The Rift – Part VI (Seks)
It didn’t take long for the Abel and Daealla’s troops to reach Ymir’s Corridor. Kieran had been leading the elven forces alongside his mother until they neared the passageway. Abel had asked for some time alone with Daealla when they arrived, so Kieran slipped back among the ranks. He stayed within sight of the two, but not close enough to overhear any of their conversation. Abel seems to be a good man after all. He would make an excellent ruler of the realm… and a wonderful suitor for mother. What an alliance that would be.
Kieran was sitting on his Akhal-Teke bareback, like most wood elves would, while pondering how different life would be if his mother united their people with the humans of Rosewood. He then noticed Abel quickly ride off to meet one of his men near the entrance of the parlous cavern system. The wood elf prince slowly made his way through the crowd of human and elvish soldiers up to his mother. “Well, what are the plans now, Mother?” Kieran Questioned the second he was within earshot of Daealla.
“Abel has decided to send a handful of his men into the entrance to scout our descent into Ymir’s Corridor. Apparently the door is covered in ancient runes. Better to send a few scouts in to test the waters rather than risk our entire army. They aren’t going too deep within, so Abel expects them back no later than nightfall. I have decided to send three of our elves in as well. We will rest here for the night and head into the caves on the morrow, with or without the return of our joint scout team.” Daealla turned Kadin and continued moving closer to the entrance. Kieran dug the point of his boot into Beyaz to quickly catch back up to his mother’s side.
“I see… are we sure this is the best idea, mother? Maybe trekking through a cave plagued with the lore of demons and monsters isn’t the best way to send our troops. Especially days before what could be the most important war this realm has ever witnessed.” Daealla gazed at her son before dismounting her mare and slowly making her way towards the massive doors that led into Ymir’s Corridor. She looked back over her shoulder as if questioning Kieran why he was not accompanying her. He climbed down from his steed to follow her.
“The truth is, Kieran… I do not know if this is the right thing to do. I do know for certain that our only other option is the wrong thing to do.” Daealla paused with uncertainty for a fleeting moment before continuing. “We know we will be ambushed by Harald and Orrowyn if we attempt to traverse the pass into their lands, yet the path we are on now could end up being much more treacherous. Sometimes a leader must make decisions off the certainty in their gut, and I am beyond certain that Ymir’s Corridor can be no worse than a guaranteed ambush at the pass.”
Kieran took in everything Daealla just explained before answering. “I understand, Mother. I trust your judgment with my life.” I hope she is right. If we lose any men in these caves we will lose this war. We are already outnumbered, and if Harald is smart enough to keep men guarding the exit of Ymir’s corridor on his side of the mountain we will surely not be of this realm much longer. This human king could be the death of us all. For the last few hundred feet, the two walked in silence to the doors, but as they neared they noticed Abel and his few scouts standing quietly in bewilderment.
“Abel, are these the men you intend to send into the corridor?” Daealla questioned.
“Yes, but… we’re… we can’t seem to get the door to open. There are no handles and the door is completely sealed.”
Kieran hadn’t really noticed anything other than the door’s size while walking towards it, yet now he could not take his eyes off it. It was standing nearly thirty feet tall and surrounded by ivy, ferns, and moss on all sides. Above the door jutted three massive boulders that’s perch housed two strange-looking ravens that quickly flew away once they’d been spotted. The doors looked to be made with Nordic Buloke, the strongest of all the woods in Delahden, and inlaid with hundreds of ancient runes that encircled one large rune. They were faintly emitting a mixture of colored lights, ranging from the soft seafoam on a sunny day near the coast of Asothas while others were darker than the jade found within the ancient dwarven mine of Edarascûd. Above the door were two more ominously large runes. Both mirrored each other exactly, glowing a bright shade of turquoise and resting atop mismatched joineries of Ebony and Burlwood. Each door also owned massive, ornate carvings that stretched from the very top of the door all the way to the floor. It was a masterpiece.
This must’ve taken ages to complete. There’s no way it was done by anything other than giants. The doors are too colossal to have been moved by any man. This may even be the work of Odin himself. “Mother, what are those two runes above the door. And more importantly, why are they such a different shade than the rest of the warnings?”
“I am not certain, but I believe these runes belong to one of the oldest of Delahden’s languages. I know it as the Tongue of Giants, but many have also called it Odin’s Tunga.”
“Can you read it?” One of Abel’s scouts inquired.
“Not all of it, but most. The main rune in the center actually looks to be two runes in itself. The outer box rune and small circular runes in the middle are some sort of lock. Clearly it has never been broken as the rune is still sealed and it emits the pulse of a living rune. The others above and below the circular runes are more bindings. Typically those would be used to bind something to an object, but I fear I am unsure how they’re being used here. The final four runes surrounding the lock are known as Odin’s Illusion, but there is no sole meaning for those. They’ve always been tied to godly magic, but that is the extent of which I know. Outside the door, on the outer edges, we have two more distinct runes. Alone, they mean nothing. However, together they represent a giants gateway.”
Daealla paused. She seemed disturbed by the two mirrored runes that had seemed to just grow brighter atop the doorway.
“Daealla, I must know everything about these runes before I willingly send my men into this unknown place. What do the final two mean” Abel interrogated?
Daealla remained silent. I have never seen mother this scared. “Mother…”
Daealla averted her eyes from the massive pulsing runes and looked down towards her feet. “Those refer to absolute and utter madness.”
Abel’s scout’s faces froze with terror. They all began looking at one another, but before any of them could speak Daeall chimed in one last time. I’m not sure how the whole of these runes together equate to anything, but if I had one guess I would think Ymir’s Corridor is filled with things that will test our drives and morals. Those wooden inlays disturb me as well. I have no clue what they pertain too, but it cannot be good for us either way.”
Kieran turned his head to stare at the carvings. “It almost looks as if they tell some sort of story, Mother. Both sides are almost identical, yet I can distinguish some irregularities as you move down the carving. Granted, I am not sure if they’re meaningful or if they’re just miscues by the door maker, but there may be something there.”
“No, you’re right Kieran. Daealla, look here.” Abel pointed towards the lower quarter of the left side of the door. At first glance, it didn’t look like anything more than misshapen carvings of wood, but as Abel bent down to point it out to Daealla, Kieran noticed what it was.
“Its that some sort of ancient writing? The unraveling of the lock on the door, perhaps? Kieran blurted out.
“Vokt dere for sjofel skapninger innen. Døden venter de med frykt.” Daealla whispered. They briefly stood in silence before they heard the eerie creak of the door as it slowly swung open to reveal the black abyss that was Ymir’s Corridor.
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