Sunday, 6 July 2014

Azaria Locations: Ornixa Mines

My next location are the Ornixa Mines. Currently owned by the wealthy Balthanders family, this used to be the pride and joy of the lost Gladier House. A Goddess Shrine was constructed as part of the mine, and it still remains incompletely explored. Most ores and precious gems can be found here, and it's the main industry fuelling Ornixa town's economy.

Get a feel for the mines in this snippet from chapter five of The Parting (book 2) below...
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“You should lead, Eliza,” Adam said. “You’ll know which way to go before any of us will.”

“Right,” I said.

Accepting his torch, I headed back to the main corridor. Ryan fell behind, probably wanting to put more distance between us. Well, good luck to him. I was sick of his moping, and the less I had to see of it, the better. Thank the Goddess I still had the runes protecting me. The Binding would never let me hear the end of it otherwise.

I clambered into the ring passage. It was much narrower, and we had to stay in single file. Ominous creaks echoed above our heads, and I swallowed. I needed to relax. Adam squeezed my shoulder, and I touched his hand. At least he was being supportive, unlike His Royal Moodiness behind me. The latter’s words from the Glenford manor echoed back, and I scoffed. Ryan loved me—yeah right. How could he fathom such a concept when he was wallowing in enough self-pity to fill Lake Breska.

Rank after rank of pillars floated past, and I lost track of how much distance we covered. The silence, too, stretched on, and I licked my lips. It was making me jumpy. But I had no reason to be afraid. The mines were secured. Nobody could have followed us. It wasn’t as if I’d come alone, either. Huh, maybe this was a warning my rune protection was running out. Not a welcome thought, considering I‘d be stuck with His Highness for a while yet.

Eventually the passage branched, revealing two further exits.
“We will keep a straight path,” Navinka said. It was a command, not a suggestion. Not having any reason to argue, I shrugged and kept going. I’d have to wait for the golden shimmers to appear for guidance.
Despite being a ‘ring passage’, the corridor didn’t curve much. Instead crossroads dotted the path at intervals, leading to Goddess-knew-where. By the time we’d passed the fourth one, I was getting dizzy. Every entrance looked the same, and it was hard to tell whether we’d made a circle or not. And was it me, or did the walls seem to be closing in?

Before my claustrophobia took over, a triad of doorways appeared, decorated differently than before. I paused, relieved to see the marble swirls. We had to be getting closer. The middle entrance looked most promising, so I made my way towards it. At the same time, voices caught my ear. I stopped. Adam brushed against me, holding my shoulders.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“Someone’s ahead,” I said.

Frowning, Adam took the torch and strode forward. A tense silence followed, but he soon returned, smiling.

“Only some miners,” he said. “This passage cuts through the main cavern, they’re working just below us. We can still go on.” He flipped the torch back to me, his eyes full of encouragement. Taking a breath, I walked on.

Really, get a grip, Eliza.

As Adam had said, a passage wall had collapsed, revealing the main hub of the mine. Workers pushed at carts piled with stone, and a tributary of the river flowed through a manmade channel. Below us a ledge protruded, where a group of helmeted miners attacked the rock. One of the men paused to wipe his brow, and spotted us.

“Oi, you there!” he shouted. “What’re you doing in the ring passage? This area is off limits to visitors!”

He removed his helmet, revealing his matted blonde hair, and climbed the ledge. Up close, I could see grit marks on his face, and his bare arms were plastered in cuts and scratches.

“I will handle this,” Navinka murmured. She pushed in front, drawing herself to her full height. “We have been granted free access to the shrine by the relevant authorities, and as promised we have kept clear from the new annex.” She plucked a parchment from her cloak. “I trust this is proof enough?”

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