Chapter 21: The Shadows of Luclin

Bonescar was happy with his new life. Ever since his escape from the Runnyeye goblin's gladiator with the help of his new employer, Loral Ciriclight the priest, he had nothing but good drink, hearty food and extra coin for his purse. Loral taught the large barbarian the trade of the merchant, a long way from his original trade as a future corpse of the cheering bloodthirsty goblins. He now had a keen eye for what was truly a mighty weapon of ancient times and what was better used to poke a rat. He served his master well and in turn had begun to build a life for himself. But that night it all ended with a dark blade stabbing him through his back.

The dark elf pulled the blade free and wiped the blood on the wolf cloak still held in the barbarian's arms. Quickly he cut free the man's purse, only to toss it down a deep crack in the wall. He had no use for the dead man's possessions, save for one item. Within seconds, he found the heavy object. The icy eyes of the assassin gleamed when he saw how successful this hunt had been. The sounds of footsteps and the red-purple glow of torchlight brought him back to the moment. Stepping back into the shadows, he disappeared from sight.

Loral Ciriclight stood at the center of the ancient spires. He watched the Nexus Scion, a beautiful high elf dressed in the white apprentice robes of Al'Kabor's wizard school, her blue eyes fixed and focused. Loral felt the ground begin to rumble and a great humming filled his head, rattling his teeth and weakening his knees. White glowing clouds drifted from the ground around them and a white sphere began spinning around the large spires. Then with a flash, he was gone.

The great forest of Greater Faydark was replaced with the dark stone rock of a large cavern. Loral and the other travelers stood on a large platform surrounded by four spires just like those he had left. The platform sat upon a huge black rock chipped in thousands of places and vibrating with a huge internal power. Four stairways led down the great rock and into caverns beyond and to the nearby city of Shadowhaven. There was no doubt, Loral was far from home.

For his short stay in Shadowhaven, Loral discovered the general disdain the residents had for 'outlanders'. Loral spent little of his time talking and much of it listening to the rumors of workers and nobles in Shadowhaven's inns. He heard tales of the caverns that led to the surface and after replenishing his supplies and donning the blue armor of the dragonkin, he crossed the great bridge of the underground city and into the dark caverns of Paludal.

Loral spent two days slowly navigating through the dense Paludal Caverns. Just outside of the gates of shadowhaven, bandits and thieves had set up a small and run-down village held at bay by the sharp blades of the powerful Shadowhaven guard. The caverns evolved into large worn stone, blasted away by the currents of large underground rivers. Great shelled beasts and small humanoids with skin of thick fungus glared at his passing but did not attack, though their smell alone was almost enough to fell the cleric. Soon the caverns opened up and Loral stepped carefully outside onto the beach that circled Hollowshade Moore.

The site was one of the most beautiful Loral had ever seen. Waves of a crystal clear lake gently washed upon the pure white sand of the beach. The very sound of the water soothed the ache of the caverns behind him. Green hills stretched beyond the beach to the west and far off he could see the lights and smoke of torchlight and campfires. That is when the light above caught his attention and he looked up to view the huge sphere of Norrath.

Loral lost his balance and would have slipped into the water below if he hadn't steadied himself on the wall. The feeling of hanging upside down above his homelands was so strong it took the strength from him. Feeling suffocated, Loral pulled off his helmet and dropped it to the ground. No site he had seen upon this moon truly made him understand his position until he stood staring at the very lands he had lived on thousands of miles above him.

Returning to his present situation, he hoped to find shelter among those camps ahead. Thinking it a perfect opportunity to try his latest possession, a gift of the lady Dahlea and the priestess Wrenne, he drew the white bridal, clasped with the symbol of Tunare, out from his soft leather pack and held it at arms length. He closed his eyes and remembered the words of activation.

"Come Illumina"

An unearthly air spun around Loral and his arms and a great white mare stepped from the swirling grey mist. It's head filled the muzzle of the bridle and in seconds, Loral found himself next to the beautiful creature. The great beast stood with the nobility that only a creature of Tunare could have. Loral stood in awe. Almost impatiently, the horse turned and nudged Loral with its muzzle. Loral smiled, mounted the beautiful horse and the two sped off to the firelight ahead.

Little did he know of the murder of his friend, and little did he know of the dangers to follow.