Arc 1 – Lost
Ch. 9 – Hiding
The ceiling rumbled. Something attacked the cave from above.
Somehow, that thing found a way to the cave that covered the library. Maybe tunnels that led to the ceiling existed? I couldn’t know that, nor if the layer of pointy rocks and gems would keep us safe.
The wolves growled at the ceiling, only further stressing the situation. My shoulders hunched reflexively.
But in all honesty, why am I always the target? First, a lion Beast attacks me; second, I fall in this horrid, unknown death-trap; and finally, a Minotaur almost kills me!
My body aches, my knees are weak, and my stomach complains. I was so enticed by the library, that my belly had a false feeling of satisfaction. Why didn’t I search for the apples when I had the chance? Ugh!
My mind was also frail. The tiredness from my hunger and the sluggishness of bath-less nights finally reached my head. I was mentally defenseless, but planning and survival weren’t impossible.
Amidst that, I wavered; even if for a moment, it was just enough to…
I shrugged and tried to focus on the situation. I had to step up and accomplish something in order to increase our chances of survival. That thing won’t probably take long to destroy the rocks in the ceiling.
I gathered the wolves and went back to the library. Then, I began searching for a safe place to stay.
After a while, we found a rather small ‘U’ of bookshelves. They surrounded an archaic dining-sized table and pointy shards of wood were strewn all around the place, occasionally protruding out of the ground with little mounds of dirt and dust plastered on them. I stopped for a moment, letting a drop of sweat to trickle to the floor.
Kyel, Kyel… How naïve are you?
There was no other possibility: I took every piece of wood that I could lift and stacked them to make a barricade at the open side of the ‘U’. Maybe if we keep ourselves hidden, that thing won’t find us, even if it pierces the ceiling.
I don’t want to take unnecessary risks with anything. I prepared an emergency exit: a small passage opposite the barricade, leading to another corridor of bookshelves that led elsewhere.
I finished everything I could in this state in order to protect ourselves. Sure, the wolves helped and were incredibly powerful, but leaving them to fight just felt… wrong. I had this hunch that if they fought, it wouldn’t be an equal fight.
Kyel… How long are you putting this ‘cool’ act?
The ground trembled with a thunderous sound, interrupting my thoughts. Something crashed onto the floor outside the library. The little cub jumped, trembling. I could hear him whimpering while sticking close to his parents.
A sulfur stench suddenly overwhelmed my nose. I wanted to barf, but I covered my mouth and nose. I had one hand free in case anything happened. My face scrunched up in utter discomfort.
I looked over at the wolves; they were completely unaffected by the sulfur. Probably used to this kind of smell. I envied them at that moment. No living person could remain unaffected.
The floor shook once more, earning a more-frightened yap from the small cub. Whatever it was, it was certainly inching closer.
I kept my attention on the barricade. I had made small cracks when building the makeshift barricade, imperceptible from even a short distance. Looking through one, I had a clear view of the entrance.
A titanic shadow covered the gems’ lightning, leaving only the occasional gaps in the ceiling to illuminate us in soft rays of the gems’ glow; we were in partial darkness.
There’s a colossal Beast outside. I couldn’t see it properly, but I felt that my previous hunch was correct. The wolves wouldn’t win if they fought against it.
The biggest paw I’d ever seen in my entire life crushed the small entrance with utter ease. Debris flew everywhere, destroying the bookshelves and a huge part of the wall and the ceiling. The dust exploded into a cloud that covered everything in the room, including us.
Luckily, the debris didn’t destroy our barricade…
But seriously?! I feel–no, I’m certain that if he had destroyed one of the walls closer to us, we wouldn’t be alive at this very moment.
The cub probably never felt this much pressure and fear in his short life. His parents’ eyes were fixated on the barricade. Unwavering, rigid, still. They were ready to attack and protect their small cub if they needed, even if it meant turning this library into a volcano.
They surely could do it, but would it defeat the Beast that destroyed the entrance with a simple slash?
I shrugged that thought aside and paid attention to the huge mess at the entrance. The dust had almost settled down. Silence engulfed the room.
A gulp of saliva roughly forced its way down my throat. I was afraid of the cub’s sudden whining, so I placed a finger on my lips and shushed it, hoping that he would understand the message.
Beasts were thought-capable animals with physical and magical abilities, so this kind of thing would usually work. But the cub was too small, meaning that he wouldn’t know the human language or hand signs.
Unfortunately, I was correct.
He continued yelping, and his parents began to nuzzle him with their nose, also trying to silence him…
But it was too late.
I was careless. The Beast came faster than expected, and I was distracted with the cub. Not even the wolves could act as that Beast ripped the barricade to shreds.
We were completely exposed. My mind couldn’t follow as the Beast immediately slashed again.
I guess what they say about dying is true… Everything seems one hundred times slower, and small details fill every corner of my mind.
My eyes reflected the knife-sharp claws that cut through the air like a sword. They glistened with the gems’ glow, yet they weren’t beautiful: it was disconcerting, unnerving. I foresaw blood on them, my own blood. Even if for a moment, I imagined my head, rolling on the ground as the Beast neared the wolves, dismembering them with bloodshot eyes.
Huh… It’s the lion Beast that attacked me and made me fall in this hell-pit. How did he reach us? I won’t get an answer anyway…
If I had waited before going to grandpa’s house, would I stay alive? Would the Beast have attacked the village?
Kyel, why did you save the cub? You knew he’d be a burden.
He… reminded me of myself.
Really… You’re pathetic, you know?
I couldn’t deny what had happened to me up until this point. It was dreadfully real.
From the tallest strand of hair in my head to the tip of my toes, I trembled. My calm was already long gone from this place, no matter how many times I smiled and continued on.
Have I accepted death? There’s still so much I have to do. So many things I couldn’t say, so many things I haven’t done…
I have to live.
I have to take one step further… but I can’t.
There is nothing for me to do. Absolutely zero possibilities of standing up to that monstrosity.
I wouldn’t have some secret power like those of the stories in children’s books. Sure, I spent my childhood reading them, and I had fun, but they weren’t… realistic.
‘I will die’, is the conclusion that took over every nook and cranny of my brain.
Crying wouldn’t solve anything, so I just accepted it. It was frustrating. Why couldn’t I live in peace? I’m already Crestless, so why should I experience these situations?
Maybe if I had a Crest I could’ve… forget it. It’s no use crying over spilled milk, especially in this situation.
A thunderous bang abruptly cut off my thoughts. A mysterious voice echoed throughout the room.
Thank you, Xaga, for editing this chapter!
And sorry for the wait!
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