A Congregation

...

"The Cavern lives still, or so they say,

"And it will for long after we've gone away."

Yet I never believed them until today

When I came back to D'ni.

...

I'd heard of the whispers, both dark and low

Of something that only Explorers would know -

"There's something strange going on down below

In Ae'Gura; you have to see!"

...

And so, once again, I packed up and left

And drove out west, towards the Cleft

To the summer home nearby, otherwise bereft

Where my Relto book did lay.

...

Once there, I gathered up my Ki,

My old notebooks, my pencils three,

And thoughts and memories of D'ni -

With those, I linked away.

...

My Relto remained as it always had been -

A place of solitude times ten.

But my bookshelf beckoned to me then,

And to Bevin I did link.

...

"Hello?" I cried as I arrived.

"Is anyone there? Hey, look alive!"

My voice cut through the silence like knives;

The silence was black as ink.

...

"Nobody here," I sighed as I walked

Along the walls of solid rock -

And then the thought hit me like a cinder block -

In Ae'gura they must be!

...

I ran to the terminal fast and far

And found the book was still ajar

As I walked up to the pedestal bar

And linked again (that makes three).

...

From there, I walked to the terminal,

Chose my link, and watched the gears slowly pull,

Grind, and squeal as the mechanism found the right hull

And presented the book before long.

...

Without any further deliberation,

I used the book, that odd innovation,

But when I arrived, I felt great consternation -

Something here felt terribly wrong.

...

A palpable aura so strong in the air

Hung 'round the place just like a noose's snare,

And its message to me was all too clear - beware -

As I walked through Ae'gura's streets.

...

From Tokotah Alley to the Great Stairs I went,

And there I discovered a regiment

Of explorers, lingering not too far from the tents

Standing rooted in place on their feet.

...

I passed by one and cheerfully murmured, "Hi!"

He gave me neither a response nor a cry

But ignored me entirely as I walked by.

Clearly, his concentration was elsewhere.

...

Then I peered at the others gathered around -

Some of them standing, some sitting on the ground.

All of them were awestruck, not making a sound,

All acting as though I weren't there,

...

All of them facing the same solemn place -

Towards Kerath's Arch with a cold, expressionless face.

A screech rang out then, assaulting my ears like a mace,

And I turned towards the Cavern in startled fear.

...

Countless Bahro were flying in a widening gyre,

'Round and 'round that great communal spire,

Screeching loudly and soaring ever higher and higher.

I trembled, humbled, and whispered, "Why are they here?"

...

And nobody answered me; no, not a one,

As if playing Keep-Away with secrets for fun

As their cold gazes seared me. I broke into a run,

And they stared through me, and beyond...

...

I still don't know why Bahro flocked by the score

That day, and what afflicted humans who came to explore -

But this story's the truth, and of it there's no more.