I hit the ground with a crunched thud.
Hard. Unforgiving. Somehow oddly warm. Covered in a thick layer of dark grained sand, the ground lay, seemingly untouched by the hot dry gusts of wind, thin in patches with fine warm sand from an unseen source far away. Reaching into my pocket, I found the compass was still in tact. I heavily came to my feet and looked around me, I couldn't see him. Where was he? Was this The Place? "Adonis" I called. No answer. He promised he'd meet me before I had descended to far.
I looked up into the sky to see where I had fallen from, to see if Adonis was behind me. The was a blur of saffron, umbra and sienna was washed with small translucent clouds of pearly white, shrouding any subtle shining stars that may once have remained. A strange ethereal darkness seemed to veil this place. Beside me, a small, thin river flowed into a mouth gaped wide. It too was shrouded in a dark inky mist. Its soft movement appeared out of place here.
It appeared to run somewhat disrupted. Odd.
Cold. Motionless. A small raft formed of thin wooden planks sat on the gentle rippling of the body of water. A thin black piece of material; was suspended as a pennant; a sail – tatty, ripped and torn from age and event. It was unclear where the river led. I walked a little closer towards it, aware that anything could happen in this place.
It was then that I realised I hadn't looked to the horizon.
The the meeting of the sand and the saffron haze of the skies a small canvas tent stood in a pale shade of smudged cream. Triangular. Its crest beaten and mudded. Tough wooden sticks formed a frame to hold the frame erect. It is not alone, joined by another similar tent with a broader peak and a rectangular flannel rug preceding it, in a light azure. It is met by a third; the smallest. Flaps open. A tall barrel stood outside. Dented slightly. Something yellowish was flapping atop it; I carefully walked towards it. It was an old piece of parchment with scrawled inky words across it:
Down the river you have to go,
Upon the raft you have to flow,
For this is not the path you know,
Do not look ahead for you will drown,
You shall sink and never be found,
Close your eyes and you will know
The way that you will have to go.
This was it - I had to take the raft to the next stage. It would take me lower and lower and closer to the darkness. Then it dawned on me; where were the people?
All around, dark sturdy crates filled with an assortment of apples, crackers and odd measuring equipment: A bronze compass with three hands; a small brass telescope; an old battered pair of silver binoculars with odd shapes embossed upon the side – an angel with huge sweeping wings. Other crates seemed to be filled with old glassy bottles of various sizes filled with some unknown liquid. Three beaten knapsacks lay around.
Between the numeration of tents, a large burning fire emanated a glow of ruby red. It seemed to have the welcome heat of lava in this unfeeling place. Dying embers hoovered and danced and dived against the inky sky. Suspended by the mist perhaps?
Aside, a lantern lay in pieces. Still warm. Deserted.
Author Notes: I am contacted by The Writer’s Guild - an organisation also known as The Secret Oligarchy who claim to know how to destroy the darkness forever- to do so, I must go back into Uriel’s Universe and inside his first book where the darkness was formed: The Rainbow Opera. The Rainbow Opera House is a place where dreams are performed and you can travel anywhere - indeed- this was the birth place of Uriel’s Machine itself. In order to find where the machine has been hidden, I must travel through the book, but Uriel’s Universe is a problematic place where anything can happen and this time the book was never finished so my only tool is Uriel’s compass, a tool I have to keep secret from The Writer’s Guild.