Chapter 23: To the Unhollowed Ground

Chapter 23: To the Unhollowed Ground

A Chapter by Sairek Ceareste







"And you are certain of this...?"

"Well, like I said miss, the whole town was there watchin' him. Beat the poor sod's bum he did. Like a real pro. Pretty much the whole city was there. I think it did some people good in being loyal to the crown to those who weren't. Not many kids would go that far for their beliefs don'tcha know?"

"Indeed, many wouldn't... Do you know where he may have went?"

"Not completely sure, miss. Last I heard they went out of the western gate over on that side of town. To the forest nobody really cares about."

"I see. Thank you for the information. I cannot express how important it is that I catch up with him."

"Oh, no problem mi... wh... what is that on the sky?"

"...?! ...That's...!"







"This heat is really wearing me down..." Sairek muttered. Having walked only a couple more tunnels, the apparent magma in the cave had really turned up the heat, especially because more magma was pouring in with random holes in the cave here and there which were apparent causes of the undead Wyvern going about its business of trying to find them.

Despite the exhaustion, none of them dared to take a even the smallest break after that second encounter. The three of them were moving very quickly, nearly jogging through the cave in order to get out as soon as they could. The tree for now seemed to be of little matter to them. What was important is that each of them made it.

"Are we even going the right way?" Cyial soon asked quietly in a worried murmur. Nayleen glanced at the Acolyte as she spoke. "We probably are, considering this path we've been walking on hasn't ended yet and we've been walking on it for nearly an hour now. A lot of caves are actually shaped like this, surprisingly."

"Um... Nayleen...." Sairek muttered quietly.

Nayleen turned back around and let out a groan. The side they were walking on had been broken off. Not by the Wyvern however, but the fact that there was a giant root that made a giant gaping hole in the side of the wall, which had dug itself into the side they were on. This was no doubt a root from the Yggdrasil tree. The hole however looked like it went on for miles. It was large enough for them to probably fit comfortably side by side since it was far wider than the cliff they were on... but there was also the fact it was a round surface, aside from a flat one with no walls to aid them.

"Where do you think it leads?" Sairek asked her. Nayleen could only offer an absent shrug.

"That's the problem. We don't know. If we just continued along the wall like we were, we will eventually find the exit. After all, that's how you can ultimately get through a labyrinth if you get lost; stick to one side of the wall and just keep going. But if we go from here, we will lose that wall advantage."

"I don't think we have much of a choice..." Sairek reminded her.

"If the Wyvern comes and we're on that thing, we're dead meat. It's either get eaten or take a bathe in all that glowing magma down below!" Nayleen protested.

"Unless we want to walk back all that way and out through the forest, I don't see a real selection of choices that we have." Sairek argued. "And even if we did choose to walk back, we'll have to go through that poisonous cloud yet again. That in itself may be more dangerous then walking across. Look, I don't like it either, but we're out of options here."

"You're going to walk across no matter what I say, aren't you." Nayleen more stated than asked him. Sairek only shrugged.

"Like I asked, do you have a better idea?" Sairek questioned.

"Not really..." Nayleen responded.

"Let's get going then."

Nayleen sighed, as Sairek lead, Nayleen reluctantly went after him and Cyial followed after. They walked in a single-file line along the root. Sairek was thankful that it was large and sturdy. He was worried about the Wyvern coming along, however. This would have been the worst possible moment for it to come out. There was nothing to balance on if the cave were to rumble again and there was nothing at all to hide them from the Wyvern's view.

As much as Sairek would have loved to hurry along the root to minimize the time they were currently the most vulnerable, he dare not rush too much in the situation he would trip and fall down below into the magma. It was aggravating in a way as Sairek felt like a deer that was being hunted down, but the instinct to run to safety had to be ignored. It was stressful on his mind to say the very least.

"Cyial," Sairek began, having an urge to glance back to the boy he was speaking to but realized he'd probably would walk right off the edge if he did so. "Did you receive any hint as to how long this cave is through the mountain?"

"Not really other than it comes out at around the mountains on the other-side from the forest and that it will position us very close to town. With that, I'd say that we're actually pretty close with how fast he have been going scrambling to get out of here..."

Sairek went silent after that, lost in thought, but concentrating on keeping his balance still. Many things were troubling him right now.

For one, he was wondering why the undead seemed to be roaming around. There was evidence of a Necromancer, but apparently this Necromancer wasn't around commanding these undead; they were all acting on their own. Then there was the fact that the undead seemed to be ready to attack Lamen, with underworld magic spells. If the Necromancer wasn't controlling them, then how did these undead have the ability to cast such spells? Why didn't they have the ability before?

Sairek figured it was a possibility there had been no problem before until he decided to take action, although that didn't make sense on how things could be affected with the undead. The undead were like animals, they reacted only on instinct and nothing more. The only way they would have the ability to think would be a Necromancer feeding magic into them to get them the intelligence required to act efficiently for the intended purpose of the Necromancer's desire by altering that animal-like instinct.

Besides that, even if this all somehow was the act of a Necromancer causing trouble, why attack Lamen? Sairek saw no virtual point. Even if they were trying to make their way to the castle, it was far too well defended. There were so many guards and sorcerors at the castle, as should be since that was where the King, his father was positioned, an army that had no mind wouldn't be able to break through the defenses. Then again, the undead, while having a bit of a conscious, were not necessarily smart. Undead and logical, rational decisions were not necessarily partners.

Sairek sighed. He felt totally overwhelmed with what was going on. There was too much happening at once and so far they had only scratched the surface of what was happening around them. The fact they were now pretty much lost in a cave being chased by this giant massive undead creature of course did not make Sairek feel any more confident then he had been about this entire plan in the first place. He severely regretted listening to the Abbot, as good as his intentions were in making them hurry to the tree, the risk for the time saved had proven to be far too high.

Speaking of which about the tree, Sairek wondered how far away this part of the root was from the actual tree. Sairek read before about roots that reached past the surface of the earth, in fact, such type of root was what his staff had been carved from. For now, they had been walking on this root for several minutes and the root didn't neither expand, or contract on itself. It stayed the same length more or less the entire time. Roots normally got thinner towards the end as he had saw with the pictures that of Yggdrasil's roots before. And the closer to the core of the tree, the thicker the roots got, just like any normal tree. The only difference between Yggdrasil and a normal tree was that Yggdrasil was literally a thousands times larger. Sairek couldn't imagine how big the sphere of the planet was if the roots were this big and were showing no signs of even making distance.

Thinking about it made Sairek soon realize that he could see the end of the root, which a low tunnel was ahead of them. Sairek grinned that they were almost there. As much as he liked Yggdrasil, he didn't like the situation they were in.

"We're almost there, keep up the pace." The Prince announced to the two behind them.

Even though he could see the end, it still took them about ten more minutes before they actually got over there. The root the entire time turned here and there a bit, but the path it had provided them had nonetheless been linear at the very end, which Sairek thought was odd, but considered that it wasn't impossible to happen.

 

He breathed out a sigh of relief when he took his first step on solid ground and not on Yggdrasil. He turned around, backing away from the root to let Nayleen and then Cyial on the ground as well. They both sighed with relief as well. They hadn't so much as felt a tremor while they were walking, which in total must have been around twenty-five minutes, albeit to Sairek it certainly felt like hours due to all the tension. He felt far more relaxed now though, probably the most he had felt since he had entered this cave.

Glancing back behind him, he examined the low tunnel. Even though they were children, and generally shorter than most at that, it was too low for them to walk by standing up. The roof was uneven, they would have to crawl through some places but crawling wouldn't be too cramped. And, while the tunnel was low in height, it was quite wide, more than enough for the three to be side by side again.

Taking initiative, Sairek moved towards the tunnel first and the other two followed slightly behind him. Nayleen on his right and Cyial on her right. Eventually when needed, the three would get on their knees and shuffle forwards. The tunnel was low for only a small distance, as far as Sairek could tell, but it would be quite a while to reach the end since they had to crawl.

"When we get to town, I'm seriously just going for a long, cold shower!" Nayleen seethed through her teeth.

"I'm with you on that idea, but the town we'll be coming up to next is Dandoran... and it's a mining town... You'll be lucky to even find a drink of water without paying for it." Sairek muttered quietly. "I've never wanted to bathe myself so badly in my life..."

"I'm not feeling such things..." Cyial muttered quietly. Sairek flinched at that and Nayleen turned around raising an eyebrow.

"You're dirty too now Cyial." Nayleen mused.

 

"I don't like cleaning..." Cyial muttered.


"If you're not going to then I am going to make you."

"Nayleen, please. I don't want others to see my tail... I'm not sure how they would react."

"Others see? What are you on about Cyial? Bathrooms in Inns are supposed to be private!"

"Some Inns don't have bathrooms like that, Nayleen. Like the one before we entered Lamen." Sairek reminded her. "...Actually Lamen's Inn probably has one of the smallest bathrooms in the whole country... it's also the only building that really has actual wood inside of it and isn't made out of some kind of rock..."

"Those are countryside ones mostly, Sairek. I am pretty sure our kingdoms aren't that different. All inns I've seen, even in rather small towns have private bathrooms where you can clean yourself up without prying eyes.... and... do other... things."

"The Monastery has private rooms like that, but the place to clean is public. I usually went after everyone else cleaned up because it made the other boys uncomfortable." Cyial explained.

"Well, you're not going to have to worry about other people. You're having a bath!"

Cyial gulped. "...Okay... fine..." he said with obvious uncertainty. Sairek stifled back a small chuckle as he continued his way forwards. But not even a few seconds later, he felt the similar vibrations and stopped once again. His eyes widened in realization that too much rumbling when they were under here could very well have the area collapse on top of them.

"...S**t...!" Sairek cursed out loud. He looked ahead... too far, they wouldn't make it, but the best they could do was get close as possible.

Acknowledging why Sairek cursed out loud, both already knew what they were going to feel soon. Sairek glanced back to them, with gritted teeth. "Make it as fast as you can towards the end. Huddle as close to me as you can when I tell you to stop!" He ordered. And he didn't wait for another word, he crawled as fast as he could, he could feel Cyial and Nayleen keeping up behind him, their boots scraping against the caked dirt. Sairek frequently was contacting the caked dirt too hard with his knees which quickly was forcing them to ache.

Crawling while trying to grip the staff was hard and as the vibrations got closer, they made it even more difficult to go faster, but with the emotion of fear fueling him to Sairek's surprise, he managed to indeed reach the end. He stood up on both feet, clutching the wall for stability so he didn't fall over as the other two got out from under the wall, but stayed low. The vibrations soon faded away and Sairek breathed a sigh of relief.

"Sweet Lands... no Wyvern this time..." Sairek muttered, sliding down to the floor as his back rested against the wall behind him. "I don't know how much of this I can endure before I finally snap..."

"Just hold out a little longer Sairek, look over there!" Nayleen encouraged with a point of her finger, Sairek followed it's direction before breathing in a small excited gasp that brought him to his feet, revived.

Just the thing they were looking for. Across the room from them, a little bit higher up was sunlight shining through a gaping hole in the wall. Sairek didn't even give any signal, he was already jogging his way directly towards it. As far as he could see, the entire area was rocky, but there were no cliffs, no magma, nothing dangerous. They only needed to scale the rocky outcrop a little to make their way upwards. Well, Sairek had a better plan then scaling.

When the other two reached him, Sairek held his staff out, and soon chanted out 'Ethirul!', A platform of earth around the three soon lifted up, slowly rising them upwards towards the mouth of the cave. When it raised high enough for Sairek, he leaped across the gap towards the edge where the cliff was. He landed on his feet, and quickly rushed outside. Instantly, the blast of cool air hitting his face brought instant relief. The tingle of the warm afternoon sun brought relaxation. Nayleen and Cyial soon followed him outside after, bringing fourth thankful breaths of relief that they were on the other side at long last.

"Well, the Abbot was certainly right," Cyial noted. "We made a week's worth of journey in only half a day, look, you can see the town there!" He pointed towards it with his right index finger.

Looking in the direction Cyial had noted on, Sairek turned his gaze and saw the walls along the horizon. They would probably get there late at night, but it beat a week worth of traveling time.

"Well, it may have saved us a week, but it still very nearly got us killed!" Nayleen protested. "When I see him, I am going to--"

"Nayleen," Sairek cautioned. The girl only crossed her arms, reluctantly keeping quiet.

"We're home free and I really want to get cleaned up... let's just try to keep it positive for now. We're all stressed out going through all of that. So let's go and get a little bit of rest that we deserve." Sairek reminded her, which seemed to at least lighten up the scowling expression on her face.

The three began to walk off again. And Sairek closed his eyes, soaking in the suns' rays. Never had he felt so happy to feel it's presence.

It was when a loud bang occurred that made him jump and his eyes shot open. The three of them spun around and gasped in terror, seeing the undead Wyvern standing at the mouth of the cave, staring and growling at the three of them.

"No!" Nayleen shouted angrily. "We're already free from the cave! That thing is undead, how is it standing out here like this?!"

"Undead severely hate sunlight and are weakened by Ethereal, but that doesn't make them unable to go into both areas, it just weakens it, but I'm not sure that will be enough against an undead Wyvern!" Cyial exclaimed with panic clear in his voice. Sairek took note that despite those two advantages that they had, that Cyial's confidence in both were rather low.

"Sairek, what do we do? Fight, or run?" He heard Nayleen ask him.

Sairek could only stare at the blank eyes of the Wyvern ahead of him. It growled back and soon began taking slow steps closer. As it did, Sairek had a mental flicker of that hooded figure, when he was trying to use his jewel's power near the pool of sap. Sairek's eyes widened a bit in realization. This Wyvern used to be something else. Something a bit more humanoid. But now it looked like this... How was that possible?

Sairek soon bit his lower lip in realization.

"Sairek!" Nayleen shouted at him, more panic in her voice. "Do we fight or run?!"

"...Both... We're going to do both, Nayleen!"

Sairek stared as the beast slowly stomped it's way towards the three. Cyial and Nayleen fell back slightly, Nayleen slowly unsheathed her daggers, ready, and Cyial gripped his book tighter towards his chest. Sairek stood his ground, staring up angrily with gritted teeth at the beast, holding his staff up and tightly in both hands.

The Wyvern's head bent down, sniffing the three, it seemed to chuckle to itself. To Sairek's amazement, the skeletal corpse spoke to them through what he could only describe of something like telepathy.

"Finally... You three are so small, I wasn't able to detect you so easily in my territory..."

"Hah..." Sairek began in a flat expression. "Your senses must be as blind as your eyesight. You passed us three times right in front of us and you didn't even take any notice." He said in an angered tone.

"A confident boy, huh...?"

Sairek shifted his weight slightly as he continued to speak in his heated tone. "I'm Prince of the kingdom you say you marked your territory in... would you expect any less?"

The Wyvern seemed to laugh that sounded almost like a gurgle.

"Prince, hmm? I've really hit the jackpot this time..."

Sairek's eyes narrowed slightly. "Why do you try to play dumb? I already know what and who you are, Necromancer's slave...!"

"Necromancer...?!" Sairek heard Nayleen whisper out in a gasp. Sairek ignored her as the Wyvern croaked a chuckle.

"A Necromancer slave? Me? Do not play yourself more foolish than you already by attempting to stand up to me, boy. I am no Necromancer's puppet!"

"Why do I feel the underworld's energy radiate around you, then? Why am I getting these mental images of that figure that attacked me when I try to use my mother's jewel?"

"Fool, you have no idea how the underworld magics work. What you've felt was my master's energy. How else would I be able to have a mind of my own as an undead? How else would I be standing here out in the sunlight, with your world's pathetic energy?"

"Master? You have got to be kidding. If you are doing his bidding then you are nothing more than a mere slave!" Sairek countered in response. The Wyvern let out a chuckle, taking two steps closer to the group and they took three steps back in return, although the Wyvern of course was still closer.

The Wyvern sniffed again, a throaty growl rising from its throat, despite there being no flesh there. Sairek realized that the growling too, was telepathic, although it felt very real, he could still feel the vibrations of the growl.

"I see... that's what masked you so well... That child is a demon of the underworld as well..."

Cyial flinched at him being mentioned. The Acolyte's tail slipped out from under his robes. The iron spade of the tail flicked and smacked against the ground in adrenaline before wrapping itself around his own waist. The poor incubus was noticably shaking.

"Why demon, do you side with these lowly humans? Why do you wear such disgusting robes that pledges your loyalty to their precious little sapling?"

"I don't know how I ended up in this world. I've been here longer than I can remember... I may have even been born here... But it doesn't matter what race I am. I questioned my existence in this world and whether I should even stay or not. But my Abbot... with Sairek and Nayleen here, have helped me decide that I wish to stay. The Yggdrasil tree has done nothing but help others, even the underworld... Why would I wish to resent something that exists for the good of everyone?" Cyial argued in a calm tone despite his shaking. "Destruction is meaningless. Bloodshed gives only but a fleeting emotion that the greedy feel, not realizing they lose their own will the more blood they succeed to spread. I will live my life to the fullest, as I desire. Whether I am Human or Demon and where I choose to live it should no matter."

Sairek's head was tilted in Cyial's direction, but he glared fully back to the Wyvern again when Cyial finished. "The Yggdrasil tree as far as I am aware has done nothing at all to damage the underworld. And we, as people, have done nothing to attack the underworld either. Why are you doing such action to us? It's against the laws of both realms!" The young Prince demanded in question.

"Demons, monsters, such spawn-lings are creatures of hell, yet your people constantly kill and massacre them without a care--"

"Because they attack and kill people! Are you saying we have no right to defend ourselves from what the underworld does to harm us?!" Sairek retorted back. "It's simple, common law! Every creature has the right to self defense! Those who overstepped their boundaries whether Demon or Human will be punished the same no matter who or what their race! I don't like it, but there has to be something set up to try and control the people's actions so that they remain civil!"

The Wyvern's skull formed a sort of sly grin that made Sairek nearly choke on air alone from just how menacing it looked.

"Typical of human, surface world behavior.. Always blaming anything that isn't themselves. Not even bothering to look at all the blatant evidence that would reveal the blood on their hands..."

"You're one to talk..." Sairek heard Nayleen mutter angrily. Sairek followed her up. "I for one, believe all living beings to be equal. Human, Demon or monster. If I didn't believe it in that way, Cyial wouldn't be able to become my friend."

The Wyvern tilted its head towards Cyial, the blank eye sockets narrowing in response to Saireks' words.

"Seduced by the sugary words of a Human eh...? What kind of Incubus are you anyways, boy? You are the one who is supposed to be doing the seducing."

"I was not seduced. I made the choice to come with Sairek on my own." Cyial answered back, the calm tone of his before was now that of hot abated anger. "Sairek asked me, but told me only to come if I very much desired it. I did desire his company. Sairek protected me against the very kinds of people you want to destroy the world for! I will not let what I am decide who I am. I need not to seduce when my friends are honorable and trustworthy."

"Bold words, Demon child, but futile. Our destinies are already carved for us once we are born.... isn't that right, sir Prince...?"

Sairek clenched his teeth angrily at the taunt. "You expect me to fall to the random ramblings of the undead?" He then couldn't stop a small smirk from forming on his lips. "My father, the King, has tried years to carve out my destiny for me and I still refuse to listen. You don't know a thing about me at all, do you?"

"You expect me to be afraid of your mistaken courage to that of mere recklessness? Know your place, boy."

"This is my home and our world..." Sairek growled. "I for one, will not allow a Defiler of Souls to wreak destruction on it! I wield the staff of the tree that has made all creation that you see before you. Yggdrasil itself has granted me permission to borrow its power because every being is important in this world. And you dare tell me to know my place in my own world? You are the one who doesn't even belong here!"

"You desire for me to be reluctant to attack by such an empty words of confidence, child?"

"I'm waiting."

The Wyvern's head craned back, a loud hiss coming forward from it. He began to chuckle which broke into a loud laughter that pounded in Sairek's head. He held his ground, as did Cyial and Nayleen.

"Then wait no longer, children! Dinner has been served! And with it, may my flesh will be restored once again!!"







© 2013 Sairek Ceareste


Author's Note

Sairek Ceareste
Chapter last updated on: February 6th, 2013

Changelog:

- Some grammar fixes

- Text at the end of the chapter involving the Wyvern has mostly been refurbished.


Changelog: [April 8th, 2012 (Easter day!)]

- Several more typo fixes

- Various dialogue changes and tweaks, particularily at the near end of the chapter, almost every dialogue line has been changed in some way, but without changing the direction of where the dialogue goes to.

- Some specific descriptions have been changed to flow better.

- Some specific explanations have been changed as well, although only a selected few that were worded badly, or didn't really make sense.

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

269 Views
Added on December 12, 2011
Last Updated on February 6, 2013