Legend: Atlantean Secrets Book 17
Date: Year 39 of Gervin's Grand Mastership
Location: Alverard in the north of the county of Eisraim
Characters: Lehrmon, Woolly and Szar of the Brown Robe
Musical Image: In the final part of the Atlantean epoch, the warp of energy fields was agonizing. In several parts of the kingdom it blew up, causing disastrous releases of elemental pollution.
In year 39 GGM, the Field Wizards of the temples of Eisraim and Lasseera took part in a rescue operation after the warp catastrophe in Alverard.
Pelden, the head of the Field Wizards of Lasseera, gave them a briefing. "The fields have been vomiting the Ugly Underworld out of darkness visible!" the tall, thin, middle-aged man began with a disgusted look. "Foul elemental slime like you can hardly imagine. This time it hasn't just made people sick, it's made them lose their minds. Throughout the area people have been slaughtering each other - insanity, large-scale. They beat each other to death. They strangle their own children. They throw themselves into the river. They bash the living walls of their houses with clubs. Yesterday we saw some horrific scenes in town: mutilated corpses on the streets, people running in all directions and screaming as in the caverns of sickness."
Atlantean Secrets 17.8
Their heads covered with their hoods, they marched silently, at high speed. Szar opened the way. Woolly followed, with Lehrmon at the rear. They traced a winding path through Alverard's outer suburbs, where houses were sparse. The mists were so thick and gray, it seemed the Sun had forgotten to rise that day. The three men could hardly see sixty lawful feet in front of them.
"I sense a presence," Lehrmon Point-warned. "On the path, a few hundred lawful feet in front of us."
"A corpse," Szar corrected him.
It didn't take long before they saw it. It was the body of a young man, curved in fetal position by the side of an oak tree. He had grasped a large tree root in his hand, as if in a desperate attempt to anchor himself in the kingdom.
"I don't think he's completely dead." Lehrmon wondered whether they should go to his help.
"There are hundreds like him. Everywhere," Szar made it clear he didn't want to stop (...)
The more they advanced, the darker and thicker the mists. "You call this mist? I call it puree!" Lehrmon observed when they reached the southern neighborhoods of the city. "If it keeps getting worse, we'll soon find it impossible to breathe."
There were more and more bodies in the streets. It was difficult to say whether they were corpses or people lying prostrate, overwhelmed by the toxicity of the space. As the Brown Robes were crossing a small bridge, four corpses jumped to their feet and started running after them, yelling furiously. Szar instantly knocked them down from a distance, with the same disconcerting ease.
Woolly and Lehrmon exchanged a glance. "He has become dangerous!" Woolly scratched the bump on his nose, thoughtful. He was starting to realize how useless his soft-stone weapons would be if it came to fighting Nephilim Hunters.
And the giants were even worse.
"We're reaching the earth line," Szar said as they were turning into a wide street. "Keep walking straight behind me."
The fog was as thick and sticky as before but Woolly and Lehrmon immediately found it easier to walk. And to breathe.
"Feels much lighter, here!" Lehrmon filled his lungs. "And look, there don't seem to be any corpses!"
"The people who live here were protected by the good vibrations of the line, is that it?" Woolly asked.
"Meaning we need to be even more cautious," Szar warned. "They're inside their houses, watching us."
Further along they met four cows that were standing right on the path of the line. The animals were from a stable beside the road.
"Look at that!" Woolly marveled when he saw how they had broken the fences to reach the earth line. "Animal wisdom! Is that what the people of Alverard should be doing to protect themselves?"
"Except that the streets of Alverard aren't particularly safe these days. I'd rather hide in my house if I were them," Lehrmon extended his hand to lawfully caress one of the animals, mentally repeating a verse that all Atlantean children learned at school, "Pat a cow, erase one sin!"
"Hunh!" Szar Point-stopped him. "We avoid all contact with the population."
For more than half an hour they followed the earth line. The street was empty, apart from one or two corpses here and there. No one attacked them. No one hailed them from the houses. It was like walking through one of those ghost-villages the dead visit in the first part of their after-life journey, when they desperately look for company without ever finding it.
"We're coming close to the temple now. We must leave the line," Szar finally told them, and he made them turn right into a small alley.
It soon became much uglier. The fog turned into fudge - a stinking, gooey greyness that stuck to their clothes, shocked their nostrils and polluted their lungs. Their shoulders heavy with all the elemental garbage that filled darkness visible, they had to push on step after step. At the end of the alley they reached a large marketplace where it seemed death had taken everyone by surprise, judging by the way shopkeepers had collapsed on their stalls, still holding the goods they were handing to their customers.
Atlantean Secrets 17.9
Music by: Samuel Sagan