Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved


The passage directly ahead is large and stands closest to your entry into the cavern. With no other factors to guide you it seems the best choice. For a moment you pause and search out the space, looking for any sign that there is something more than just broken rock within this chamber. What you see is a wide field of smashed stone and shattered crystal, curiously piled in undulating heaps that reminder you of the tailing mounds common to many mines in the east of Kalborea. In this subterranean chamber the mounds stand out only as a curiosity, but one that will certainly slow any quick traverse of the cavern floor. If however, this is your only difficulty you decide that it will be a small inconvenience at best.
Quickly you take to the open floor and begin climbing over and around the stone mounds. Most are made up of pulverised rock but others stand as huge accumulations of stone and crystal, haphazardly thrown into unstable heaps that you avoid deliberately in the gloom. It is hard and slow work, the terrain working against any chance of you quickly making for the western exit. When you are at the half way mark of your passage a noise to your left brings you to a halt. It is an insignificant fall of stone somewhere in the gloom, but within the silent space it resonates, echoing off the hard walls and causing you to pause and wait.
Searching the shadows you hear another sound of movement in the dark but this time it is a definite sign of something rousing itself, coming to life within the darkest corner of the chamber and it is big, very big. With no further hesitation you quicken your pace, leaving any pretence of stealth behind as you scramble over the stone mounds. Only fifty metres from the western exit the mounds end and you find yourself instead upon an open space, clear of the undulating stone piles. Standing upon the open floor you draw your weapon and peer into the darkness. Suddenly the chamber erupts as a monstrous screech shakes the quiet, bringing down stalactites from the ceiling and sending a sharp vibration crashing through the floor beneath you. Before you can move the shadows disgorge a nightmare and for a heartbeat you cannot believe what you have encountered.
Like an apparition the creature detaches from the surrounding shadows, its enormous bulk wrapped in a spectral aura of rushing vapours and dark energy. From your vantage you watch, unable to discern immediately what it is, but sure that it is a magical construct of some type. Before your eyes it moves closer, raising itself upon huge legs before extended a pair of wide wings into each corner of the cavern. In the darkness your blood runs cold.
You do not know what it is but a more knowledgeable soul could tell you that it is a Druhl, a construct of magic, bone and rock, created in the form of a monstrous Dragon for only one purpose, to act as a Guardian for the very caverns you now journey through. For you however, it is simply a nightmare and in the confines of the cavern you cannot help but stare at it, transfixed by the raw hatred that seeps from it like blood from an open wound.
Standing upon its rear legs it is the petrified skeleton of an ancient Dragon, wrapped in a black writhing aura that holds it together, its body a moving morass of rock and fractured stone gathered from the cavern floor. In the gloom it moves purposefully forward then comes to a halt before the entrance to the south-western passageway.
Before you can move the Dragon raises its head and screeches into the roof of the cavern. It is a deafening cry that echoes like a high-pitched thunderclap through the open spaces, collapsing stone from the walls at all sides and bringing down huge pieces of crystal from the roof overhead. The shear size of the spectral creature chills you to the bone; its ragged, grinding form moving ponderously as it charges directly for you. In this place you feel the malevolence and hatred that fuels its malice and you can have no doubt that if it can reach you it will kill you.
Turning on your heel you run for the western passage, the huge creature smashing at the ground behind you in its attempts to chase you down. Within this cacophony of grinding rock and clouds of dust you race for the western exit. About you the air chills, the cold despite of the beast's presence sapping your strength even as you make the threshold of the passage.
Sure that you are now safe you are not prepared for what happens next. In the gloom a shimmering wall suddenly appears before you, a solid field of energy that you cannot avoid. At the run you hit the barrier, your body thrown backwards in a jolting thrust, your arms flailing as you try and maintain some control over your trajectory. In a cloud of dust and grit you hit the floor and skid to a halt.
Stunned by the barrier's violent resistance you shake your head and search your memory for some clue of what it is that confronts you. With the Druhl only a few heartbeats from where you stand you search the passage beyond the shimmering wall and find what you are looking for embedded upon a small granite plinth only metres ahead. It is a Shieldstone, a talisman of the ancient world and no doubt erected to keep the spectral beast behind you from straying beyond the confines of the cavern. For a moment you despair, for only someone with a piece of stonewood can pass beyond such barriers. If you do not move quickly this Shieldstone will serve its purpose and be the death of you as well.

If you have a piece of stonewood in your possession turn to section 595. If you do not hold a shard of the Silvan Tree turn to section 562.

This book, and its associated books and other documents in the Chronicles of Arborell series are the intellectual property of the author, Wayne F Densley, and all rights are reserved by him. Windhammer is best viewed at 1024 x 768 resolution. Any questions regarding the Chronicles of Arborell can be answered by emailing the author at densleyw@shoal.net.au
Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2001 - 2007 All Rights Reserved