Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved


The passages that open ahead and to your left can only be reached across a debris field of fractured rock. It is too open and unstable a terrain and although the cavern seems empty there is a feeling here that raises the hair at the base of your neck. Carefully you search the gloom ahead, looking for the source of such palpable malice. You cannot see it, but as you wait in the shadows you can sense that there is something else in the chamber with you.
The right passage, which you are fairly sure exits from the north-western edge of the cavern, seems your best option. By skirting the edges of the cave you should be able to reach the passage threshold without leaving yourself open to notice. If you are lucky you may be able to remain hidden, using the high mounds of stone and earth as a cover that should keep you safe from any unwanted attention.
The cavern itself is an ancient formation of hard stone and flowing crystalline pillars. At all sides the walls stand as a multicoloured wash of solid but seemingly fluid limestone cascades, all reaching from a domed ceiling crowded with stalactites and dark recesses. Within this strange wonderland of liquid stone the floor stands in direct contrast, large mounds of pulverised stone and fallen crystal forming an undulating sea of fractured rock. To take the edges of such an unwelcoming sea seems the best choice and you take it carefully.
Hidden within deep shadows you keep close to the wall, following the edges of the cavern and using the mounds as cover from something as yet unknown to you. More so than at any other time whilst within Stoneholme you feel a malevolent presence here, something filled with a brooding hatred that waits patiently in the darkness. It is the chill though that grows most unsettling. You have delved many subterranean caverns in you time and all have been cold, but never have you felt the chilling edge in this chamber. It is a cold that soaks its way through your clothing, numbing your skin and gloved fingers, and one that increases as you work your way about the cavern's perimeter. Your breath streams as vapours in the icy air, and frost cracks underfoot but the distance is not too great and quickly you make a distance mid way to the north-western passage.
It is as you take a moment to pull your clothing tighter about you that you hear the first sound of something moving in the shadows. It is nothing more innocuous than a fall of stone far across the breadth of the cavern but in the quiet it echoes off the stone walls, forcing you to crouch behind a pile of broken crystal and stare out into the gloom. Quickly another movement of rock in the distance heralds more proof that you are not alone, and before you can move a creature emerges out of the darkness. Alone in the cavern you wait, transfixed by the horror that looms out of the cavern's shadows.
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 extending a pair of skeletal wings into the far corners 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 debris, formed in the shape of a Dragon and created 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.
Standing upon its rear legs it is the petrified skeleton of an ancient Dragon, wrapped in a black writhing aura that binds 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. For a moment it pauses, looking into the darkness before turning in your direction, sniffing the air as it searches you out. It knows you are here, however it cannot yet find you.
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 searches the ground, looking for you. Behind the small mound of stone you remain unnoticed but it cannot remain so forever.
In a growing rage the beast begins to throw large chunks of rock, skidding them across the floor, smashing and pulverising the mounds in a systematic attempt at flushing out the trespasser it knows is moving furtively within the cavern. As one of the pieces slams into the ground only a few metres from where you hide you know it is time to get away from this ghostly apparition. If you remain here it will find you, and there can be no doubt that if it does you will die.
As missiles of jagged rock hit the walls at your back you run for it, your hope that the passageway will be too small for the Druhl to follow. Without thinking you run, rushing for the only sanctuary you can see from the raging beast. Across the cavern the Dragon sees you and throws down the boulders held in its clawed hands. In a spasm of unrestrained anger the beast jumps forward, its spectral eyes burning red as it focuses all of its energy on your insignificant form. Before this horror you flee, the ground beneath you a ruin of fractured ground that will take all your skill to negotiate swiftly. This Guardian takes its job seriously, and if it catches you it will kill you.

Test your agility attribute. If you are successful turn to section 593. If you fail this test turn to section 537.

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 2008 All Rights Reserved