Elthe ventured deeper into the lower, narrower sections of Stear’s Rift, the sensation of unease from coming down this far long since dulled into neutral.
Now his wandering eyes fixated on the heavens, framed by the walls of the rift. There wasn’t much to see from here, but it was something. His mind strayed to thoughts of rain clouds sweeping across the skies like a curtain, breaking his trance and bringing his head downwards, thoughts now of Stear’s Rift again.
A voice broke the silence.
The voice was calling his name. Elthe looked in all directions. above, ahead, behind, around, below for good measure.
“You may cease searching. You will not find me.”
“Who is this?”
“You need not know who I am. Only what I have to say.”
An uneasy yet understanding nod. Elthe sat down somewhere he was sure his back was covered.
“You clearly are here for a reason. But, first, I must ask. Where is everybody?”
“What do you mean, everybody? It’s only me!”
“Only you. As far as you are concerned, only you. You, and your thoughts. Your thoughts surely have wandered to your true self. Your gender, perhaps.”
Elthe shifted uncomfortably. That was a low blow.
“Is this really what you have to “say”? Do you have nothing better than to interrogate me?”
A faint hiss of wind somewhere that sounded equivalent to angered nostril flaring.
“I advise you watch your tone, not least of all here in Lower Ihnvale. I am not yet finished and you will know when I am finished.”
“I have been watching. You appear unaware as to the history or nature of this place. Why do you come here?”
Elthe didn’t know why exactly, but his blood ran cold at the question, as if a wrong answer was within range of a slip of the tongue. He stuttered, stuttered again, and paused, failing to answer.
“So evidently you have no answer. It is clear to me that you know not where everybody is. You will know that we lie far ahead, and that there will be a reason for your arrival.”
Elthe felt a faint wind and knew that…whoever that was had left. They had spoken, yet he was left with questions rather than answers.
He’d have to go deeper.