Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Chapter 11 – The Cave of the Winds

The group was forced to spend the night to allow time for the servants to prepare the supplies needed to sustain them while in the cave. It would take a little over two days to ride to the cave but the tales of time spent within varied greatly by telling. Some told that months passed as travelers became lost in the winding passages in the dark, yet others mentioned mere hours for the entire trek through the cave. Their decision was to allow a week's worth of rations for the travel, that could be extended through rationing.

As the early morning rays shimmered on the walls of the castle, the trio set forth the gate and turned to the north. It was cold, cloudless day with a brisk northerly breeze chapping their faces. The Fulgorth Plains were utterly flat and featureless to ride through. Only at irregular intervals would they run across a lone tree or bush making a hard go of it in the the permafrost. They would occasionally run across the great tracks that the herds of animals roaming this land would leave behind, yet wildlife was scare except for the few birds of prey circling over head.

Their camp on that first night was forced to be in the open as there were no signs of any overhanging protection. This would be a night without a fire, as the light would be seen for miles upon miles of area around them and they could not risk another night attack. They unrolled their bedrolls close together, hoping that the proximity would help to take the edge of the chill the winds brought. Using the packs to block a portion of the wind, the night still turned out to be filled with cold fits of sleep. Watches were a welcome break, allowing them to get up and move around in an attempt to keep. Thankfully, their presence in the area failed to grab the attention of any wandering beasts or worse. As morning came, they were happy to gather their belongings and set forth on another day's journey.

The next day's journey started off in the much the same way as the previous days, uneventful travel over uninspired terrain. Things changed as they settled down for a midday meal of prime venison. As they huddled around the fire in a vain attempt to restore feeling in their extremities, movement in the distance caught their eye. Coming over the horizon was a giant winged creature gliding through the air. It was traveling at a dizzying height above them, its wingspan alone having to be twenty feet. It didn't seem to notice them as it glided by and turned back towards the coast.

“What was that?” Shen asked, the first one to speak.

“I'd have to say that looked much like the tales of dragons. But surely they have left this area long ago,” Keladkha ventured.

“Let's hope that we don't have to investigate this any further.”

Unnerved by the flying creature they had just witnessed, the group mounted back on to their horses and began the last leg of the journey for the day. It was just as uneventful as the morning had been and they camped next to a fallen tree, providing them some cover for the wind and way to light a fire without it being seen all around. Around the fire, they looked over the maps they had brought with regarding the location of the cave.

“All of these are horribly inaccurate. As far as I can tell, none of the coast line matches these descriptions,” Keladkha uttered in frustration.

“The teeth jutting from the sea reminds me of a rock formation that sailors used to speak of,” Shen said, referring to a hand-scribbled note on one of the maps. “And only a dozen miles or so of coastline is as jagged and filled with cliffs as these notes suggest.”

“So we just start at one end and ride to the other looking for this narrow, almost invisible path down to the cave at the water's edge?”

“That's about all we can do.”

They reached the coast when the sun was nearly directly overhead on the following day. The sea laying out before them was a violent one, with the white-capped waves crashed against the rugged coast line. Sea spray was thrown up well into the air, the wind carrying it to the group on the cliff top, coating them in a briny layer. Off in the distance, they could see the ice floes slowly floating wherever the currents decided to take them. Gulls of all sorts flew overhead, constantly sweeping down into the turbulent water to grab a meal of fish floating near the surface of the waves.

All the tales that they had read of this place, mentioned that the pathway down to the cave was almost hidden in the rocks and barely wide enough for one man to walk down. This meant that their travel would be slow going as they would have to search every possible pathway and move slow so as to not pass it right by. Throughout the day, they came to numerous such walkways leading down the cliff. At each one, one of the group would be forced to follow the path as far as it would lead. They came across one cave this way, but it proved to only go a dozen feet or so into the cliff face with no sign of deeper passageways. On the way back up to the cliff top, Keladkha was nearly thrown off of the narrow path by a particularly large wave. He only managed to just regain his balance before he slipped into oblivion.

They were forced to give up the search as night fell across the lands, it would simply be too easy to ride right past any possible paths. They found a suitable rock face to set-up camp behind, sheltering them from the brutal northern winds and sea spray that seemed to be everywhere, making for slick rock walkways and damp timber, leaving them unable to even start up a fire for warmth. The night passed quickly though as each one was eager to start up the search again in the morning.

The group set off just as the first morning rays peeked over the horizon. Even though they had only managed to cover a quarter of the coastline the previous day, they were hopeful that the rest could be covered by nightfall. By mid-morning they had checked out nearly a dozen promising paths down, but none of them proved fruitful. As the sun was nearing its daily peak, they saw the rock formation out at sea that looked like teeth jutting from the waves. This provided them hope that they were rapidly closing in on their destination.

An hour later at most, they came across a passageway down to the surface of the water that matched the descriptions in the texts almost perfectly. Hopeful that this would finally be the one, they all dismounted their horses and began the trek downwards. Upon reaching the bottom, they found a cave entrance that went back a few hundred feet. Their first search of the area proved fruitless however, as there did not seem to be any passageways leading back further into the cliff. The walls for most of the cave seemed almost unnaturally smooth for having been exposed to the elements for so long, it was almost as though someone had chiseled at the surface to make them as smooth as glass.

Just as they were about to leave however, Arynn noticed what looked to a passage partially blocked by a cave-in. Upon further examination, they removed portions of the rocks to allow them to crawl further in for investigation. Sure enough, the passageway was clear beyond that point and seemed to snake further into the cliffs. They only had a few hours of daylight left, so they traveled back as far as they could until darkness overtook them. At points, the rocks seemed to give off an almost unnatural glow, providing just enough light to show the shapes of loose rocks on the ground. It seemed to be a promising discovery that could be inspected more closely in the morning with torches and rations brought down.

They left the cave behind and climbed back up to where they had left the horses earlier. Their campsite for the night was exposed to full fury of nature. The winds picked up and waves peaked at nearly twenty feet high. Once again without a proper fire and now soaked to the bone from the spray, the night was long with anticipation of tomorrow's search of the cave. Each one felt as though this would end up being the promising cave to examine, so they prepared packs of rations to take with them and made sure the torches were kept as dry as possible as they would be needed to pierce the all-encompassing darkness that permeated portions of the cave.

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