His hand closed around the dagger's hilt and immediately he felt heat, emanating off of it. Hot like burning embers, but it did not burn his skin. The dagger became brighter and brighter, until it leveled off and the energy dropped. The glow began to fade into a low glimmer. Raithe held it away from him, confused. What had just happened?
“The fourth sigil?” he asked. “Is this some kind of joke?”
Gin raise his hands, palms up in a questioning shrug. “Joke? Nah,” he said. “Well actually... maybe.”
“So... maybe a joke?” Raithe asked. He wasn't sure what this guy was going on about. Standing there with a smug expression, smiling, looking as if he knew a lot more than what he was letting on. Perhaps he did, that didn't excuse his arrogance and narcissism. Not to mention the fact that he was still here. If this guy was just trying to survive as he claimed to be, why hadn't he left yet? Raithe narrowed his eyes. “Why are you still here?”
“Because I came to realize,” Gin said pointing a thumb behind him at the door. “I don't know what is on the other side and I've a feeling that it might be something big.”
“So this fourth sigil,” Sosuke said, clapping a hand on Raithe's shoulder. “Where is it?”
“Yeah,” Luna walked up beside them, clutching her staff tight between her arms. “We... can't go through there unless we have it so...”
Felix approached Gin menacingly, growling, causing him to back away until he was flat, up against the door.
“Listen listen,” he said.“You should learn how to observe.”
“Stop playing games,” Raithe said, annoyed.
Gin rolled his eyes. “Oh fine,” he said. “Bring it here and lift it to the last branch.”
Raithe did as Gin suggested and lifted it. Again the dagger glowed. This time was different however. It's blade morphed, curving in on itself and it felt as if the whole thing was beginning to melt within his hand. Still holding his hand raised toward the branch, he turned it palm up and open. It was then that the dagger's golden, jeweled hilt, began to change. Morphing, melting toward its crystalline blade. It changed around the small indent between the guards, becoming the exact shape and size it needed to be in order to fit within the door. In order to become a key.
His eyes went wide as the image in the dagger's center, changed as well. It morphed from the white fox, into a black one with red eyes. A sinister expression on the creature's face and soon, what he was holding, was no longer a dagger. It was a medallion like the others they had found. Raithe hesitated a moment, looking at Gin.
Gin motioned toward the circular indent in the door. “Well? Put it in.”
“We can't trust you,” Raithe said.
“Well that's obvious!” Gin said. “Now insert it.”
“Alright fine... but just to be clear... we don't trust you.”
Raithe nodded his head affirmatively and raised his hand. Before he had a chance to even bring it close to the door, there was a magnetic pull and it flew out of his fingers. The sigil stuck fast within the indent and held. There was a long moment when nothing happened. Raithe was about to turn to Gin and berate him for being a dumbass, when a low rumbling shook the room.
It felt like the tremor of a minor earth quake, but caused no damage to the structure. Raithe glanced up and watched in amazement, as all four of the sigils began to sink into the stone. The sigils melted through the stone and appeared to pop out, through the other side. Standing on his toes, Raithe could see through them. Another moment of nothing.
This time the rumbling was more like a really big earthquake, the kind that could topple cities. Felix crouched down low with Sosuke following her example, but Raithe, Gin and Luna all fell over. As the door opened, it shook the room. Pillars fell and so did parts of the ceiling. Tiny bits of glass sprayed down upon them. They covered their heads, protecting themselves from the onslaught of falling debris.
The shaking stopped and everything went quiet.
Carefully, cautiously, Raithe removed his hands and glanced up, into the now open room. The others followed suit and slowly rose to their feet. “Is this it?” Raithe asked in a near whisper. “This is the way out?”
Felix let out a low something that was in between a growl and a purr.
Sosuke stared ahead wide eyed.
“This could be the exit,” Luna said, though she sounded unsure. “But maybe... I mean... it feels like there is something else.”
Raithe stepped inside and he could feel a veil go up. This was different from those other times, this veil did not make him feel safe. Rather, it seemed to reveal to him hidden things. Objects he couldn't see before, the great size of this room and obstacles within it. Ledges to climb up, wooden beams placed across the room above him and in the center a giant tree.
Like the others, it was also a willow. It grew tall however. Tall and straight. The willow had a canopy with many long branches and tiny leaves hanging. It was perfectly healthy. From a skylight above it, sunrays entered the room, creating an ambient glow.
He scanned the rest of the room, taking in every last detail. A staircase on the far end, the statue of a really large snake placed beside it. There was a small hole in the wall, but it didn't seem to lead anywhere. He glanced behind his shoulder to see that his friends and... Gin, they had all vanished. That was odd. Where had they gone?
A quiet hissing sound caused Raithe to look forward again. He moved his eyes around the room, looking for where it might be. They finally fell back on the statue. Those yellow eyes stared back at him and suddenly he felt very, very tired. His eyes were like lead, but for some reason he couldn't close them. The statue moved, mesmerizing and his eyes moved with it in a hypnotic trance. Suddenly, nothing else mattered to him. He had to watch those yellow eyes, around and around.
There was something inside of him that was like a warning signal. Move, run, this isn't right! He ignored it. No, this was right. He could finally fall into a peaceful slumber and get away from this terrible place. Escape it. Those eyes continued to stare.
Somehow, the statue seemed a little bit closer. Right in front of him. Raithe continued to stare. Pulling his eyes away now, was just impossible. The statue hissed some more. He saw the flicker of a tongue, but paid it no mind. The statue opened its wide mouth, showing fangs. Raithe didn't care. Sosuke slammed into it and it hissed some more, angry at the interference. The spell was broken.
Raithe staggered back a step and ripped his eyes away.
“Move you fool!” Sosuke shouted as he landed on his feet near to where Raithe was standing.
The enormous snake lunged.
He blinked. Raithe wasn't quite sure what had happened, but he was glad for Sosuke's interruption. As the great creature came down on him, he dropped into a roll. Raithe came up again, facing the doorway. Luna was standing just on the inside, holding her staff tightly with both hands, she looked ready for a fight.
Felix bounded through the veil next and Raithe had to blink. The veil, it did hide things from them. She then trotted up to him and he gave her a scratch behind the ears.
Gin sauntered in next, hands behind his head, staring at the snake. “Well isn't this great,” he said with a hint of sarcasm. The smile he had on his face, faded and was promptly replaced with a frown. “We have to face up against a Basilisk.”
“B-basilisk?” Raithe asked.
“Yeah,” the man said. He seemed to have done away with his cocky attitude and had adopted a much more serious nature. Gin opened his eyes fully, staring at the enormous snake as it shook off the hurt it had obtained after crashing into the stone floor. “Just don't look in its eyes... though you probably know that already.”
Raithe nodded, though he was only half paying attention. Strewn about on the floor where the four sigils would have fallen, were three weapons. The dagger, Raithe figured that would be there. But there was also a staff and two identical swords. He figured those would probably be duel weapons. So where was the fourth?
His eyes moved to where Sosuke was slowly backing away from the Basilisk. On his hands, he wore a pair of red, fingerless gloves which had little, metal strips over the knuckles. Was that a weapon? Raithe figured that it must be.
The basilisk let out a loud hiss and then lowered itself to the ground. It slithered, charging toward them.
Raithe jumped back a step and motioned Felix to flank it on one side. She lept away. Then he dropped into a roll again, coming up to where the weapons are. “Luna!” he called, taking up the staff. She glanced in his direction and then he threw it.
Luna reacted quickly by dropping her previous staff and reaching up, she managed to catch the new one. The girl nodded her appreciation and then darted off in one direction, around the snake.
Next Raithe picked up one of the duel blades. “Gin!” he shouted, though maybe a little more harshly than he would have liked.
Gin looked over.
Raithe threw them to him, one at a time and the man was able to snatch them by their hilts, out of the air, with ease. He reached down for the dagger but hesitated. The weapon was glowing again, that bright, fluorescent blue. Instead of becoming smaller, this time it became longer. Stretching out, the haft becoming round and a point forming on one end of the weapon. By the time the glow faded, he was staring at a spear.
“Raithe!” Sosuke called. He slammed his fist into the Basilisk's face again, slamming it to the ground with a big crash. “Hurry it up! We need ya!”
Reaching down, he grabbed the newly formed spear and stood up straight. The other one he had found in that armory room, Raithe leaned neatly against the wall and then he turned, to face their foe.
The basilisk slithered across the room as Luna aimed at the creature, fireballs coming out of the end of her staff, hitting the stone and puffing out in small, red clouds of smoke. Her aim was actually terrible. Against something so big, Raithe didn't think that was even possible. Unless it was intentional.
Gin jumped over it, bringing both blades down, slicing through... the basilisk's hid was too thick. One bounced off, while the other became stuck. Gin had to push off with one foot and pull with both hands in order to free the weapon. It exited with a hefty jerk and Gin cam tumbling toward the ground. He managed to land in a crouch with one hand on the ground, sliding backwards.
Now it was his turn. Raithe charged towards it, spear in hand.
The basilisk slithered towards him, eyes open, a waiting trap.
Raithe lept and flipped his spear so that its tip would enter what would be the creature's neck. He hit... and bounced off. Raithe landed in a similar fashion to how Gin had. “You're... a tough one.”
“Course he is,” Gin said irritated. “He's supposed to be the last test.”
“Up to me then, if your pitiful weapons can't handle him,” Sosuke said and charged forward. The basilisk moved to bite, to coil around him, but Sosuke lept over its coil, hit the ground with one foot and lept into the air. He slammed his fist into the creature's face once again.
The snake which was now showing signs of real anger at not being able to get a good, decent meal, hissed. Then with one sweep of its long tail, Sosuke went flying backwards and hit the base of that willow tree.
“Owe...” he said, standing up and rubbing his head.
“Our weapons are useless against this thing,” Raithe said.
“Fire doesn't seem to even work,” Luna said as she faced the creature. Whoomp... whoomp... whoomp, went the sound of three more balls of fire as they emerged from the end of her staff. Two of them hit the basilisk, but it recovered seconds later.
Felix bolted towards it this time. She lept onto its back, clinging with both her teeth and claws as the basilisk swung her about.
“Hmmm,” Gin said as he stood by the tree watching it. “It is clear that with the tools we have right now, killing this basilisk is impossible. So how are we to complete this... challenge I wonder.”
Raithe eyed the tunnel. “I don't think that... we're supposed to.”
“Oh?” Gin asked. “We're supposed to die here then?”
Raithe scowled at him. “That's not what I meant.”
“He means,” Sosuke said as he stepped up beside them. “That we're not supposed to kill it.”
Just then, the basilisk threw Felix off of its back and slithered right towards them. Sosuke put out his hands and caught the giant snake's head, before it could do any real damage. Though he still stood firm, the force of the snake pushed him back by a couple feet.
While Sosuke was busy wrangling the basilisk, Raithe scanned the room one last time. There had to be something in there that was meant for –
“Over here!” Luna called.
Raithe glanced over to her and she was jumping up and down, pointing at something. He looked up. Oh... that thing. He was looking at one of the oldest, most obvious traps in existence. A net full of debris which could bury the creature. His gaze immediately went from that, to looking for a way to get up there. It was too high for him to jump, even with air hop.
There was the tree... those beams...
“Got it!” Raithe said as he dashed toward the willow. “Keep him distracted!”
“Will do... my best,” Sosuke said in a strained voice as Raithe ran passed.
“Gin, you're bait!”
Gin blinked and then stared at Raithe as if he were crazy. “I'm... what?”
“Bait,” Raithe reiterated. Then with a few swift movements, he air hopped to the first branch, then another and then the first beam. He ran across the beam and lept with ease, onto the net. “Now!” he called.
With all his strength, Sosuke threw the basilisk to the side and it slammed into the ground. Before it could fully recover, Gin lept onto its head, slashed it twice and lept off, landing on the ground in front of it.
“Snakey snakey!” he said, waving his swords above his head.
The basilisk hissed at him and then charged.
Gin rolled out of the way and immediately made a B-line for the debris net. It followed him. As Gin ran under the net, Raithe sliced the ropes. Half of the net fell free, letting loose a lot of heavy stone. It all fell on the Basilisk, pinning it to the ground.
Raithe hopped off the net, landing on the ground. He made a show of dusting his hands off. “There,” he said. “Now we can complete the challenge.”
“Um... but where do we go?” Luna asked. “Up the stairs?”
Raithe shook his head and then pointed to the hole in the wall. The hole where a door had suddenly appeared. “That is out exit.”
“How odd,” Gin said. “It wasn't there before.”
Raithe smirked. “Maybe you just weren't observant enough,” he let that word hang in the air, before he walked towards the door. He placed his hand on it and its circular form, slid open.