Devaniel – The Newest Champion of the Void
While he had left the cold, dark dungeon behind, he was faced with something else entirely upon reaching the other side of Nyrshia’s portal. Devaniel felt the hair on his arms stand on end, for the Void was otherworldly indeed. At first, the purple mist that poured through the place had him frozen in his tracks, the elven druid unsure which way to go. But as he grew familiar with his surroundings, he realized that he was in a tunnel of some sort, the walls looking almost cavernous.
There was only one way to go, so he proceeded forward.
“It is not too late to turn back,” he heard, and when he spun about, he saw Nyrshia, the Keeper of the Void, there before him.
“Is that what the tapestry says I will do?” Devaniel wondered.
The mistress of time hummed, tilting her head as she considered his question. “There are still frays along the edges. Malegath’s dungeon threw many things into disarray once it harnessed the power of the Void. I’m not certain of myself right now, and I’m wondering if the Void, as fickle as it is, is any better off than I.”
“I will remain here, as I intended then,” Devaniel insisted. “If the Void, or you, determine that I am to return to my own reality at some point in the future, so be it.”
“You’re allowing the flow of time to take you, even if it cascades into other worlds,” Nyrshia surmised. “You may have been destined to find your way here, though I’m sure our time in the Living Dungeon may have had some impact on that.” She proceeded past him then, waving the elf on.
“The first thing we will have to ascertain is whether or not anything changed while I was gone. Time is not linear, and it may seem as though nothing could have changed, but a score of adventurers, heroes displaced by time and space, may have caused unexpected consequences. Some of them may need to be adjusted, though others may have caused a break in the timeline that the Void deems necessary.”
Devaniel arched an eyebrow and folded his arms across his chest. “Is it possible that there is such a break that leaves me behind in my grove, even while another version of me has come here?”
“It’s possible,” Nyrshia replied. “Do I detect a hint of regret in your voice?”
He shook his head. “Not regret, no. Perhaps a bit of worry that it won’t thrive without my presence. But maybe it needed a change as well. Perhaps we both will find new ways forward.”
Together, the pair made their way through the tunnels of the Void, until they reached a large antechamber with a collection of passageways that led in a multitude of directions. The mist grew thick there, but not so thick that they didn’t see a face that was familiar to Nyrshia.
“Mistress,” the being, an othradel like Farroush, said with an accompanying bow. He noticed the other arrival, but paid him little heed, for he saw the subtle bumps and bruises that Nyrshia obtained in the Living Dungeon. “Were you…gone long?” he wondered.
“That depends on which entity you ask,” the Keeper of the Void responded. “If you wanted to know what the Void believes, it was just a blink of an eye. But where we just were? There, it felt like a lifetime—a stop in the past before I was ripped back into my present.”
“And I see you were not the only one who experienced that,” the othradel said.
“I’m Devaniel,” the elf said, extending his hand. “Lady Nyrshia and I fought on the same side, and I began feeling a new appreciation for the Void.”
For a time, the othradel simply stood there, judging the stranger as best he could. As weary and battered as Nyrshia looked, he wanted to make sure he understood the mettle of the fellow. Finally, though, he returned the gesture. “I am Vedas, one of the lady’s most trusted champions.”
“Have you seen anything change in the Voidstream?” Nyrshia asked then. “While it was only a wink in the span of time, I fear there were some tears at the edges of the tapestry, and it needs to be mended.”
Vedas hummed and furrowed his brow. “I did not see anything definitive, but…”
“But?” the Keeper of the Void repeated.
“Well, I would not know for sure. But one look might be all it took for you to confirm my suspicion.”
He spun about then, leading them away from that chamber through another pair of tunnels. Devaniel wondered if he would ever be able to acclimate to the labyrinthine structure of the place.
Before long, they drew to another wide antechamber, the mist seeming to subside just enough for the elf to see the floating orbs that populated the room. Images flickered in each of the orbs, though no focus seemed to fix on any particular one.
“Winks in the span of time,” Devaniel muttered as he drew close to one.
“Careful,” Nyrshia instructed. “The last person who was seduced by one of the Void orbs took the steps that led to the Living Dungeon gaining enough power to capture you and the others.”
“And you,” Devaniel challenged, almost playfully.
Nyrshia slowly spun on her heel, sending the elf a glance that had him feeling as though his legs would give way beneath him at once. But a bit of her humanity seemed to shine through, and she tilted her head just enough for Devaniel to notice the sardonic notes of her powerful stare. “I am no stronger than the Void, certainly. And when its pull beckoned me to the Living Dungeon, I was helpless but to obey. You will be too if it is willed as such.”
The elf hummed. “Well, I have no desire to ever find myself in the dungeon again, but I’ll do what I can to help the Void—and you.”
“Your first steps will be to acclimate to it,” Nyrshia said. She looked at Vedas, who grabbed hold of one of the orbs. “My champion here has no doubt noticed that the orbs look as though they’ve grown. It’s subtle, but it is present.”
“What could that mean?” Devaniel wondered.
“Consider what you’re seeing here, and tell me,” Nyrshia said.
Devaniel took hold of the orb that Vedas held toward him, looking at the flashing images before him. Every so often, one of the images would slow, and during that time, the elf saw that it was not just static pictures within the orb, but a lived life for whoever he could see there.
“These are people’s stories,” he mused. “And that means that…if the orb has grown, there are more stories present here.”
“Exactly my theory,” Vedas said, excited that someone else agreed with him.
“It seems that the Void may already be making corrections of its own,” Nyrshia said. “It’s not only continued the timelines for those who were taken by the dungeon, but it’s made new ones for those who were able to escape.”
“New branches on a growing tree,” Devaniel surmised.
Vedas lifted his hand. “We like to use a river metaphor here,” he said in jest.
The elf took the joke in kind, but he was distracted by the orb, intrigued by the idea that he could see a thousand lives and more within a single sphere. Most of the people represented in the Void orb were strangers to him, individuals he would likely never meet. But it did briefly slow on a familiar face.
“Ossa,” Devaniel muttered. He and Nyrshia both grew interested, looking at what the orb showed to them.
The dwarven clandaughter flipped through an old tome by lantern light, down in some musty basement while an elderly robed dwarf walked about with other stacks of books behind her. He dropped a set of those books when Ossa exclaimed, excited, and pointed to the tome. None of it was audible, but it didn’t need to be, for the view that was shown within the orb shifted, until it showed the contents of the book.
“Is that a picture of the dungeon?” Devaniel wondered.
Nyrshia nodded. “With dwarven runes as an accompanying text. I can’t make out much, but I do see it mention the Living Dungeon.”
“She’s trying to keep people from ever finding their way there again,” the elf surmised.
“Not quite,” Vedas said, narrowing his eyes and drawing closer. “Warning people away from it would be easy enough. Those runes there, and on the other page—” He hesitated for a moment, because the image shifted away from Ossa, and began fluttering through other lives. The othradel pushed the sphere away, working as best he could to concentrate once more. “It wasn’t telling how to avoid the dungeon. It was working out patterns on how and where the entrance would appear. Sort of reminds me of someone we know.”
Nyrshia chortled, and Vedas noticed the atypical mannerism, tilting his head in curiosity.
But before he could ask her about it, Devaniel was already sure he understood why Ossa was so excited in the image they saw.
“She isn’t trying to keep others from going there,” he said. “She’s trying to go back.”
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