As I approached the door, the stacks of books seem to lean in closer to me. The air became thick with the sound of whispers. Beneath my feet, the floor changed to rough hewn stone, a faint purple sheen glistening in the dim light. I took a deep breath, and stepped up to the door, the luminescence coming from its keyhole sickly, and unnerving.
When I had first asked Rick about the door, he had clammed up, claiming that I need not think about it. It took days to wear him down, but finally he relented, telling me that whatever happened was on my head. The door led to another realm, he explained. If it had always been there, or had been part of another place, no one knew, but what was known was that the floating buildings and strange architecture did not match any known city, on Earth or anywhere in the Outside.
Many had explored, few had returned, and all had spoken of strange creatures that prowled among the aetherborne staircases and paved streets. The beings were fiercely territorial. Why, I asked, did anyone choose to go there then? Because, he replied, the secrets of the city were buried there, and some people had a standing offer on any and all information that could be gathered. Not just money was being offered, but power, secrets, and pleasures. There were enough people offering such varied rewards, as to tempt any and all who heard of the city, myself included.
My hand firmed on the doorknob. I was prepared for a day of travel, and my trusty rifle was slung across my back. If this city held such knowledge, then it might contain what I needed to know, or give me a bargaining chip with those who had laughed at me before… I had to try. Emily deserved no less.
(Several pages are missing from the journal.)
My god. This place… It’s beyond the scope of the imagination. I have peered over the edge of the floor, and I had to look away. The expanse below appears infinite, and I cannot see what lies down there. The red clouds and lightning storms cloud my perceptions, and when I attempted to scry, the water boiled out of the bowl as steam, burning my face, though not badly. Whatever power is here, it burns out most magics, especially those related to seeing beyond.
After my first trip, I decided to come back. Though my original encounters with the Zila, as I have discovered they are called, left me discouraged, I know that I can break through their inherent distrusts of outsiders. I cannot afford not to try.
(Several dozen pages are missing from the journal, and blood spatters are on each subsequent page.)
I am afraid. Not only for myself, but for all who visit this accursed place. My wounds are mortal, and I have not much time left. The third and fourth levels are deathtraps, and the months I spent studying their design and matching it to forgotten legends tells me much. This is Cthon, City of Broken Arches, and it is (Unintelligible, blood and ashes blot out the following paragraphs)
I can do nothing. I only hope that the paltry secrets I have sold will give Emily a few more years. They come for me now. I shall try and get as close to the entrance as possible, and leave this journal in a hidden place, so that those who find it will be able to prevent what may come to pass.
- Excerpts bartered from a Trader. It is unknown if the missing pages are in someone else’s possession, or if they are lost in Cthon. ~ Brother Osirius