Yadina remembers. She remembers how even after the tunnel collapsed, with its pale dust swallowing her, she could see Bed’s eyes glow like moonlight on copal – mournful – as Sep’Tu’s henchmen yanked him from collapsing stone, the taste of freedom a moment from his lips. And when Yadina closes her eyes at night, amongst the creeping fog of the Feral Sea and its many mysteries, her brother’s eyes float in the darkness of her mind’s eye. One day, I will return for you.
Yadina did not run that last leg of the tunnel out of Buma-Tu to her life as a freedwoman. She walked – far from her life filled with the bloody terrors of a slave in the arenas. It is so that Yadina fought ferociously in those white sand pits. She was built for it, tall and sinewy, with broad shoulders, Yadina was a mirror image of her brother right down to their skin the color of freshly tilled soil and golden colored eyes. Yadina might have even been mistaken for Bed’s brother if it were not for her almost imperceptibly small bust.
Yet it was not Yadina’s bravery in the arena, nor beauty that her fellow fighters spoke of, rather, it was of her time mending slaves in the dungeons below – the lucky ones who came back from combat above – victorious, yet grotesquely bloodied. Yadina remembers the limbs and appendages missing or mauled until bone glistened white beneath. She remembers how the white sands of the arena ran deep with blood, saturated until its sticky wetness pooled inches deep above the surface. And she remembers what each man – the ones who had known no father or mother, the ones who knew only the horrors at the end of the arena tunnel – bloodily cried for as their life force met the gloom: freedom.
It was her brother Bed who introduced her to the abolitionist Irri-Maz-Do. A meeting that would send the twin brother and sister on trajectories far from each other. It is known that the quarters of house slaves are dens of rumors and secrets gleaned from the masters they serve, and being a house slave of Sep’Tu, Bed was privy to the choicest of whispers. Many nights, Bed listened to the plots of slavers, their reaving, their profit-scheming, but most importantly he learned the existence of abolitionists that operated underground tunnels out of Buma-Tu. They would be the key to Bed’s escape from the savagery of being a servant of Sep’Tu, and the horrors his sister faced every day in the arena.
As Irri-Maz-Do, Yadina and Bed stole through the tunnels the night of their escape they ran amiss of some of Sep’Tu’s men that had been alerted of the abolitionists workings. As one of the men grew enraged, from the sleeves of his robes he sent woody vines of black thorns racing across the ground and tunnel walls – the vines gripped stone and wedged into tunnel crevices and in an instant overtook Bed. In a flash, Irri-Maz-Do screamed and unleashed a psionic crash that sent the thorn corrupted walls crumbling down from above.
A Chance Meeting with the Keepers
Yadina was used to spending two or even three fortnights in the empty wastes of the Feral Sea. But the way north from the Inner Sea was fraught with peril and Yadina lost two of the dozen freedmen and women she was guiding north and twice as many days trying to fend off the silt stalkers from the caravan. They knew the danger in lagging too far behind – the pace could be brutal at times – and in the end the stalkers took them silently in the night after a fog bank from the northern glaciers settled in their basin…their limbs slipping under the silt as effortlessly as a sailor’s oar.
It wasn’t until the third day with the Gourd of the North to her back that she spied the first slave runner from the Savage Mountains. For half a fortnight, Yadina gave the patrols a wide berth, stealing as deep into the silt sea as she dared. She worried for her rations…if the patrols persisted… how long might she be forced to stay amongst these wastes until safe passageway to the Inner Sea could be gained? Could one last amongst these wastes or would the silt kraken make a meal of her before she could make it back to Buma-Tu?
Sa-Na-Gig walks among us
After discovering Garlic’s true charge, Yadina uncovered the Citadel’s plot to corrupt thousands of her brothers and sisters in chains with chaos, in an attempt to raise a hellish army of undead and chaos-corrupted slaves. Along with the Keepers, Yadina vowed to investigate the Citadel’s workings, a decision that would prove to be fraught with peril beyond that which any of Lir’s Keepers could imagine. Managing to convince Shawn to once again take up the sails of the Silt Queen, the Keepers traveled west, determined to quietly infiltrate and investigate the mysterious Citadels.
Leading up to the fateful moments that would tear asunder most of the Keepers of Lir and unleash Sa-Na-Gig’s own personal Dark Skies, Yadina remembers the feelings of uneasiness in the pit of her stomach. It was not hunger, nor fear but possibly a premonition of their curséd trip, a feeling that was not entirely familiar with Yadina, who often felt resolve and solid determination in most all of her undertakings. Still, she could not seem to shake the feeling in the pit of her stomach that things were different somehow than they appeared to be, as the Silt Queen raced across the rocky badlands of the once-bountiful seas of Lir.
It would seem to Yadina, however, that her premonitions would be vindicated as each stage of their reconnaissance mission the Keepers met resistance from the Priests of the Night who seemed to be aware of the Keeper’s movements and intentions and driving them deeper into the tunnels below the Citadels.
With each step deeper through the labyrinthine tunnels — some twisting into impossibly small corridors for even the nimble Pau Dir — creating an air that the Keepers were kin to a small band of invading ants in a life-sized formicarium. Here, the feeling in Yadina’s stomach grew larger, pounding like a coliseum kettle drum harkening the arrival of the afternoon’s competitors. Worse still, the Keepers noticed signs that someone, or something, was gathering the chaos below ground, as rivulets changed to rivers of chaos the deeper the Keepers explored, the dark energy running ominously across the tunnel walls and floor to its unknown source. Yet, noticing the ominous temperature change is what worried Yadina most, as the deeper they sought answers in the tunnels, the higher the temperature rose even though the belowground temperatures should be cool.
“Leave this place immediately” said a voice deep within the chaos ridden tunnels.
“On whose orders?” replied Daren to the deep.
“Thrall Soul. I have been charged as a ward over these tunnels, the Demi-god _____ exists below these tunnels and wishes to escape its fiery bonds…it is I who has kept him there for so many years.”
The tunnels rumbled above with each of Thrall Soul’s words.
Yadina remembers little else before the tunnels began to collapse around them, the heat rising from below to critical mass in mere minutes. Yadina’s consciousness began to refocus to the rapidly changing conditions, yet through the black dust and crumbling rock, Yadina could not make out where her party was. Had they been swallowed up in the chaos? Trapped under rock? Or gobbled up by the chaos dragon in its thirst for power?
Using the wall as a guide, Yadina stumbled back through the smoke and debris towards the elevator shaft. I hope the others are safe from this destruction, Pau may be stranded much farther than any of us can safely reach…but right now it is every man, woman and fangling for themselves.
“Yadina…” chokes a voice from the dark.
Yadina stumbled further through the dark to find Glysh resting against the tunnel wall, the iron wrapped around his body bubbling and quavering from the mingling of chaos and heat with cold iron.
“We must get out of here, it is not safe here for us any longer…the others will take care of themselves and we will be able to meet up with the rest above ground.”
Putting an arm under his shoulder, Yadina lifted Glysh up off the wall, his boiling hot armor burning white blisters into her skin. Yadina was strongly built but Glysh was larger, and coupled with his heavy iron armor, the two could not move very fast,and the rising magma below was hot on their trail. Sensing that she could not possibly be strong enough to carry Glysh out of the tunnels on her own, Yadina gripped tightly to Glysh, gathering up her remaining psychic energy to teleport both of them to the elevator shaft. The dark pool below, where O’sum had just recently disappeared under, was now replaced by glowing magma.
Hoping the elevator still worked, Yadina and Glysh attempt to ride the platform to the top, the magma crashing and boiling below outpacing the platform, causing it to almost tip. The two Muls held on for life as the surging magma nearly flipped the platform and its riders over into its fiery belly. A final push from the magma sent Glysh and Yadina tumbling through the air and onto the surface above as the chaos and fire erupted from holes in the ground below where the Citadels used to rest. The sky above churned with chaos and tumult, the sun gone from sight as the dark skies cooled the above ground surface. Stones and boulders circled the area, as if they were feathers caught in an eddy of wind.