Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved


In a flurry of loose rocks and dust you fall into the darkness of the vent. Caught within the relentless grip of gravity you slide down the hole, no hand or footholds available to slow your descent. Without knowing what you can expect you feel yourself accelerating, sliding and bumping against the sides of the vent as you descend deeper into the mountain. What you find takes you by surprise.
Through a cloud of dislodged dirt and dust you exit the vent into nothingness. In the darkness about you it takes a moment to realise that you have fallen out of the hole, exiting its narrow confines through the roof of a large domed cavern. Flailing in mid-air you drop all the faster, your equipment and yourself now nothing more than missiles in the dark, falling to what must be a certain end.
Perhaps though, it is not your time to die. Out of the shadows below you see the first signs of water and as the floor of the cavern rushes inexorably upwards you realise that it is a lake beneath you. In a crushing impact of spraying water you hit its surface and sink into its black depths.
You cannot be sure how long you remain unconscious but you awaken to find yourself floating on your back, your shoulders tight with pain. In a choking fit you rid the water from your mouth and lungs, struggling in the dark water as you try and regain your breath. Overhead you can see the small vent from which you have fallen and as you look about the cavern you wonder at your survival. It is not unknown for Dwarvendim to survive long falls into water, but how you were able to find your way to the surface is the only question on your mind as you swim stiffly for a small beach area that lies along one edge of the lake.
In the darkness you make the beach and pull yourself up onto a narrow landing of loose stone and pebbles. Gasping for breath you lay on your back and stare up at the ceiling overhead, thankful that you are alive but with no idea as to where you are. When you have recovered enough you stand and look around the beach. It is only narrow but at one end it joins with a stone staircase, which in turn winds upwards before disappearing into a narrow archway. Here is the possibility of a way out.
As you move towards the stairs you feel for your weapon and find that it is gone. Through the pain and fog of your survival you realise quickly that you have lost all your equipment, and in this place you have nothing more than the clothes on your back and the metal collar at your throat. A bad situation has indeed become much worse.
Painfully you struggle for the stairs and find them worn and ancient in design. Slowly at first you take each step, however they prove an easy climb and it does not take long to make the threshold of an arched passage that reaches for a short distance into the stone. Without any other course you follow the corridor and find it in turn opening into a small circular chamber. Here you find a most unusual artifact.
At the centre of the chamber stands a curious ring of black stone embedded upright upon a stepped platform. The ring is large, easily able to accommodate ten men walking side by side through its widest span, and it is intricately carved. Its black obsidian curves are a complex tracery of vine and branch, twined in an embrace that twists along its entire circumference. The platform itself is no less artificed and as you notice more about the room you begin to see the same carvings covering every surface, a deep complicated array of stone branch and leaf that seems almost real in its detail. Like so many things you have seen on this journey it is a wondrous artifact of the Ancient World, but you have no idea what it is for. Very quickly you find out.
As you stand before the ring you see a mist forming within its borders, a fine swirling miasma that quickly thickens, coating the inner confines of the circle like a wall of fog. When the mist finds its way to every edge of the ring it becomes a swirling vortex of moving vapours, and as you watch you begin to hear sounds emanating from within its form, and smell odours that have no place in such a dark subterranean cell as this.
To your surprise you can hear birds, and smell the clean hint of snow on cold rock. In the background there arises a definite flapping of wings and the unmistakable rumble of distant thunder. It is so at odds with the deep chamber that it almost feels like an escape, a hope that there may be a way out of this place.

As you look around the room you realise that there are no other exits. The ring that stands tall before you is a portal of some type and apart from returning to the subterranean lake it may be your only way out. If you wish you may walk into the portal and see where it may lead. If this is your choice turn to section 552. If you do not wish to take such a risk and would rather return to the lake turn to section 523.

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