Malvarlo could make out the path ahead. He could see it stretching out in front of him, but he proceeded with caution.
Malvarlo had discarded the map the old hag had given him; there was only one direction to travel. Malvarlo had to be careful with the flame of his torch.
Tree roots reached through the path of the narrow tunnel, He didn’t want to light the fire, this close to the end of his journey.
Malvarlo didn’t want to play a part in the destruction of the world. That was why he undertook the journey.
Malvarlo knew that he had gathered followers on his quest. All the other villages and townships were fleeing towards the citadel.
He marched against the tide of the majority. Within that majority, there was a minority that took an interest in Malvarlo and followed him on his journey. Those people kept their distance, more like casual observers than members of a cult.
He had not seen anyone in a long time ahead or behind him, but he knew that there was one who followed still.
Malvarlo didn’t care because he knew that he was close to the end of his journey.
The heat rose the further he descended. Malvarlo stopped and knelt. He took care to set the torch down carefully if it went out he would still be able to progress only more slowly. Malvarlo managed to wedge amongst some loose stones.
Malvarlo worked quickly to remove anything he would no longer need. The heat made his armour insufferable to wear, so he took it off.
Malvarlo immediately felt lighter. He dropped his shield, he had not needed it so far and at this point felt that he would not need it again. He would keep his sword by his side but left his Cyph knife on the ground.
Malvarlo rose to his feet running his hand along his neck and chest pushing beads of sweat towards his trousers. He picked up the torch and ventured on.
Malvarlo thought of the world above being reduced to ash. Malvarlo realised that people were justified in thinking he was mad for believing the First Tomb existed, but much of the legend had already been true.
The Blind Giant of Ocrefall that Malvarlo had tricked into running off a cliff.
The rat-men of the Kilrokax Asylum. All the stories told to him as a child were true. The Great Fire and the First Tomb would not be an exception. His faith was as steel where others had broken under the pressure of the oncoming doom.
Malvarlo thought about what would happen after the Great Burning took place. He would emerge from the tomb, make the journey to the surface to what, to rebuild, to start again, alone. Mal did not like the thought of what awaited after the fire.
All he had to do was get to the Great Tomb.
Once he got there he would see if the endless supplies existed. Who had made the food, who left it there, even though many of the other tales had been true there was always the chance that if the last part would be false. If there were no food, no sustenance then none of it would matter.
As Malvarlo rounded a curve in the tunnel, he could feel a wind blowing from behind him that caused his torch to flicker further. The tunnel widened and opened up before him. He looked to see a dark shore, waves slowly lapping up. He looked up to see a small crack in the ceiling of the cavern. Malvarlo realised that the small crack was two miles long, but his distance from it made seem small. Shapes were visible thanks to a sliver of light that pierced through the ceiling of the cavern. The dark sea that lapped at a grey shore and on the other side of the crescent Malvarlo was able to see the roof of a hut. The First Tomb was right in front of him, his journey was almost over and he would not have to burn with the rest of the world.
Malvarlo walked forward.
The air was thick, and he realised that he was thirsty. His follower must have lost their footing as he could hear stones bounce down the path behind him.
Malvarlo approached the shoreline torch in hand. Dropped to his knees, cupping his free hand he dipped it into the liquid raised it to his mouth and took a deep gulp.
Immediately Malvarlo knew that there was something wrong. He choked up on the liquid and spat it out, he gasped, wiped his mouth and spat out what was left of the sticky substance.
Behind him, he heard the sound of running on rocks.
The follower moved behind him with such ferocity that some of the small stones hit off his back. Malvarlo, still gasping, went to turn his head but the follower was behind him, grabbing his hair and holding Malvarlo’s head upright.
Malvarlo had no choice but to look to the dark sea’s horizon. The blackness, shapeless caused him to imagine shapes emerging forth. Malvarlo felt the sharp edge of his Cyph knife tearing his throat open. The follower let him go. As life poured out from Malvarlo’s neck, he fell forward into the sea. With his waning strength, Malvarlo crawled towards the First Tomb. Malvarlo did not get far. Out of the periphery of his vision, he saw his torch hitting the waves of the black ocean. It started slowly, but then the entire ocean ignited. The Great Burning had begun.
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