iary of Amaro De Quester
Is it night or day up there on the surface? I wonder. For so many years have I been searching for places nobody dared to dream about. Who would have thought that the strangest of them all was to be found underground, deep down where time is nothing but an illusion of man.
Joining the newest gnomish expedition didn't take any courage. Descending into a bottomless pit, a fathomless abyss, though, was a much bolder step. Had it not been for my curiosity and the gnomes' assistance, I might have bailed.
Deep below the surface, the gnomes have discovered a colossal cavern cradling an impressive landmass with a giant, rumbling volcano at its centre, spewing molten lava, ash and smoke. They call this place Gnomprona, a dish best served hot and spicy. An enormous skull hovers over the entrance to the volcano's inner chamber. I've seen a beast like that before, staring at me through hollow, gaping eye sockets. The exaltation forge; unearthed by the adventurers' guild with the help of the gnomes.
The abundance of natural resources down here doesn't tempt me. I'm not driven by greed, I came to understand and learn. And yet, I've stopped looking up because there is no infinite sky, no sun to behold, no clouds or stars to count. All I see is that strange mist which illuminates the whole place and hides the cavern's rugged ceiling of stone and stalactites that can come crashing down any minute.
Water droplets are falling off the large green leaves and ferns but none of them reaches the ground, they all evaporate halfway. This scorching stifling humidity, it's suffocating and exhausting. But we need to keep going, for what we found is like beyond anything I could have imagined: Primordial creatures, some of them never seen before while others were believed extinct. Progenitors of species we currently know. And traces of an ancient civilisation! Maybe even older than our earliest-known ancestors.
The luscious green scenery around me is bathed in the red glow from lava pools and rivers, spreading from the volcano like veins of blood, pulsing sluggishly, mimicking Tibia's heartbeat.
The ashen air I breathe is heavy, hot and dusty; I'm ablaze and drenched at the same time, reeking of sulphur just like everything else down here. The smell of decay, it burns and lingers. The jungle is brimming with life but it's life on the brink of death. Every creature, every plant is engaged in constant struggle for survival, devouring and being devoured, facing each other and facing nature itself, here deep down in the bowels of our home.
If this hazardous place is the paradise they've told me about, I have to rethink my conception of hell.
Upcoming next week: A gnomish saying goes, "more gnome pain, more gnome gain!"