“You're kidding me,” Raithe said crossing his arms. He glared at the wall in front of him where, only moments before, there had been a door.
“Cool,” Gin said in a hushed tone. Of course his reaction would be the exact opposite. “Well, I guess we really have no choice now.”
Felix let out a low growl and turned to face the room.
It was dark where they were, but not so much that Raithe couldn't see. Squinting his eyes, he could make out the outlines of vague shapes on the walls. Shapes that appeared a lot like.. oh! It was a sconce. So that meant... Raithe lifted a hand and felt around it and up. He had to get on his tip toes to reach but... yup! His hand grasp the bottom part of a torch and he lifted it out, bringing it to where Gin should be able to make out its vague shape.
“Very good,” Gin said. “Now how do you plan to light it?”
“Smart ass,” Raithe mumbled. He set it down against the wall and fumbled around in his satchel for an item which helped him start his last fire. Raithe handed Gin the torch and struck his flint and steel once, twice, thrice and then a small flame blossomed, giving them illumination.
Gin waved the torch around the room, illuminating it for them to see. They were in a narrow corridor, not a room. With tall, stone brick walls on either side. When Gin raised the torch, light from it revealed a wide opening some ways down from where they stood. An end to the corridor. They stepped forward with Felix cautiously leading the way.
The area they were in was so quiet, so hollow, that every sound became like the booming sound of thunder right overhead. Their footfalls crashed down before them and somewhere in the deep, was the echo of a drip... drip as water leaked from the ceiling.
Then they reached the opening and stepped out into a room with no light, save for the torch they kept with them. Gin fell back a step and his own eyes went wide.
“W-what do you... what is this place?” Raithe asked.
Gin shook his head. He didn't know either.
What that light revealed, sent a myriad of shivers down his spine and Raithe found it extremely hard to stop. The sight was just so... it was... the same black goo they had seen several times already, spread out across the interior. It climbed the walls and practically ate everything it came into contact with, even living things.
Standing around the room were what appeared to be statues of some of the races they had seen on the pillar mural. There was an elf, standing still, but his posture told other stories. His back leg was bent and his front was placed two feet ahead, like he was preparing himself to run from whatever had terrified him so. The man's face was contorted into one of hopelessness and fear, eyes wide and mouth open. That black goo was all over him below the neck and seemed to be frozen solid.
Another figure wasn't so lucky... if the elf could have even been called that. Raithe couldn't even tell what race this person belonged to, nor could he tell their gender. A puddle of that black stuff lay below where they sat. Their body was mangled. Like they had been mauled by a wild beast. The tissue around their head had all but been eaten away.
And then Raithe's eyes fell on another creature with the appearance of a wolf. Only this thing was far bigger than any of those canines should be. The black substance had pinned its legs to the floor so that it couldn't move. Raithe could see evidence of the creature's struggle. Matted fur, torn gashes along its body. But those were superficial wounds. They would have caused a little pain sure... but death? That poor creature must have starved to death.
Raithe tightened his grip on the half of his stick he chose to keep with him. It had broken yeah, but that was no reason to throw the entire thing away. Especially considering that at the moment, he had nothing better to use. He did what would be normal for any child to do and... poked the black stuff.
“What are you doing?” Gin whispered.
“Seeing if it's.. alive,” Raithe answered. The substance wasn't like the one he had seen before on living things. This one was as hard as rock. Not sticky, gooey, but completely solid.
“Hmph... you sure that's a good idea?”
“Relax,” Raithe said, lifting his stick. “It's dead.”
Felix lowered her head, sniffed, scrunched up her nose in disgust and then poked it with a paw. Nothing happened.
“You say that now,” Gin said with a sigh and then walked passed him, waving the torch around so they could better see the area.
Raithe smiled smugly and then followed.
Getting passed all the horrors they lying around, he could see that the room they were in now, was a hall like the first one. It was a lot smaller though, with only about ten feet making up its widt, rather than twenty. One side there was a stone wall with three, open arched doorways. The ceiling on the other side, was held up by more of those stone pillars and beyond there was a balcony. He walked over to the edge of it and peered down into darkness.
“Hey,” Raithe said. “Gin, shine the light down there.”
Gin came over and brought the torch up, over the balcony. “Interesting,” he said. “So people lived here I guess.”
“Yeah... the only question I have is... what does this place have to do with us?” one thing Raithe really wanted to know, was what was the purpose of this test anyway? Why bring them here and what was it supposed to prove?
“Good question,” Gin said as he moved their only source of light to better see the court yard.
It was a court yard and looked like it would be something easily found in expensive castles. The only oddity, was that the whole thing was underground and in complete darkness.
In the center there was a circular fountain which had long since gone dry. The two statues in the center were black and white, cat like creatures. Though Raithe thought he could also detect a hint of fox within them. They were slender, agile creatures with long ears about half the length of their bodies and tails twice the length of their bodies.
The courtyard itself was round, with benches placed carefully in four different locations around the fountain. What appeared to be vines, curled up, climbing the benches, fountains and another doorway and more pillars. No leaves grew on them though, it was just the long stem and hundreds and hundreds of branches.
“Let's go,” came Gin's voice. It sounded harder than it normally did, nervous and tense.
“Yeah. Let's,” Raithe agreed.
They had two choices now. Choice number one; explore each room in the hopes they could find something useful and perhaps find out more about The Tahni Halls. Choice two involved them jumping down into the courtyard and exploring the room beyond. Both of them opted for choice one.
So they entered into the first room and were surprised because it was nothing like anything else they had seen, since their strange journey began. Stepping through that door felt immediately as if a veil had been lifted. The encroaching darkness lingered just outside, but the room itself, felt safe. There was a window on the far end which emitted light enough for them to see and the white interior, reflected it.
With one glance, he could tell that this was just a simple bedroom. There was a bed against the wall on one side, which was made with not even a single wrinkle in the sheets. A thick layer of dust sat on top, indicating that it had been quite some time since anyone had laid down in it.
A pair of curtains covered the window and billowed with the release of a magical breeze. Gin handed the torch to Raithe and then walked over to pry open a set of sliding doors. Dust and mold in the cracks where it was supposed to slide, made it difficult. After a few persistent tugs though, he managed to pry it open.
It was a closet. Of course it was, what had he been expecting? If this was a bedroom, the previous occupants would have needed a place to at least store their clothes. Raithe brought the torch closer and shone its light upon an old dresser. Like the bed, it too seemed to be untarnished by time. With the exception of the dust, it appeared to be perfectly functional.
Gin started pulling each drawer open in succession, looking for anything they could potentially use. For the most part, it was empty. There was a stray pair of socks, an old, flannel shirt and that was it. “Nothing here,” he said and then backed away.
A meow and a half purr by the bed, brought Raithe's attention over to Felix who seemed to be pawing at something by the foot of the bed. He walked over and crouched down beside her. It was an old, weathered chest. There were locks on it, but they weren't latched. Like it had been purposefully left open.
Raithe put a hand on the lid and lifted it up. It was heavy and made a loud thunk sound as it hit the base boards behind it. He winced. When he opened his eyes again, Raithe peered inside. There were an array of different things. A set of leather armor, one pair of clean clothes, a dagger. He reached in, pulled them out and handed the bundle to Gin. “Here,” he said. “Get dressed.”
“Oh thank you!” Gin said with exaggerated excitement and stepped into the closet, closing the door behind him.
Raithe rolled his eyes. “We're both men... so why...?”
“Because I prefer my privacy,” Gin replied.
“You sure didn't mind not having it back in that cave,” he could remember how he and Felix walked into the cave after catching fish for them, only to see Gin butt naked with his gown dangling over the fire.
“It's not like I had a choice.”
He was right about that... there really hadn't been a choice. Raithe shook his head and began to rummage through the rest of the chest's contents. He removed the dagger, the leather armor which he set aside for Gin and then he found a small bag. Raithe pulled it out and as he did, something thick and flat flopped to the floor.
“What is this I wonder?” he asked as he picked it up. The object was a really, old book. The cover was leather, but there were no markings on it to indicate what it was about. He set the bag down and picked a place on the floor to sit and leaned back against the bed. Raithe flipped open to the first page.
The symbols which made up words, he didn't recognize them. Somehow though, he found as he glanced over, he could understand exactly what they were trying to say.
Taushin 16, 3254
Oh... how do I do this I wonder? I've never written in a diary before... so maybe...
No... no absolutely not. I suppose I should just start and maybe the words will come?
Alright... alright... enough of that rambling. Yes, this is going to be my very first entry in any kind of diary or journal... thing. Why? Because when I joined this organization, they said that writing down my thoughts would help with my... sanity. Yup, you read that right. My sanity.
All of us have been asked to do this to some extent. Putting our thoughts down in a book, writing about what we're afraid of and what our duties have caused us to see. I'll be honest here. I'm brand new and I haven't really had the opportunity to experience anything yet. Now, I can't exactly go into details of what we are and what we've been asked to do, because we can't risk any of this getting out. If this book ever gets stolen... well let's just say it would be a very bad thing.
Moving on... if you are reading this, it would mean you would have had to cross that threshold. You know, the one at the door? You've probably felt the sense of ease after you entered the room. That ease is there because... nothing inhuman can cross it. When I say inhuman, I'm not talking about animals, they can cross just fine. It's something else. I haven't personally seen whatever it is yet, so I can't really explain it here. Eh... regardless... as long as you stay in my room, you will be safe.
Something's here... I just heard a loud bang and... oh I have to go. Till next time!