Shadow Temple of Zeal Chapter 5

Never-Ending Dark

By Demi-God

Magus disliked this cave. Something about it was too... familiar. It was dark; to the point that even with the torch that Lucca had formed with her hand, they were only able to see a few feet in any direction. The air smelled stale. Not damp, old, or moldy like a cave would normally, nor stagnant and rotten as the swamp was. It smelled as if it wad been closed off for centuries. To add to this strangeness, after they had set off from the hot spring, they had walked steadily forward for almost an hour, in a straight line, on an unusually smooth floor... yet they had seen no walls. Caves, as a rule, are enclosed for the most part, with rare caverns inside. This was too large.

No one had spoken for at least twenty minutes. The silence had become oppressive. Suddenly, Magus halted. The girls stopped also. "What's wrong, Magus?" Marle's voice shattered the silence, and made them all jump. There was a strange lack of echo for such a large room. "Something is strange about this cave. No cave, man-made or natural, would ever be this large..." Magus turned towards the girls. "I believe that we are being tricked. This has to be some type of illusion." Lucca sighed. Marle shook her head. "No way! We'd be able to tell if someone was casting spells to keep us going in circles! Magus, you can tell when there is magic nearby! Is there?" Magus Looked off into the distance for a second. "No... I feel no aura outside our own. However, I feel that if we reverse path, something will be revealed." Lucca nodded. "This is getting us nowhere anyway, Magus. Princess, how about we turn back?" Marle looked back, then forward, then back again. "One direction's as good as any other. I still say you two are too paranoid!"

Magus scowled in the darkness as they turned and retraced their steps. He knew that he was the only to notice that there were no footprints in the inch-think dust ... even though they had retraced exactly. Suddenly, he felt the temperature rising. He heard water, and suddenly his foot went into something warm and wet. He stumbled and almost fell. He stood and held out his arms, stopping the girls. "The hot spring" He stated simply. Lucca's flame grew, and she re-adjusted her glasses with her free hand. "But how? We've only been walking back for 5 minutes!" "Lucca, there were no footprints when we were returning. Yet this is the same pool, the entrance is that way, I can feel a breeze. Lucca looked the direction he pointed, and saw a few stars through the entrance. Magus gestured around them. "We must find a way to defeat this illusion. This is obviously the cause of the problem. Lucca, cast more light. I will assist. While we are conjuring a torch, Marle, you look for an exit.

Lucca began to murmur, and the cave was lit with the fire of a hundred torches. Magus spun and flew upwards, and fire streamed from his fingers enhancing the glow. Marle pointed east, "There is an opening there! All around us are rock walls. How were we moving north? It's a cliff face!" Marle raised her finger, freezing a line in the dirt straight to the cave. The cave darkened as Lucca fell to her knees, and Magus landed in the dirt beside her. Lucca pulled two ether herbs from her pouch, and gave one to Magus, and ate one herself. "Good thing we have plenty of this, that was taxing. Let's GO!"

Magus nodded, and started to hover along the line of ice. Lucca, with her hand on his cape, followed running behind him, with Marle tugging at Lucca's scarf. After a few moments, Magus could feel the wall approaching, and slowed to a walk, and suddenly his outstretched hands felt the smooth wall before him. Lucca ran into the back of him. "Magus, give me some warning next time ... that hurt, and it's embarrassing." Marle giggled. "Light, Lucca" Magus disliked the indignity of groping in the dark, and his temper was failing with this illusion. "Yes, SIR." Lucca sounded a little angry. In the dim light, Magus could see the thick iron grating blocking the entrance. He touched it with his index finger, and muttered an incantation the girls had not head before. The iron around his finger swirled and undulated, slowly fading to nothing, leaving a sizable hole in the portcullis.

Lucca whistled through her teeth, and Marle clapped. "It was nothing, just a variation of 'Dark Matter.' Perhaps I will teach you shadow magic one day," Magus explained to Lucca. She nodded, and, Magus thought, blushed slightly. Magus stepped through the hole, and the two ladies followed. They resumed their walking, staying close to the wall of the cave, until again Magus stopped. "Feel the wall here." Marle and Lucca pressed their hands to the stone. "What? It's a wall. So what?" Marle was annoyed. "That's just it, Marle, it IS a wall, not a cave wall, but carved stone. Where are we?"


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