Chapter 57:

Chapter 57 - Choice!

The Flight of The Draykes

I walked deep into the passage before I staggered and almost fell, clutching my wounded leg.

The adrenaline had finally faded from my system and the pain from the wounds hit me like an out-of-control cart.

Gasping, I quickly summoned more clothes and bound the hole in my leg. Following which, I summoned a javelin and, breaking it in two, I used the non-pointy piece to splint my leg.

Then I had enough time to summon my mattress and, groaning, I collapsed on it gratefully.

As my eyes closed on their own, I willed them to open, and stretching out a hand, I summoned the empty bottle before willing another drop of the warforce potion into existence.

Capturing it safely inside the bottle and corking it, my hand fell to my side, holding the bottle as my vision blackened and I fell asleep.

With a start, I woke up as a loud clink sounded out.

Groggily, I rolled off the mattress and into a battle-ready posture as I quickly looked around, only to find nothing.

Still in that battle-ready posture for a few minutes, I finally noticed that the potion bottle had rolled off the mattress, and it was that which had probably caused the noise that woke me up.

Relaxing, I ran my hand over my face before chuckling. Chuckling, then turned to outright laughter, which turned into deep shouts as I punched the walls of the passage.

Finally, I slumped against the wall, holding my head as I tried to banish the images of the goat-child from my mind and the absurdity of what I was going through at the moment.

Then rising with a sigh, I looked down ruefully at my gauntlet, which had indentations on it from the punches, before I took it off, wincing as the split flesh of my knuckles caught on the gauntlets.

Taking a skin of water, I washed off the bleeding knuckles and then wrapped a layer of cloth around them before gingerly slipping on the gauntlets.

Checking myself for any signs of damage, I decisively unsummoned the leather leggings and wore comfortable pants.

After all, the path is long and the rooms are clearly indicated, right?

Then I began walking clumsily again.

Halfway through, a sense of unease hit me and I immediately wore the leather leggings again.

The uneasiness didn’t disappear, but as I walked further and further; it decreased till it wasn’t noticeable anymore.

Thinking hard on it, I realized with a start that I was becoming lax with my preparations, wearing pants that didn’t offer any defense in an area where death could come at any moment.

Silently rebuking myself, I finally reached the end of the path where two doors stood.

A stone pillar in front of them had writing on it that said simply, “A choice was made, a soul was condemned. A choice you now have, A path to save.”

The left door opened silently as I reached the condemned part. Then the right door opened as I finished reading the sentence.

Hesitating, I looked at the doors and read the words on the pillar again.

Then I looked inwards, and I walked decisively toward a door and passed through it.

Behind me, the door shut with a booming sound.

I didn’t try to open it as I walked further ahead.

I walked on and on and soon I heard water flowing.

Following the sound, I came across a meadow, yes.. a meadow in the cavern. In it, at the side, meandered a small stream of water.

Closely examining the place, I found nothing out of the ordinary, and then I froze as I saw something move.

Floating carefreely, I saw the fragment of light that I had been chasing fall into the stream before it vanished.

Walking over, I stood at the banks of the stream and carefully looked at it.

It was... a stream. Of water.

Puzzled, I tried throwing an eating knife I had summoned into the stream of water.

Only for it to be carried gently away by the force of the water.

Quietly, I stared at the stream before I stripped my armor off and, in my underclothes, stepped into the water.

As I waded into the water, I felt my legs tremble and the pain throbbing from it abruptly receded.

Puzzled, I soaked myself further into the water and watched as the various cuts and bruises I had taken in the fights before receded.

Exclaiming in awe, I marveled at the stream of what was essentially a potion before excitedly whipping out bottles and trying to fill them with the liquid.

Only for the liquid to churn and turn away from the opening of the bottle as though it was averse to it.

Downcast, I dejectedly put away the bottles before I waded deeper into the stream - chasing after the fragment of light.

I don’t know how long I waded in the stream for, but eventually; I grew weary.

Lying down and letting the stream of water gurgle over my submerged body, I closed my eyes and felt at peace.

Thinking of my loved ones, my heart began throbbing.

Thinking fondly of their faces, it began throbbing harder and harder until the pain made me clutch at the skin above it.

Gasping, I tried to move, but bubbles of air escaped me and I remained submerged under the water's shallow surface.

Now panicking, I flailed around, but my limbs were heavy, so heavy.

Then I saw the fragment of light come dancing toward me and it touched my heart and dipped partially into it, turning transparent as it did so.

Able to breathe again, I sucked in a deep breath, but then the fragment of light drifted away slowly.

Reaching out a hand that was like a stone weight, I tried catching it, but it slipped between my fingers and vanished.

Bemused, I broke the surface of the water and I watched stupefied as the stream flowed into a solid wall that had a crack in it and vanished.

Hesitantly, I submerged myself into the water again and when my breath ran out; I resurfaced, and the crack had grown wider.

Strangely, I could also feel a tiny bit of heat spreading from my heart to the rest of my body, too.

Curious, I submerged myself once again and when I rose; I realized that not only had the crack grown wider - but my vision was sharper.

I could clearly see the grains of whatever material it was that made up the wall. I could see the blades of grass at the edge of my vision as though they were held up to my face, and I could… I could hear better?

Pausing and focusing, I closed my eyes and strained my hearing to its maximum, only to stand upright abruptly and shut my ears with my hands as the world seemed to come alive.

The gurgling of the stream was like thunder, the sound of my blood in my veins was like a river raging, the beat of my heart was sounding like war drums being played frantically.

It was unnerving, and I had to suck in several deep breaths, which themselves sounded like a blacksmith's bellows at work before I could calm down.

Awed, I stared at the potion and clambering out of the banks of the stream; I sat and meditated - searching for my warforce.

I checked every part of my body as best as I could while circulating my blood in the path of House Drayke’s warforce manual.

But to no avail.

My warforce was not present in the slightest.

Frustrated, I grabbed pebbles from the stream and threw them across the meadow.

The white pebbles flew through the air and I didn’t notice that when I grabbed them, they briefly turned a shade of black before turning white again once they left my palm.

Sighing, I stayed outside the stream for over an hour and then tried testing my hearing again, only to find that it was still as terrifyingly accurate as before.

Relieved at the improvements that seemed to be permanent, I looked at the stream of potion and, whooping out loud, jumped in and submerged myself.

After repeatedly dunking myself and drawing deep breaths, the crack in the wall had widened enough that I could pass through it, along with the potion stream.

But I didn’t go through.

Instead, I bathed in the stream for the entire day and night, or what passed for the night since the meadow was permanently lit by soft warm light.

I began meditating as I sat in the stream bed with closed eyes, and I failed to notice the fragment of light that would dance around my body as if in joy.

Time passed and then one day, the wall collapsed with a thunderous sound and the pieces of the wall faded away silently as the stream carried them into a void that stretched on from where the wall used to be.

Stunned, I looked at the yawning void and scrambled to my feet.

Then I saw the fragment of light dance in front of me and float over to the void, where it seemed to turn to me, and then, with a hop, it fell into the void and disappeared.

Walking slowly, I took a pebble, and I threw it at the void, only for it to disappear just like the fragment did.

Letting out a breath, I knew my time here was done.

Stretching my body, I marveled at the improvements that the potion had brought me. I felt strong enough to shatter a large boulder with a single punch. If I jumped up, I didn’t know how long it would take for my feet to land back on the ground.

Roaring, I went through the motions of the training exercises that Teacher had taught us, all the way until a fine sheen of sweat coated me.

Washing the sweat off in the stream and flicking my wet hair over my forehead, I dried myself and summoned my armor and weapons, garbing myself for combat.

Then I held out a potion bottle and grinned as I looked at it.

47 drops of warforce potion glimmered inside the bottle. Fruits of my labor over the past few days as I would summon a drop, feel tired, and meditate inside the stream potion and recover.

Then I walked toward the void, and yelling, I ran toward it and at the last moment jumped into it.

Straight into another part of the abyss.