The Lightning Caves
An excerpt from the extensive scrolls of "Natural Wonders of Asheshal" by Observer Otkal
".... And descending down into the throat of the earth, One feels a breath shake mountains above the head. Down ten thousand steps into more stars than hidden sky, To witness the Heros Seven who hold land on the thread. Crystal songs in the dark shown through flash of fire, That speak of the fate which one shall dread." - From the Tale of Talrie's Stand
Witness to the Lightning Caves
When I first came to the Lightning Caves I was unsure that I was in the proper place. You see I had imagined, based on the tales and stories my colleagues spoke of, a grand entrance of carved stone so magnificent that I should weep, and guardians posted at the entrance. Hulking Hopolian Knights who would spear me through at the merest hint of befouling such a spiritual place. I confess that I was disappointed in what my eyes fell upon.
A rough-hewn black hole in the side of the mountain only reached by a thin and broken path cut in by an untold number of passing steps. Outside stood a singleof black fur dressed only in a simple robe of pale yellow and armed with a great spear. He did not wear the armor of a Hopolian Knight though he stood with the easy stance of one long in the service of an army. There was no greeting, nor challenge to my approach, and when I laid the offering of food, water, and crafted goods which I knew were required, he simply lifted his chin a fraction. He watched in silence as I passed into the mouth of the cave and did not speak a word nor raise a hand to stop me though I felt his eyes hot on my back as if they were blazing with flames. It was not a grand entrance which now I realize I had imagined in the form of the Trithan structures witnessed from afar and instead was a natural place but for that no less heavy upon my soul.
The path down into the caves was much like that of the mountain path up though it was in near darkness. The light from the entrance to the caves was soon dimmed and instead, a world of stars appeared before me. Light from unseen and unknowable places was captured and thrown about by crystals. Crystals that are as large as five boralid bulls standing upon one another's shoulders and as small as my littlest finger.
I would have lit a torch under any other circumstance but the light from these crystals filled the chambers with just enough brightness to see my next steps. So instead I let the dim light guide me on instead. For three days I traveled deep into the mountain, always down. There was only one path to take though it twisted and turned and took me through spaces so small I wondered how any boralid managed to squeeze through. At one time I came upon a great chasm as the path took me right along its edge for near two hundred steps. It was like a great rip in the earth that reached down to the unknowable center of the world. So deep was it that the light from the crystals which bounced and reflected did not reach the bottom. And it was there that I first saw that which gives the caves their name.
A great flash of arcing blueish purple lightning flickered from one massive crystal tip to another in the darkness. The lightning strike was so bright the flash of it existed in my sight even with my eyes closed. Though it was not the light that made my knees buckle but rather the sound. The thunder was upon me as quick as the light and it shook my very bones while my ears ached from the splitting sound. It was so loud I feared the crystals would come down upon me and bury me in the earth. Of course, as I had traveled for so many days, I had heard the distant rumblings of the thunder echoing around and through the caves. With each one, I felt the ancient power of the place. To see it and hear it for myself was an experience beyond my ability to describe.
When I reached the largest cavern at some central point of the cave system I was shocked to find the air warm to the point of sweating and a thin layer of mist covered the ground up to my knee. Here I saw crystals of white and clear tinted with sea blue and pink while others were pure black as if made of hardened pitch. The lightning, though flashing and flickering, bounced around all the crystals. The sound of thunder was a constant low rumble in my head and the vibrations made my knees weak.
The light here was brightest of all as it reflected through countless crystals and in the center of the space a ring of torches burning bright white provided the source of the light. In the center of the cavern, the floor was raised in a flat circle that looked like a disk suspended in the air by fourteen hands. Two each belonging to the Seven Heros. Faceless boralid carved one hundred feet high and hands held out to support the stone disk. I looked with wonder upon the carvings of stone which, though faceless, were so distinct and so lifelike that for a moment I felt that I had known each of their like in my lifetime.
- Map Image: Lightning Cave Location by KnightOwl Via Wonderdraft