How long have I been floating out here, lost at sea? Hunger ravages me, and I must resist the temptation to drink from the briny sea. I keep having to bilge the water at my feet; I fear the sea will pull me down eventually. Goash gave his life to save mine, but it may have been in vain.
I’ve regained consciousness, confused and delirious. I’m lying on a bed, being tended to by two unfamiliar women. They press me back down onto the bed as I attempt to sit up and compel me to drink a tangy-sweet syrup, followed by copious amounts of water. After several minutes when I think I’ve found my voice, I ask as to my whereabouts. The couple introduces themselves as Marglie and Chiona and they tell me I am in Rarrow, a town on the Scorpion’s Reach peninsula. A fishing boat found me adrift at sea dehydrated, sunburnt, and unconscious. I tell them who I am, where I’m from, and how I had come to end up on the boat. While doing so I refrain from disclosing my affiliation with the Order of Truth, as I don’t know how people here take to Aeon Priests, as that did not work out so well for me recently.
They had figured I had escaped from the Jaekels based on the make of the small boat they found me in. The two women tell me it’s highly likely I’m being hunted by them as they do not take kindly to being bested in any manner, much less having their property stolen from them. As soon as I’ve recovered adequately their plan is to take me someplace I will be considerably safer.
Within a few days I have convalesced to have regained my strength and appetite and the wounds inflicted by the Jaekels are beginning to heal. At nightfall the two kind women that tended to my recovery escort me to the middle of the city, to a lovely plaza lit by the full moon. After walking a few dozen meters into the plaza, everything changes in the blink of an eye. We are still in the plaza, but the moon is no longer in the sky above. In fact, the lights up in the void are now arranged in unfamiliar patterns. A high stone wall with towers stands before me at the other end of the plaza where it had not been a moment ago.
The couple hails a sentry at the gate and they grant us egress. As we pass through they explain that I am now in Hidden Rarrow, a secret town within the town of Rarrow, accessible through a rift in the plaza which we passed through. I ask about the moon and they tell me there is never a moon in the sky on this side of the rift. Is this place in another time or on another world? They lead me to the home of a man named Tardren. He is a middle aged dark skinned man with hair that seems to glow with an aqua hue, and one of his hands is made entirely of glass, though he is able to move the digits as easily as I can move mine.
Tardren is the one who arranges refuge in Hidden Rarrow for people who are seeking asylum for any number of reasons. He will arrange a place to stay and some meager provisions for a price. In order to preserve one’s anonymity to potential inquirers of one’s whereabouts there is a recurring fee, a rather steep one as he explains it. I have nothing to offer by way of payment, but I do suggest I can provide my services as one quite knowledgeable in the numenera. I quickly add that I am a nano, choosing to keep my position in the priesthood to myself. He looks at me critically, then somehow gleans I am speaking the Truth, no pun intended. He tells me there is work to be found for me here in Hidden Rarrow.
There is indeed work available to me, but not specifically within Hidden Rarrow, nor even in Rarrow itself. In addition to a few jobs I had previously taken on outside the town, I have been sent to accompany a team of explorers to investigate ancient ruins on the peninsula. My job is to determine if any of the numenera we find can be put to use in defense of Hidden Rarrow. In the Durkhal I was a researcher, so I’m far outside of my comfort zone exploring potentially dangerous ruins. Our party consists of two glaives, a delve, and a jack, yet that does not make me feel any more comfortable.
We trek for six days before reaching the ruins. The structure stands a couple dozen meters in height, resembling a petrified insect hive of sorts, its faceted surface consisting of swirling natural geometric patterns. I confirm to the group that I can sense a great deal of numenera here. Curiously, the delve has us dig down along the outside wall of the structure, and to our surprise two meters of digging reveals an opening wide enough to crawl through filled with a gelatinous substance. At the delve’s behest we each slip into the opening and we can feel ourselves squeezed through the conduit peristaltically, which is quite disconcerting, to say the least. We find ourselves ejected into a chamber that ascends upward, the rippled walls undulate almost imperceptibly. Various openings can be seen higher up, occurring at different intervals.
We wait patiently as the delve begins fashioning a makeshift grappling hook. It feels like it is taking months for him to assemble it, or maybe it is the fatigue from travel, but we are tired and weary. The other three sit and relax against the rippled walls while I pace to stay awake. What is it about this place that’s making me so sleepy?
My party members’ eyes are half open as they sink into the walls, a
surrendering to a deep state of relaxation. I chuckle at the illusion, how they are so relaxed it appears as if they are becoming one with the walls. I let the amused reverie tickle me then I decide to wander over to check on the delve’s progress. I feel like I can hardly pick up my feet until a brief moment of lucidity has me realize that they are sticking to the floor. No, they are actually fusing to the floor. I then realize the others are fusing to the walls! Whatever this place is, we are being absorbed into it!
I try to shout to the others, but I feel like my voice can’t project. How much of me has this place already absorbed? It’s as if I’m losing substance, as if…
Wait, I’m teleporting again! No, no, no… I can’t leave before I… I must warn the others… I must tell them that they’re…