The passage had made several shallow descents as it turned about within the carven mountain of the fortress. Now, though, the light was considerably dimmer, and the decline they were starting down was much steeper. They were plunging downward at an angle of what he guessed to be about three and half to four feet down for every ten feet forward. He saw no more doorways now, and wasn't sure how long it had been since he'd seen the last one. There were no turns in this descent either.
It had been growing extremely dark, and he had nearly lost sight of the white robes, though they were close in front of him. Why it wasn't entirely pitch black, he couldn't guess, but he could still barely make out the corners of the walls and floor. Even though it was a descent, it was steep enough that it was becoming tiring. Veer-Jhavhan must have sensed his effort, as he said "nearly there... we can have a short rest then... not long though."
He remembered back to the early part of his journey, before he met the nomads, when he had stopped at the alchemist, Abognazzar, and gotten his elixir. He had been forced to bargain hard, and press him for more, to have enough for this journey. It hadn't proved to be enough after all.
Abognazzar?! Why hadn't Finghus realised the alchemist's name at the time? That was what the ticket man had said, wasn't it?
Most of the elixir had been lost with his mount, and the last of the remaining vial was used up yesterday. He depended on it for what little physical strength he had, and it was now quickly leaving him.
There was a faint glow growing ahead of them. Soon, they could see flat, apparently sunlit floor stretching out beyond the opening of the passage. At first the bright glare seemed to be the same as that in the first great hall, but getting nearer he could tell it wasn't nearly as bright, nor was the stone white. He didn't doubt that it had been white at one time, for all that surrounded him was still uniformly carved from a single mountainous mass, but something had discoloured the surface ahead, leaving smoothly delineated swathes of rusty yellow and brown.