THE CLOSING OF THE RIFT
Nimue watched in desperation as Dravak vanished down one of the many tunnels leading from the cavern. With the ironcaster gone, whatever he was doing to control the rift, was beginning to unravel. Planes of existence winked in and out of life around them and Nimue shuddered at some of the horrors she witnessed in those brief glimpses into other worlds.
“We have to close it!” she bellowed. To her own ears it sounded like a deafening scream but no around her appeared to be taking heed. Quickly blasting a charging Ratkin with a fireball, she ran toward the platform were Dravak had been standing. Her eyes scanned the blood splattered papers Dravak had been reading, hoping beyond hope that one of them would tell her the secret to closing the rift.
Suddenly, even in the boiling bowels of Cragg Hudd, Nimue felt a chill run up her spine. She wheeled round, a fireball forming in her palm, and was startled to see a glittering ice queen emerging from a freezing fog. The queen gently blew a cold blast at the fireball, which spluttered before fading away. Nimue regained her composure and tried to ignore the chilly pin pricks dancing across her kin.
“We have to close the rift!” pleaded Nimue.
“I am well aware of that, child.”
“Child?,” replied Nimue, a startled expression crossing her face. “I’m Nimue! Explorer of the glades, the wayda-“
“Yes, yes. I’m sure there will be time for introductions later. There are more pressing matters to deal with.” The ice queen waved her hand dismissively and small flakes of snow danced through the air.
Nimue was about to protest further, before cursing her pride and biting her tongue. She looked at the ice queen once more and shivered… but not from the cold this time. There was an incredible power emanating from the ice queen. In fact, it was almost as powerful and ancient as that spilling forth from the rift.
“What… what are you?” asked the elf.
“They call this body Serakina but I am… something else entirely.”
With that Serakina pushed past Nimue and faced the Nexus. A cold wind began whipping through the cavern, causing the remaining Ratkin to stop fighting. They cautiously sniffed the air before immediately dropping their clumsy weapons and dashing from the room, squealing.
The wind continued to grow in strength and large grey clouds formed in the roof of the cavern, then started circling the Nexus. Mingling with the ominous light of the rift, the clouds boiled and crackled with lightning. Each time they circled the cavern, the clouds throbbed with increasing energy that caused Nimue’s hair to stand on end. She resisted the temptation to turn tail and run like the Ratkin – although she noticed others hadn’t been so determined.
At the centre of this chaos, Serakina stood almost perfectly still with her eyes closed and fists clenched. Suddenly her eyes burst open and she thrust her hands toward the rift. There was a great crack – which Nimue was sure must be the ceiling about to collapse. She nervously glanced upward, expecting large chunks of rock to start raining on her at any moment but the cave-in never came. Instead the clouds of pulsating energy roared downward and into the depths of the rift. The room pulsed with power and a loud throbbing noise caused Nimue to cover her ears, while the light cascading from the rift forced her to close her eyes. Convinced her head would explode from the magical power erupting around her, she began to scream.
And then… silence. Nimue opened her eyes just in time to see the ice queen toppling toward the ground. She rushed forward and grabbed her before she hit the floor.
“Where… where am I?” stuttered Serakina in a voice that was far gentler than before.
“Maybe now’s a good time for introductions,” replied Nimue with a soft smile.
In front of them the Nexus’ giant column of light had disappeared. Where it had once been a large hole could be seen in the floor, covered by a crackling energy that had the appearance of shifting ice. The Nexus was closed… for now.