Purgatory

When Raina falls to a death clouded with mystery and horror, one which not even The Elders can figure out, she is placed into Purgatory. As the mystery unveils, as well as the secrets of the place between Heaven and Hell, she learns that at every corner a sea of possibilities awaits. But will she be able to realise the correct ones, or will she stay in Purgatory for eternity?

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"So," he smiled, shooting a weak grin at me,"what did The Elders decide?"
I crumpled slightly. "They are tracking my every move whilst they try to find my...murderer," I whispered, shivering slightly.
 He nodded, if a little sadly. "So you're under lock and chain?" he summed up. 
"Pretty much." We both stared out into the cave.  Kai hummed to himself, as if contemplating something. I studied his facial features, to try and work out what he was feeling. It wasn't giving away any emotion whatsoever. "You can't read MY poker face, Raina!" he laughed. I pouted. "Look, I was just thinking, okay? Now let's get something to eat..."
 I rolled my eyes. "I'm not falling for THAT trick again," I said, pursing my lips. 
He laughed. "Anything you want to do?" 
I contemplated. "You know better than me what there is to do around here."
 Kai stroked his chin as if he had a beard. "I could take you on a tour," he offered. 
"Of what, the endless sands?" I replied, frowning slightly. 
He got up, and pulled me up by my wrists, being careful not to touch my hands. "There's more to Purgatory than what you see initially."
 We walked out of the cave, side by side. "Where to first?" I asked, scanning the horizon for something interesting to see. Kai picked up a rock, and held it out to me. I traced it with my fingertips. "It's a rock," I said, stating the obvious. He looked at me briefly then took the rock away from me. He proceeded to smash it against the cliff. Multi-coloured crystals dropped onto the sand, glittering in the faded sunlight, and glimmering against the dull granules of sand. 
"You see," he chortled. "Not everything is what it seems."
I smiled, my first proper one for a while.
 "What else is there?" I turned to Kai eagerly. 
"Follow me!" he called, walking to the left of the cave entrance. We walked a few paces until he stopped and crouched down next to a particularly grubby acre of sand. He gestured for me to come over. I cautiously turned over the sand before I sat on it, not knowing what was mixed in with sand to make it the sludge colour that it was, nor did I want to. It was golden sand underneath, what  sand should look like at its best. Kai beamed at me. "That's what I was going to show you."
I squealed a little bit in excitement. "Awesome!" Almost ecstatic at my enthusiasm, Kai picked me up and spun me around. "Kai?"
 "Yeah?"
"I'm getting a bit dizzy!"
"Oh!" He swiftly placed me on one of the ground again. He pressed his hand against my forehead. "Are you okay?" he said, looking worried. 
"I'm fine," I murmured, resting my head gently against his hand. His breath was close to my skin. Very, very close… 
"Boo!" he shouted, going into a fit of hysterics as I jumped in fright. 
"Kai!" I scolded. 
He shuffled back a bit, sheepishly. "Sorry. We don't want you going to sleep now." Suddenly, he elevated me up so I was slung on his shoulder. 
"Kai!" I screamed, as he ran across the coast with me, the sand underneath him as he ran hitting me promptly in the face. 
"The salt will help you feel better," he explained.  I realised where we were heading by that one clue.
 "No, don't drop me in…the..." My protests drowned in the water and bubbled to the top of the ocean. I bobbed to the surface, soaking wet. Kai was bobbing next to me, laughing yet again. I expected to be shivering once I was above the water, however it was the perfect temperature, somehow. 
"Another surprise?" he chuckled.
 "The chuck into the water or the temperature of the water?" I asked sarcastically. 
He simply grinned. "Come on!" Kai dove into the water. I sighed, and also dove in. 
Somehow,  I could talk clearly, it not being muffled like it was when I was a mortal. Also,  I could see without my eyes stinging."Where to now?" He was swimming to a dark area of the ocean. I tailed him. After a few ticks, he turned around, and grabbed my hand as we suddenly plunged into darkness. Then, I tasted copper in my mouth. It burned through my body. "Keep going," he hollered, letting go of my hand as a spark of light entered our vision. 
 Eventually we reached a circular door above us. Kai pulled on a latch, and it opened. He hoisted himself up, and pulled me up too. Before me was a temple, with coral coiled around its bricks and pillars. It was all turquoise, with hints of pale green from the seaweed entwined in the coral. There was a clear blue pool, with a waterfall trickling down into it.
 "Race you," Kai smirked, sprinting towards it. 
"But it's slippery!" I protested, choosing to instead walk to the pool. 
"What's the worst that could happen if you fall?" he asked. 
"I could break my head open," I yelled.
 "Raina..." he laughed again. I realised that once again, I'd been tricked. He perched himself on the edge right next to the waterfall. I sat down beside him. "Do you believe what I said now?" he smiled, "about there being more to this place than what meets the eye?"
"Of course! This place is actually not too bad," I said happily, splashing my feet against the pressure of the waterfall. 
"So you'll be slightly more content staying here whilst The Elders make their decision?" I nodded. "Even though they are tracking your every move?"
 I nodded again. "Besides, they can't find me here, in this underwater haven," I said gleefully. "Or at least, I feel safer here."
"So do I," Kai murmured, fear briefly crossing his face.
 "Especially now I've found you too," I said. I looked down quickly, embarrassed by my affectionate outburst, far too affectionate considering we met but a few hours ago. 
He bowed his head, his auburn hair covering his face ever so slightly. "I'm glad you're here too, Raina," he said, a grin spreading on his face. Kai then grasped my hand, lifting me up from the water we'd been paddling in. "I have one last thing to show you," Kai explained, leading me towards the end of the water temple. 
We reached yet another door, and Kai twisted the latch. Left, left, right, turn and press. It opened, the doors going into the walls. The first thing that caught my eye was an arch, with symbols engraved around the edges. It was carved out of limestone, and pearls embedded in between the strange signs, almost like spaces. The floor was made of a paler limestone, with faded scribbles drawn onto it with a chalk-like substance. The walls had the same features; only there were rectangles of various sizes imprinted onto the walls, the scrawls specifically on the shapes. I immediately went over to the arch, being careful not to scuff the etchings on the ground, in fear they were of importance. I was hoping to decipher them and the ones on the arch. Kai shook his head as I pressed against the cool stone, balancing on my tiptoes. "Give me a lift!" I shouted to him. 
He grabbed my waist, and lifted me. I tried again, but nothing happened. He then lowered me. "Raina, nothing is going to happen if you do that," he murmured, his outgoing personality disappearing again. 
I folded my arms. "Well, how do you do it then?"
Kai's face was once again washed with fear, and also sadness, as he tilted his head towards the ground. "I can't tell you," he sighed. 
"Why?" I cried, running my fingers through my hair, trying so hard to fling my hands at him. He was a great guy, but there was so much behind that mask of his that he put on. One look into his icy eyes told me that, whether he was happy or miserable, content or distraught. 
Kai gently lowered my arms, holding onto my wrists. He didn't let go as those eyes pierced through me. "Don't get so angry. That'll only alert The Elders where we are, as wrath..." he trailed off, withholding the information. He carried on with the original topic. "And I can't tell you because I'm under lock and key too. I already had to work it all out. This riddle is only the start."
"The start of what?"
 Kai's face completely darkened. "The trials."
Fear started to trickle through me. "The trials?" I breathed. 
"Look, I can't tell you too much. But I will try and give you as much information as I can for this puzzle." He headed over to the smallest rectangle, and jiggled it a bit. It slowly started to come out. I could see the sides if it were pages of a book. Eventually, it was released, and Kai placed it in my hands. He hoisted himself up to the gap, and settled himself on the edge. "That's all I can do," he said, rubbing his mouth. I nodded, appreciative he helped me at all.
 I opened the book carefully. Inside was a translation of the symbols to the Modern English Alphabet. Kai coughed. I glanced at him. He indicated his head towards a chip at the wall. He made a writing gesture with his hand. I used my feet to kick at the chip, and a large chunk of limestone came out. It sprinkled dust onto the floor. It was the substance that was on the floor originally. Slowly, I made my way towards the arch, and started flicking through the pages, writing down each letter translated onto the ground with the limestone, forming words. I made sure to add spaces in between, indicated by the pearls. When I reached the top of the arch, Kai jumped down from his perch, and called out the symbols to me as I translated them. "Swirl. Right-hand corner. Square." He leaned against the arch, keeping quiet, but keeping me company. 
After a while, a sentence was formed. I knelt down on the floor in front of them. "Write each word on the rectangles, in chronological order, smallest to largest." I read out loud. I proceeded to do so. As I wrote the last letter on the largest rectangle, the ground suddenly stared to move. Both Kai and I grabbed onto the left side of the arch, not caring too much that we were gripping hard onto each other’s hands. The remaining rectangles came crashing down. Behind each of them was brand new, clean clothing for both myself and Kai. The shaking stopped. I danced around the room. "We did it!" I beamed. Kai rushed over to me, and held onto my shoulders firmly, stopping me from moving. "Stop it," he hissed.
 I glared at him. "What's wrong with you? I'm happy, I'm p..."
He put his palm against my mouth, and quickly whispered into my ear "Being proud will fail the test". He pulled away swiftly. "That's all I can tell you."
"Okay," I accepted, not knowing why, but knowing his intentions were pure. I walked over to each rectangle, and collected the more masculine clothes. I then handed them over to him. "Thank you," I smiled thinly.
 "That's alright. Now, I'm going to get changed out of these rags," he chortled, heading out to the entrance of the temple.
I got changed myself in the corner of the chamber I was currently in, for privacy. I was now wearing a long white gin, with no sleeves. It was strapless. The shoes were a pale peach, matching the Alice band. I felt as though I was wearing a bridesmaid outfit.  "Are you ready?" Kai called. I headed out of the room. He was standing in front of me, clad in a light blue shirt, which I noticed accented his eyes, and cream trousers. His shoes were grey. We both locked eyes, and giggled. "What do we look like?" he tutted, walking closer to me. 
I tucked my fringe behind my ear. "It's like you're  the best man, and I'm the bridesmaid."
My eyebrows shot up. "I was thinking the same thing!" We both chuckled. 
"And these colours aren't exactly going to conceal the dirt from the main part of Purgatory," he clucked. He was right. As lovely as they were, they were very impractical. "What about when we swim back? The sea salt will ruin them!" I exclaimed. 
Kai suddenly took several steps backwards, and suddenly he started to fall. I clasped his hands, however I fell too. We both landed into the little pool with the waterfall. "Thought we may as well start getting them grubby now," he smirked, leaning his head back against the edge. I did the same. "Mind you, I wouldn't mind not swimming back," he smiled, looking at the scene around us. "It'd be lovely to stay here forever."
I tucked my knees under my chin, floating steadily in the water. "It would be," I quietly agreed, joining his eyes in admiring the view around us.

 

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