A door creaked open and Gin stepped out of the closet. “What's that?” he asked as he threw his beaten up gown onto the bed.
“Nothing,” Raithe said as he slammed the book shut. Dust went flying everywhere and he had to struggle in order to not sneeze. Then he glanced up at Gin, at his gown on the bed and then back at Gin, scowling. “Show a little respect.”
“To whom?” Gin asked, feigning a look around. “I don't see anyone here who would care, do you?”
“That's not the point.” he stuffed the journal into the bag and stood up, hefting it over one shoulder. The thing was heavy, which meant there was probably a lot more in it than just the journal. Important things maybe, but he preferred not to look until he was far away from Gin.
“Is there anything else in the chest?”
“Not sure,” Raithe said and promptly stuffed the dagger he had found, in his satchel.
Gin walked over to the chest and peered inside. “Nothing,” he said with a sigh. “I think that's our queue.”
“To leave,” Gin said.
Raithe looked around the room nervously. The journal was right, he did feel safe here and in no way was keen to leave. What could they do though? There was no food, no water... nothing other than what he had discovered in the chest. On the other hand, he had no idea how much time it had been since they had entered this strange place and likewise, he didn't know how long it would take them to leave it. So in retrospect, it would be wise for them to sleep in a place they knew would be safe. “No,” Raithe said.
Gin looked at him questioningly.
“I think we should get a few hours of sleep.”
There was a long moment of silence where they could hear nothing but their own breathing. Gin then shook his head. “I don't think so,” he said.
Raithe raised an eyebrow. “Why not?”
“I know you felt it too, when we entered,” he said. “That feeling of safety and that is why you are suggesting we stay here. But what if there is something down here that wants us to feel safe?”
Good point. Still, he couldn't ignore what was written in the journal. “We need to get rest while we are able.”
“Do what you want,” Gin said unconcerned. “My only goal here is survival. I don't personally care what will happen to you...” he stopped and let out a little laugh. “I proved that earlier hadn't I? Anyway, I trust my instincts and they are telling me that if we stay here, bad things are going to happen.”
“Pfff, fine!” Raithe said and hiked the bag into a better position. “Let's go.” he walked passed Gin and stepped back out, onto the balcony.
That feeling of unease immediately came over him, washing away the safeness he had felt only moments before. His chest felt tight and even though it was pretty much an open space, it was as if the walls were starting to close in around him. His breathing became labored and every inhale and exhale hurt. Raithe bent over and put a hand on one knee, breathing hard. Like someone resting after a rigorous run. Beads of sweat trickled down his face, making plopping sounds on the stone. What... was that? He couldn't remember feeling this way before.
“You... feel it too?” Gin asked, breathing hard.
All Raithe could manage was a simple nod.
Felix on the other hand, was making all sorts of noise. Growling like she was in pain, shaking her head wildly, rolling around on the ground.
“Will she be alright?” Gin asked, regaining his composure.
“... yeah,” Raithe replied after a moment. He stood up and went over to her. “Felix,” he said in a gentle tone. “Hey... Felix.”
She stopped rolling and looked up at him, calmer now.
“Good,” he said and stood up straight. He glanced over at Gin, who was looking down into the courtyard.
“I think,” Gin said calculatingly. “We should go there.”
“Down?” Raithe asked. “It... I don't know. This darkness feels worse in that direction somehow/”
“That is precisely why we should go that way,” he said and then hurdled himself over the railing. The drop was actually not that deep, maybe just twenty feet or so. When Gin landed, it was in a roll and then he came back up to his feet, staring at Raithe and waving. “Coming or should I just leave you here?”
“Felix?” he said, looking toward his partner.
She meowed and then jumped off, landing on her feet with no injuries at all.
“Alright world,” Raithe muttered. “Let's see just how good these feline traits are.” placing a hand on the railing, he hopped over it and came down with a tiny thump. Dust clouds forming around his feet. Standing up, he turned to Gin who seemed to be inspecting the fountain.
“What do you think these are?” he asked, referring to the statues in the center.
“Not sure,” Raithe said. “I... umm... so look, I don't think we should stay here for much longer. The place makes me... nervous.”
“Of course it does,” Gin said. “Me too.” then he walked through the doorway at the other end.
Raithe sighed. “Come on Felix,” he said and followed right after.
Stepping through the door, he felt a chill and knew that both Gin and Felix had as well. Different from the ominous feeling before. This time, a bit more intense. The chill was so bad that several minutes had passed and still, Raithe didn't think he would be able to move. It was like sleep paralyses. He was fully awake, alert, but the messages his brain was sending to the rest of his body, telling his limbs to move, wasn't making it all the way.
In him, Raithe felt a panicked sensation taking hold. His heart beat faster, breathing heavier and he had to conciously focus in order to regain control. With one single, deep breath he was able to move again.
“I hope...” he said breathing hard. “That every room isn't like this.”
Gin said nothing, but stood up straight and began walking down a long hallway. This one was wider and there were no rooms. But on the walls were more murals... or tapestries which depicted past events.
Images of warriors clad in cloth armor, with daggers as weapons. Or twin swords, there were some with bows, spears and anything else that could be used do fight in whatever conflict had arose. There was a unicorn, not of the average variety though. This one was painted red, its mane, tail and horn were all black and it was rearing up over a black blob.
Beside the unicorn stood a man. The expression on his face hard and he was in a have crouch with his hands gripped around the hilts of two daggers. On of them was rather plain looking, except for maybe its curved edge and black color. The other had a golden hilt which was adorned with an array of different jewels and its blade gleamed in imaginary sunlight. As if it was made out of crystals. Raithe's eyes went wide.
From his satchel, he removed the dagger. It was careless of him to do so with Gin standing nearby, but he just had to see. He raised it up to the painting and compared the two. They looked almost identical, but with one difference. The one on the painting had an engraving of one of those fountain statue creatures, in the center of the hilt's guard. There was a small indent there... Raithe studied the hilt on his dagger for a moment.
“It's gone,” he said in a low voice.
“What's gone?” Gin asked, walking over.
Raithe looked up to see Gin's expression darken as the man's gaze fell on the dagger. He sighed and lifted it up, no sense in trying to hide it now. “This,” he pointed to the part where the fox creature had been. The part where there was now a circular, shallow hole and then he pointed to the tapestry.
Gin nodded, but then said in a flat monotone, “thought you said you didn't find anything else.”
He shuddered. Then shook his head and faced Gin squarely. “I don't trust you.”
“Hah! That makes two of us. Now let me see.” before Raithe could do anything to stop Gin, the man yanked the dagger out of his hands and studied it. “It is the same dagger,” he said. “But I don't know what the significance of that creature is.” he handed the dagger back.
Raithe took it, a little surprised. “I thought you'd...”
“Keep it?” Gin said. “Nah, don't need to. I am very much capable of finding my own treasure”
He scowled as he slipped it back into the satchel.
The three of them walked a few more steps, until the came to an enormous wooden door on one side and two sets of stairs on the other. The area around them also became round and much, much larger. Above was a lone chandelier, covered in layers and layers of dust. Felix walked passed them to stand at the top of the staircase, leading down.
Raithe glanced over at Gin who nodded and they began to descend.
That single staircase led them down at least six different floors, Raithe stopped counting after that. Eventually though, they stepped off onto what he could have only presumed, was the bottom. There were no more stairs leading down and the tunnel they entered was long on both sides and wide. Felix walked with a steady gait in one direction and they followed her, always nervously looking around.
After what seemed like hours, but was probably only minutes, they arrived at what appeared to be the entrance to some kind of jail... or prisoner chamber. There were several cells, which could have held, strong individuals and some of the most vicious criminals. On each wall there were thick chains nailed in, with shackles on the ends to put around wrists. Some larger cells had two sets of chains and shackles for both wrists and ankles, making it impossible for them to move at all.
Raithe whirled around to the sudden sound of one cell door opening. In the deafening silence, its squeak was ear splitting. Then he let out a sigh of relief and a glower which he was sure could melt stone.
“Oops, sorry,” Gin said. The smile on his face contradicted those words. He was not sorry in the slightest.
The sight of a half eaten corps – probably from that black goo, though it could have been something else entirely – made him cringe and look away. Gathering his breath though, Raithe steeled himself and entered behind Gin... Gin who was lifting the corpse and looking around it. He raised an eyebrow. “What are you hoping to find?”
Gin tuned around and flipped something in his direction.
Raithe caught it with both of his hands and then stared, amazed.
“Currency,” Gin said.
“Ah... good point,” Raithe replied and pocketed it. It was fine that he did because Gin pulled out a small, leather pouch from a crevice in the floor. It clinked as he set it down.
“Currency,” Gin reiterated and then opened the thing. A wide smile crossed his face then as he held up something for Raithe to see.
The silver medallion glinted in what little light was available. It was about the side of Gin's palm and had an image engraved on it. If it wasn't clear to them before, what the images on that tree were for, it sure was now. On the medallion was the image of a bat and it appeared to be the perfect size and shape, to fit into the hole where the bat was, on that tree.
“Heh... cool,” Raithe said. Growing from somewhere on the other side of their cell, somewhere in the chamber, brought his mind to a halt. Thinking of only what it could be. Raithe clutched his half staff tighter and set the torch in a sconce on one of the walls, preparing for the inevitable. Another fight.