Just to be sure that I had not missed anything, a walk around the door-shaped area and some wall tapping with the end of my sword was done. Everything seemed as solid as it looked and there was nothing to indicate that anything unobvious might exist. There were no markings, no foot-prints, no scuff-marks, no hollows, no levers, and obviously no functional magic. Wait, I almost forgot to try an enchantment magic spell. The series of thoughts that flashed through my head, at the idea of trying a summon-creature spell, was more disturbing than the fire-ball. The last thing that I wanted the summon-creature spell to do, was work, but be inside me when it did work.
For a safe measure, I decided to try a heal-all spell. If the portal or fire-ball magic did cause any internal harm, this would at-least heal that. I turned to Plaster and asked, are you ready boy? The words rolled off my tongue and echoed down the hall...
Vasman's voice could be heard faintly in the distance. "Can you hear me? What happened? Come on, take a sip of this." I felt something press against my lips, and tried to consume what was being given to me. My body felt consumed in a blanket of hot needles, yet it was numb and cold. The unrecognized and distant voice continued to have a one way conversation with me, "I am so sorry. I should have had you come up with me. Where is Plaster? Did he come up with you?" My eyes opened and they were greeted by Vasman who was holding me upright, trying to get me to drink some potion. My lips still hurt, but I could feel them taking the nectar into my mouth and swallowing it. His voice now seemed to be present to his position, no longer sounding like it was off in the distance.
I raised a hand and helped him feed the rest of the potion to me, by tipping it up more. The questions stopped, as he must now see that my eyes surely say I am not in a position to answer a thousand questions. My body went through some strange feelings as I regained consciousness to my surroundings. Attempting to stand, I gracefully returned back into the feeble arms of Vasman. He seemed to be observing me now, like an alchemist observes rats eating an unknown substance, to see if it has negative reactions. My condition was rapidly improving, and the last thing I remembered him asking me was about Plaster.
I cried out to Plaster, as if he was around the corner. I was unsure where he was, as we were both in the cavern below, in the glowing hall without a door. Vasman replied to my cry, "He is not here, you arrived in town alone. You collapsed out-side the tavern. What happened down there?" My eyes drifted around the room, trying to make sense of my lost time and my new location. The questions were being processed randomly in my disoriented head. I told Vasman that I tried to do a portal and it failed, and also a fire-ball. Both could be felt inside my body, but they were not a portal and a fire-ball inside my body, just energy or something.
When I told him about the heal-all spell, he seemed only partly puzzled. He said he had an idea what might have happened, but we needed to find Plaster first. I agreed, and put all my effort towards standing up, to begin the search. I wavered and nearly fell down, but I was standing. Vasman told me to use my healing spell on myself, now that I was not in the neutral-zone below. The spell worked instantly, and a little faster than normal, bringing me back to nearly instant full recovery. This observation also didn't seem to stump Vasman, and he commented that he expected that something like this might happen. He just didn't expect it to be so dramatic and potentially dangerous and rewarding at the same time.
We headed out the door, and were greeted by Plaster, who seemed a little confused but unharmed. Vasman was a little confused though. I told him that I did the same heal-all enchantment spell, just in case Plaster was near-by. The lack of mud on Plasters paws indicated he was farther than they thought. He must have still been down in the chamber. The ground out here was all covered in mud from the rain last night. There was a trail going from the tavern to the front door here, where I was dragged by Vasman and the tavern owner. However, there was not one single paw-print outside the door, except for the ones where Plaster stood now.
"Get inside, both of you, I have more to tell you.", said Vasman.
Remember all those stones I had you retrieve for me? I had sent others to get those same stones, only two were ever retrieved by anyone other than you. The two gentlemen who did retrieve them, I have not seen since. Originally I thought they had run-off with the last stone I sent them to get, but then you returned the next two stones, which were the two I sent them down to retrieve. I suspect that they were turned, and I expected a similar fate for you. Nothing I could have said would have stopped you from going down there, everyone has a reason that they use to justify going down there, and you were no exception. Well, you were no exception until you found that room.
Those stones were part of a larger crystal, as are the smaller and more common ember crystals and minerals we are finding. Unlike the embers, these other crystals are part of a collection. Each crystal has unique properties, when paired with a special orb. Without the orb, the crystals are unfocused and unfiltered. The powers they emanate seem to accelerate the powers of any embers near-by. Sine you are one of the people immune to the effects, you were able to retrieve the crystals without turning down there. I have the crystals contained within a special silence, reflect, and defense orb, but that only allows me to contain the power by severing the crystals link to the embers.
The book talks briefly about these crystals, but only mentions of some of them. The book is not from Torchlight. The book comes from a town miles away. The events in the book, and the room itself, suggests that there could be more of these things all over the world, all built the same, with the same effects. The paintings on the wall suggest that this is not the only location of ember also. However, the book and the wall paintings both show exactly the same fates. Though the room with the paintings looks to be almost eight-thousand years old, the book looks like it is only four-thousand years old.
The chamber below describes a larger crystal and giant orbs that both repel and attract at the same time. The orb was originally created to filter out bad energy distributing good energy, while it suppressed bad energy below. The ember was the collector of all energy, and the large crystal was the distributor of this original mixture of good and bad collected energy. Because more people lived longer, due to this abundant good energy near the orb, population near the orb grew out of control. Those on the edges were having more energy drained and dyeing faster, and began to turn into creatures.
The smaller crystals and orbs became prized by those who could not be near the larger orb, but those people were quickly turning into creatures as population continued to explode near the large orb. This caused an endless expanding cycle that caused those immune to the effects of both the small and large orbs to provoke wars. The people, who were nearly immortal to harmful magic and most natural events, were only susceptible to powers held by others near orbs of opposite powers, and also to physical death. The people immune to the effects of ember used this knowledge to wage wars, demanding a treaty from all who possessed the orbs.
This treaty proposed resolution to return the world back to the way it was, before the orbs were created. They wanted everyone to return back to normal. However, that was not possible, as the orbs existences themselves, were the reason things went out of control. If the orbs were destroyed, nothing would suppress any effects of the ember. The ember would reach-out for energy, like a lode-stone without a matching pair or iron-core to bond with. In effect, draining everyone of all energy, and turning everyone into creatures on the surface. The powers of the orb could not be put back into the large gems.
A second proposal was suggested, to dig-up the gems and place them into the orbs. The idea being that the positive and negative separated forces would now be within one another, or around one another. Like wrapping a lode-stone within an iron ball, containing all the energy. However, it was not the large crystal that contained the energy; it was just the collector and an emitter of the harvested energy. Every small element of ember would have had to been collected, and added into the orb. The orb was not that large, and it would have been physically impossible to dig-up all the dangerous life-absorbing and creature-turning gems.
The third proposal was the final one used. They were going to move the orb below the large gem, contained under the ground, so it pulled all the energy away from the surface. Moving it just far enough that the attraction of positive and negative would remain strong enough to stop its destructive forces above. They would keep the large crystal supported, so it would continue to harvest the bad energy, while keeping that bad energy suppressed below the earth, just above the good energy in the orbs. Moving it lower would cause any embers forces near the surface to reach-up through the surface, making it more dangerous than before, as there would be no more good energy left to counteract the bad energy.
This is where the problem gets worse. This balance has a neutral place between the large crystal and the orb. The room with the paintings is directly between both of them. The earth was opened to help ensure that the bad energy freely flows down to the orb. However, this balance of push and pull, keeping the bad energy below the ground seems to fail when there is not enough energy being sent below. Since the energy is not reaching the surface, it is not stealing enough of our energy. This causes the force to weaken, and now the reach of the ember rises above the surface, causing people to have an uncontrolled urge to collect ember.
The ember begins to release energy to those closest, while it absorbs from those farther away. This is where our magic is coming from now. This causes more people to seek it out, bringing them deeper into the caves. However, now they begin to turn, being closely surrounded by all this negative energy. Others come, and fall into the same fate, for years, filling the caves with turned creatures. They become the final required energy needed to refill the orb with enough power to pull the ember forces back under the ground. Once balance has been restored, there is enough energy underground to keep balance for thousands of years. The surface holes close, ember fails to do magic, and the creatures slowly become consumed as they venture into, or are forced down into the gate rooms.
The creators themselves, if they still exist, are still slowly feeding from and draining the orbs. They may be the original creators that the paintings show, or they could be the saviors that the book talked about. Once trapped, and all creatures were consumed, the saviors had to go somewhere, and they didn't come out. If they did stay, they could only have survived by the power of the orbs. If the ember forces we have on the surface here are the negatives of the orbs forces, that would make all the magic as you use, useless and backwards to some extent.
I believe this is why you were stunned when you tried to use the heal-all magic, which still didn't work to its full power, or you might have killed yourself instantly. The fire-wand seemed to cause a mild ice-shield inside you, and the portal... well, I am not sure what the portal was doing to you. Perhaps it was just teleporting you slowly, and that feeling was what you would feel in a normal teleport, if it wasn't done so fast up here. I will have to investigate this further, along with you, this time. I seem to also be immune to the effects of the ember, as I have handled every crystal you returned me, prior to them being contained.
I do not believe we will find the original orbs used to focus and filter the crystals, but we might be able to find information on them in the other caverns. In time, all who are immune, and called to the ember, will join us. As for the ones who are not immune and still come, there is nothing we can do. They will turn in time. It is better for all of us that they don’t turn until they are below, where they will not harm others. For now, we need some rest. Poor Plaster still looks confused, and I am sure your head is hurting form listening to me talk all afternoon.
Vasman reaches over to his notes, and closes them, heading off to his room.
To be continued...