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World 3 (Valis 3)

World 3 (Valis 3)

The fantasy world of dreams known as Vecanti was a very alluring place to me as a young adventurer. It began with a young woman – older than I, at the time – who beckoned to me to join her. I followed behind her, watching her blood red hair whip around like a rage-filled serpent, and began my journey to a world unlike any other I’d seen up to that point in my life. The landscapes themselves, while pretty, were nothing completely out of the ordinary. The inhabitants, however, were strange and wonderful; creatures defying description and humanoids with all colors of hair and flesh. Nothing had ever filled me with such a sense of insatiable wonder.

Today’s place of interest came from a different trip, however. It was at a time when Vecanti was facing certain destruction at the hands of a powerful overlord. The inhabitants even went so far as to pull a young woman from our own world – still in her pajamas – in to defend it. There were several jewels in the hands of the destroyers that granted great power. I’d like to talk about an area where one of these jewels was held.

It was a dark cavern so deep beneath the ground that rivers of magma ran through it. The ground beneath me was of magenta-colored rock that was piled in oddly-shapen slabs at the surface, but was round beneath it all. The incredible heat didn’t quite melt them into one solid mass, but it destabilized them enough to create a sort of cohesion that made them a sturdy walking surface. Far into the distance, the rock was a deep purple, which contrasted beautifully with the red, orange, and purple river of magma. Further below that, the magma spilled all over the floor of the cavern, branching out in all directions as it flowed through the ridges created by the uneven rock surfaces.

The heat, combined with the unusual nature of the rocks, caused some of them to float in midair, supporting even my weight as I hopped across them. I leapt ever downward until I saw a still pool of magma. It was magenta with small rivulets of red and orange flowing through it, and sat completely still. Looking at it, I noticed that it looked more like some sort of organic fluid; something you’d find inside of a living being. I put a hand just above it to see if this was the case, but rest assured that it was hot enough to rend the very flesh from my fingertips, and so it would have, had I not approached it with caution. It still gave me cause to ponder that this cavern was like the inside of some hideous lava beast, and the magma would be its lifeblood; I’d never quite thought of such places that way prior to this journey.

I climbed up through the writhing pathways as I headed to the next area. Here, the paths were much tighter and more difficult to navigate. Small alcoves with low ceilings had openings at their zeniths, making it difficult to traverse them without hitting my head. Some of these even had pools of magma just to make things more dangerous. Two narrow pathways would sometimes be separated by deep gaps, eager to drop me into a fiery abyss of burning agony; I had to lie down over the opening and pull myself across. Some even required that I pull off a tricky maneuver in which I’d lower myself below the ridge and use my legs to propel myself forward toward the next one, making sure to quickly grab the next ledge so that I didn’t drop. I am fairly confident that a less acrobatic adventurer would have met his or her doom in such a place. This path twisted gradually downward as I crawled back and forth, and eventually, I reached the final area.

The final area was nothing intricate, but was no less special. It was an open chamber with relatively flat terrain. While there was nothing of inherent interest here, I was able to take a long look into the distance. It gave me a chance to admire the beautiful vermillion horror, conjuring the memory of my odd childhood fear of volcanoes. For a moment, I was lost in the vision, and time drifted by; for how long, I do not know. Even the residual power from the jewel that had been in this very chamber was momentarily lost to me, as the earlier metaphor washed over me once again, and I stared into a sea of the planet’s lifeblood.
There is a beauty in deep-seated horror. It’s not a beauty that most people know because they are too upset by the emotion both to notice it or to stick around to get to know it; they only want the negative feeling to end as soon as possible. People clutch their fears as tightly as they’d cling to a loved one, never wanting to face them and change the way they see them. To those who have sought out a fear deeply implanted in their minds and stared into it with intent not to confront it, but to understand it, it is clear that doing so causes the fear to gradually fade and become less of a weakness and more of a memory. I now look back at this fear – silly, as I had always lived in an area very far from any volcanoes, active or otherwise – and see only memories. These memories are not happy, sad, or emotional in any other way, but hold a strong allure just the same. What a shame that so many will never see this side, as they cling to a feeling that they try to avoid; oh, the irony of it all!

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