Thunder rumbled like a landslide and then the sky flickered. Or rather the magic that gave the ceiling of the Mounds the appearance of a sky. Both Sidhe warriors relinquished their aggression to witness the cascade of destruction rupturing the fabric of their world. Cracks like a spider’s web shattered the illusion until the great bowl of rock overhead became visible for the first time in as long as any Sidhe could remember.
Jhaer kept his balance better the next time the ground shifted, although the horror that stabbed through him threatened to drive him to his knees. The thunderous sounds of earth ripping from earth filled the cavern that housed the magical realm of the Mounds. As the ground above them shifted ominously, Jhaer’s hands snapped upward, fingers curled as if gripping something heavy. Trembling from the strain, his mastery over the earth alone supported the bowl of rock overhead.
“Lugh!” Jhaer growled through clenched teeth, “Help Danu! NOW! I can't… hold it up… much longer!” All his concentration, his strength, focused solely on preventing the Mounds, home to hundreds of thousands of fey, from catastrophic collapse, for as long as he could.
Differences postponed in the face of imminent demise, the Seelie raced toward the castle as Jhaer bore the weight of the world. With muscles trembling from the effort, Jhaer waited for the dread to dissipate, anticipating the creatrix to reach out and fortify the Mounds. But what he felt was life, the connection to Danu, fading away. The All-Mother, she who bound the Mounds together for centuries, was disappearing. She was dying.
All hope shattered, leaving only fatalistic determination. Through raw force of will, Jhaer held aloft the vast cavern ceiling, allowing as many fey as possible the chance to escape, the stronger ones via teleportation, the lesser fey certainly crowding the portals that might whisk them to the surface. Alone, Jhaer balanced each rock, each clump of dirt. For miles. Sweat ran in rivulets down the strained muscles of his body. Holding. Binding. Unyielding. And yet fissures snaked through the cavern under the oppression of tons upon tons of earth overhead. Fissures Jhaer could not mend. Fissures that sheared as chunks broke free and rained from the sky. Chunks that slipped through his shattering strength. Jhaer dropped to his knees, giving all his power to the failing magic. The edges of the cavern crumbled, creating a cascade as each lost rock freed those above it. Rockslides like waterfalls poured down in a roaring that could not completely annihilate the screams of terror. Down the ceiling fell in ever greater pieces until the entire cavern plummeted down like a mountain to entomb everything beneath, burying alive everyone who had not already escaped. Including Jhaer.
Part 3/16 of "Aftershock" coming on 12/2/11!