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   Chapter 18 No.18

An Enchanting Tale By AaronDennis Characters: 10498

Updated: 2018-01-10 12:02


A spiraling set of steps led the explorers into the depths of Mzulft. Both S'maash and Zolara casted candle light to reveal a variety of rock formations carved into the deep. Layers of strange mycelia covered the walls and ground of the cavernous extent. Zolara prodded at the luminescent growth.

"It looks similar to glowing mushroom, but I assure you, it isn't, " the argonian commented. S'maash was indifferent; he was only focused on finding the next fragment. As Zolara kept pace, he considered the possibility of new reagents. "Did the dwemer practice alchemy?"

"I am unsure. Why?"

"I have never seen some of these mushrooms, much less had the privilege to study the actual root system."

Progressing ever deeper, the cave-like structure of Mzulft opened into a black expanse of stone walls. Among the walls, the unknown mycelia glowed, providing an eerie, soft, blue light. S'maash felt somewhat agitated.

"It could be anywhere in here. This place is endless, " he complained.

"Perhaps, we should hug the walls in search of falmer structures."

"Smart."

"The left one or the right one, " Zolara asked.

"It doesn't matter…left."

"No, I like the right one."

Rolling his eyes, S'maash sighed and followed behind him. A long walk ensued. Eventually, they came upon a hill. From its crest, they spotted mist far off in the distance to their left. The glow of mushrooms gave the fog a mystical, scintillating quality.

Disoriented by the expansive emptiness below Mzulft, Zolara tapped S'maash on the shoulder then pointed to the mist. His friend nodded, so they walked towards it until they realized it wasn't mist at all. It was water. A towering, brass-like pipe rose from the water to heights unseen.

"This must be a source of steam, " Zolara concluded.

S'maash nodded accordingly, yet remained aloof. "It doesn't help."

After resting for a moment, they continued their search along the walls. Still, they found no results.

"I have an idea, " Zolara said. He proceeded to summon a storm atronach. Then, he fired spells of all kinds in every direction. "Do the same!" S'maash, a little confused and quite alarmed, rose from his seat. "We're attracting falmer! Wherever they come from must be where we have to go, " the argonian yelled louder.

"Are you insane? We'll get killed!"

"Hey, you want to find this thing, right?"

Wide eyed, and biting his lip, the dark elf struggled to devise a better plan, but the noise had already been created. First, S'maash overcharged ebony flesh then he summoned a flame atronach. Instead of wasting more of his magicka reserves, he resorted to clapping and whistling.

Their rowdiness continued for moments, yet there was nothing beyond their echoes and errant explosions of light. Huffing and panting, the two eyed one another.

S'maash ran back to the piping and beat it with sword and shield. The gargantuan tube reverberated with strong echoes.

"Excellent, " Zolara said.

For seconds, they both struck it. Then, they waited. Slow minutes rolled by before a flurry of feet were heard pounding over the ground. Both adventurers whipped their he

Zolara nodded. Lying on their bellies, the two simply observed the fighters; the creatures behaved as gladiators, and the dark depths was their arena. It was hours later, after many of them fought each other—but without deaths—that they finally declared a winner. One rather stocky snow elf reigned supreme. He then cut himself with a strange weapon, wiped his blood, and flung it at the structure. Before leaving, he placed that weapon at the foot of the structure. One-by-one the creatures exited.

S'maash tapped Zolara's shoulder; the argonian didn't stir. With a huff, he grabbed his friend's arm and shook it. Zolara let out a snort, realized the place was empty, and the two of them scuttled off below.

"Hey!" Zolara cheered. "Guess we found Paratus."

The incomprehensible structure turned out to be a skeleton. Its wrists were cinched to two, chitinous posts while its waist was cinched to a third, taller post, in the center. Inside the skeleton's ruptured ribcage was the second fragment of the Heart of Lorkhan, the supreme falmer's blood still wet upon it. At Paratus's bony feet was the weapon, a hammer.

Like Keening, it reverberated ever so slightly. In appearance, it was an ornate hammer with an edge on one side not unlike a hatchet, only less broad. Its dwemer steel handle was bejeweled. S'maash took it and the fragment then looked at Zolara, who was already making his way back to the corridor.

Safe on the precipice, the argonian casted candle light and summoned a flame atronach to guard their rear. From there, it was a long, if uneventful, journey to the large opening under Mzulft.

"Now we just need to find the way back into the actual ruins, " Zolara remarked.

Slowing from a full run to catch their breath, they moseyed all the way back to the large pipe. Figuring that as the center, S'maash chose a direction he thought was appropriate. Zolara decided to shoot fire balls instead, hoping to see the stairs. To their benefit, the ploy was succesful.

"Follow me, " he hissed.

A journey through Mzulft and back to Riften took several hours.

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