|Biography||30 Lott||Nakhanibha yla Mabharl 975 A.T.||1,013|
|Book V||Book VII|
Scene: Tcir dul Caerta, Zisdhalilci
Date: 30 Tos. 961 A.T.
Mik and Alhicj met, a good 20 meters from the rest of the pori, and from this distance Mik could tell something was off; their glow was hardly any brighter at even this distance. Alhicj held his hand up as Mik started to speak. “We have lost Daekul.”
“What do you mean lost? He couldn’t have wandered off.”
“Death, as you call it. Poria cannot survive in these conditions.”
Mik paused for a second. Down to four pori. “You…well, them too…you look dimmer.”
“We are now consuming the support beams from earlier in the tunnel. I personally stopped counting after twenty pillars.”
“Consuming…?” Mik slowly drew the word from his mouth, completely confused by even the consideration of the question. Quickly rebounding before Alhicj could answer, he continued: “Does the twenty include the top and both sides of the supports, or each set?”
“I counted the sets. Consume as in an attempt of replacing what the lava canisters were.”
“Right, you guys ate all the lava and now you’re eating the rock pillars?”
“Not quite. There is no direct equivalent to your process of eating, rather we consume the lava and it is both an energy source for us and somewhat equivalent to your blood and skin. We—quite literally—use up our bodies as energy, and the lava replaces both.”
“So the pillars are…?”
“Insufficient in both regards. It gives us what you might call malnutrition. Daekul was not in the best condition, but even the remaining four pori are not far behind. The worse possibility is that we might run out of air, which we also need in order to properly burn energy.”
“That could be a problem. A loss of air doesn’t impact me, but I can’t dig myself out – in either direction.”
“So far, we have been frankly lucky that enough air is filtering through the closed end of the tunnel and the mountain around us. None of us are advanced enough to determine which support beams could cut us off from our air supply.”
“I can help dig, if that’s burning too much of your energy.”
“You do not have much food left either, nor can you eat ro—“ Alhicj cut himself off, turning his head towards the other pori, where one of them was trying to get their attention, but it was barely louder than he and Mik were speaking.
All Mik could hear was “…and Mis’Kelin must come with haste.” Perhaps he heard his own name and made up the rest. Either way, the two made their way down the tunnel, where the three pori had finally found their destination. One of them turned to Alhicj and Mik. “Were there any research journals among the items brought into the tunnel?”
“I believe there is one stored with one of the two canisters. I will seek it.” He turned to Mik and spoke slightly softer. “You should go and get all of your things and hurry back here—“ the pori reached out, almost grabbing Mik’s shoulder before realizing his arms and hands bore no plates and would thus burn the avoc alive. “Do not run or unnecessarily spend your energy.”
In a few minutes the remaining five made their way through the hole in the tunnel, with one of the researchers carefully filling out the remaining journal, furiously tapping and clicking against the digital inputs. As they made their way into the city, the group found vents of magma, glowing several meters beneath the surface. What they needed was there, but out of reach.
In the city center they found a long-simmering volcano. A deep and narrow crater whose sides had clearly been dug in to carve paths down the main vent to where the surface of the magma should be, but it was presently even lower. From their vantage point, one Poria made the observation that lava had cooled over part of the lower pathway. The—apparently—remaining lead researcher handed the research journal to Alhicj and took another pori down the path, where they were able to consume enough lava to be near “full”. Alhicj handed the journal back and took the remaining pori to do the same. Upon their return, the three researchers spread out among the inner city, and Alhicj kept watch with Mik.
“Good thing we found this crater, right?”
“There are a few issues that this crater presents.”
“Foremost, this city seems to be in direct opposition to our previous conclusions about Tcir dul Caerta.”
“That sounds like a name for a pori, not a city.”
“You are not incorrect. It has been some time since we have named cities in this fashion. I did not do well in my studies of history, so I cannot accurately place this city, other than to say it seems to be older than our initial research led us to believe. The architectural style is from the period of time we suspected based on the age of our source, but the name of this place is problematic. The name suggests a city before the Timekeeping Reset, but the buildings are one hundred years after that, if not more.”
“That sounds odd.”
“Yes, and further, there was an abundance of pori eggs in one building as we came to the crater, suggesting the city was abandoned, rather than carefully left as our source suggested. In addition, Poria did not live this close to an active volcano—which the careful pathways down the main vent and auxiliary vents into the town center suggest they did—for hundreds of years before the reset, just after our creation as a species.”
“So what now?”
“We gather as much data and observations as our research journal can hold and figure out how to get back to our research institute. I hope our ship is operable or otherwise ignored by the pirates.”
“If ours survived, yours likely did as well. The ship can power the low voltage cable for several weeks if need be.”