Elkintra Rilyn Duskryn stood on the brink of a new life. A wind as fresh as newborn spider spores brushed his dark skin, taut and tingling in the cool air. It was unlike the warm vents and gusts he was accustomed to and it carried with it a plethora of strange scents. The vagabond sorcerer of House Duskryn crouched hidden between two large rocks that stood like sentinels on the small hill he had chosen to meet the day.
Already he had travelled many miles through dangerous tunnels, ever upward and ever cooling in temperature. Two slayer ants had attacked him but he had seen them in time and was able to fling a blob of Protean protoplasm at them, binding them to the rock. With their movement curtailed and their defences down, they were easy targets for his rapier, and yet he was amazed at how difficult they were to kill without poison. (He had had to leave behind his poison pouches when he fled the city of his birth.)
Elkintra, Messenger of Chaos, had arrived at the surface after two weeks of arduous climbing. He had always been taught that the surface world had equal periods of light and dark but he had never realised how bright the stars in the night sky would be. Brighter than the candles of the Mages of Karithnika they were, and piercing as daggers. Each one seemed alive as it hung suspended in the void, ever twinkling and slowly arcing across the firmament. The stars alone provided him with enough light to see clearly for miles across the plain.
But now he knew the period of light was about to begin. The mountains in the distance burned like fire as the indigo faded into the sky directly above. The whole eastern rim quickly lit up so brightly that he had to squint his eyes to keep focus. And yet brighter still it burned until what he knew to be the horizon was as white as a wizard’s spell. The dark blue above changed to light blue and the plantation around him changed and morphed into colours he had never before seen.
And then, against the low valley between two purple peaks, he experienced for the first time in his life the burning brightness that was the Great Sun of the Overland! Pain burned into his dark retinas and he lost all sense of sight. For what seemed like hours but was in fact mere seconds, everything in his world was fiery white. His head ached and he breathed in as if he had been stabbed in the heart. No wonder his forbears had sought out the shelter of the majestic grottos underneath the earth. It was terrifyingly awesome.
A huge burning ball rose in the sky. A shape that he could not look at, and even when he closed his eyes, burned painfully into his brain. He looked around him at the alien landscape. Mighty trees, multicoloured grasses, bursts of flowering plants that exploded like faerie fire into his vision, so many flying creatures – birds by the hundred, insects by the thousand. At his feet spiders scurried after prey and in all the grass around him he could hear myriad shuffling as many small and unknown creatures sneaked around him in every direction. At this instant he knew his previous life was over and his new life begun.