Hello everyone! Princess Garen (or Kittytoast) here with a teaser/prologue for the sequel to The Only Truth! Introducing, Walk the Line *does a dance* (yeah, considering the song). I took a long trip and in the car I had plenty of time to finalize the plot and work out all the details from the beginning to end. Feel free to speculate but any direct questions will not be answered, teehee!
If you haven't read The Only Truth and are joining me for the first time, I highly recommend reading its predecessor before continuing. It isn't 100% necessary, but will be very helpful in understanding the setting going forward from here.
Walk the Line
Dust which had been untouched for centuries billowed up around Ezreal as he rappelled from his rocky perch to the solid ground below. Sweat dribbled down his chin, creating streaks of mud where it worked through the dirt on his face. Nearly two kilometers above him the Shurima sun scorched the sands but where he was descending it was cold and dark.
The Prodigal Explorer had been preparing for this journey since discovering the entrance to the cave three weeks ago. A particularly vicious dust storm had blown through the Shurima desert and when the wind had subsided, the shifting sands just to the East of the Urtistan ruins had revealed an area unlike any he'd ever seen. Exactly the kind of thing he lived for.
The area he'd arrived in appeared to be as deep as the cave went and began to flatten out, but experience had taught him not to be complacent. Ezreal shrugged off his pack and took a drink from his canteen, then pulled a length of rope and a handful of tools from the bottom of the pack. It would take time to set up a another system of support, but it was time he was more than happy to spend to ensure his own safety; magic might not save him if he took the wrong step.
When he was finally satisfied that his safeguard, the harness around his waist, and strap to his lighted hard-hat were secure, the explorer took a few steps into the dark. Being the first person to traverse ground that had been untouched for an untold number of years gave him an unparalleled rush. Even though the walls around him weren't anything out of the ordinary, the feeling was no different.
As he looked about, his light flickered across an unusual crack in the wall which caught his attention. With a smile on his face, the explorer climbed onto an outcropping of rock to inspect it and under his weight, the rocks beneath his feet shifted and around him the cave seemed to groan. He had just enough time to mutter, "That doesn't sound good," under his breath as the crack widened before his eyes and the ear-splitting sound of shattering rock broke the silence.
The sensation of plummeting took him. Ezreal flailed wildly for a panicked second then seized the brake rope and with a sickening jerk his lifeline went taut, forcing the air from his lungs. The contents of his stomach emptied, leaving him wondering dimly if he was going to suffocate. But after a few, hour-like moments his breathing returned to normal and the black receded from the corners of his vision. Ignoring the throbbing in his temples and the potential fractured rib or two, he pulled the heavy-duty flashlight from his belt and flicked on the light.
His jaw dropped.
The floor he'd been walking on had opened up into an enormous cavern. The walls of the cave looked black as obsidian and unnaturally smooth, as if it were a bubble and not at all natural rock. A faint purple glow seemed to emanate from it, dancing across the walls and illuminating the cave so that, once his eyes adjusted, his flashlight was scarcely needed. And twenty meters beneath where he dangled was what looked like the ruins of an ancient city.
A slow grin spread across the Piltoveran's face and he whispered, "Jackpot."
Once Ezreal lowered himself to the ground, he set out immediately to explore the nearby area, this time with cautious, limping steps. He couldn't believe he was so lucky as to stumble across a find like this! The space in which he'd dropped was residential if he had to guess, judging by the floor plans of the remnants; he was bound to find plenty of artifacts within their walls that would hint to the culture of the civilization. After he did a quick run through, he would do a more thorough search for specifics.
But as he passed through the residential district, his excitement over the discovery gave way to puzzlement: The ruins looked as though they'd never seen the elements despite their destroyed state suggesting that perhaps they were not so old, but the architecture was unlike anything he'd ever seen. Curiosity finally got the better of him and the explorer dropped his pack and rummaged through until he unwrapped a small bundle containing a clear liquid.
The liquid was part of a kit created for him by the yordles who specialized in geology at the Academy for Science and Progress. Once a piece of rock was dropped in the liquid, the liquid would begin to turn a shade of blue, with each shade indicating the approximate age of the rock. The older the rock, the darker the color. It wasn't exact, but it was enough to satiate his curiosity until he could return to the Academy with a sample for real testing. The oldest structure he had the pleasure of exploring had been the Shurima pyramids, which proved older than the ruins of Urtistan at approximately 3,000 years. Those rocks had turned the liquid a deep sapphire blue.
Ezreal chipped a piece from a nearby wall, then knelt in front of the flask. Whistling a cheerful tune, he dropped it into the vial with a tiny splash, corked it, then held it up in front of his flashlight. He stopped whistling. Already it was a bright Demacian blue, and it appeared to be darkening quickly. Cobalt. Sapphire. Navy.
With trembling hands he set the flask on the ground as the liquid turned black. "I'll be damned," he chuckled. "Where the hell am I?"
But the crumbling walls provided no answers so the explorer packed the flask and continued walking until he entered what looked to be a market. His interest piqued at the rows of crumbling pillars and fossilized wood scattered about on either side of a wide expanse and he decided he couldn't wait any longer. From his pocket he procured a tiny cube that, when twisted, expanded into a frame with a translucent magic screen. Another one-of-a-kind techmaturgical device from Heimerdinger himself, the screen captured images and stored them inside, allowing him to review them later. With every picture he made notes in a small notebook and soon the book was half-filled with scribbles and sketches.
It was when he arrived near the center of the ruins that he let out an awed gasp. Standing almost three meters high was a decorative wall which curved in on itself to create a complete circle. Or it would have if not for the obviously missing section of wall, but Ezreal was more concerned with the art adorning its surface. If it was anything like the structure he'd uncovered in Urtistan, it would be a rendering of the area's history.
Flashlight in hand and screen in the other, the explorer began to work his way around the wall. And when he reached the section just before the missing fragment, the blood drained from his face.