The door was certainly locked, and she had enough of the sense left that she knew it was no mere mechanics that kept it shut: the faint glow of eldritch power swirled around the edges of the iron slab, thrumming to the beat of this place. She followed one of the tendrils of power out as it slowly dispersed, fading into the darkness just before the cliff face she had spent the last day climbing.
At least, she thought it had taken only a day. The few times before that she’d spent underground she’d had rations to keep her internal clock set, but now she had only a long stretch of hunger, coagulated blood on her calf, and a sword.
None of these could open the door before her, but the tendrils reassured her immensely. The Whisper had taken back the power it had granted her– she had tried many times to summon it back and met with repeated failure– but now, on her own, she could see this. All those books stolen from her father’s library had indeed taught her a few things.
Or perhaps she was just hallucinating from the hunger and blood loss. She tried to put this possibility out of mind and focus instead on the door.
It was a solid block, with no runes or markings on it, and it sat in the rough-hewn wall looking as out of place as she felt. The tiny groove around its edge glowed faintly blue as the power slipped out, and the breeze that accompanied the power almost smelled of… ginger? Yes, certainly ginger.
She smiled as she recalled making gingersnaps with her mother, and trying very hard– and almost certainly failing– to avoid getting crumbs into her father’s first edition of Elemental Rites. On page 247 it described exactly how to channel a flow of energy such as the one before her, and if she had a corpsewax candle it would be a simple matter to do so, but she had no such thing and it was, then, no simple matter.
She made another circuit of the chamber she was in. To one side was the cliff face, a days’ climb down. That cavern stretched up no further than her current position. To the opposite site was the door. In between was a floor perhaps twenty feet across, almost perfectly circular. She went and stood in the center, faced the doorway, and realized that she could see, from here, not only the edges around the door but also a tiny pinprick of that same blue glow directly in its center. She stepped forward to investigate further and it vanished from sight. A step back and it appeared again.
She crouched down, tilted her head, tried to pull the energy to herself, but felt nothing: her fingers couldn’t grasp the ether. She wished she had her wand, but instead she had only…
She pointed her sword at the door, narrowed her eyes to peer down the blade, watched the smoky wisps tumble out… and pulled them to her. The wind shifted, the lazy clouds of ginger-smelling blue moving suddenly toward her, twirling around, focusing on her outstretched blade, amassing into a brilliant glow, and suddenly a blast of light shot out of her arm, down the blade, and directly at the heart of the iron slab.
She blinked a few times to see in the darkness that had retaken the landing, and then strode through the open door.