Bellum Potestas

In a small galaxy far, far away, two young heroes fight gallantly their way through the darkest dangers and highest threats to beat the clock and save all before a disasterous bomb goes off. Will they make it there in time, or does their story come to an ominous end?


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10. The Nightmare Maze - Adwr


~ Chapter Nine ~

The maze wasn't what someone will usually expect a maze to look like. People hear "maze" and think a bunch of paths separated by walls that are made of hedges. But these were made of steel. Steel ground. Steel walls.

     "We should probably stick together," I suggested.

     "Yeah," Grazyna agreed.

     The maze started with a single pathway that we walked down for a little bit until it expanded into this great big maze. But the stupid thing, the thing that made an entire maze pretty much pointless, was that it was a straight shoot to the garden where the Oracle was. The maze was surrounding the two of us, but there was path that lead straight to the hearts of Oraks.

     "Weird."

     Grazyna said something that I didn't hear. I had been distracted with the odd arrangement of the metal maze.

     "Huh?" I asked.

     "I said, 'What's that?' " She pointed at a sign on the steel wall a few feet away.

     "I don't know, but it's on this side too."

     "I'm going to see what it says."

     Grazyna walked over to the one she saw, and I did the same towards my own. I readjusted my glasses, so I could read the writing better.

     "I can't read it," Grazyna said.

     "Of course not. It's in Lichsnoffian. I think I can read it, though," I replied, studying it. When at last I could read it, I realized our mistake. "Grazyna! Over here, quick! It's a trap!"

     Grazyna turned towards me, and just when she was about to run, a thick steel wall raised from the ground where we were standing just moments before. The "pathway" that lead straight to Oraks was simply the wall unraised.

     I dashed to the steel wall, pounding on it, as though it would actually help. Inn addition to banging the barrier that separated us, I was also screaming, "Grazyna! Grazyna, can you hear me?" at the top of my lungs. I sank down to my knees as I was trying to get to her.

     "Adwr?" I heard Grazyna's voice and realized that it was just coming from the Com-De that was strapped to my wrist, as well as her own.

     "Grazyna! I'm here. Are you okay?"

     "Yeah, I'm fine. You?"

     "Fine."

     "I guess we should just keep going. We can use the Com-Dees to talk."

     "Alright. I guess I'll see you in Oraks."

     I stood up, brushing myself off. And then, once I grabbed my stuff that I had dropped in front of the evil sign, I gave a cold look at it and walked off, traveling through the maze, trying desperately to forget what the sign said. But I failed.

     The words stayed etched in my brain:

 

Traveling with friends, it's a great thing to do.

But getting separated could cause an issue.

Anything can happen when traveling alone.

But there is one thing that is very well known.

You caused this mess, bringing her in with you,

And her horrible fate is on you, too.

 

***

     The maze was difficult, with many intricate details. There were many dead ends, all of which were just another marking of my failure. I wondered how horrible it was for Grazyna, who I was beginning to fear for. The sign was a pretty perfect fit our current situation. The fact the sign knew my friend was female. How it knew I pulled her in to this terrible mission, and how it knew I was worried she would get herself killed.

     My fears were slowly coming out to get me.

     After hitting the tenth dead end in the past six minutes, I was really getting agitated. I looked up and caught a glimpse of my hair, which was orange, showing just how annoyed I was getting. I pulled myself together. Don't lose it, I thought. You cannot lose it.

     I turned to the right out of the dead end, and straight smack-dab into another. Groaning, I spun around on my heel, ready to try a new way to get out - how does jumping over a twenty foot wall sound? - when I had my first encounter with the Creature. The thing Zarcra had warned us about. The one that knew your fears. Thinking twice, perhaps the signs were the actual first encounter, but it doesn't matter either way. The point is that it was there. I didn't see it's original form, but I do know that I was suddenly surrounded by sredips. I can't really describe them other than saying this. They're creepy little demon insects that have eight legs. The , personal opinion, best way to rid of the little beasts is to burn them, but at the moment, I didn't have matches. What a shame.

     I pressed my body against the wall and scooting past the creepy-crawlies. As soon as I was in the clear, I ran away from them.

     Sredips are the one thing that really scares me. I know I'm scared of everything the light of the highstar touches, and probably a few things that that don't. But sredips are amongst the top of the list I call, "Nightmare Fuel."

***

     I had been continuing around through the maze for a while, trying to avoid the Creature, when I came across a room. It had originally looked like a dead end, but then I noticed a door. Like it... appeared out of nowhere.

     The Creature...

     I placed my hand on the doorknob. I knew I shouldn't, but I couldn't help it. It was like I wasn't in control of myself. Or maybe I was just curious to see what other fear the Creature had uncovered in my mind.

     I twisted the knob, and pushed the door open, closing my eyes, slightly not wanting to see it. I opened my eyes and gasp, sucking I enough air to blow up a thousand balloons. Hot air balloons.

     The sight before me? One I only saw once, but it was once too many.

     My Dad.

     Years before, on that dreaded first day of school when I had learned of my father's suicide, I had walked home, and Mom stopped me outside. She warned me to not go in the house. So naturally, I snuck in through the back. Mom was talking to a cop in the living room, and when she turned towards my direction, I went into the nearest room. Which just so happened to be Dad's study.

     The sight that I had seen then, the sight that I saw constantly in bad dreams, and the sight I was now staring at were all the same.

     Dad sitting in his favourite chair, surrounded by "Meg's hat," gripping the gun tightly in his right hand.

     I quickly shut the door, and walked off, trying to forget it. But once again, I failed.

***

After that, I saw the room several times again, and each time, I couldn't resist the urge to open it. Each time I saw the door, I opened it as if there would be a different scene lying behind it. But there never was. I kept expecting to find more sredips, but I didn't. Perhaps the Creature realized my Dad was more of a nightmare to me than the sredips.

     But soon, after what felt like hours and hours of turning turns and hitting dead ends, I came across a straight path that I assumed was close to the end. I took the path, which was pretty long.

     Eventually, I made it to the end. There was a little screen on the steel wall, with a keyboard near it. I stepped closer to it, translating the little screen,  when a steel wall rose behind me, closing me out from the maze. It was almost like I was in a closet; there wasn't much room to move, just enough for me and the screen and the keyboard. There was a door on the other side of me that was locked tight, so at least I knew it wasn't the Creature messing with me.

      I took a closer look at the screen, which was also written in Lichsnoffian. It wasn't easy. I had only had two years of Lichsnoffian class, and it was a very complicated language. One word could mean multiple in Marklarvian. I nearly had it, when I was distracted by Grazyna coming in through my Com-De.

     "Adwr?"
     "Yeah, What's wrong?" I asked.

     "The question. You know. The question at the end of the maze. I - I don't know it. I can't even understand it!"

     "Um, can you tell me what it says?"

     I could imagine Grazyna's hair turn orange, as she said, "No, fool! I just said I couldn't understand it!"

     "I mean read out the Lichsnoffian words." Grazyna didn't say anything in reply, so I continued, "Just sound out the words."

     "Okay. Um... Qu - Quan - d - do. Quando?" She was silent for a moment, before she said, "I think it says Quando. Yeah. Quando."

     Quando? I thought a second and said, "There is more, right? Because that's only 'When was the' "

     "Well, yeah. Duh. Quando Gemma Lichsnoff sit?"

     Quando Gemma Lichsnoff sit? "I am about ninety-nine-percent positive that says 'When was the Gem of Lichsnoff destroyed?' "

     "What? Only ninety-nine-percent?" she yelled. "What if you're wrong? What if it doesn't say  what you think it does?"

     "Then you'll die"

     "Well, at least you're honest, jerk face." Usually, I would have objected, but I knew she began insulting when she was stressed. "So what's the answer?"

     "You want me to cheat?"

     "Yep"

     I groaned. "The answer is The Battle of Elttab. It should take an answer in Marklarvian."

     "What did you say?"

     "The answer is The Battle of Elttab."

     "I can't hear you. All I hear is 'The answer is' Then you static out"

     "What? That's not possible! These are military grade Com-Dees! They can't static out"

     "Well, it did"

     I thought hard. How could I tell her the answer? I leaned back against the steel wall, concentrating.

     "Adwr?"

     "I'm still here"

     "Adwr, what am I going to do?" Her voice was laced with sorrow, which just made the situation worse.

     "I don't know," I told her.

     "You should go on without me."

     "What? No way!" I knew I couldn't enter Oraks without her. "Just think about it. I think I told you in the hover car before we got to Lichsnoff."

      "O - Okay. I'll try." I heard the keyboard click through the Com-De. I took the time to translate my question, which asked "What is the planet (located in the Aldente Nebula of the Andromeda Galaxy) that is famed for eating cats?"

     The only possible answer was Melmac. I tested out the door, which was unlocked. I didn't leave yet though. I kept the door closed, but I also left my hand rested on the doorknob.

     I heard Grazyna say, "Enter," as there was one final click. Suddenly, there was a large amount of static. I heard a whimper, that I realized came from me. I heard a thud out on the other side of the door, and I pushed it open.

     Sprawled out on the ground was Grazyna. I rushed to her side, getting on my knees, searching for a pulse. A ragged breath. Any sign of life.

     Nothing.

     Nothing!

     Tears spilt down my face. My fault. My fault. I must have translated it wrong. It must have said something else.

     She trusted me.

     I stood up, looking at her.

     Then, I heard the other door, the one that was directly beside the one I came from, where Grazyna was earlier, open. I looked, elated to see Grazyna. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of my hair change from blue to a pale yellow.

     "Sorry, the door got stuck," she explained, like I actually cared. The most important thing on my mind was that Grazyna was alive and that what I saw was just a final fright from the Creature.

     Not caring about how silly I looked, I ran up to her and hugged her, not wanting to let go of her, in fear I really would lose her.

     "Whoa! What is wrong with you?" she asked in surprise.

     "Nothing. I'm just glad you're okay."

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