The Tale of Captain Johne

Worlds Below

"Other than it is dangerous," Sutek said. "And I said as such when my peers and Lord British called a gathering of the Great Council. Despite my protests, eight of the most prominent wizards in Britannia, including myself, were selected to raise the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom from the Abyss."

Nosfentre suddenly stood, eyes wide and luminous. "Aye," he said. "We all know of that day. Thou art older than thou dost look, mage, much older."

"What is this place?" I asked, ignoring the suspicion glare of my friend. "How is it linked to the Great Council and the Ethereal Void?"

"'Twas in the Void that the Codex originally rested," Sutek answered. "When we brought the Codex to Britannia's surface, we ruptured the boundary between our world and the Void. So great was the aftershock that a mountain rose from where the Abyss once lay, and the tremors were felt as far as Buccaneer's Den. When the discord settled, my peers thought naught of it. They merely congratulated themselves, and returned to Lord British to announce their success. Little did they suspect what they had created." The mage's voice soured. "But I suspected. I knew that the emptiness where the Abyss once lay would have to be filled."

The mage stood and peered out into the darkness. "Thus, it was no surprise to me when tales of a world beneath Britannia began to circulate through taverns." He rounded on Astarol, who grasped his mandolin tightly. "Certainly, bard, thou hast told some of these stories. Perhaps the one about Spiritwood?"

Astarol swallowed. "Aye, I have. Beneath the River Maelstrom, whose waters feed the great trees of Spiritwood, lies a hidden waterway. 'Twas this underground river that a band of mighty warriors claimed to have followed. It led to a lost realm, they said, a land of darkness and despair, a breeding ground for beasts both foul in stench and sight. How the warriors escaped this land, none will say."

"'Twas not through the dungeons," Sutek scoffed, "for only the wizards and the Great Council know the words of power to open them. I heard the same story, bard, from the warriors themselves when they spoke before the Great Council. After hearing their adventure, Lord British said he was intriguedóintrigued was the wordóby this Underworld. He asked the eight wizards to learn more of this place, so that he might mount an expedition in the coming year." Sutek sat down, his shoulders hunched. "That is why I was returning to Britain," he said quietly. "The eight of us were to report our findings at the next Great Council."

"So the rumors in Minoc are true," Nosfentre said. "Thou didst enter the dungeon Covetous."

"Yes. Covetous leads to the Underworld, as I suspect the other dungeons do." He looked up, eyes mournful. "I have been in this place before. I swore I would never return, but I suppose the heavens have dictated other plans for me." He turned his head then, his eyes flickering suspiciously. "What is that sound?"

"Sound?" I was about to ask, then I heard it too. A dull roar, soft at first, growing louder.

Faulina spoke. "The ship. Is it moving faster?"

Immediately, Nosfentre and I exchanged a glance before we ran to the bow. Ahead of us was a cavern branching off from the main galley in which we sailed. White rapids licked the cavern's mouth.

"'Tis too late to steer away from it," I said. "We will be dashed upon the walls if we try. Man the helm, Nosfentre, and take through the cavern. Let us pray that it does not get any smaller."

 

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