5th of Ophus, 2718
The DEEP | THERE'S NO SUN ANYWHERE WE'RE GOING
To say that the eldest Siordanti was nervous would have been an exaggeration, but to say that he was excited would have been an equal understatement. He felt the tingle of fear at the ends of his nerves, especially along his damaged left side, even though his field was all but humming with electric anticipation.
He'd just learned how to use climbing gear yesterday and had taken copious notes, tucked into a notebook in his thick wool coat, one of three notebooks he'd shoved into pockets. His backpack was heavy with gear he wasn't sure he would need and equipment from his various experiments he was hoping would have some use, not to mention food and water and other necessities for the unknown. He was a professor, a researcher, an academic, not at all an athlete or a warrior, despite his love for biking and hiking and running. He was a sorcerer and never had any aspirations otherwise, feeling the chill of that understanding beneath the layers of warm clothing he wore. This much of a trek down into some dark hole in the mountains of Gior was far more of a physical stretch of his abilities than a magical one, as far as Nauleth was concerned.
Athrym was talking, translating, explaining as their expedition party traveled through the carved halls of Qrieth, "Tell me again how your people became separated from the lower tiers of the Deep? Was it a natural phenomenon—an earthquake or a cave in—or was it purposeful destruction?"
He was aware of the clan infighting between Gioran ruling families, the current family in power one that had held their position for centuries now,
"—bodies. Oh, for clocks'sake."
The ginger professor sighed, pushing away the squeamishness that writhed through his insides at the thought of finding pale, long-dead idiots in the darkness below, "This—uh—this is just a scouting mission. Need I remind everyone to stay calm? We won't be down there more than thirty hours to make some initial assessments and plan out the first phase of an actual exploration, so I don't think we need to worry about dying."
The sparkling, albino child with them spoke, hardly older than a first form, and Naul was uncomfortably aware that the acolyte of Imaan was very passive. He just couldn't be ersed to be too bothered, not this time and possibly not ever. This wasn't his Kingdom. It wasn't his decision because he had no power here, and so he held his tongue over bringing up his long list of intellectual arguments about the religious or scientific validity of passive equality. He was only a bit ruffled because bringing a potentially explosive innocent life into a completely incalculable situation was clearly not a clocking blessing from whichever Circle god you chose to ask for favor from as far as he was concerned.
"Ey see verahay deuee, deuee kayzeuagh.I can understand you, you know. Just because we're far from Anaxas doesn't mean we're far from my homeland's Patroness—so long as we are within reach of the mona, we're never out of reach of any of the Circle gods. Time passes in every Kingdom, and so I know that Alioe is with us." Nauleth was very aware that he'd just spoken those words to someone whose voice wasn't heard by the mona and yet had been made a servant to the Eternal Child, but his emphasis was on his rather quietly kept faith made known for perhaps one of the first times in his life.
This moment seemed poignant enough to require conviction of more than just the secular kind, after all.
"I have a plan for making sure we keep track of our progress, and I do not intend on losing light. I've taken a bit of a queue from your luminescent lifeforms here under the mountain, with a little help from my brother and Miss Bruthgrave." Choosing to ignore the persistence about danger, which the eldest Siordanti believed to be more superstition than fact, more mythology than truth, he paused to reach into one of the outer pockets of his backpack and pull out handful of long, sharp nails around which were tied strips of fabric, most of the thin ribbons pale blue but a few of them orange and green, each of them infused with magically-altered lichen so that it could be used to mark things, the fabric meant to glow softly in complete darkness,
"I'd prefer to be the judge of what's actually immeasurable instead of relying on hearsay. It's terrible science. It's also a shame to lose valuable academics in the shallowest reach of some legendary, sacred hole instead of taking a moment to rescue them, don't you think? I didn't sign up for a lack of international concern when I agreed to bring my research to your Kingdom." Nauleth wasn't purposefully attempting to be culturally insulting so much as simply being his own overly analytical self, aware that probably for a heartbeat, he sounded like his clocking erseehole of a father, inadvertently channeling the Siordanti lineage to chastise those who'd given him permission to even be here for Lomenak's declaration that no one would come for them if they disappeared for longer than was expected in the dark. It seemed like a poor way to treat anyone, really, especially those who seemed actually brave enough to put to rest all of the myths and actually provide some factual information.
He'd listened carefully to the somewhat superstitious warnings, attempting to hear between the words and really try to grasp what was actually waiting for them in the Deep below, "Again, this is just preliminary research. There won't be any reason for such dire predictions."
Fingers listless over the buttons of his coat, the tall Anaxi who was made to feel quite small in the shadow of statuesque guards and the other Gioran officials present save for the child and his fiancé,
"I don't think there's much more preparing we can do—Norwyn? I don't think either of our educations were meant for this sort of thing." Naul offered his brother a wan sort of smile, the hint of apology in his tone. He had dragged the younger Siordanti from the comforts of home hardly a handful of days after graduation with a promise of excitement and mystery, rightfully downplaying the dangers that the officials who'd accompanied them this far into the depths of the mountain did not sugar coat at all.
His gold-rimmed gaze slipped to Athrym, wanting to tell her to stay behind but quite aware that such an admonishment would have been as firmly refused as his request for her to sit down all those weeks ago on Brunnhold's campus,
"Do seerstones not work below?"
This isn't Brunnhold anymore, ersehat, and you're not going home.