As promised, now that Azshrak: Reshaped Realms has made it to 50 supporters, I am proud to present, Chapter Three: Surface.

The link for Chapter One can be found here :

The link for Chapter Two can be found here :

The project can be found here :

Chapter Three: Surface

The four heroes moved up the silent cavern, the walls slowly turned from hard, metal reinforced rock, to multiple stages of mechanical assemblies. For the more mechanically inclined Zxxss, he quickly figured out that the structure around them was a massive drill assembly, meant to cut a tunnel to the surface, apparently meant to activate upon the four's awakening.

Drassnal still walked in the front of the group, but his mind was rather clouded with worry. Ever since their encounter in what they called 'Dread Caverns,' he had felt a strange and terrible fear gripping at his mind.

I thought I was starting to remember myself, he pondered in his mind. I could swear I must have been a knight of sorts, some soldier of light and goodness. What is this then that I find my powers to be that of shadows and darkness? Has all that I feel and think I might have been, actually been a lie?

The others were silent and somber as well. The incident they had witnessed had them shaken as well. While each knew they probably had abilities that were not documented, they had not realized they could be so powerful.

Behind the four, a pair of Ghlaks followed. Remembering the bipeds as caretakers, many others had wanted to follow, but had been turned down. Not knowing what the surface was like, the heroes did not want to have extra mouths to feed in the case of an inhospitable environment. The two they did choose however, were selected to be used as mounts, the group deciding it would be advantageous to not have to walk for miles.

The tunnel started to become slightly narrower the farther they moved. It never got too tight that they couldn't walk side-by-side, but things did become increasingly cramped. Fortunately, the tunnel came to an end at a massive door before it got too small for the Ghlak to follow.

The group halted for a moment, Traela stepping up to a massive lever on the door. She took it in her hands, not even turning she asked, “Are we ready?”

The others quietly murmured their readiness. With a grunt, Traela pulled hard, the lever grudgingly moving. With a great hiss, the door swung open as a second door closed behind the group like an airlock. There was a pause, and then a whir of machines working. With another hiss, the main door opened, flooding the chamber with bright light. The four heroes shielded their eyes, half blinded by the terrific glare. They stood for several moments, or perhaps even longer, until at last they could begin to see shapes once again.

The view they beheld more then made up for the pain the light had inflicted, as a fantastic world opened before them. Stretching from the hill where they stood, forests stretched out far and wide. Mountains rose at the edge of the horizon. Clouds covered the top of the sky, while the sinking sun set the sky ablaze in yellow fire. Strange birds flew through the sky cutting through the air like the rivers did through the valley.

Loquina took in several deep breaths before saying, “It's so gorgeous...”

“So rich with nature,” Traela nodded.

“So bright with light,” Drassnal murmured.

Zxxss motioned to the others as he had already begun the descent down the hill. It became apparent to the others that he had a preference for caves over great views of nature.

Some time had passed before the group had decided to set up camp, shortly before sundown. They finished just as the sun was almost completely gone, and the forest had turned to darkness. All seemed so peaceful, even with the random chirping and cries of animals deep in the woods.

The four sat outside a pile of rocks they had decided would make a descent shelter. All four sat around a gentle fire which quietly burned with a red warmth. Traela and Drassnal, in typical warrior fashion, polished and and checked the sharpness of their blades, wanting to keep as fine an edge as possible. Loquina played with some of the flowers she had found, while Zxxss rested on a pile of dried leaves. The Ghlak ate grass and moss off the rocks nearby.

Drassnal turned the rations they were cooking over the fire. He still remained rather silent, though he did seem somewhat relieved to be free of the caves and in the open air. His wings often unconsciously flexed, as if stretching and enjoying freedom at last.

“So... does this scene look familiar to anyone?” Loquina asked at length, trying to make conversation.

“I was about to ask the same thing,” Traela responded. “Somehow, in the back of my mind, I swear we have done this before, sitting around a fire together ready for a meal, working on our own little thing.”

“It does seem to stir something... deep in the recesses of my memory,” Zxxss said.

Drassnal still kept quiet.

Loquina looked at him, mildly apprehensive. She had felt somewhat sorry for the silent warrior since before they had set off. He had seemed so quiet to her... perhaps almost depressed.

Standing up and making as if to check the food, Loquina suddenly placed a flower filled necklace over Drassnal's head.

The draconic warrior seemed to snap back to reality, saying, “Huh? What?”

“You looked a little moody,” She said, “I thought you needed something to brighten you up.”

Traela grinned, while Zxxss let out a clicking sound the others learned to be his form of laughter.

“What is this?” Drassnal asked, trying to remove the necklace and only getting it caught between his claw and chin.

“Flowers silly,” Loquina laughed as she sat down beside him.

She carefully disentangled his appendage from the necklace and straightened it out on him. She placed a flower bracelet on Zxxss wrist, catching the Skkrrk off guard.

“Um... thanks, but what is this for?” he asked.

“I didn't want you to feel left out,” Loquina giggled.

She pointed to where she had gotten the flowers, explaining, “It's a brimsle flower, and needs to have it's flowers removed before it can produce seeds. I seem to recall the fruit it makes is particularly good.”

With a flick, Loquina tossed a flower to Traela. With a smile, the warrioress put it on her helm, near the ear piece. The healer did likewise with hers. Loquina looked over the group smiling, the mood seeming somewhat lifted.

“Zxxss! Your not supposed to eat them!” Traela cried out.

The Skkrrk jumped, looking up slightly bemused as he nibbled on the bracelet with his mandibles. There was an awkward silence for a moment when they heard a noise they had probably not truly heard as far as any in the group could remember; Drassnal actually chuckled.

The others soon joined in, throwing a few more sticks on the fire and at last eating their meal, eating the food directly off the skewers. Despite the noises of the night and the darkness overhead, they felt little worry, each secure with their ability and knowing they could rely on their teammates.

At last they went to sleep, leaving one person on guard duty. When morning would come, they would be ready for it.

And the quest would continue...

To be continued in Part 4: Queen Varma

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