Between The Shadows: Chapter Nine

Aaron pulls his newly received map closer to a light, making sure he’s at the right place.  However, when he looks up from the map, it still looks like the wrong place to him.  The map tells of a sacred city, right where he’s standing.  But when he looks up, all he sees is a harsh, dark cliff that leads to nothing when he looks down.  ‘I wonder if this is where those other explorers got stuck?‘  Aaron thinks as he closes his map and goes to head back.  As he turns around, Aaron sees a bit of motion out of the corner of his eye and he freezes.

A bush near him rustles and Aaron grips his lantern a little tighter, thinking he might be able to light the bushes ablaze if needed.  Aaron walks closer to the brush, and a large, humanoid figure soars over his head and down the side of the cliff.  Aaron watches the figure fall for a good while, then it spreads what appear to be beautiful butterfly wings, and disappears from sight.  ‘Dang, what was that?‘  Aaron thinks.  Finally, Aaron sets up camp and sleeps till dawn.

Aaron awakes the next morning to find himself staring into blue-eyes, and for a second he thinks it’s his sister, Binny, waking him up.  Aaron realizes and his eyes widen just as the creature gets up and darts out of his make-shift tent.  Aaron follows, and just before the creature makes it down the side of the cliff, Aaron grabs it’s leg and they’re both suspended over the ledge.  “Let me go you killer!!” The creature says in a female voice as it flails around, trying to get free.  Now that Aaron can see it better, he sees that it has long, deep-red hair pulled back in a ponytail, strangely creamy beige colored skin, and beautiful wings on its arms that remind him of a monarch butterfly.  Aaron pulls them both up the ledge and says “Harsh, I’m no killer.”

The creature glares at him.  “Yes you are, you are the worst thing to ever walk the earth, the entire reason we hid our city from people like you, Shadus Malarae!”  Aaron laughs.  “Oh yeah, I forgot.”  he says as he pulls his hood away from his face, showing his black skin and hair, as well as his bright red eyes.  Aaron pulls off the strange pendant the girl at the bar gave him, and he reverts back to his normal self.  The creature’s eyes are open in shock and it’s mouth is dangling open the slightest bit.  “What are you?” she asks.  Aaron smiles.

“I’m a human, nice to meet you.  My name is Aaron.”  He says as he shakes her hand.  “My name is Caelia” she says somewhat hesitantly as she shakes his hand back.  “So, you, uh, you where watching me last night.”  Aaron says as he stands up.  “Yes, not many shadow people come here anymore after we hid our city, so it is not often we get visitors.” Caelia says as she inspects her wings.

“Your wings, they’re beautiful” Aaron says as he watches her make sure nothing is damaged.  “Many thanks,” Caelia says, then her eyes land on Aaron’s map.  “You are seeking the Dark Sword, no easy task.”  She says, “You have need for special items to find that.”  Aaron looks at the rolled up map he’d left hanging out of his pocket.  “Yeah, but, this map also tells of a gate, here.”  Aaron says as he rolls it open and points at a piece of the text, “I think it can get me home”.  Caelia takes it and examines it.  “I have heard tales of this gate, told since the old days.” She says without looking away.

“Yeah, that’s why I’m here, actually.”  Aaron says as he takes the map back and puts it in his pocket.  Caelia smiles and says “You seem trustworthy, especially since you seem to be hiding from Shadus.  At least, judging by your materials…”  She says as she looks over at his make-shift tent, which is really just a piece of canvas Aaron took and spread between two sticks.  Besides that, the map, and the clothes on his back, Aaron doesn’t have anything else.  “I will help you” Caelia says as she walks to the edge of the cliff, “Take my hand.”  Aaron does as she says and Caelia jumps off the cliff.  After a few terrifying seconds of free-falling, Caelia spreads her wings and they glide over to a series of ridges that where previously hidden by the cliff they had just been on.

As they come closer to the cliff side, Aaron sees a series of stone stairs and platform scattered about, as well as a few caves here and there.  They both land on the stone platform nearest them and while Aaron gets his bearings back, Caelia makes her way up the steps.  “Come Aaron, let me show you my home” She says as she leads him to one of the stone caves.

(Interesting, no?  A race of butterfly people who live underground in a sacred city.  Check in for more y’all!)