Chapter 17 - The Guardian Of Tlalok's Tear

The crater in the shattered cavern floor was an abscess for all the pungent fluids that seeped and bled from the alien city. Rent as if by some great impact, the cracked depression blossomed with sickly molds and tumid blue and white mushrooms several heads taller than a full-grown man. Languid veins of mucus trickled down the sides of the crater to pool at the basin's floor, leaving only a small patch of fractured earth undespoiled. At the crater's bottom sat the ten-foot-wide stone head of a reptilian creature with bulging eyes, a forked tongue, and a headdress of feathers and spikes. The stone head was cracked and damaged, and as the black sludge pools around the stump of its neck it sizzled and evaporated into swirling blue-green wisps of vapor.

Something moved within the viscus sludge.

"I want to scout it out before I submit any of you to unnecessary danger," Viselys announced.

"If I may make a supposition," Duxsil offered, "I can do a spell that will send … sort of … magical eyes out to examine the area close up without putting anyone in danger."

Viselys knodded and Duxsil cast his spell.

What he found was every bit as bizarre and horrifying as the bilewretch. It was little more than a giant head supported by a mass of segmented, arachnoid legs and replete with tentacles. Multiple eyes and a gig, toothy mouth completed the horrific visage.

Neh-Thalggu.jpg

What happened next was as bizarre as the abomination looked. It was telepathic, and it knew they were there. It communicated into their minds telling the story of how it came to be there. This immense neb-thalggu, as it called its kind, was one of the original spawn of the alien that visited this site over ten centuries ago; drawn to this realm against its will by the cataclysmic magic of the triggering of Tlaloc's tear. After a millennium of studying the ripples of magic energy around the artifact, it believed that, given a few more short decades, it would have determined the method of awaking the magic to rend time and space again, allowing it to return to its true home. Until that point, the neb-thalggu guarded this site with great tenacity.

Urol seemed intent on going and helping the creature. When the gnome would not listen to his friends protests, they knew that some kind of compulsion was at work, and fighting broke out. When the thing was destroyed and Urol was freed of the mind control, he was able to explain, "The neb-thalggu could also be called a 'brain collector.' It can consume the brains of intelligent creatures and, thereby, all the victim's knowledge. It recognized in me some of the information it needed, but it would have consumed all of us. Duxsil was likely next on the menu."

In absolute disgust, Liamae pleaded, "Can we get out of this abysmal place now?"

"Yes, indeed," Viselys agreed and they began the hike back to the surface.

Continue to Chapter 18...

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