A Chill In My Spine

Nalin Wren

World News

It has been a several days since my journey east of Delucia. A trip that led me into the wilds and then underground to the horrors that lay beneath. Like many moments in life you will never forget, this one will live with me forever in my nightmares. Yet as I pen this story to this scroll I know that adventurers make their way toward what I was so fast to flee. Some may be driven by bravery, some by greed. Some may be driven there by sheer foolishness. Others, I fear, may be driven there by a desire to learn the secrets of that place. Even worse the thought that some one may try release whatever power is held there on the world.

It began with a report that Lorn Teleras, a noted professor and investigator of ancient ruins, had made a grand discovery. Recent earthquakes in the areas we have come to know as the “lost lands” had apparently unearthed some ruins east of Delucia. At first he thought they were remnants of an old Ophidian or Terrathan outpost. As he excavated further he discovered, that although the stonework was similar the architecture used by both Ophidian and Terrathan societies, it was like nothing he had ever seen. This peaked my interest so I traveled to Delucia and met his assistant Deren Illum. With fresh supplies, for the excavation site packed firmly in several pack llamas, we headed east. The trip took almost two days.

Lorn had a small camp set up with a tent and some crates in which I noticed some finely crafted vases that simply appeared to be, for lack of a better word, antique. Each vase had a small scene painted upon it. Strange symbols intermixed with pictures of what appeared to be skeletons. One vase caught my eye. It was eerily different. It showed five cowled figures kneeling in front of another figure holding a skull in one hand and a deadly looking blade in the other. It made me shiver, and something told me right then and there that I should leave. I shrugged it off as a fleeting emotion and continued my exploration of the camp.

I approached the main excavation. The ground here had been heaved up by one of the quakes. A set of stairs led down to a mountain wall. Upon the mountainside you could see what appeared to be spires of what was once a grand entrance. Workers were diligently removing rubble in hopes of finding some way inside the collapsed entrance. What appeared to be the original door was being pieced together bit by bit. Almost complete I could see what appeared to be, and later confirmed by Lorn, magic wards. The symbols that made up the wards were similar to many of the writings found in the some of the ruins around Delucia and in the Paladin hall upon the hill outside of town. Other marks scarred the wards as if someone had intentionally counter acted them. Some of the workers seemed mildly distressed as they looked at the symbols of the ancient door. I spoke with a few of them and they told me of some of the oral tradition that is passed down from generation to generation by the people of Delucia. One man, Selhim, seemed to know more than the others. He was not to clear on the details. As with many bits of history it melds into myth and folklore over the generations. He was able to tell me a good deal though and passed on the following tales to me.

“I know little of the origins of this place. I can say for sure that there are tales of a great evil that possessed a man long ago before the snakes and insects rose up and fought each other. The story tells of this man who looks like a man, but has the heart of a demon. He lured the unwary to their deaths in a great cave and is said to live forever. It is said he was slain by some ‘holy order'. I am sure that is not much help to you, but this may be. There is another story that is told of a group of men who did travel in search of treasure and never returned. This was no more than maybe 150 years past. Claiming to have found a “wealthy tomb” they headed out of Delucia with 30 workers. None of them were ever seen again. Some others went in search of the party but no trace was ever found of them. As if the hills simply consumed them. A lot of talk was bandied about, mostly saying that the snakes had taken them and cut them up. The snakes were more of a menace then. Others said they fell subject to the demon of Greed! Heh. I suppose the later may be closer the to the truth!”

The stories were exciting and unnerving at the same time. As Selhim spoke of the man possessed I could not help but dart my eyes back to the vase. The figures seemed, for a moment, to come to life, mocking me. Once more a chill was set in my spine. Again, I shrugged it off .The workers were tiring and Lorn came to tell them it was time to rest. We ate and all tried to get some sleep. As sleep began to drag me down into its grip, the earth came alive.

From the Britannia News Network - The Journal of Ultima Online, October l0th, 2000.