Editors: Templar, Jack Vanatis, genericIntent
Author’s notes: Fourth chapter release, only two left.
Chapter 21 – Monster
As Regal slides off the pipe spanning the shaft, fear and confusion fill his mind. He isn’t afraid of dying, but falling into what appears to be an endless void has a terrifying aspect to it.
The pipe Regal and his squad were crossing grows further away as he falls. After only a few breaths worth of time, it is gone. Regal is enveloped by the endless darkness of the chasm, and it almost appears to stick to and envelop him.
The darkness isn’t only an area void of light, but seems to consist of a sticky fog-like substance. The fog has a corrosive property as it starts eating away at his skin and mind. The pain of this happening isn’t comparable to the death Regal once had, but it is still more unbearable than anything else he has experienced before.
Regal’s health and mana drop at a speed of ten points a second, a slow and agonizing death. He screams out in pain, but not even the echo of his voice comes back. Regal only lasts for ten seconds of this, before what was left of his mana from the earlier fights vanishes and the continuous damage to his mind causes him to lose consciousness as his limp body falls into the abyss.
Regal’s entire body is extremely weak when he regains consciousness. He floats in a pool of water while blinking in confusion. He had expected to wake up at the Rebirth Pond in Grand Theore’s first floor Temple of Life. Instead, he is floating in a vast body of water staring up at an endless amount of black fog.
Memories of falling into the abyss replay in Regal’s mind. He remembers the excruciating pain he felt and can’t help but grimace. He notices that his stats and mana are slowly recovering, but his health currently only has twelve points left. He needs to eat some of the food in his inventory but can’t do so while floating in the water.
Regal had survived the fall into the shaft, but he doesn’t understand how. It is common knowledge that falling into one is a guaranteed death, not a single person was known to survive falling into one of the shafts, so how did he?
Trying to find answers, Regal twists his body and helplessly splashes around the water as he tries to find a way out. He is nearly dead and killing himself would easily allow him to revive outside, but he doesn’t want to feel the pain of death again and the words of the judge during the first inter-academy tournament about how life is precious cause him to put those thoughts out of his head.
Amidst struggling to keep his head above water, Regal sees a faint red glow through the darkness on one side. Hoping for a way out of the water, he thrashes his arms and somehow manages to move toward the light. It would be much easier if he had the ‘Swimming’ skill, but he somehow manages to move through the water without drowning.
After ten minutes of struggling, Regal arrives at the wall of the shaft where an enormous path leads away from the water. The path is very similar to those of the third floor of Theore Substructure, only three times as wide and tall. That faint red glow Regal saw earlier can also be seen, emanating from depths.
Climbing out of the water, Regal is extremely relieved to be on dry land. He has never been swimming before, so could only rely on his instinct to stay afloat. The ‘Swimming’ skill is important in some grand cities, but Grand City Theore’s surroundings are hellishly barren, so there was no need to worry about the skill. Regal secretly vows to himself that the first thing he will do when he is in Market Street again is purchase that skill book, even if it costs a bit much.
Sitting next to the water, Regal takes out some already prepared food from his inventory. He has raw meat that he can cook that will have a faster effect of recovering health, but in his weak state and solitude, he is afraid he won’t be able to properly defend himself if some mutant beasts are attracted by the smell.
Not wanting to have the rest of his squad notice he is alive and try to rescue him, and instead escape the dungeon, he removes himself from the squad. He will most likely be revived at the Temple of Life if he doesn’t escape so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Regal’s health, mana and stamina are completely recovered after twenty minutes of resting. Curious about this new floor and hoping for a way to climb back up, he nervously starts travelling towards the red glow while sticking close to the walls.
The temperature of the dungeon starts increasing from the usual chill Theore Substructure’s lower floors have, to a heat that causes Regal to start sweating. He reaches the first junction in the path, finding three separate paths leading away, each emanating an eerie crimson light.
Regal chooses the path on the right, which is the side of the wall he is slowly creeping along. From here, the floor becomes a complete maze, even more so than the above floors. He takes out his notebook and starts creating a map with the shaft as the center.
Regal discovers what the red glow is after a short while. Flames, dark red like blood, roar up from beneath the steel grate floor like an inferno, emitting a terrifying heat that makes Regal’s mind dizzy. He is forced to stay clear of these areas as the heat not only damages him, but threatens to rob him of his consciousness at the same time.
Sounds of scuttling and metal scratching on metal can be heard from several directions, so Regal cautiously avoids those paths. The atmosphere makes Regal sweat more than the heat, especially when the sounds of movement are closer to him. He doesn’t know what enemies lurk in this floor, but whatever creatures there are do not sound like they are small.
After two hours of exploring, Regal hasn’t come across any enemies or stairs ascending, but he does find another shaft. This shaft is different to the one he fell into; there is no pool of water and a black corrosive fog seems to extend everywhere. He can’t even extend a hand into the shaft without losing health.
Turning away from the shaft and choosing another path to traverse down, the worst case scenario unfolds.
In front of Regal, two Mutant Rats unlike any he has seen before appear from around a corner. They stand two meters tall, with golden fur and blood red eyes. Their claws are a foot and a half long and shine with a dark luster, producing the metal on metal scratching sound Regal has been hearing.
Regal studied these mutant beasts in class. They are Mutant Rat Kings, mutant beasts generally around level 17 and with a terrifying attack strength that can tear through any defense.
The Mutant Rat Kings glare at Regal with crimson eyes full of killing intent. A bone chilling fear fills Regal’s body and his danger sense rings alarms, a sign that the enemy in front of him is much more powerful than he is.
Regal draws his gun to fight for his life, but before he can fire a single bullet, the rat’s overbearing aura vanishes as they scuttle away with a terrifying speed. Confused at the sudden turn of events, Regal stands still and looks at where the rats were incredulously. Even with escaping unharmed, he finds the situation too suspicious.
Turning around, Regal discovers why the Mutant Rat Kings ran away so quickly as he spots another enemy coming. This enemy has the body of a nine foot tall pitch black wolf, but stands on two legs and holds its scythe-like claws out menacingly.
This isn’t a mutant beast at all, but instead a monster. It is known as the Obsidian Wolf, a beast which isn’t as fast as other wolf-type monsters, but its claws are indeed scythes of death.
The monster has been in this dungeon for the past two hundred years, and has currently reached level 40. It would be stronger, but the Mutant Rat Kings are weak compared to most mutated beasts, not giving much experience points, and they always flee from the Obsidian wolf, making them difficult to kill.
An even more dangerous foreboding and fear strikes Regal and his knees start to feel weak. It is such a terrifying feeling that Regal doesn’t have the slightest intention of fighting the enemy in front of him, especially not when he is alone.
The wolf stops paying attention to the Mutant Rat Kings that fled and focuses its attention on Regal. Baring its sharp fangs at him, small sparks of flame emanate out from its mouth as it slowly stalks toward Regal.
Mustering up his courage, Regal turns around and flees down one of the paths that the Mutant Rat Kings took. The Obsidian Wolf sees its prey fleeing and its eyes intelligently follow this prey he does not recognize. In the countless years the monster has lived in this place, it has never seen an Immortalis before, so the monster is quite curious toward Regal.
The monster casually moves toward Regal who is fleeing as fast as he can. It moves at the same speed as the student, which is equivalent to walking for the wolf.
Regal has already stopped using his map, or paying attention to where he is. All he can do is flee from the monster that is likely to eat him as soon as it catches up.
Regal randomly turns from one pathway to the next, choosing random directions to lose the monster behind him. But despite all his efforts, it is still chasing him. A loud screech surprises Regal as four Mutant Rat Kings spot him and attack from the direction he is running. He feels despair as there are no paths of escape, with the monster behind him and the mutated beasts in front of him.
Just as Regal is about to give up hope and accept his death a fireball as large as him flies over his head with a terrifying speed and into the Mutant Rat Kings. Two of the rats are instantly incinerated by the attacks and the other two see the Obsidian Wolf and flee as fast as they can.
Regal glances behind him and sees the residual light from an alchemy diagram above the wolf’s head dissipating. He realizes that this monster could kill him at a moment’s notice, and has just been toying with him.
Despite running as fast as he can, Regal somehow manages to produce a further burst of speed as he runs down a path and toward an area where the flames have blocked the majority of a path.
The Obsidian Wolf thinks nothing of the direction he runs in, following him as if it doesn’t care where he goes.
Regal finds the path with the flames, and the heat initially causes him to flinch. Without slowing down, he dashes through the path and narrowly avoids the flames of the inferno. He loses almost half of his health and his vision blurs from the heat, his entire body emitting faint wisps of steam as all the perspiration is instantly evaporated.
Regal makes it past the flames with a considerable amount of coincidence and luck. The Obsidian Wolf stops on the other side of the flames where it had thought he would have Regal cornered. The monster has no way of passing through the flames as the path Regal took through the fire is too narrow for it. It looks at the flames in shock, before letting out an enraged howl loud enough to cause the pipes along the walls to vibrate and resonate chimes of various pitches.
The monster doesn’t stay staring at the flames and darts away at a speed more than four times faster than when previously chasing Regal. Regal takes the opportunity to consume some food to recover his lost health.
Rather than wait around for the Obsidian Wolf to find another route around the fire, Regal leaves as soon as he finishes eating. He is additionally attentive to not only avoid Mutant Rat Kings, but avoid the Obsidian Wolf too. He can hear sounds of the monster somewhere else in the dungeon, but it thankfully doesn’t appear to be getting any closer.
As if to spite Regal’s thoughts, the sounds of the monster suddenly start getting closer to him, causing Regal to start running towards the nearest junction, trying to find a corner he can hide in. He is fortunate in that there is a small depression from one of the corners, enough to hide the body of a single person.
Not long after hiding himself, Regal spots the monster charge toward the junction he is hiding in. The Obsidian Wolf stops in the center of the junction. Regal uses ‘Foresight’ to glimpse five seconds in the future before gasping and rolling out of his hiding spot as soon as he sees what will happen.
The monster turns and glares at where Regal is hiding, not hesitating in the least to swipe its claws through the wall like butter and carve up the spot Regal is hiding in. The monster has been tracking Regal through his scent, and as soon as it caught the trace of it, could follow him anywhere on this floor. Hiding in a small recess in the wall is not going to allow the student to hide from the monster for even a second.
To the monster’s surprise however, Regal seemed to predict the attack that he should not have been able to see coming and rolled out from the recess just before the attack came, successfully dodging it by a narrow margin.
The Obsidian Wolf pinches Regal with its claws before he can get a chance to escape again and picks him up, lifting him up from the floor so that Regal’s face is directly in front of the monster’s. Regal stares into its dark golden eyes that seem to be able to look straight through him.
“Ah, I’m sorry. You really don’t want to kill me. I only want to leave this place. Without dying, I mean,” Regal frantically spews forth a ramble of sentences to the monster, whose terrifying jaws are only a few inches away from his head. Being eaten by a monster is definitely one of the more terrifying ways to die that Regal does not want to experience.
The monster glares at Regal as its hot breath washes over his face. It was originally going to kill this small thing in its hands, but has taken an interest in it. Being bored in this place for so long, it doesn’t want the only new thing to vanish so suddenly.
“If you’re hungry, I have food. Here! Have some food.” Regal takes out a loaf of bread and some heavily salted meat from his inventory and holds it out in front of the monster.
The Obsidian Wolf’s nose picks up the scent of the meat and its eyes are immediately drawn to it. It uses its free hand and stabs a claw through the meat, cutting Regal’s hand and taking away a quarter of his health.
Regal’s expression pales as he panics thinking the monster is about to eat him, but instead it eats the meat off the tip of its claw like a skewer. The giant beast is clearly happy with the food, as it points a claw at him in indication that it wants more. It doesn’t understand Regal’s language, but Regal seems to think is has some inclination of comprehension.
“Yes. Yes. Please, have some more, just don’t eat me,” Regal quickly pulls out another chunk of meat. The piece is the size of two of his hands, and of considerable value, but it is a mere appetizer for the monster.
“Now that you’ve eaten, can I go now? I really want to go home as soon as possible.”
With Regal’s words leading, he also swings his arms around and makes basic movements to express that he wants to go. The monster can’t understand his words, but it can gain some understanding from his actions. It has a great amount of insight when Regal points to himself, makes a motion of to walk, and points upward.
The Obsidian Wolf is surprised and even looks up, which causes Regal to become hopeful and start rambling on about countless things the monster can’t understand.
Not knowing what to do, the monster stares at Regal intently, causing the subject to start sweating profusely. It eventually comes to a conclusion, swinging Regal over its shoulder and pinning him there while walking off. It takes Regal to a small room, fifty feet wide and long, that the Obsidian Wolf can barely fit through the doorway of.
When Regal is thrown onto the hard floor, he grunts painfully before sitting up. The monster props itself onto the ground in front of Regal and points a single claw at his chest, indicating something. Thinking it wants food, Regal takes out another chunk of meat for the monster, but it doesn’t accept it, shifting its claw until it becomes scarily close to him.
“I’m sorry! I don’t know what you want!”
Just as Regal starts speaking, the wolf withdraws its claw, and as soon as he stops, places it back at his throat menacingly.
“You, you want me to talk?”
The monster repeats its actions as before but doesn’t acknowledge anything so Regal is left to helplessly speculate. He speaks for a longer period of time and the wolf seems to be content.
Regal speaks for an entire day, the wolf only letting him stop to eat and drink. It became increasingly fond of the fresh cooked meat, immediately taking it all and leaving Regal with anything else he prepared.
Early when it should be morning in the outside world, Regal becomes increasingly tired from not sleeping all night and starts to fall asleep while talking. The Obsidian Wolf notices this and enters into a howling fury from not getting what it wants. The monster is careful not to attack the small existence that holds its interest, but the attacks it launches glow and leave a crimson trail that threatens to slice Regal into a multitude of pieces.
The damage to the surrounding area causes Regal to jump in fright and instantly become wide awake. The monster sees this and stops its fury, placing itself back in front of Regal again to listen to him talk. The walls are now covered in a new layer of gashes that overlay those left years ago in a similar fashion.
Of course Regal starts to lapse back into unconsciousness again, but this time the Obsidian Wolf sits patiently and lets him sleep, eventually lying down to rest itself, now understanding why the little Immortalis stopped making noise.
The Obsidian Wolf keeps Regal within this room as a hostage for over a month, forcing him to continue talking for its own interest. Being alive as long as it has, its attention span for even the simplest subjects is exceedingly long, let alone a new and intriguing language.
After a month of listening to Regal’s words and watching his body language, the monster begins to form an understanding of the language and what each word means. It can even speak a few words itself, but its voice is coarse and not meant for Regal’s language.
Regal’s food has long since been expended due to the Obsidian Wolf eating so much, but it has taken to leaving Regal’s captive room to hunt for and bring back Mutant Rat Kings that Regal chops apart and cooks to feed them both.
Only a week into his captivity Regal started to call the monster Ophius, a simple male name that he can refer to it with. Explaining Ophius’ name to it, the wolf was completely indifferent, unlike when Regal explained his own name.
Regal’s nervousness has also since faded, no longer fearing that that Ophius will instantly kill him. He still does nothing to provoke him though, and doesn’t leave the room which would be pointless as Ophius can track him by smell.
A month and a half after becoming a captive for the strange Ophius, the Obsidian Wolf leaves the room once again to bring back some rat kings. Regal has taken these opportunities to inspect the room he is in and find out why it is so different from the rest of the dungeon.
As far as Regal can tell the Obsidian Wolf also started sleeping here because it’s unique.
Inspecting the rear wall for what seems to be the tenth time already, Regal finds something different compared to normal. While running his hands along one of the pipes forming the wall, a simple bronze one at that, he feels a depression in it. If it was an attack from the Obsidian Wolves rage that did it, it would look like everything else in the room that had been carved up. Instead, it is only a small depression that could be easily missed.
He bends down to stick his head beneath the pipe to have a look around it. When he does, he sees a surprising sight that makes his eyes go wide. There is a small gap behind the pipe where there are no other pipes, but instead a tiny entrance into a small room.
Glancing around to make sure Ophius hasn’t come back yet, he squeezes through the hole and into the new room. It only takes him a minute or two to reach it, and he finds that it is half the size as the room he was held captive in. In the center of the room, there is a short altar with three items on it: A piece of paper and two books.
Excitement and joy burst from his chest as he rushes up to the altar and picks up the three items, inspecting them one at a time. The first is the yellow piece of paper that has fantastical calligraphy on it.
Blank Title Deed Can be used once to activate any inactive Rebirth Pond and claim ownership of the location it is used free of any price. Cannot be used on an active Rebirth Pond.
The item in Regal’s hands is of incomprehensible value. Locations which have naturally occurring Rebirth Ponds usually cost millions, if not tens of millions of gold coins for the larger ones, to activate. To be able to ignore that price and claim ownership means that this piece of paper is worth the same amount of gold coins as the cost to activate a Rebirth Pond!
Regal places the title deed into his inventory and inspects the second item, which happens to be a unique skill book.
Soul Authority A skill granting the ability to use the power of the soul. Soul force is an intangible energy that cannot be blocked by any barrier and cannot be detected. Minimum requirements to learn this skill: ~ None Would you like to learn ‘Soul Authority'? Yes / No
Regal immediately selects yes, knowing that it must be a good skill. A blinding flash of light fills the room and the skill book vanishes from his hand. The skill appears in his list of miscellaneous skills and he is immediately prompted to select one of two Tier 1 Divine Arts.
Soul Authority: (Tier 1) Soul Inspection – Gaze at a target’s soul to discern their level and stats. Skills are not shown. Target cannot be more than 10 levels above the user for this technique to succeed. Soul Inspection Cost: 30 mana (Tier 1) Soul Shackle – Can cast a binding on the target’s soul and make them loyal to the caster until released. Targets bound must be subdued by the caster or willing to be bound else this technique will fail. There is no limit to amount of creatures that can be bound. Soul Shackle Cost: 20 mana X level of target
The skill book is even more valuable than the deed in Regal’s opinion. His only dilemma is that he doesn’t know which Divine Art to choose. The first can be used to determine the level and stats of an enemy which can be crucial when engaging an unknown player or creature, but then again the immortalis’ danger sense is extremely acute and most mutated beasts and monsters have been researched.
The latter choice is excellent in allowing him to build up an army, but the constraints are that he must defeat them himself, and Regals talents lie in miscellaneous skills and crafting rather than in combat skills.
After some deliberation, Regal chooses the second option, ‘Soul Shackle’, as it suits him better than the first and it will allow him to find creatures to protect him. He may be weaker than the other outstanding talents his age, but he and a hundred mutant beasts and monsters together would be taken seriously.
He even thinks about having Ophius become one of his subjects, taking the second option of the skill and having the target be willing. These thoughts are quickly crushed by the cost of the skill. Casting the soul binding will cost twenty mana times the level of the mutant beast or monster, meaning at most he can currently only bind an enemy of level 15 at the most. Ophius is infinitely stronger than Regal and clearly at a much higher level.
Still excited over the first two treasures, he quickly moves on and inspects the third item. It is a strange book that, rather than being a skill book, contains several passages of notes from the author. Wondering about the author and reading the book, Regal’s grin begins to fade and his eyes lose their joy. His expression becomes more serious the further he reads. It is a will left by a human, Shen Wan Xing.
I pass on these words to whoever can reach this point. If you have, you must be someone with great luck. I can no longer remain in this world or any other, so I must leave my legacy behind for someone else in hopes they are able to continue to prepare this world for the coming times. I was once called human, the race of sentient beings that lived on the planet Earth. We lived in a golden age of prosperity and growth. This all changed when we exceeded the capacity of our planet and triggered The Collapse. You should have learned of this in your academy, along with many other things. The real truth is a little different from what you were told though. Our missions into space weren’t a complete failure. There was a fifteen percent chance of successful migration. However, the United States of America, one of our world’s great countries, found an offworld ruin with alien technology. The ruin contained the construction plans for a Gabriel System, a system that could hold an entire world. Our greatest minds couldn’t unravel all the mysteries of the Gabriel System, but some truths were revealed. It utilizes an advanced state of quantum theory and cross-platform particle equilibrium that is beyond our race by eons. What you live in isn’t just what we used to consider as a world within a world, but it is also a world outside of the world at the same time. There was a single problem, in that the Gabriel System was meant for living people to connect to it, which was impossible in our situation. All the world leaders, myself included, had to weigh the options of finding a solution to save our race within this system, or venturing on a blind space exploration in hopes of finding new land. It was at this point we cast aside our humanity and became something less than human to ensure the minds of our race continued to exist. We lied to our people, telling them that the space exploration was a failure, and that there was no option for us to leave the planet. All our attention was focused on building the system. We turned a blind eye as hundreds of millions died every day from the Collapse. Rioting, raping and starvation filled our streets as a result of the panic. Anarchy spread to every section of the planet, just like those religions had foretold the end of the world to be. As we no longer had the right to call ourselves humans, we called you, our children, the Immortalis. We didn’t want you, our successors, to follow in our footsteps, so we had this knowledge passed onto only a select few of the Immortalis of the first generation. Those who know were charged with the duty of guiding your race, and preventing them from repeating our mistakes. There is a second duty of the Immortalis that I pass onto only you, my successor, along with the two treasures I left alongside this legacy. This system is not the only system that was built. There are others out there, many of which that have probably existed long before the human race was even born. All these system communicate with each other, and are joined through a transdimensional channel. Many of the humans left believe that the sentient races who occupy those systems will not be hostile and you may form connections we as a race only dreamed of. I am a student of philosophy that has studied history however, and I believe otherwise. If the immortalis are weak when they meet a new sentient race, and if this race finds something they want among the Immortalis, they will likely take it by force. It is only the strong who have survived, while the weak have only left small stains in the annals of history. We have hope that the Immortalis can be strong if given time. We managed to put a block on this connection, thus giving you time to build up strength. We suspect the block will last for 300 years before the connection between systems is automatically re-established. I can only hope that everything works out in the end. The final duty that I pass onto you is to preserve life. We detected a strange anomaly every time someone dies within the system. When a person dies, a small part of them is “taken”, almost as if it is the price to be paid for death. The value of life is much higher than many believe. Please believe me when I say that many of the truths within this will were not shared because we wished for you to see us as role models and follow the right path. I can only plead you to not pass on this information, for my dignity and that of the human race. Only pass on this book on the day you have found a legitimate heir, who you are willing to pass along these responsibilities to. - Shen Wan Xing
Regal continues to read the book and finds that it contains much of the human’s history, including all the wars, international politics, genocide, and other gruesome details that are to serve as a lesson for those guiding the new race of Immortalis to govern the people better and not repeat the mistakes of the past.
The will of Shen Wan Xing also mentions the two treasures in more detail. The skill book ‘Soul Authority’ and the two paths one can choose from. Shen Wan Xing called them the ‘Path of the Warrior’, and the ‘Path of the Leader.’
The human described a location to take the title deed to as well. It is an unexplored region far to the west of Grand Theore that is only referred to as the Forest of Dawn, a place filled with brightness and has a small town that will serve as a perfect location as the base of a new community.
After reading the biography twice, Regal places it in his inventory with a grim expression, not knowing what he should do. He doesn’t fully understand why most of this information wasn’t passed on, other than the human’s dignity. Despite that, some of the first generation immortalis are aware of a few of the details, yet never passed on the information either.
While Regal is thinking, a white light suddenly surrounds Regal before forming into a strange alchemical array. Six different alchemy arrays, each formed with countless sigils and formulae, surround the student on all sides and enclose him into a box. A constellation forms within the enclosing formulae, enveloping Regal and teleporting him away with a flash of bright light.
Regal blinks his eyes with surprise as he is blinded by the light, but when the light subsides he looks around with relief, finding himself back at the entrance on the first floor of Theore Substructure.
Not long after Regal was teleported out of Shen Wan’s legacy room, Ophius returned to the holding room with a large Mutant Rat King in its claws. It only takes a moment to notice Regal is no longer in the room.
The giant wolf Ophius has a fit of rage at losing its interesting toy, slashing the rat corpse into pieces. He sniffs the air and catches Regal’s scent, intent on tracing it and punishing the Immortalis that left it all alone again.
To Ophius’ surprise, the scent doesn’t leave the room. Instead, it almost seems to enter a wall. Thinking that the student is simply hiding again, the beast howls at the walls, telling Regal to come out or face its wrath.
When the boy doesn’t exit the wall, Ophius ignores the bitterness in its chest and shreds the wall. The small room at the rear is revealed and Ophius hesitates before crawling through the hole he made and into the room.
The wolf discovers that the scent of his target simply vanishes from where it was standing. Curiously, he heads over to that location and stands in the same spot, trying to figure out exactly where it went. Without any warning, the teleportation alchemical formulae instantly boxes him in and without giving him a chance to escape, teleports him away.
The only difference is that while Regal was teleported to the entrance of the first floor of Theore Substructure, Ophius finds himself in the center of a dark, eerie forest where only vague strands of light break through the canopy. Countless beasts scuttle about in the dark, some even more frightening than himself.
Completely lost, Ophius uses his claws to climb up a tree almost as dark as night and quickly arrives at the canopy. With a large vantage point over most of the forest, the wolf sees an incredible scene that towers above the whole forest. There is a mountain that has had its peak cleaved off to form a plateau, as if a god beheaded the mountain with a sword.
On top of the plateau formed by the cut is a black castle, with some grey mixed in. This castle easily spans a diameter of thirty miles, with grand buttresses, spires that pierce the clouds, and an enormous bell that would ring loud enough that the entire endless dark forest below and beyond would hear.
The castle is damaged however, with several sections caving in and forming piles of rubble. Ophius can only see one side of the castle, so he leaves the tree and starts moving toward it.