During the part of his sleep where dreams were supposed to occur, there was nothing. Just a black void which stretched on for eternity. The place where his mind lingered, floating around in a daze. The feeling it brought to him, was the pure definition of peace. A slumber so deep and enticing, that one wouldn't ever want to leave it. It was then, he felt the tug.
Truly he didn't know how else to explain it, other than a tug. The brand on his hand had healed, leaving a scar there and no longer burned. But he could still feel it, willing him to go in a certain direction. Right... he was supposed to.... Raithe opened his eyes.
Sunlight met them and he had to look away for a moment, to allow them to adjust. Then Raithe glanced around. He was in his sleeping tree, though he couldn't ever remember climbing back up there. On the branch above him, was Mika. The kid breathed softly with his eyes closed. His stomach moved up and down in a quiet rhythm and his arms, legs and tail were all hanging off the branch where he slept. Raithe smiled. Sometimes children could be little monsters, other times they could make people forget all of their troubles, with their cuteness.
A quiet growl below, brought his attention to Felix. She was sitting at the base of their tree, looking up at him and waiting patiently. Though he couldn't not see the end of her tail flick with annoyance. On the ground in front of her, lay his dagger.
“Sorry,” Raithe whispered. He slipped of his branch and landed on the ground, barely making a sound. He picked the dagger up and raised it to the sunlight. It's crystalline blade sparkled and its golden hilt glinted. “Let's go.” he slipped the weapon into his belt and started walking.
They returned to the tunnel, leading to the undercity beneath Galeron. His brand was pulling him there. Telling him to return to that man. There was a job that he was required to do and he wanted to do it. Raithe sighed. He wasn't sure why those feelings were coming to him, but it was strange. Shaking his head, Raithe pulled the pendant from beneath his shirt and dangled it. Hanging from the end of a silver and gold chain, was a blue gem of some kind. This was what would apparently, allow him to bring his friend down there.
“Alright Felix,” he said, turning to her. “Get in.”
If body language was anything to go by, he could tell that she was uncomfortable. Felix pressed both ears down and back up by a few steps. She let out a low growl of warning.
“I'm sorry, but this is the only way to bring you with me.”
She snorted. There was a moment where they only stared at each other, neither willing to give in to the other. Then she let out another snort and raised her ears, relaxing visibly as a blue, translucent smoke came off her form. Felix transformed into the gaseous substance and went into the gem.
He knew that she was trapped now and unless he physically released her, she would stay there. Raithe didn't like doing that sort of thing to a friend, but there was no other choice. He jumped into the tunnel.
Though the tunnels were like a labyrinth, the way through them was engraved into his mind. Not because of memory. It was, he was pretty sure, because of the brand in his skin. It pulled him through, led him through. He took not the path he had taken the previous day. Instead, the path taken was easier, there were no monsters and no traps to deal with. It wasn't long before Raithe was in the city, standing before a large building, with two arched doors in front of him.
He lifted the pendant and touched it gently with his thumb and forefinger. There was a moment where nothing happened. But then the blue, translucent mist, accumulated above it, swirling around. Then it streamed away, gathering on the ground and formed into Felix. In seconds, she was standing by his side.
She looked up at him and then sneezed. There was a lot of displeasure in her current mannerisms at having to have gone through that, but she would get over it in time. Felix stepped up beside Raithe as he pushed the doors open.
They were in an enormous room, the entry way. There was a red and brown patterned rug on the floor, round and huge. Placed in the center of the room and must have been about half the room's size. Above was a crystal chandelier with candles lit. He wondered how long they would take to light every morning. And straight ahead, were two rounded staircases leading to a balcony above. In between them, was another door, smaller than the first two, but about the same shape. That was where the tug was taking him.
Cautiously, he walked across the open space and Felix followed behind. Raithe placed a hand on the door handle and pushed it open. From where he stood, he could see the room inside was small. “Wait here, he told the panther.”
She didn't seem to like the idea, but Felix sat down anyway. Her eyes never left him as he stepped inside.
Raithe pushed the door closed with a quiet click and continued forward, to the large desk and the man sitting at it. Bookshelves lined the walls and books, scrolls, tapestries littered the floor. They were strewn about everywhere, including the desk. How could anyone work in this?
“I'm here,” he said. “What is it that you want me to do?”
The man glanced up at him. “Ah,” he said as if he had only just noticed Raithe's presence. “You're here. Let me tell you what it is that I want you to do.”
Raithe scowled at the man. “Maybe first, you should tell me your name.”
“Oh... did I not tell you?”
“No... you didn't.”
The man let out an exasperated sigh. “Alright, fine,” he said. “The name is Eigress Creed.”
“Thank you,” Raithe said with disdain. “Now tell me.”
“There is a place in the undercity that leads through a crypt. It's a dungeon with something at the end which I need.”
There was something about people who always chose to only give a small part of the information, which annoyed Raithe by... a lot. He gritted his teeth. “Where is it?” he asked. “You've told me what it is but not... where it is. And how will I know when I've found what you seek?”
Eigress said nothing for a long time. He just took a quill pen and started to scribble something out on parchment. Finally, he glanced up at Raithe again. “I shouldn't need to tell you,” he said. “As soon as you leave here, that brand will tell you where to go.”
“Yeah...” Raithe said. “About this brand...”
“You are... my minion now,” Eigress answered the unspoken question. “It will not allow you to disobey me and if you should ever, regain a sense of self again, the brand will reburn itself into your skin. For now though, it should be impossible for you to resist any of my commands, no matter what that command will be.” he paused for a moment, scratching his chin. “Don't worry though, you will still get paid. Better than the other thieves as well. Now go!” Eigress flicked his hand and a shooing gesture.
“Yes... sir...” he said and then turned around and walked to the door. Raithe opened it, stepped outside and then closed it with a gentle click. He leaned against the door, breathing hard. Those last words... though he hadn't intended to speak them, that was what had happened. Was that how the brand worked?
Felix meowed and then rubbed up against his leg, purring loudly.
“You're right. I shouldn't let this get me down.” Raithe stood up straight and followed the tugging of his brand. It guided him down the wide street which would have made up the downtown area, if the undercity was actually inhabited. But he saw no one. Were they all just hiding?
Some of the structures were tall and took up much wider areas, but there were many more, smaller buildings which made up the city. As they walked further down that single road however, they began to lesson, growing thinner until there were no buildings. The cavern wall came into view and it towered above everything else. Raithe was amazed by its sheer size and by the fact that this city shouldn't even have been possible. How was it holding itself up like that?
Raithe and Felix came to a stop in front of what appeared to be the entrance to a crypt. It was built directly into the wall, but that was not what had caught his attention. Leaning against the door, was little Mika. He had his arms crossed and a determined expression on his face.