5th of Ophus, 2718
The DEEP | THERE'S NO SUN ANYWHERE WE'RE GOING
The eldest Siordanti was nonplussed by the displeasure and discomfort he caused his Gioran hosts, watching their attempts at hiding their concerns from their pale, statuesque faces. Nauleth enjoyed magically challenging the status quo, his blue eyes alight with satisfaction at Lomenak's words of caution before he shifted his attention to the Quartz Guardian and walked him through his own special variant of an otherwise well-known and acceptable series of spells—
It was his turn to be surprised, however, when the other galdor repeated the Monite louder, more forcefully, and he heard the syllables reverberate through the caverns, bouncing off themselves, creating a chorus of echoes. The possibilities filtered into his thoughts, crowding out his focus, distracting the ginger Anaxi for several long, deep breaths as he seemed to be recalculating his estimations on the very spot. Fumbling for a notebook and a pencil right there in the antechamber, he scribbled things down, chewing on his lip, before he remembered who he was with and what he was doing.
Passing off the thermometer with the most awkward of brief smiles, Naul wasn't shy to share his emotions with Athrym in their proximity, his field easy for her to read given their intimacies.
Then they were moving again, bundled against the cold and worn leather notebook still clutched tightly in his gloved fingers. The sensation of spellwork echoing was quite fascinating and the young Professor resisted the temptation to mutter some Quantitative analytics of it all, the lingering tingle of electricity registering through the Physical mona that had made themselves part of his existence in his field.
Instead, the other Professor, Meakaen, led them downward. The tunnel was narrow, far narrower than the Crypts, and the intricate carvings soon gave way to plain stone. Gloved fingers traced along the wall while they passed, the eldest Siordanti dwarfed by his Gioran companions curiously musing whether magic had been used to create their claustrophobic pathway or if it had been created by hand. It soon became obvious no one really ventured this far, for while breathing still wasn't a problem in the cold air, it was stale, abandoned. Writing while he walked in the soft glow of his own clever light, hearing the echoes of familiar Monite as if it was a comforting whisper, Nauleth took notes about his ideas on how to bring fresh air down a tunnel such as this one without the need for spells all while listening to Meakaen ramble on,
"It's not fire that's burning." The ginger whispered, attempting to decide how much of a treatise to jump into when it came to current and light and electricity, "It's electricity. Electricity is the transfer of electrons along a surface—in the case of my bulbs, a wire—but fire is the reaction of a substance with oxygen. Fire always produces heat because it's a chemical reaction, but not all electric current produces heat even though particles are in motion. I'm actually hoping to further my study on motors and eventually attempt to create a battery to store an electric charge for portable travel. It would be like Echo Casting into a small container, so to speak. An Everspell won't be necessary if I can—"
He'd gotten carried away and was caught off-guard by the request to stop, blinking up at the carving of a face. Athrym curled closer to him and he tucked his pencil behind an ear under his hood to tangle his hand with hers, utterly unconcerned about the judgment of their stoic companions—she was his fiancé and he'd do as he pleased in the face of such superstitious dangers.
His hand curled tighter in surprise when skulls stared back at him from the new walls. Bejeweled and gilded, the professor gasped when the petite blond whispered their title—the Watchers—so close to his ear. He was no anatomist, it was true, but he'd taught children and had mingled among young people for so much of his life that he knew without being told that the dead sockets darkly glowering at him were immature. His stomach churned at the thought of stolen youth, of children asked to sacrifice themselves for such morbidly useless protection.
Jaw clenched, he remembered with a flush of heat on his freckled cheeks that so many Priests of Imaan were passive children and that Gior was, according to Athrym and everyone else, totally non-discriminatory toward their magic-less, cursed offspring.
Chroveshit. Superstitious chroveshit.
"You asked children to—" He bit his lip and quickly quieted his objections to requiring such decisions from a section of society that clearly should not be held responsible for such sacrifices, "—The Lost Ones?"
Of course Naul wanted more but was terrified to ask in the presence of such important, judgmental figures. He'd have to do his own research outside of their watchful gaze. The room they found themselves in was thankfully devoid of more skulls, and the intricate carving of a ghost fox begged for his appreciation until his so-called emotionless, Gioran escorts began bickering over their various opinions.
Gods, it was hard to stay out of it all, listening to the two of them for a brief moment admit that their own historical records were woefully incomplete on their own leadership. The truth was, this was what terrified the Anaxi professor about academia. This was, perhaps, one of the real reasons he'd clung so tightly to magical theory, to the immutable, undeniable laws of the universe in physics. Sure, they were ever-changing as science made progress, but there weren't any unnecessary emotions tangled up in it all. Or tribal affiliations. Wisely, Nauleth held his tongue, choosing instead to peer at the artifacts left behind without the weight over concern about who left them or when. There was most likely a lie somewhere tucked in with the dates of things, some clever shift of historic opinion meant to give one tribe of Gioran galdori more power over the other.
Politics never changed, and the son of a politician knew too well.
Another tunnel and more skulls stole the rest of his curiosity once their little expedition moved on, Naul careful to check on the spacing of their thick glass bulbs, admittedly excited about just how well they were functioning, pausing once he realized that breathing had begun to feel strange to take more notes on both the sensation of it and the continued curiosities of echo casting.
Darkness met them, and the ginger professor was forced to tuck his journal away again in order to grip the hand holds provided once the climb downward became too steep and slippery with moisture. The feeling of pressure was so very strange, leaving his ears in a bubble and his chest tight as if he needed to yawn but couldn't. He was too excited to feel light-headed, the Clean Air spell keeping that kind of oxygen-deprivation at bay for the time being. If he was finally aware of just how far away from the light of the sun they were, it had yet to make him afraid. He was perhaps far too distracted by all of his observations to really be crushed by the claustrophobia expected of him, but that didn't mean he wouldn't.
"I'm not feeling any ill effects yet, but I don't think I'm paying attention. The stale air is awful, but that seems unavoidable. Maybe I should be more concerned, but there's far too many other things to keep track of. It's best that I don't dwell on just how far into Vita we are right now." Naul offered as academically as possible, glancing back up at the other professor. His own field was ramscott and encouraged, brimming full of a kind of enthusiasm he'd not felt before. He'd never considered himself one for possibly deadly adventures, preferring the quietude of Brunnhold's library or the chill of the Crypts, but here he was with his heart fluttering and sharply ignoring the creep of fear that kept trying to crawl up from the darkest parts of his over-analytical mind, "My lighting is dimmer than I expected, and if any of you fear it is becoming insufficient, I may have enough to start setting two down at a time instead. I have this idea for creating candle-less headlamps—sorry—"
He waved a hand, excusing himself from continuing down his random line of thought, clearly still very excited despite all of the strangeness and stomach-turning traditions.
"—is now a bad time to finally ask about subterranean wildlife? Do you have records of anything living this deep despite the lack of oxygen? Signs of creatures that do not breathe as we do?"
It was a stupid question, and he smirked as if to chide himself for it, but that mention of the Lost Ones with such ominous tones lingered and he couldn't help but hint around the questions he really wanted to ask out of fear of some sharp dismissal by Lomenak or the Quartz Guardian who both seemed far more staunch than Meakaen.
This isn't Brunnhold anymore, ersehat, and you're not going home.