it was raktess who heard the gentle lap of water, echoing against the shore. as you cleared the rocky outcropping, your feet landed and sunk a few inches into a bed of undisturbed, slate colored sand. a subterranean lake etched the cavern wall, forming a series of small, non-connected beaches. thick, you could feel the pulse of primal life essence flowing throughout the aquifer, birthing a varied pallet of wild growth. succulent vegetation, with no need for light, cascaded across the cavern walls, married with the soft chirping of frogs who’s calls echoed one to another. the pungent reek of a never-ending cycle of decomposition and rebirth filled your lungs, as your eyes drank the beauty that was the alien lagoon.
on the beach nearest to you, lay a wooden dinghy, overturned in the sand. adjacent to it, a pair of well worn paddles had been carefully rested against the starboard side.
after a nervous inspection, you jointly determined the vessel to be abandoned and went about putting it to sail. as you glided across the mineral water, you briefly felt disoriented by the illusion cast upon the perfectly still surface. at first glance, you thought you could see the cavern’s ceiling reflected on the face of the water, but when you were about 30 feet from the shore, the lake bed dove into a hive of caverns completely different than those found on the ceiling. a slight wave of vertigo overtook you as your inner ear processed your position and your grip tightened on the edge of the boat, searching for stability. as the vessel continued cutting it’s path, the drowned caverns faded from view as the water became more and more murky. a few times you noticed subtle pulses of light appeared and disappeared in different areas below the depths. after the fourth glow brightened, ming dalius and raktess deduced that the pulses were completely equal in time – 10 seconds in length, 1 minute apart.
like clockwork, when the fifth glow illuminated, you found yourself mentally counting along, but this time, a flutter of darkness blotted out the light for a few seconds, as an aquatic shadow coasted across its path.
your collective breath caught…
…before the silence was broken by a single, soft knock, as something brushed against the hull.