Over and over he rolled the object. Feeling the cold metal against his skin, the roundness. How smooth its edges were, how careful the craftsman who made this was. To sand it down so perfectly, so that not even a single shard of it would enter the handler's skin. And then there was the engraving etched onto the flat surface of this medallion, the white fox.
Of course he knew it wasn't really a fox, there were just too many differences. There were also too many similarities. The creature etched into the flat portion, most resembled those adorable animals in... personality. So Raithe chose to call it a fox, over any other living thing that could be found in nature. Engraved above its head were the words, Dreams that come true can be crushed. What did that even mean?
He sighed and slipped it into his satchel.
“Another one of these?” Gin asked, holding up the one he had found.
“Yeah,” Raithe answered, though his voice sounded distant as he glanced around the room.
Nothing peculiar stood out to him. It was one big empty space. Like the rest of the structure, the walls and ceiling were all made of stone. A flight of stairs to the left, led to one floor above them and there was a tunnel on the other end. Beside the tunnel, a flight of stairs down. Listening, he could hear the sound of trickling water. Water flowing beneath them. Perhaps this was a maintenance passage for sewer?
“Which way?” Gin asked in his calm, calculating voice.
“Why don't you choose? I mean... you have been up until this point anyway. Why stop leading us now?”
“Because it's getting more dangerous. If we die, I don't want to be blamed for it.”
“Of course,” Raithe sighed out the words. “This way then.” he nodded toward the stairs leading down.
“Are you sure?”
“We've been going down and have had a little success, so why stop doing what is obviously working?” it wasn't that he was copying what Gin had already decided to do. Raithe just had a feeling deep down, that this was the way they had to go. He knew in his head too, that they needed to find the other Sigils and there were four of them hidden in this dark, scary place and that to find them, was also to find freedom.
“Alright then,” Gin said. “Leaders first.” he looked at Raithe, a wry grin forming on his face.
Raithe rolled his eyes, but went ahead. Their torch had gone out after entering the previous hall, in a sudden flicker. As if it were a candle being snuffed out by wind. Even without it though, Raithe could still see. After exiting that hall into this room, all of the shadows around them faded. A light shone on them from somewhere unseen. It wasn't very bright and added only a dim grayness to what his eyes could perceive, but it was enough.
He took his first step down, then another. As he left that room, he felt as if a veil had dropped behind him. Felix had tensed up too. The muscles on her back had hardened, she must have felt it as well. A loud bang behind them, caused him to look up with alarm and Raithe turned around. They were nearly half way down, but he darted up anyway to... a doorway which was still open.
On the last step he meant to put his foot through the opening, entering that room. It slammed into an invisible wall and he nearly fell backwards. Gin's hand caught him, preventing him from doing so.
“Oh what a shame,” Gin said mockingly. “And you were so sure this was the right way to go.”
Lifting a hand, he felt the area where there should have been no barrier. It was like touching glass. The only difference was that there was nothing there. His hand flattened against it. “I'm still pretty sure that this is the way we have to go but... this... this is just strange.”
“And you think the other things we've seen here aren't?”
He shook his head. “No, you're right.” Raithe sighed again and turned around, this time descending the stairs all the way.
When they touched down, they came out into a long and wide tunnel and Raithe knew then that he had been right. Not only was the tunnel long and wide, in the center there was a canal. Water flowed down it in a smooth stream, steady and above them, there were many smaller tunnels which were aimed directly above or in line with the canal. They were just large enough for a small child to fit through. This was an ancient sewage system.
Gin stepped up beside him and glanced in both directions. He looked confused. “Which way now?” he asked.
“Uh... let's see...” Raithe said and did the same.
Just like the room above, there was nothing in the tunnel that stood out. It didn't matter which direction they went, because both ways appeared to be identical. Felix sniffled, nudging the satchel Raithe kept at his side. He stared at her.
“I think she is trying to tell you something,” Gin said, interrupting the silence.
He nodded and opened the satchel. Felix then sat on her hind quarters and ripped it off him. All its contents scatter everywhere on the floor. “Felix!” Raithe said more with annoyance than anger and knelt down, gathering some of the items and returning them to their place.
Before Raithe had a chance to reach out for it, the panther took hold of the silver white fox medallion he had found and scampered a little ways down. She sat and waiting.
“Look, your cat settled it for us, we go this way” Gin said and went to stand beside Felix.
Once he had retrieved the items on the floor, Raithe stood up, walked over to Felix and took hold of the medallion she still held in her mouth. He tugged, but she was reluctant to let go. “Felix,” he said sternly.
She growled at him in response.
Another growl, this time more fierce.
“Give it,” Raithe said, furrowing his brow and raising his voice. Finally she opened her mouth and he took it. “Thank you.”
She grunted indignantly and stood up.
“Yeah yeah,” Raithe said. He took two steps forward and dropped the medallion, jumping back in surprise. The thing had gone hot. Raising a the hand which had held it, Raithe could see a white, circle mark surrounding a large red dot where the medallion had been. In the center of the dot, an outline of that fox. He was sure it would vanish within a few hours... but still. Why had it? He gave Felix an accusatory glance. “Do you know anything about this?”
She snorted and looked away.
“You do!” Raithe said, gasping to sound surprised. He bent over and very carefully, picked it up again. It was cool to the touch like before but... there was something different now. Raithe could feel a tugging. It wasn't instinct. He didn't really know how to explain it, other than a need to go in a specific direction. Glancing up, he noticed too that the grayness had lightening and he could see more color.
The tunnel was still mostly grey, being made with stone, but he could see that the color of the water was now green. And the colors on their clothing seemed to be more vibrant than before. Footfalls behind them caused him to jerk his head in that direction. He tilted his head and moved his ears around so that he could listen. It sounded almost like... two... three sets of footfalls. They crashed down like drumbeats with a sound that reverberated through the entire tunnel.
“What is it?” Gin asked.
Raithe put a finger to his mouth and pulled Gin further down the tunnel and into an adjacent one. Felix followed and they all remained quiet. Listening. Closer... closer.
“Hurry! This way!”
The sound of her voice caused him to jump as the girl ran passed him. She hadn't noticed them standing there.
“Oh I'm such an idiot,” Raithe said, palming his forehead. He put his hand down and watched as the girl beckoned the three who had been walking up behind them, into the adjacent tunnel. His eyes followed them as they entered and proceeded through it, vanishing on the other side.
“You don't have to tell me,” Gin replied.
Raithe glared at him. “I mean... I was running from a memory.”
“Memory? You mean, like before?”
“Yeah. You... didn't see it?”
“No... sorry. The stale air must be getting to you or something.”
That was a memory and it did seem real. Vivid, like he was there and apart of what was happening. The feeling of being there vanished though, with those figures. Now all that was left was a longing. A tugging pulling him in that direction.
“This way,” Raithe said. He started walking and his two companions as strange as they were, followed him.
Turning left through a rectangular doorway, brought them into another small room. They all stopped and stared at the interior. There were a few shelving units on their left with what appeared to be supplies for cleaning. Brooms, mops, chemicals. But they were all worn down and full of either rust or mold. Those were not what caught their attention however. Right across the room from them, was an enormous hole. A hole in the wall not unlike what that snake creature had created in the previous vision.
“I think... this might be the right way,” Gin said. “You go first.”
That guy was a coward. An absolute... sniveling... egotistical.. narcissistic... Raithe shook his head, removing those thoughts. Now was not the time to get frustrated. He only had Gin and Felix to work with so... Raithe stepped over the rubble and through the giant hole in the wall.