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A wave of dizziness swept over him as he stood up and Raithe staggered a few steps backwards. A pair of strong hands caught him from behind. He stood up as straight as he was able and shook the dizziness away. Then Raithe paused, staring at the two.

Neither of them were wearing the white gowns which had been given to them. Instead, Sosuke was wearing clothes of a relatively soft fabric. Or rather, it appeared to be soft. The man also sported a leather vest, gloves and a pair of sandals. He carried no weapons however. Luna on the other hand, carried a staff at her side. Not a stick, it was an actual carved staff with symbols and glyphs carved into it. Her clothing consisted of long, white robes and a pair of well crafted boots.

“You... okay?” Sosuke asked when he didn't say anything.

“Yeah,” Raithe said. “Where did you get...?”

“Oh these?” Sosuke asked, lifting part of his vest.

Raithe nodded.

“It's surprising what you can find when you actually look,” Luna said with a cute, little wink. “Um... anyway, what did you mean by medallion?”

“It's... something I think we need in order to leave this place,” Raithe answered. “When we first entered The Tahni Halls, there was a door.”

Sosuke snapped his fingers suddenly, which caused Raithe to jump a little in surprise. “Oh that thing! Yeah, I remember seeing it. A large, round door with this big ass tree carved in the center.” he spread his arms out, trying to imitate its size. “I tried to open it but... the damned thing just would not budge.”

“Me too,” Raithe confirmed. “There are three branches on it that have round indents with images carved into them. We found medallions that seem to match them. The same size and shape, with the same etched image.”

Sosuke nodded.

“A-anyway, Gin and I have been searching all over for the others, but we only had two when we arrived at this platform.”

“Alright, so that means there are two left to find then?” Sosuke asked

Raithe shook his head. “No... Gin found a third one in the tree, but he's gone now. I think four. We have to look for him and then the last sigil.”

“Sigil?”

“Yeah,” Raithe said. “I think the name fits, don't you?”

“Hah! Yup, perfect thing to call them. Especially if they do have magical properties.”

“Well... I don't know about magic.”

Sosuke clapped him on the back and pointed toward the tree where Luna had gone to stand. “We should stop wasting time here. Pick up what ya need an' let's go!”

Raithe walked over to where his things had been scattered about. There really wasn't much left that he thought he would be able to use. The thin roll of cloth he had in order to wrap up wounds, was now wet and full of slime. The container which held his poultice, had been opened and some of it spilled out over the stone. He salvaged what he could of that. Picked up the flint and steel which would probably still work, if he cleaned it off in clean water and dried the thing. But the kindling he had was now all soaked as well. The swim they had earlier was probably to blame for that.

He went to the bag and rummaged through it, to see if there was anything left. There was only one item in it and he pulled it out. A small, leather pouch like the one Gin had found. This one however, had the image of what appeared to be two sparrows. One perched on a branch and the other in flight towards it. When he set it on the floor to have a look inside, it clinked.

“Whoa!” Sosuke said over his shoulder. “Nice find.”

Raithe nodded and slipped it into the satchel, along with his poultice and his flint and steel. The strap had been torn in two, but he was able to tie it tightly enough to where it would hold. Then he picked up the journal. The cover was soaked through, but when he opened it, he found the pages inside to be dry. “Interesting,” he muttered as he slipped it into the satchel with the other two items.

“Coming?” Luna asked impatiently.

He stood up straight, slipped the roughly repaired strap over his head and walked over to the big tree. Raithe paused beside Luna, looking at her for a long moment and within that time, no one moved. Finally he said, “I... I'm sorry.” he paused again. “H-how did you...?”

“Later,” she told him, reiterating Sosuke's point.

“Right,” Raithe turned his attention to the tree and follow her gaze to the top. It would be easy enough to climb, even for Felix. Though he hadn't noticed before, the tree which was planted in the center of the platform, grew in the direction of the tunnel. Whether it had grown that way naturally or by design, it was pretty cool. There were thick branches which could easily be used as handholds and footholds.

Luna reached up and over, grabbing the first branch. She pulled herself up and motioned for him to do the same. It was Felix who went next though, climbing up to where Luna was waiting and being careful of every step. Felix stopped beside Luna and looked back at him.

Raithe looked at Sosuke.

“You go first,” he said, gesturing toward the tunnel. “I'm not entirely confident that you're stable.”

“Stable?”

“Yeah... you know... like, that you won't collapse out of fatigue or exhaustion.”

With a sigh, he conceded the point and proceeded to climb. Reaching up, he took hold of the first branch. Even using his bare feet to help him get up there however, it had taken most of the strength he had left and he was forced to stop and rest. Sosuke and Luna were both patient as this happened at least three more times before they reached the top.

Near the top, the slanted tree had a much steeper incline, to where it was almost impossible for him to use his feet to get up there. When he struggled to lift himself up, Sosuke decided to go first and help him up from there. Reaching down from the branch above in order to grab Raithe's hands and pull him the rest of the way.

They were finally at the top. Sosuke walked into the tunnel and sat down.

“H... here?” Raithe asked breathlessly.

“Something tells me you should be a lot more athletic than this. I think... maybe it was that thing that attacked you?” Sosuke slapped the wet ground where he sat. “Maybe it would be best if we rest here,” he said. “You look like you haven't slept in days.”

“Can't sleep,” Raithe said. “We have to...”

“The door will still be there by the time you wake up,” he said. “From what you told me, Gin still has to find the fourth sigil before that door will open for him. We have time... right Luna?”

“Right,” she nodded seriously and sat down, leaning against the wall. “Go to sleep, we're well rested so don't worry too much.”

They were both right. Raithe had no idea how long he had been down here, but it felt as if he hadn't slept in several days. When he and Gin were in the one place that was safe, felt safe, Gin had refused to wait. “Alright,” he said and sat down. Felix came and positioned herself behind him and Raithe lay back, using her as a pillow.

“Raithe,” someone whispering in his ear. “Hey... wake up man.” that person shook his shoulder lightly.

Raithe groaned and then rolled over. Hadn't he just gone to sleep? Whomever that was, should just leave him alone. There was a low growl and then a nipping at his hair.

“Good girl!” came that same voice, sounding excited again.

The nipping moved to his neck and... “owe!” Raithe said as he snapped his eyes open and rolled away. “Felix, what was that for?”

Sosuke crouched down beside him, resting his arms over his legs, hands dangling. “Ya wouldn't wake,” he said.

“I wouldn't wake because maybe I had just fallen asleep,” Raithe reached up, rubbing his neck. He brought his hand down and saw a little bit of blood, but it wasn't serious.”

“No,” Sosuke said. “No you hadn't.”

Raithe stared back at him.

“You've been asleep for hours,” Luna said, coming over.

“Wait... I have?”

“Yeah. You were really tired.”

“We have to go,” Sosuke said and put a hand out.

Raithe took it, thankful for the extra support in getting to his feet. “I guess I was,” he said. “And yeah, for all we know, Gin might have found the fourth already.”

Sosuke nodded toward the other end of the tunnel which wasn't very far away. Light shone through, though not very brightly. The light was just enough for them to find their way around. “Up,” Sosuke said when they reached the end. “Until now, you've only been going down, but to get back to that door which I believe Gin might be headed to...”

“We have to go up,” Raithe finished. He glanced around the room, taking in every detail. There wasn't really that much. In fact, this one was a lot like the others he and Gin had gone through. Small, with four walls, a tunnel which probably led all the way around the structure and two flights of stairs.

Sosuke, Luna and Felix immediately went for the stairs leading up. “Come on,” Sosuke said. “I'll show you where we found our gear. Maybe there will be something for you there as well.”

Raithe smiled and walked confidently forward. The weariness he felt before was gone and now he was just determined to get out of this place.

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About the author

Maiz

Bio: An amateur writer who hopes to entertain you all, with my wondrous works of fantasy!

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