To my honey bee who even though is in total darkness right now, can always find light with these words that I write for her ;)
Chapter 18: The Switch
"What are you gonna do when you find him??", she queries weakly on the floor, looking up at him as he surveys the darkened wall stained by age and water, algae growing at its very edges and stretching down like wretched fingers reaching for the heart of that which is brave and courageous enough to face it.
"He’s not going to let you near him, you know that right??"
She continues her onslaught while his hands remain busy checking the walls for any faulty devices, any crevice where some type of working mechanism will open it…something, anything. He scrubs the roots of plants that have had ages to grow against the hardened facade of rock, water stains having given this wall its look of ages when in truth it was probably only installed not that long ago…built by the very hands of who the devil himself mimics.
"He built this thing like a labyrinth…anyone who enters down here was never meant to return to the top and I’m afraid you qualify for being down here…so you’re not going to make it back to the top…"
He remains voiceless and continues his pursuit, hands seeking throughout the walls as his eyes only see several different caricatures that were etched in…maybe to give it that look of archeological value.
[It’s all a fake…this damn thing has to be in here somewhere, I just know it…]
Reaching to the highest points on the tips of his toes and brushing off whatever aqua plants hang from there, glowing in their iridescence. Certain plants that are growing way down at these depths of the ocean don’t have the fortitude to survive in sunlight and thus find their calling on the sea floor. They glow, however, with a pinkish blue hue that is beautiful to look at but more poisonous to touch and taste.
He carefully pushes these aside with his boot and makes sure not to irritate their state too quickly. Looking back up, he clears the rest of the brush; dark green bordering on black these plants all hide in the darkness and thrive on it…but not today. Truly not all that sure as to what day it may be…what time…even what the weather up on the surface is, he doesn’t care. As far from home as he’s been, this is the farthest he’s felt from Delilah and he has no intention or wish to stay a minute longer.
"Where is it…" he whispers to himself, "…where the hell is that switch."
"What are you talking about? What switch?? You’ve gone completely out of your mind…this is a prison with no key, no switch, no hinge on the doorway for a soul to let us out…"
He wastes not a second to turn around and look at her while reprimanding; simply he continues caressing the wall and feeling around for glyphics that are familiar.
"Where is it!!" he yells to the wall and pounds it with a closed fist.
A boy of only 13, with his sister not a year older, stand at the gate of their Father’s goat farm tending and herding the flock. Under such a bright sun with its rays reaching out to impossible lengths, the boy shields his eyes and looks up…nodding. Surely he knows this is to be a day to keep a close eye on the goats as they murr along and eat what little grains are left.
"The dry season has left us without a calling son…I’m afraid this looks to be the last part of the year that we’ve tended our flock…"
His Father pats him on the shoulder and soldiers on, head hanging and daughter in tow tugging on his long robe. He puts on a sun hat and stares at his shadow continue along the sand dune where the goats bleet as they see him approach. Like a flock of birds they clear the space, following a set pattern of defense and escape, they scurry along the wide berth offered by the fenced in area. He pulls out a small bag of grain and begins to spread it in a small circle, bits of it fall through the sack and create a trail where the goats begin to follow and find what little bounty is left.
"This is it…we don’t have anymore."
Resigned, the Father walks back toward the sand adobe house built by his own two hands awaiting the arms of his wife who gives him a supportive hug and assures the man that their future, as well as the animals, will be taken care of. They just have to have faith.
"Faith is a luxury…" the Father says, "…one not so easily afforded to us Maria."
"Lupo, don’t be so heavy hearted, there’s a day for worry and a day for smiling…and today I feel not a worry but that soon a blessing will be upon us…God wouldn’t leave us hanging to dry when we’ve done well for our family and community…come…lets pray…"
Beforehand, the Father steps into the doorway and calls out to his kids which, naturally, they respond by coming quickly to him. Running down the sand dunes with dirt kicking up behind them; the younger girl trailing her older brother as she grabs onto his robe and falls to her knees laughing, dragging down her brother. They both make a show of it, teasing each other and pushing each other to the ground playfully as they rise again and listen to their Father…making it all the way down to the house with surely no time to spare. They breathe heavily as their Father leans in and puts a hand on their respective shoulders, telling them the situation.
They must pray.
The kids respectfully agree and kneel between their Father and Mother, closing their eyes and looking through their praying window as the Sun assuredly warms them as well as their hearts. She begins by opening her heart to the Dear Lord, the Dearest of anyone or thing to come along and proclaim such a title. They all, in turn, open their hearts and proclaim the hunger that they feel, the sorrow that has befallen them and the rest of the desert community, as well as what they pray for…the three things they pray for most.
The Mother calls on the Lord to produce a miracle.
"…I know you don’t involve yourself with the situations of we humans…but Dear Lord we are in dire straits and without as much as a grain of food to fall on our ground and grow bountiful amounts of grass, we won’t have anything to survive on. I want to provide for my family good Lord and I know you are the only one that can help us…please…help us…"
She begins to weep softly as the Father comforts her with a gentle hand to the back.
"Please…send us something, someone…a sign or a symbol…we need your help…"
The beating of heavy hooves cross the paths of their goat enclosure not so far from the house, yelling and cursing can be heard as riders storm their property and one is said to have spoken:
"CUT IT, THE LESS WEIGHT WE HAVE THE BETTER!"
As sudden as it was said, sacks of grain as big as the son and wide as the doorway fly through the window…one, two, three…four sacks at a time.
"Truly!! A miracle Mother! A miracle!!" the Father gets up from kneeling, crying with glee and happiness as the kids surround him and hug him tightly. The Mother, a true matriarch protects her own little flock, pulling them in as they group hug and cry together for the good Lord has certainly answered their prayer. Though during their tender moment, several horsemen pass by at full gallop speeding toward one opportune goal that is fleeting with every second. The first two were men dressed in regular clothing carrying regular equipment…the other 8 that followed seemed more sinister. Head to toe in full black regalia, their horses were strong and bridled with what shined as the finest steel or silver seen on these lands…the logo etched into their mouth bits were a symbol recognized throughout the desert as belonging to a magician who occassionally appeared to the people and asked of it hard workers to take with him…but nothing else. No jewels, no riches…nothing. This desert was full of it but this magician seemed to only want the hardest workers that these sand dunes could produce and produce they did…however, as he took them they never returned which led to wild stories run amock throughout the community.
None of which this Father could recall as he’s simply witnessed a miracle but…from whom?
"Thank you riders of mystery!!" the Father calls out as he waves his hand to the disappearing party which just lowered beyond the hill crest.
"Father…who was that?" the son asks.
"…You know, I’m not too sure about that." his hand lowers and his face…puzzled.
"Can’t these animals go any faster?!" Augustus yells back as he turns and looks at Silas, riding his horse just as hard.
Both animals panting, having lost all their gear and their rations during the pursuit both wonder if there’s any possible way these horses could grow wings like the great Pegasus and vanish into the sunlight, clearing them of danger and only bringing along the welcome sight of a free land without somebody waiting to kill them.
"I just cut the grain and tossed it into that farmhouse!!" Silas yells as their horses hoof it hard and long over the crest trying to escape their captors.
The men in black riding close behind the two runaways, unsheath their archery and with deft moves (much as trained killers like them are adept at performing) they thread their bows and begin shooting, launching their lines of death right at the two men first, then focus their aim on the legs of their horses, planning to take out their transportation. Both men up front keep their heads low and avoid the oncoming attack from above with diamond tipped sticks of death streaming over them gracefully…for their beauty is their ultimate killer. A diamond tipped arrow shines brightly in the sunlight and distracts the enemy, keeping them guessing as to what exactly could be strafing for them, cutting the wind like God’s own hand and then cutting right through them.
But Augustus keeps his head down, close to the ears of his horse as he hears it pant hard, its heart beating close to the point of it exploding. He turns to Silas and watches his hand signals as both their horses run as if a racing finish line were just ahead, keeping neck and neck, galloping in rhythm. In fear of giving away their next move, Silas communicates with hand signals and nods his head once to see if Augustus acknowledges. Of course, all of this happening in the even that literal sudden death is nipping at their heels, Silas calls out:
The moment they pass the temple walls, the market to the left offers good cover for their escape. They buck their horses and have them leap over the enclosure exactly used to keep horses out. Clearing the gate without so much as a problem, they look back and notice the men in black’s horses have difficulty with said feat, stopping suddenly at the gate with some of their riders not holding on tight enough, falling over front of the horses and letting physics do the rest of the work as they fly straight into some of the booths unfortunately placed close to this gate. Augustus and Silas smile and laugh in victory, their horses keeping up their hard pace as they strafe out of the market and have a clear view and path toward the temple which is a large sandstone, multi-story building which is just beyond their reach.
Clarity is a deceiving thing. Their path may look clear but alas, it is not.
"Why is she worth so much to you, huh? What can she possibly give you that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else on this forsaken burg?" the woman calls out as she remains sitting on the floor, too weak to stand…her will and resolution broken in life.
She’s resigned to death and it hasn’t happened.
"…", Augustus smirks, "…she offers me what a life couldn’t offer without her in it…"
He continues talking while his search keeps moving along for this switch.
"…you see, there’s not a day that I don’t think about her, not a moment that goes by where I wonder what she’s doing…", he tears out some plants in a gruff and finds nothing in that corner of the hall, "…what she’s…" he struggles, "…thinking…", finally tears out some of the moldy carpet in the hall and traces his finger along a thin white line in the wall, "…or even what the world looks like from her viewpoint. I dream of her, I think of her…and she makes me happy, wanting to live, wanting to get out of this hell hole that you seem so resolute to stay in…but most of all…", his hand enters a cracked crevice at the far end of the hall and he strugges as half his arm goes in, his face noting that of a slight struggle.
"She gives me an impossible love that the world had forsaken long ago…"
His hand grabs onto a switch adorned with chains as he pulls it hard, yanking it almost through the wall as the wall itself cracks and gears are heard just on the other side, squeaking loudly and grinding through the years, through the ages that they were not used. He looks back at her sitting on the floor as her face is befuddled with confusion and the wall begins to move. His hand moves out immediately as he stands to his feet, his face glowing and glaring as finally something has gone right and this whole nightmare of being stuck in this underwater chamber he was transported to when completing the Desert Temple…is over.
He walks over to the woman sitting on the floor, now the hallway extended farther with the opened wall…he leans down, hands on both knees as he stares straight at her.
"I know who you are…I know your name…I know you were sent here to guide me and I know who sent you."
Katja looks up at Augustus confused, the steady pitch of realization rolling over her body as she grows nervous but doesn’t say anything.
"You accomplished what you set out to do and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart…they all told me it wasn’t possible to do this, they all told me that you weren’t who you were…are…is…I don’t know anymore, but what I do know is your true name.
You…are a mystique, a force created by a power that can only be manifested in someone’s heart and sent through a space to keep watch…like a guardian angel. You were summoned and put into this form that I see now, this form of a woman who led me into the demise that I’m in. Truth is, you’ve been with me this long a time but it wasn’t until I’d gone through the trials and tribulations of the temple that you’d become corrupted…told to do the opposite of what you were meant to do…kill me instead of guard me. That evil sorcerer Rimulan put you up to this and you didn’t want to, you thought it would keep me safe…but we ended up down here and your owner…the one who created you…lost you…you led yourself to become something wretched.
I’m not going to put an end to you Katja…I know Delilah created you and sent you to me to protect me.”
Katja looks up with a vacant stare into his eyes as he continues.
"You’re not a bad creation…you were influenced and Delilah lost touch with you so she couldn’t shield you from his evil and thus, you couldn’t shield me from almost being killed. But…now that things have turned up the way they did…"
He looks toward the now open wall then back to Katja, moving his face a little closer so their eyes could lock…and he stares into her, not at her…but into her…whispering:
"…be free…I release you and carry this message to your owner…I’m coming for you, I’m still alive and I’m coming for you…"
As he said that, Katja closed her eyes and slowly laid on the floor, dissolving into a dust of light and the form of sparks that created her…being absorbed by the air and being carried off to an unknown source. Augustus looks up until it’s all gone away, turns around…and begins his slow ascent to Earth.
Delilah wakes up in a panic, her heart racing, her breath pounding against her chest…her lungs almost wanting to escape from their habitat. She gasps for air and rubs her eyes quickly, running her hands through her hair as the look of fear slowly wanes from her face. Victor wakes up next to her, putting a hand on her shoulder and muttering:
"Are you ok?"
She nods her head complacently, “…I just…need some air that’s all.”
She gets up from the regal bed set up in this entire castle and goes toward the window, the moonlight wafting its way through the curtains and the light almost blowing them apart as she walks up to it and faces the breeze. Crashing waves pounding their presence into the Earth just outside her window…an entire ocean with a moon barely scathing the top of thunderhead clouds off in the distance. Giving off such a present image, lightning hits the ocean, the bolt starting blue but turning a slight yellow as it touches Poseidon’s home. She watches and hears the thunder roll, clearly pushing its way through the air since there are no mountains to echo the sound.
She loves this.
George’s perch set up right next to her chambers as the dragon himself remains awake, watching her with his bright yellow eyes and fluttering his tale softly so as not to wake the neighbors. He leans in close as she kisses him on the nose and smiles, staring at her dragon and caressing his scaly skin with both hands.
"Oh George…you’ve really been with me through all this haven’t you…", George acknowledges by tilting his head and pushing his snout beneath her hands, wanting her to pet him…and she does, "…you know I wouldn’t ask you for a favor boy if it didn’t really mean a lot to me."
George looks at her curiously, understanding every word perfectly, keeping prepared for what’s coming.
"George, I’m going to be honest with you…I’m not sure what it is I feel when I’m here but it’s not the best feeling…it feels empty, unwanting…like I’m not supposed to be here but it’s really my commitment that keeps my feet to these grounds."
George stretches his neck closer so she can reach his ear as she whispers.
"George…he’s out there, I know it…I feel it…I heard it…he’s coming…he’s coming for me…" she stayed quiet at this and felt butterflies in her stomach as she put her hands there and smiled a little.
"Go out to him George, fly to him and bring him" the passion in her voice went into a crescendo.
"Bring him to me George…Bring him!!"
At this George was short on takeoff, glaring through the night and making no time to waste as he turned his head east and went in the opposite direction, the moon casting his shadow over the village that lay below the castle. She remained standing at the window with such a smile and her hands over her butterflies as she closed her eyes and whispered to herself.
"He’s coming for me…"
[To be continued ;)]