Rowen squeezed her body along the suffocatingly tight tunnel. The stone at her neck stopped glowing for some reason, yet at times it would flash a dim glow of blue, then red, then gold. It did not matter anyhow, it was impossible to hold it up to see by, and the tunnel was so small there was no way to alter or change courses now. All she had to do was shimmy her way along.
“Good thing I’m not claustrophobic,” Rowen muttered to herself. Despite the quiet tone, her voice echoed ominously down the tunnel, shivering through the mountain’s bones in a place that had never before heard voices. Rowen spoke no more after that.
Hours later, a new air seemed to permeate the presence of the tunnel. It became less stale, and almost sweet. It was a hard feeling to place, especially in a tunnel of old stone.
A ripple of cold flared through the whole tunnel… not the air, but through the stone itself. It was like a ripple or wave that shot around the tunnel, gone as quickly as it came. Occupied with this mysterious phenomenon, Rowen didn’t notice the sudden opening of the tunnel below her until she fell down a short ways. The tunnel was dark, and Rowen was afraid to get up or move out of fear of hitting something sharp, falling again, or that she had reached a fork in the tunnel and fallen down the wrong one. Panic began to seize her as she lay still, unsure of what to do.
The stone around her neck began to sizzle. It made a crackling noise and a light was growing in it. The light was neither orange nor blue, but a pure white. Before it was enough to see by, another ripple of cold shot through the tunnel. Only this time, light accompanied it. It was a brilliant ring of mostly white, but it shone with a multitude of colors like some sort of multifauceted quicksilver. The aurora pulsated down the tunnel in one quick blast, disappearing around the bend. For a moment, everything was illuminated.
Rowen had not fallen into another tunnel, but the one she was in had widened considerably – tall enough for her to stand. It was smooth beyond compare, or possibility for that matter, and untouched by anything for since what seemed like the beginning of time. The darkness that had returned after the first spectacle had receded was interrupted once more by a second, just as brilliant as the first. This time, after it too had passed with a whoosh, a small amount of light remained, radiating from the stone around Rowen’s neck. It seemed a trivial amount of light compared to the incredible aurora ring, but once her eyes adjusted, Rowen could tell it was considerably more light than it had ever given off before. The tunnel was now lit by this stone. Rowen got off the ground and stood up, simultaneously feeling the almost-soft, smooth stone as she pushed herself up with her hands.
Another aurora flashed by. Intrigued, Rowen followed it, running and trying to keep up with it. This was impossible, as it seemed to move faster than earthly possible, faster than time… yet time seemed to slow down at the same time. Rowen ran with it as far as she could until it disappeared from sight. She panted with effort, sweat dripping over her eyes. Faltering, Rowen tripped over her own boots and sprawled across the tunnel floor. Time seemed to warp back to its normal state as she hit the warm stone. Another wave of cold pulsated briefly through the stone… but it was no longer smooth. The stone beneath Rowen was not rough, but it was rippled like the sand at low tide. The smooth rippled pattern circled around the entire of the tunnel with such fluidity it almost seemed like the stone itself could fluctuate and move like a river of rock, all running down the tunnel. Each ripple pulsed with warmth, then cold, and each sparkled and shone with a blinding light as each aurora flashed by.
The dazzling effect was dizzying. It was difficult to walk such a tunnel, a tunnel lacking perspective, lacking time lacking a clear statement of what was forward, what was up, what was down; lacking reality it seemed. The only thing Rowen could do was to follow the pulsating auroras and try to keep her feet steady on the rippled floor. Her boots seemed cumbersome, her feet heavy like lead. Time seemed to falter and Rowen’s head spun, lost in the beautiful and spellbinding tunnel. Unbidden, her eyes closed; the brilliant auroras danced through her eyelids. Vaguely she felt her body sink and her head strike softly rippled stone, but it seemed like a dream. Her heavy hand flopped on something odd… wood. It fell to the ground with a clunk.
The sound echoed throughout every corner and every ripple of the tunnel, deafening to Rowen’s amplified hearing. In an instant the enchantment was ripped off, and time came swirling back. The stone shuddered and the auroras sizzled and dissipated. Rowen’s hand lay upon Larenteth’s smooth drum, which had been the source of the hollow, dull clunk that still echoed around the stone. The same sound the Natarinturnan had been frightened by, all but Nintura, who remembered wood. The mystic state evaporated from Rowen’s mind, and she was able to continue down the tunnel by the glow of Nintura’s stone, which now glowed a brilliant white. The darkness ahead seemed endless… and at one point light ceased reflecting off the tunnel walls. No, it was not that the stone’s glow was giving out; the rippled tunnel widened and fanned out into a great cavern. The rippled pattern continued all around the walls, swirling to darkened heights. It was deathly silent.
Nervously Rowen began to feel her way around the walls, knowing she had to find another tunnel there in order to get out. Without knowing why, she feared to go back through the aurora tunnel.
The shaft of stone around her neck could only give off so much light in this great cavern, and it was hard to see by. Abruptly, Rowen’s hand hit a rough crevice in the flawless stone. It was colder than the rest of the wall, and the carving seemed to be freshly etched; it looked out of place in the anciently smooth stone. It took her a moment, but Rowen realized that the carving was in fact a word, written in common tongue. Aghast, she held up what little light she had to read it. But the words seemed to be a continued sentence from above, and it was too large to read with such little light. With a frustrated sigh, Rowen let her hand drop to her side – right on the pouch. Light seemed to be seeping from the seams of the bag, and it was colder than normal. Rowen took out the mysterious flask from the bag and unwrapped it from its black cloth. To Rowen’s amazement, the flask shone brightly with a frosted white gleam. Smiling at her good fortune, Rowen held up the glass to the letters on the wall to see if it was easier to read by. Somehow, a single drop of the strange liquid escaped the covered rim of the flask and touched one of the letters.
In an instant the white liquid forked across the entire of the wall, snaking through all the letters that were etched. Each branch frosted over like ice and shimmered intensely with a luminosity that lit most of the great cavern.
And the words, etched and iced over with white light, encrypted not a message but a prophecy:
“Darkened days of treeless past
Come to meet their ends at last
Conquerors of water and flame
Have yet the dragon still to tame.
And that dragon to escape
Six times it will attempt freedom
Seventh will trigger the Fire Lords’ rise
And with the key to solidified liquid power
The birth of new jade will flower
And lead at last to the Destroyers’ demise.
Killed will He be in fiery assault, the drums of old beating their cry
But She will take up the call
At the harkening of the ice
All will fall to destruction and sacrifice
And the drums will echo through the mountains tall.”
Chapter 1: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9127.html
Chapter 2: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9141.html
Chapter 3: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9184.html
Chapter 4: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9263.html
Chapter 5: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9297.html
Chapter 6: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9307.html
Chapter 7: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9356.html
Chapter 8: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9422.html
Chapter 9: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9472.html
Chapter 10: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9530.html
Chapter 11: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9566.html
Chapter 12: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9603.html
Chapter 13: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9616.html
Chapter 14: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9629.html
Chapter 15: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9658.html
Chapter 16: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9678.html
Chapter 17: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9772.html
Chapter 18: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9847.html
Chapter 19: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9949.html
Chapter 20: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10087.html
Chapter 21: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10112.html
Chapter 22: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10154.html
Chapter 23: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10284.html
Chapter 24: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10329.html
Chapter 25: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10476.html
Chapter 26: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10675.html
Chapter 27: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10827.html