Skylight

Newly fully-fledged warrior Sky has passed her last test in the Training Grounds and can set off on her journey to find the the legendary cursed blade Crucifix with childhood and best friend Blane Nobel. As Sky travels around the world and meets so many people while looking for Crucifix, her journey becomes much more personal and complex than she ever would have imagined.

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5. The Cavern

Leah takes us back into the forest and it's all too familiar with the route we're taking. It's pitch black out here so we only have a few lanterns to help us along the way.

“We researched more about you two. Blane Nobel and Sky doesn't have a last name apparently. You both come from Altar. There isn't much to say about you two together as all we heard about is you two making a scene in Mizar and that you were in the Training Grounds. We met someone you knew not too long ago.”

“Vincent?” I guess.

Leah nods her head in confirmation. Leah decided to let him through and I wonder why but I'm also wondering where Vincent is now. He could be even further in finding Crucifix than me. Although these people clearly don't want sword-bearers to go into the cavern. So how did he manage to?

“Who's we?” Blane presses.

“The others who reside in the forest.” Leah answers.

“The bandits.” I realise.

“They aren't bandits. They help to protect this area from intruders. I heard about you two because of them. I was going to give you a warning to leave town before they decided to attacked you again but when they learnt about Sky, they decided to call it off.”

Blane and I glance at each other feeling a shared confusion about what makes me so special that they decided to let us live. My reputation may have made some waves but it isn't strong enough to be intimidating.

“Why me?” I ask.

“We have a theory about you. We want to know if it's true.”

“What's the theory?”

Leah doesn't say anything meaning she wants a confirmation if it's true before she tells me what it is. What could she want with me?

“So what exactly do you want with us?” Blane questions.

“I just told you.”

“No, you told me why you're interested in Sky. Why am I here?”

“Honestly we think that you have a role to play if the theory is true. You two are close friends, aren't you?”

“Yeah and that means what for my part in this?”

“I'll tell you more later maybe.”

 

We reach their base later and the others apart from Leah can't take their eyes off us. They're ready to strike us at any moment. If things go wrong then we might have our work cut out for us. This camp is quite simple with just a couple of tents and the wooden towers for look-outs.

“So where is the cavern?” I ask.

“Behind us. I'll be honest with you now we're here. I heard that you two are looking for Crucifix.” Leah starts.

I don't know who these people really are but it doesn't seem like a good idea to lie to her so we might as well be completely honest. I give Blane a look so he knows that he can be as honest as he wants.

“Sky is the one looking and I'm just a hitcher. Not that I'm complaining.” Blane mentions.

“All I'm saying is that you're looking for it which gives me a reason to let everyone here stop you in the way they are experts at.”

I put my hand on the hilt of my blade ready to take it out if this is going the way I think it is.

Leah puts her hand on my arm in a firm but gentle way not wanting me to do anything here.

“Relax. I didn't bring you here to kill you.” Leah assures me.

I don't know what it is about Leah but for some reason, I believe her when every instinct should be telling me not to. I let my hand relax and go down which Leah appreciates.

“We want you to stop looking for Crucifix. It's easier that way.”

“For you?” I question.

“No for everyone in this world. Crucifix needs to be hidden from humanity. I hope you two realise that either now or one day soon.” Leah explains.

I know about the legends but I'm going to need more solid reasons to stop because there's not much that is known to be true about the cursed blade apart from how powerful it is. I want to see this blade for myself and besides it's a desire that doesn't want to die and it seems to be getting stronger whenever I feel like I'm getting closer to where it is.

“I'm going to need a better reason than that I'm afraid.” I sigh.

Leah moves her head down with a solemn look on her face and then she looks back up a us with a serious nature which makes me feel slightly unnerved.

“I thought as much. Head in the cavern. I'll wait for you at the end of the passage.”

Leah goes into the dark passageway with a simple lantern and we enter as well. The passage looks like it goes on forever but it's just a straight path so that makes things easier. We both take a step forward and this pillar rises from the ground blocking the entrance. I turn around too slow to try and stop it from sealing us in.

“Great.” I sigh sarcastically.

“Don't say anything just yet.” Blane warns

There's a massive rumble and we both place our hands against the rocky wall so we don't lose our balance. Where did that come from? Dust falls from top of the passageway and the rumble grows more and more intense. Blane points the lantern higher up when he notices it as well and there's another pillar moving down. My head turns quickly and see that pillars are still moving down. Blane and I start to sprint down the passage as the pillars pick up the pace and start going down faster as we start to run like it's responding to our speed. The pillar behind us echoing as they close the dark passage behind us but the last pillar is already halfway down when we get there so we jump through the little space we have as the massive echo seals us in the passage. The both of us are left out of breath trying to make sense of what just happened. We're stuck here!

“I knew it was too easy.” I gasp still tired.

My eyes flinch as I realise that there is a much stronger light and I know it isn't coming from the lantern as Blane dropped that when we jumped through to get to here. My eyes focus to the sudden brightness as I realise that this passage has torches burning brightly from the top of the area so lanterns aren't needed here anymore.

“Whoa.” I gasp in awe.

There are cave paintings all over this place. I'm guessing that this is what Leah wanted us to see down here. I place my hand against the painting of a red broadsword with a purple core in the centre of the hilt. That must be Crucifix! I haven't seen any actual sketchings or paintings of it before. A surge of energy seems to overtake me like I'm seeing the future right in front of me and as soon as I see it, I forget it.

“Weird.” I say quietly.

“What is it?” Blane asks concerned.

“I don't know. It's just...nothing.”

I shake my head trying to regain my senses. The other paintings show Crucifix being used in a battle against an army. No, it isn't a battle. It's a war! The legends are true then but this must have been centuries ago. If that's the case, what happened to it?

Where did it go? It couldn't have just vanished into thin air.

“Sky. You should look at this.” Blane calls.

I move next to Blane seeing more of the paintings depicting a warrior strong enough to be able to stop Crucifix. It was ages ago but if history has taught me anything, it's that it can repeat itself. If the legends are anything to go by, the person who stopped Crucifix the first time didn't manage to destroy or people would have given up looking for it unless it really is just a desire that burns too strong and in the end Crucifix is just a simple illusion desired by thousands all over the world.

“It was sealed away but not destroyed so people still look for it today.” I say. “Do you think that I've just spent so much effort chasing after something that might not be real after all?”

Blane gives me a look of sympathy not wanting me to think that I might have been wasting my time for the past two years. It's a possibility so I'm not going to ignore it.

“No you haven't.” Leah answers from behind me.

I turn around seeing Leah standing at the end of this area and she takes a deep sigh. I'm guessing that I'm going to hear a long story from her.

“From the paintings you can tell that there was a war involving Crucifix a long time ago. It drove humanity to the brink of destruction. The wielder of Crucifix turned mad with the power it had. A warrior rose from the ashes of this war you might say and managed to seal away Crucifix. Now the chance of Crucifix falling into the wrong hands is closer than ever.” Leah explains.

I guess that's the real reason why some sword-bearers are against the blade. The legends didn't say much of the war so I wasn't sure if it was true or not. This definitely makes me more interested in finding Crucifix but I may have to be more careful around it judging from what happened to the last person who wielded it.

“So you brought us here to make us aware of that?” Blane says.

“I did. I hope you are clever enough to know that losing your sanity isn't worth the price of power.” Leah confirms.

“Listen I get why you had to tell me. I have to be honest with you. I still want to find Crucifix.”

Leah sighs and shakes her head in disappointment. Leah is a good person and she just wants the best for the world which I respect and I do feel like I'm being selfish by doing this but it isn't going to stop me.

“I'm sorry but you still don't know what danger that cursed blade has. I can't let you pass through here.” Leah decides.

Blane and I look at each other with the same expression of disappointment that Leah just had on her face a few seconds ago. The wall blocking the entrance rises back up again like it's responding to Leah's answer on its accord as we walk out.

 

We arrived back at our room not too long after what Leah told us. I can't blame her for not letting us pass and I can't just challenge her because the numbers wouldn't be in my favour. She might still change her mind even though I know it isn't very likely.

“Well what do we do now? The cavern is the only passage leading the way we need to go and Leah won't let us through there.” Blane sighs still disappointed.

“There has to be another way.” I respond with little hope.

“You still want to find Crucifix after everything she just told you?”

Blane sounds rather amazed by my determination but I don't think it's impressed in a good way.

“Yeah. I knew the dangers when I chose to do this and nothing's changed. I'm not going to be stupid and ignore what she said to me.”

“Sky. I just don't want anything to happen to you.”

“It won't. I know what I'm doing.”

Blane sighs not sure if he believes that or not. I feel a sharp pain hit me but I have no idea where it's coming from. I clutch my heart as that's the source of it.

“Sky! Are you alright?” Blane asks concerned putting his arms around me.

“I don't know. Something's wrong.”

The pain goes quickly just as quick as it came. I don't know what it is but I know something is really wrong. I need to get back to the cavern.

 

That pain was definitely symbolic. We run back to the forest as I want to dismiss what I sensed as just a coincidence but I know otherwise. The entire camp has been torn apart and the dead bodies are all gathered around us like a circle. I can smell the blood and it's sickening. God, this is horrific beyond words. I can't look at it anymore. Who could have done this?

“I can't see Leah here.” Blane tells me.

Wait if she isn't here then she must be...

“In the cavern!” I realise.

 

The cavern itself has been torn apart. The paintings look like they've been ripped with a massive stroke running across the two walls so seeing the paintings is impossible now. Someone knew what they were doing when they came here. I shake my head wishing that I had been here to help them. My eyes look all around the area but then they focus when I see a body in the centre.

“Leah!” I shout running towards her.

I bend down next to her and see that she has been mortally stabbed in her chest. She's still breathing but she won't be for long. I close my eyes tightly knowing how horrific this is.

“Who did this?” Blane asks.

“He's looking for the blade. He's only got darkness in his heart.” Leah whispers weakly.

Leah coughs and blood comes out of her mouth. She hasn't got much longer before she dies. Her hand goes up to her neck and she strains as she pulls something off her neck. She puts it in my hand and I see that it's a pure blue triangular fragment.

“Go to Castor. They'll be able to help you further.”

I nod my head knowing that I had to do that for her. Blane knows it too but I don't think he'll be any happier knowing that we still have a lot further to go before this is even close to over.

“We were right.” Leah says as her final sentence.

Leah's eyes close entering death. I sigh deeply and get back on my feet. I put the fragment around my neck and it glows suddenly and then turns from pure blue to a dark red like blood. I put my hand on it feeling a strange surge.

“Are you okay?” Blane asks.

“Not really.”

Blane is just as distressed about this as I am but he knows as well as me that we have to leave. I just wish that whoever did this will get their comeuppance someday whether it's by me or someone else.

“Come on. We should get some rest before we set off. It's going to be a long day tomorrow.”

 

It's not like I can even sleep anyway. All I can think about is Leah dying right in front of me. It flashes in my mind constantly. I'm a warrior and I know that death is something that I might see more than I want to but it doesn't make it any easier for me to deal with.

Blane is trying to sleep in the bed next to mine but he's not having much success like me. I'll never be able to sleep tonight after what has happened.

“Sky, you have to sleep.” Blane tells me.

“Leah. I'm used to death having a reason but with her, I don't know what it was. There isn't one that I can think of.” I continue.

Blane sits up in his bed while still looking like he's about to fall asleep but not because of me even though I feel like I've been talking about this all night.

“There was a reason. Whoever did it was sending a message.” Blane replies.

“And it was understood loud and clear.”

“So what do you want to do then?”

“I'll keep on going. I have to do.”

Blane sighs and falls back onto his pillow with his eyes closed so he can try to get at least a few hours sleep before we set off for Castor. I don't think he has the energy to make any form of argument.

“Go to sleep. We can work things out tomorrow.”

I lie down on my pillow and take a short sigh and then close my eyes hoping that I even get an hour of sleep after everything that has happened in just one day. This is unbelievable.

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