being cracked beneath the Orc’s arm, the beast wrapped its free hand round his ankle and ripped his leg, sinews snapping, shank from thigh.
¶CXLVIII. And the second Orc then collapsed atop the Elf, and both were left aflame.
¶CXLIX. Thus the Orcs, though rightly felled by the Lampads’ fire, had been kept bade by the courage of the Swart Elves, who in surrendering their lives allowed the Nymphs to live. And the Lampads and the Dryads left the red glow of the smoke-filled chamber with its burning corpses, suffering gravely their ruth for the Black Elves’ sacrifice, and once again in the main tunnel they began in the direction that the Swart Elves had so far led them.
¶CL. Serenity then stopped, and she looked back. “Twice this day we’ve been fought for, and twice this day died for. Once by the mushroom-folk and again by the Swart Elves. And neither required of us that we be in bondage to them to earn their protection.”
¶CLI. “That is the way of the underground,” said Avidity. “When people know they must depend upon one another in order to survive, rather than a dominion such as the Maenads’ law, then those people will be dependable to others, and expect that others be dependable unto them.”
¶CLII. “Such it is in Liss-Heim as well,” said Liberty. “Under the Maenads’ law, where there is no expectation of loyalty among the Dryads, except that of loyalty unto the law itself, they might even go so far as to find ways to do harm unto each other without defying the law. Those of us that dwell outside of the law’s reach have not the luxury to find ways to get away with anything the law normally forbiddeth; we must simply do what is right at all times, and sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of others.”
¶CLIII. “Thus it is wheresoever that the law doth not reach,” said Faith. “Thus it is for our own tribe in the Emerald Forest, that never knew of the law to begin with. Thus it is in Liss-Heim, where the Dryads must work to defend against the law. Thus it is in the underground, where the people know of the law but simply do not acknowledge it. Thus I expect it is everywhere but the Somberwood.”
¶CLIV. “I hope thou art right in this matter,” said Serenity. “Though I cannot help but fear, that perhaps the law was not contrived by the Maenads -- perhaps the Maenads brought the law from elsewhere and corrupted the Luxwood, and the Emerald Forest shall be next corrupted.”
¶CLV. “Thou mustn’t worry,” said Liberty. “If such is the case, then as it is in the Somberwood so shall it also be in the Emerald Forest. Wherever the law goeth, I expect that there will always be those like we of Liss-Heim to oppose it, and undergrounds in which to seek refuge.”
¶CLVI. “But perhaps I do not wish to live in the shadows,” said Serenity.
¶CLVII. “Then it is thine own duty,” said Liberty, “to see that doth not happen. For if thou dost nothing to prevent it, then thou art allowing the rape of the free lands and their peoples, and indeed aiding the law.”
¶CLVIII. And in that moment was the darkness broken, shattered by a light so brilliant that as the Nymphs rounded the last bend they nearly were blinded.
¶CLIX. “We Lampads mustn’t stray too far from Shroomseid,” said Avidity, as she and her tribe suddenly halted. And the Dryads halted as well. “Fervidness, thou shalt accompany the Dryads till they’ve completed their journey, and do what thou wilt to keep them safe. We shall await your return in Shroomseid.”
¶CLX. And Serenity, and Faith, and Fervidness, and Liberty went forth from the darkness of the underground, and unto the light of the Elderwood.