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   Chapter 35 No.35

An Enchanting Tale By AaronDennis Characters: 14775

Updated: 2018-01-10 12:02

"Blackreach, " Aicantar whispered in astonishment.

"What's that, " S'maath asked.

"Blackreach is a city below Skyrim; a place the dwemer found when digging below the world. They found a way adjoin their cities. Mzinchaleft, Alftand, Raldbthar, they all connect below Skyrim, " Falion explained.

"Then, we are below Skyrim, " S'maath asked.

"We can't be, " S'maash replied.

"Certainly not, " Falion started, "This is similar to Blackreach, though I do not know if it ties into other, dwemer cities."

Slowly, they exited the lift and looked about. A thin mist slightly obscured their vision. Off in the distance, they detected a source of light. They treaded carefully beneath Brelyna's spell. The vastness before them was so dark that all the mages casted candle light in hopes of revealing a path.

"The dwemer lived comfortably in Blackreach using the falmer as their slaves. Once the dwemer left for other worlds, the falmer made it their twisted refuge; the darkness is perfect for their senses, " Falion commented. "I have, however, seen a strange orb, a dwemer sun, if you will, crafted by masters, perhaps even Kagrenac himself. I cannot fathom what awe inspiring creations we will see here."

The group had little to say. Magickal light revealed black stone under their feet. It was craggy and rough. A great many, sharp, stone hills lined the area, but only so far as they were able to see. Zolara came to a halt.

"Hold, " he intervened. "I fear we may lose our way."

"Where are we going anyway, " S'maath asked.

"I do not know, " S'maash whispered.

"I'll employ a set of fire runes as we did below Mzulft, " Zolara said.

"Excellent idea, " S'maash praised.

As they continued walking, S'maash and Zolara recounted their experiences. When the time came, Brelyna also told of when they had gathered the fragment of the Heart of Lorkhan. Zolara left many runes during their conversations; it made for a faintly glowing orange trail of breadcrumbs.

"Do you think there are falmer here, " Aicantar asked.

"Difficult to say, " Falion admitted. "The snow elves were residents of Skyrim, not Morrowind, but a great many years have passed. If these underground kingdoms connect then we might come across some of the falmer…if not, then I shudder to think what we will come across."

An indeterminate amount of time passed, but with no real sense of direction or change in light, it was difficult to tell if they had traveled far or not. Looking behind them, they no longer saw the lift, just the orange glows indicating Zolara's runes were effective; he laid down well over two dozen and had since lost count.

Exhausted from the hike, S'maash came to a halt and scanned the area. There were four, distinct, white glows in the darkness far away.

"What do you think, " Brelyna asked S'maash.

"I think we should strive for one of the glows and hope for a clue, " he replied.

"Sound thinking, " Aicantar said.

"Which one, " S'maath asked.

S'maash shook his head. He did not care.

"Falion, " the wizard asked.

"The one on our left, " Falion replied.

"Good as any, I suppose, " Zolara remarked.

They continued for a time, but the glow was so far away they had no choice but to stop, if only briefly, to eat and drink. Questioning his surroundings, Zolara casted a mage light spell. Like candle light, the magickal orb allowed one to see, but did not stay over the caster. Instead, it sailed away until reaching a solid object. There, it was supposed to stick, lighting the way. In Blackreach, it did not stick. It sailed off, vanishing.

"So far away, " he said under his breath.

Occasionally, the terrain declined, and the glow vanished from sight. At other times, the terrain inclined steeply, and the distant glow was easily visible. No matter how far they traveled, how long they walked, they didn't reach their destination. S'maash grew angry.

"Alright, this is beyond belief, " he barked.

"What is it?" Brelyna was shocked.

They all came to a stop, and S'maash threw his pack on the ground. "I'm making a fire. We should rest for a while, " he grumbled.

The group was not in discordance. Producing some firewood from their packs, S'maash casted flames upon the bundle. Fearing an attack from within the darkness, they took turns standing guard. Some of them were too exhausted from travel to stay awake. Aicantar was the first to sleep. W

tom, a dwemer city was built into the black stone beyond. They had found an end to the blackness.

"You think we should move inside the city, " S'maash asked.

"We might as well. If those other glows were cities then there are at least four of them. I think our best bet here is to eliminate this one, if it is not the correct city, and return for supplies before searching the others, " Brelyna answered.

"Hm, a sound judgment, " S'maath added.

"Aye, " Aicantar agreed.

S'maash inhaled deeply as he eyed the city before him. It was much like every, other, dwemer city. Dwarven metal plates, shingled, round rooves, piping growing into and out of the stone structure, which was much darker than the gray stone used in other cities.There was also an echoing churning of gears present; it was breathtaking. On occasion, soft, billows of steam ejected. The light cast by the mushroom gave everything a haunting and ghost-like appearance.

"Let's just hope this is the right one, " S'maash said.

They proceeded down the hill to the cobbled road and followed it to a round, dwemer door. It was metal, like the doors of Mzulft, but round, like the doors beneath Damlzthur. Several, concentric circles in an oddly spaced arrangement were apparent on the door. Bluish baubles protruded from the center.

"How does it open, " S'maash asked, touching the metal.

"Perhaps this is not the door, " Zolara ventured a guess.

"No, no, this is a puzzle. Hold for a moment, " Aicantar said. He approached the puzzle door and laid a hand on it. A slight reverberation crept into his fingers. "A tonal lock? I have heard of such things."

"Come again?" Brelyna asked.

"Tonal locks respond to notes, " Falion started. "There must be an instrument or instruments nearby…if it is a tonal lock."

"Most assuredly, it is, " Aicantar huffed.

"What do they look like, " S'maash asked.

"Could be anything. Look for something with similar, blue jewels, " Falion answered.

The travelers stepped back from the puzzle door. They looked all about the surrounding expanse. The city was quite extensive, so they broke up and followed the walls.

"I have something!" Zolara called out.

"Aye, us too, " S'maath yelled back.

High above them, they spotted slowly rotating machinery. Its double bow-like structure was reminiscent of the winding keys used in small music boxes.

"That's it, boys. Use your bound bows. Strike the mechanism, so it climbs the thread on the shaft, " Falion ordered.

They did just so. After a few misses, they struck both winding keys. A resounding gong was the result. A slight rumble accosted their feet. Aicantar watched in awe as the puzzle door before him spun and spun. Each, complete rotation brought the circles on the door to an equidistant spacing. The front plate then slid into the ground as the circles retreated, thus creating an opening.

"We're in, ladies and gentlemen, " Aicantar cheered.

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