Between The Shadows: Chapter Sixteen

Behold, Between the Shadows!  That’s right, I have finally gotten around to finishing the rest of the story, as it was originally written.  A.K.A., I realized that I wanted to publish all of this before I got much farther along with the Crowsville Chronicles with Max, and also that I wouldn’t have enough time to rewrite it and publish it before certain facts became relevant.  I personally recognize that this isn’t my highest quality of work, partially because it was some of my first, and so I hope you pardon some of my poorer choices I made before.  For those of you interested, read on!  May you enjoy your adventure through space and reality.

Aaron wipes the sweat from his brow as he trudges on down the rough tunnel that seems to go on forever.  He had only traveled downward a few feet, but the heat was already near unbearable.  The ground was hard-packed and the walls smooth, making him believe that at one point these tunnels where used often.

Just a little while ago, Caelia had led him to the entrance of this cave, warning him about the danger of coming to close to the magma and fire.  ‘Like I need to be warned,’ he thinks, ‘it’s not like I was planning to stop for a dip or anything.’  Finally he arrives at the place Caelia had described, a round chamber, a multitude of  corridors leading (likely) to anti-chambers where placed all over the walls.

“This was obviously designed for someone who can fly, how am I going to even GET to the Fire Guardian?!”  Aaron says to himself.  He sighs and begins walking down the earthen ramp currently under his feet.  He had to start somewhere.

Aaron sits down next to the set of large stone doors he had found, having combed nearly the entire area for them.  He had found a special tool that had allowed him to reach areas that only the Monarchs would have been able to reach.  He rolls up the special cape he’d found and places it in his pack.

As Aaron pushes open the great stone doors, a rush of searing hot wind rolls over him.  In front of him the room is so dark he can only make out the vague shapes of some rocks and old scaffolding.  The doors slowly draw closed behind him as he walks into the center of the room.

From nowhere a huge fire appears mere meters from where he stands, and a huge phoenix rises up from the fire.  Immediately it releases huge bursts of fire and hot air, blowing Aaron against the now-locked doors.  Aaron rolls to his right as a massive fireball lands where he had been mere moments ago.

Aaron begins running around the large room so he won’t be such an easy target, then he sees some of the old scaffolding and gets an idea.  He lunges and jumps onto to it, then begins to climb higher and higher, until he can see the back of the phoenix.  On it’s back, the phoenix has a large, strange pattern.

On a whim, Aaron pulls out the cape he’d found, puts it on, and jumps off the scaffolding, heading straight for the phoenix.  The cape’s magic activates, and it allows him to soar just far enough so he lands right on the back of the phoenix.  Drawing his sword, Aaron hacks at the symbol over and over, the heat near unbearable being this close to the massive fire bird.

Suddenly the phoenix cries out and begins falling to the ground.  Aaron just barely manages to land several feet away before the bird crashes to the floor and erupts in flames.  As the fire begins to die away, Aaron suddenly sees a young man standing several feet in the air.

The young man has somewhat-spiked and practically orange hair, laughing dark-brown eyes, and a rosy color to his skin.  He also seems to have a glow of power.  “Dude, that was awesome.” the guy says enthusiastically, “the way you where hacking and jumping and wailing on me– I mean, uh…” The young man seems to lose his composure, and he lands on the ground.

“Uh, now, what did Terran tell me to say?” he mumbles to himself as Aaron walks up to him.  “Oh yeah!” the guy says, “Oh mighty hero from the world of light, thank you for saving me.  You’re courage will b-” “hang on,”  Aaron says, “I don’t want money or anything, I’d just like some answers?”  The man groans and puts his head in his hand.  “If you had let me finish, dude, you would’ve heard that I was gonna explain some things to you!”

“Oh, then continue” Aaron says as he sits on the ground.  “First,” the guys says, “My name is Smoldrud, I am one of the four Guardians.  We are the ones who created both your world and this one.  We knows you seek the Dark Sword, but there are some things you should know before you are allowed to continue.”