Unknown Date 2479 A.R.T
The battle of the land and sky had lasted for roughly two weeks, two long and largely uneventful weeks which we had spent sitting in the darkness with nothing more to do than listen to the battle raging outside. I do not know if it was a confused notion left over from my previous existence, but I had found myself counting the seconds between each thunderclap and rumble of the mountain. I’m not sure what I had hoped to achieve by doing this and the practice had proved to be quite maddening after a time. It had however occupied my mind for a little while.
The inherent darkness of the cavern had robbed myself and my brethren of any means of communication, but it had given me time to think and explore my new form. Upon examining myself I had found no hint of any genitalia and so I’d decided that I would spend some of my time deciding which gender I wished to be. In the end I had decided that I felt like a male and the voice from my previous life supported this decision, ’What do you see old man.’
During those two weeks none of us had eaten anything and I had come to realize that my new body required no nutrition to function. Seemingly we all had an endless spring of energy within us which only required minimal sleep to maintain.
I had found myself a comfortable rock beside one of the warm cavern walls and this is where I had spent most of my time. I had however also found the time to explore our sanctuary, though it had been an exploration of touch rather than sight. All I had discovered within the cavern had been several leagues of empty darkness in all directions and an outcropping of low stalactites, upon which I had quite severely bumped my head, a calamity which had heeded me to abandon my exploration on the grounds of health and safety.
Since the moment I had entered the cavern I had noticed a sweet, floral perfume in the air, and I had found that the smell had deepened in correlation with the intensity of the raging storm. The harder the rain had fallen the stronger the smell had become. At the time I had been baffled by the strange scent and my mind had come up with many fanciful and improbable causes for the smell considering that we had stumbled upon a disused potpourri mine, that the ceiling of the cavern had been covered with sleeping florakeets and that the storm was in fact a storm of perfume rather than rain. Of course, all of these theories were nonsense but even so, the actual cause of the fragrance, (which will become clear to you in accompanying entries,) seems even less probable than anything I could have imagined.
Another strange feature of the cavern had been an odd rhythmic ticking, not unlike the sound made by a metronome or mechanical sundial, which had relentlessly echoed off the bare stone walls. Upon several occasions the beat had infected my mind and I had begun to form all manner of tunes around it, playing them out on the only instrument available to me at the time: my knees. The tunes I had composed had been both catchy and toe tapping and the rhythms had quickly spread to my brothers and sisters, inspiring them to add in their own harmonies and melodies, like me slapping their tunes out upon their knees. (I use the term toe tapping here simply to illustrate how beguiling my knee-based compositions were but under no circumstances do I suggest that anyone actually ‘taps their toes’ as this could potentially lead to a painful toe stubbing incident. I assure you that music can be easily be enjoyed without putting your floor-based digits at any such risk.)
We had not realized it at the time, but our epic symphonies had been entirely composed by knees, from the melodies we had formed to the strange beat which had inspired them. I must admit that after several performances my knees had smarted quite a bit, sore and throbbing from the frenzied crescendos.
Somewhere toward what I believe to have been our second week sheltering in the cavern a wet sensation had crept across my feet and I’d been dismayed to find that our sanctuary had begun to flood. The mountain had quietened yet the rumbles of thunder had continued, and I had feared that the sky had won the battle, its forces now invading our mountain. Refugees of the conflict, we had been forced to retreat further into the darkness to avoid the invasion of the victorious floodwaters and we had headed up a gentle slope which had led us far deeper into the mountain than any of us had dared venture before. Someone had taken my hand in the darkness and though I could not see the individual I had instinctively known that it was Cloud. Cloud had seemed to exhibit many child-like qualities and I can only assume that he had been a juvenile when his previous existence came to an end. I had held his hand tightly and had tried to soothe away the tremble of fear I’d felt in his grip as I’d led him deeper into the darkness.
At the top of the slope we had bumped en-masse into a near vertical wall of rock and we had found that we could go no further. Unfortunately, the floodwaters had continued their invasion, apparently bent upon occupying the entire mountain and we had soon found ourselves knee-deep in water. There had been something in that section of the cavern however that none of us had seen for many days. High above us we had spied a faint but welcoming shaft of light.
Whilst sloshing through the rising water there had come a loud, rhythmic banging and myself and Cloud had waded toward the sound, eager to see who was trying to gain our attention. In the dim glow from above I had just made out the silhouette of Horizon, the glint of his bronze mask and his neckerchief divulging his identity. He had been excitedly banding what had appeared to be a large rock against the wall. When I’d neared him, he had taken my free hand and had placed it on what felt like a wooden pole which was fixed upon the wall. Upon further examination I had realized that the pole was in fact part of a ladder which had stretched up the rock face toward the distant light.
Horizon had led the way up the ladder, followed by Cloud and myself. The ladder was old and brittle, and several rungs had cracked and broken beneath my weight as I’d climbed. News of the ladder had quickly spread through our party, passed on by taps on the shoulder and excited gesticulation and one by one we had all mounted the ladder to escape the rising water. The ladder had stretched upwards for some time and I had begun to worry that it would lead us up to the fiery pinnacle of the mountain. My fears had been unfounded however as the ladder had terminated at a large rocky balcony some thirty foot up. Upon exploring the balcony Horizon had located another ladder, this time hewn from the very stone of the mountain. It had continued upwards toward the growing shaft of light and at the pinnacle of the second ladder we had found a narrow rocky ledge which had led down a long, low corridor. A circle of sunlight had glistened at the far end of the corridor and Horizon and Cloud had quickly headed towards it, ducking their heads beneath the low ceiling. Despite desperately wishing to reach the distant light I had waited on the balcony and had counted my brothers and sisters as they’d passed. After counting sixty-five passing bodies I had waited anxiously for the final individual and when they had not materialized, I had become quite concerned, preparing to descend back into the darkness to search for them. It had only been when Pulida had returned to see where I’d got to that I had realized that I was the final individual in our party and, feeling rather embarrassed I had followed him into the light, happy in the knowledge that we had all escaped the rising water and had mounted the brittle ladders intact.
I had exited the corridor some minutes later, stepping out onto a wide ledge on the other side of the mountain. After two weeks of darkness the light outside had been quite blinding and had been made all the worse by the ocean of floodwater which had surrounded the mountain, reflecting the sunlight back up at us. I recall that the sky had been cloudy and the rock wet, but the storm had been over and not so much as a breath of wind had stirred the air.
Despite now being on the opposite side of the mountain the Tree of Creation had still been visible to the south and I had taken great comfort in the sight of it, taking it as proof that the entire Expanse hadn’t been washed away in the fortnight long deluge.
Many of my brethren had found stones and had begun to scratch words into the mountainside where others had just collapsed, grateful to be free of the dark bowels of the mountain.
The ledge had been wide, flat and spacious and we had noticed chisel marks in the stone suggesting that it was not a natural feature of the mountain. I had found some crude, faded artwork in the entrance of the corridor which had depicted some small reptilian-looking humanoids with elongated heads. They had appeared to be hunting a range of different creatures, chasing them with spears and nets. Curious of what else I might find I had set about exploring the ledge, following it around the mountainside to the west. Cloud had joined me, once again taking my hand. His other hand had been clutched to his chest and with a sinking feeling I had realized that he still held the injured butterfly he’d been protecting when I’d first met him. It had lay still and inert in his palm, crumpled, bent and quite dead.
At the far end of the ledge we had discovered a set of heavily weathered steps which had been carved into the rock of the mountainside. They had looked treacherous and unfortunately a rivulet of lava from the recent eruption had flowed over them and cooled, blocking the way. The steps had continued past the lava flow, curving around the mountainside before disappearing below the floodwaters.
Someone had tapped me on the shoulder, and I had turned to see Horizon. He had held out the rock which he had been pounding upon the wall with to alert us to the ladder.
I had stared blankly at the rock uncertain of what he was trying to show me.
Horizon had slowly turned the rock in his hands and myself and Cloud had recoiled in shock as we had stared into the empty eye sockets of a skull. The skull had been missing its lower jaw and a large crack (which I’m fairly certain Horizon had caused) split its forehead. It had possessed no nasal cavity but had sported sharp jagged teeth and an elongated cranium, matching those of the reptilian figures I had spied in the cave paintings.
Cloud had picked up a rock and had scratched out a question on the floor in his untidy, child-like scrawl, Who that? He had written, pointing toward the skull.
I think it’s someone who lived here long ago, I’d replied, using my trusty spoon as a scribe. I think they built the ladder and the corridor we used.
Horizon had nodded his agreement and had respectfully placed the skull on a rock near the top of the stairway so that its empty eye sockets stared out at the spectacular view of the Creation Tree.
In later years I had set out to research the race of reptilian humanoids who had once inhabited Mount Bedlam. I know that it is not really relevant to my diary but I found the subject to be quite fascinating and so I have included some information on them here.
Prior to its mutiny I had discovered a book in the Bedlam library entitled ‘A History of Phoenixhelm’ which had been very helpful in a diabolical sort of way. It had provided me with a mine of information on my chosen subject but, many years later, had also left me with several nasty paper cuts when its first three chapters had attempted to assassinate me. I had discovered from its mutinous pages that the reptilian race had called themselves the Coomobra and that they were now extinct. The Coomobra had been divided into three separate clans: the Conkobile of Mount Bedlam, the Celdovest of Satinstar and the Cylobibs of Smog. Apparently the Coomobras were oviparous meaning they reproduced by laying eggs. Every year the pregnant female Coomobra would make a hallowed journey into the Hoax Desert in the Hollowburn Region where they would lay their eggs in a group of sacred sand dunes which they called ’The Sands of Birth.’ The dunes are thought to be the only place in the entire Known Expanse where a Coomobra egg could gestate and hatch, incubated by the warm sands.
Unfortunately, the three clans had despised one another, and they would often set out to break the eggs left by the other clans. When the egg of the Queen of the Celdovest clan had been broken by a member of the Cylobibs, the Celdovest King had sought revenge and had hatched a plan which would ultimately destroy his entire species.
To seek his vengeance the king had acquired a creature from a distant land far beyond the Known Expanse, a dangerous telepathic carnivore which could swim through sand as easily as a fish can swim through the sea. The creature had been juvenile when the king had acquired it, a weak, scrawny individual, bound and chained in the caravan of a traveling purveyor of exotic creatures. The king had fed the creature exclusively on captured members of the Cylobib clan, hoping to not only build its strength but to also give it a taste for their flesh and eggs. As the creature grew it had developed formidable telepathic powers and, quite disturbingly, it had gained the ability to inflict hallucinations and waking nightmares upon its victims.
It had been at this point that the Celdovest King had decided to execute his plan and he released the creature into The Sands of Birth.
At first the King’s plan worked and the creature had killed and eaten any Cylobibs who dared go near their sacred dune, luring them into its clutches with its psychic powers. The King’s plan had gone awry however when the creature had inexplicably given birth to three offspring. This new generation of creatures had been indiscriminate in selecting their victims and the Conkobile, Celdovest and Cylobibs had all found themselves on the menu. With their only birthing grounds now infested with predators the Coomobra had been unable to reproduce and their numbers had steadily dwindled before completely dying out.
The creatures the Celdovest King released into the Hoax Desert were later christened the Mirage. They continued to reproduce and in recent years they have become a deadly threat to travelers, preying upon those wishing to travel through the dunes between Merscale-On-Sea and Deltafaun City.
This event also gave rise to the saying ‘That’s a Celdovest plan,’ a phrase used to denote a plan which will bring certain doom to all involved.