Eyes of the Sunken Hold- Part One: prelude.
Expeditions to Molbrut-orhim:
Eyes of the Sunken Hold
The second tale of the expeditions to Molbrut-orhim and a Continuation from “A rough history of the rediscovery of Molbrut-orhim and the founding of Hammerholm”.
(You don't have to read it understand this, but it does provide context.)
Part One: prelude.
- 1.Something wrong beneath our Home.
So, you want me to retell the tale do you?
Of what happened during the expedition, of how most of our expedition died and what laid in wait in the dark waters below?. It’ll be a grim recounting, I tell you now. ‘Don’t like bringing up the memories again, but you’re right. I know best what happened beneath Hammerholm, Down in Molbrut-orhim. I can do that, but don’t blame me if you find it unpleasant.
You will all hopefully be familiar with what Simone wrote of the situation. So you know how well it went up till she left -poorly- but let me paint the Scene anyway, make sure we’re all caught up.
There were bad omens, right from the very start; the Captain of the veteran ship that brought us here was quaking in her boots at the mere sight of the coast. You know I felt it too, took a while to figure out why that coast felt so wrong but looking back I figured it out. There were No fish, not one. Where we had docked, the whole cove was devoid of life. That alone should have frightened some sense into us..., heh, we were all a little naïve going in, I don't think any of us would have noticed. The first time we saw the great gate of Molbrut-orhim hidden in the mountains, the wonder that filled us washed away any sense of danger; the promise of ancient treasures and long lost cities was so great that none of us stopped to really examine it. If we had, we might have noticed the gate was barred from the outside.
One of us began by exploring deep, down near the flood waters at the bottom of the Hold. They never returned.
Well, we really should have caught on to the danger: When the rescue parties kept seeing things in the dark waters; hearing things that weren’t there; the feeling like they were being stalked by something just out of sight, we should have figured out something was dead wrong. But no, took us too long. In our defence, I doubt we could have even imagined what truly lay in wait.
- 2.Hidden by darkness and centuries.
Alas let's skip to the interesting part, sometime after Simone’s journey entries come to an end. Only four of us who made it back to the outside: the late Ms Simone Erikson, leader and archaeologist of the expedition; James Blethen, her assistant; Mari Thomas a young squire of one of the knights: of course, there’s myself, The Ranger of the group, Mr Osian Caddick as you know me.
The three of them made it out together in a mad dash back out to the surface once Simone lost her nerve, I however had gotten out on my own, after the group I was with went mad at the lowest levels, myself included. Regretfully I didn’t stick close, we were separated before it started getting bad. I saw things I cannot, will not describe. Luckily I have a familiarity with the dark underground, having come from a mining family; this gave me enough insight to slowly crawl my way back up. It certainly gave me a few other insights too, ones I was still pondering at the time.
Simone left, said the time for the ship to pick us up on the return journey was near. She urged that we should go and tell the world what had happened and return with aid, lest everyone below remain trapped. Worse, those who had already perished would have died in vain.
She wasn’t wrong of course. Logically, getting help was the best course of action. I agreed that she should go, but I told her I would not. There was no time; I knew anyone left down there had hours left, not weeks. The Squire agreed Mari was brave, for sure. Foolish? Maybe. My warnings were irrelevant, as when there were lives on the line, it was clear she wouldn’t stop trying to save them. Even to Death. I respected that.
James was more surprising a clerk by trade, he was young and fit but I didn't take him for the brave type. He too proved too stubborn to go with Simone. Given what happened to her, that turned out to be the right choice. You likely know, but that was the last we ever saw of her; Claimed by the seas on the very boat she sought to save us with.
We sat in silence for a while after Simone had left: Mari wanted to dive back in right away; James was all nerves; I wanted to think. I sat them down and talked them through my thoughts.
Remember those other insights I mentioned? You see, my grandfather spent his whole damned life down the mines. He started as a labourer, then became a foreman for a while and ended up being a prospector. He was called on by many of the lords who owned the mines, should they want to expand or had tunnels in trouble. He often told me tales about his jobs. One aspect of those tales seemed pertinent then. A problem that stops mines getting too deep, fowl airs. Told me about it a few times. Most common was the stale air, being breathed in and out of the same old lungs too many times and never got to resurface. The air went hard, it got heavy, sticky and it made anyone who breathed it in light headed. Eventually it got bad enough you could drown in the air, choke to death, suffocate with still full lungs. Horrible way to go, so he said.
The more impactful one at that moment was the Miasma, as he called it. It doesn't come from the air being overused, it comes up from the ground. When you dig too deep the rancid airs from the base of the world seep up through the cracks. They weren’t meant for men to breathe. He only mentioned them a few times and got real quiet when he did but he warned me all the same. That Miasma does things to your head, bad things; it makes you see things, hear things, and forget important things. You’d forget which is up, which is out. It chokes your mind, he said, then it just chokes you proper. If you weren’t lucky you’d spend your last moments in a godforsaken hole in the ground running from illusory shadows, coughing your lungs out your throat.
Heh, maybe I shouldn’t have laid it on so heavy for the kids, made them real pale faced at the time. Still I did have one useful titbit from grandfather. When he had to go down tunnels filled with that stuff there was a way to keep it from getting to you too quick. He soaked a rag in water then bound it over his nose and mouth. It couldn’t stop the Miasma getting all the way in but it slowed it. He also advised me to keep calm, breathe slowly and cautiously. As long as you didn’t panic and start breathing real quick, you could last for a while.
The two of them were sceptical at first. I can’t blame them as I Didn't really believe it myself. Mari didn’t believe what she saw was the fault of Miasma. I think she preferred opponents that were physical, made them easier to stab. James supported the idea. Apparently the lad apprenticed under an alchemist for a while and knew enough about noxious gases that my story sounded more plausible than anything else he could think of.
Mari was swayed easy enough, still didn’t buy it wholeheartedly but would take any advantage she could. I soaked my Scarf in a pond near the great gate while the other 2 ripped up some of the fabric from one of the tents and did the same. We ripped a few more and dampened them as well, enough for everyone who could have been down there still. We entered back through the side passage we’d escaped from before. We had a rough map, and some idea of the layout. We had some defence against miasma and I think, as we walked through those stone halls and entered into the main chamber we had just a little hope. Just enough to get us to the bottom. Just enough to find out if it was Miasma, or something else entirely.
End of part one.