"You've got your Light and your Dark, but I've got a couple of shells, and that's enough." —Amanda Holliday
Druis stood at the edge of the floating rock in the Ascendant Plane, silently counted to three, and leapt.
At the apex of her jump, she flared her Light in a buoyant pulse around her, then began floating downward… and kept floating. She groaned as she awkwardly missed the distant ledge she sought and instead drifted slowly into the blackness below.
She reached out for purchase along the side of the chasm, but her gloves met only the fleshy cilia of the egregore. She recoiled—egregore fungus in the Ascendant Plane?—but then sank her hands deep into the stuff to slow her fall. She came to rest on a boulder, caught unsteadily in a clump of writhing fungus.
Druis squinted up through the darkness. Waving egregore fronds bobbed into her field of vision and she pushed them aside. She brought the sleeve of her green velvet robe to her mouth, trying in vain not to inhale the cloud of foul spores that hissed steadily from the fungal pods.
She focused herself. "C'mon, Queensguard," she muttered. "You can do this." She thought of Queen Mara and concentrated her Light beneath her, forcing herself upward to—
A pervasive whispering pushed into her mind as a sticky tendril brushed against her arm. She swatted it back and focused again.
She thought of the prisoners languishing within the Pyramid outposts, innocents who needed—
A wet pileus flopped onto her boots, thrumming with terrible memories. She kicked it away with a snarl and thought of her allies, those she'd helped and been helped by along her journey—
The stone shifted beneath her as the Ascendant Plane rearranged itself with a lurch. She looked up as the egregore on the sides of the abyss began to intertwine, sealing her in.
There was a cold shock of fear… then rage. I will not die here, she thought. Not in this place. I will not be food for this creeping filth. I—
Druis thought of herself.
Her Light flashed upward, cutting through the nothingness, and touched the favor of the Awoken.
Spirals of tiny purple crystals sprouted from the ground beneath her boots. The shifting stone she stood on locked in place, fused into an amethyst mass.
An egregore pod wavering inches from her face froze, crystal encrusted, like a piece of sugared fruit. It bent heavily, then snapped under its own weight and shattered on the ground.
Druis wreathed her Light around herself. The egregore on the side of the chasm recoiled as if burned, revealing handholds of bare, clean stone.
She nodded, tightened her sash, and began the arduous climb back to the top.