Friday, November 26


Somwhere in the labyrinth of tunnels beneath Steelhead, the total darkness was disturbed by a perfect rectangle of swirling violet hovering in the passageway. Close to the damp limestone floor, a pair of beady rodent eyes stared on in confusion. His whiskers twitched as he sniffed the dank air. His curiosity getting the better of him, he crawled over the beam of the forgotten iron rail for a closer look. He could now see the glow was coming from inside a frame made of cubes of black glass. A hot blast of dry air reeking of sulfur assaulted his nostrils, carrying snowflake-shaped particles of ash trailing drunkenly along. Was that a roar he heard from the other side?

The rat dove for cover as a minecart shot from the portal. The occupant of the cart, a figure in blockish armor, clutched the front rim as the cart landed on the existing tracks, rolling several more yards before it smashed into the dead end of the passageway and falling into pieces. The rider tumbled into the wall and the contents of the cart scattered everywhere.

It was an effort for the man to gather his belongings and rise to his feet. His armor was ridiculously bulky, and lacking in joints for elbows and knees. When he finally stood, his outfit made him resemble a shiny brick. In a swift motion he drove a wooden stick into the limestone. Just as inexplicably the fist sized lump of coal at the other end spontaneously burst into flame, bathing the passage in torchlight.

His gauntlet wrapped around the shaft of a crudely designed pick he had recovered from the wreckage. The business end of the tool was transluscent and glimmered in the light. He ambled unsteadily in his stiff outfit towards the portal and raised his pick high.

"I still have difficulty believing it takes a pick of solid diamonds to break volcanic glass!" he snarled, and smashed the tip into one of the columns of obsidian. The portal shattered into fragments, dispersing the violet glow and descending the passageway into silence.

"That was easier than it should have been." He glanced at the rat as it fled. "A RAT? I haven't seen a rat since I got lost in..."

He was distracted from finishing his sentence when his pick shattered into a small shower of gems.

"The laws are different here! I must be..."

Just then, the shaft of the torch he had embedded in the stone was consumed in flame, and promptly disintegrated, plunging the passageway back into impenetrable darkness.


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