Boy in Darkness

Castle of Crows – Part 15

I stayed hidden until all traces of the goblin’s light disappeared. The darkness felt even thicker than before, and even when I’d slipped out of my hiding place I couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face.

Walking through that darkness was possibly the most terrifying thing I’ve ever had to do. My only source of guidance was the Fortuna, and the hot and cold directions it gave me. Some directions just felt right, while others didn’t. Worst of all were the directions that left me with a feeling of intense dread. Those directions usually led to cells, or I assumed they did, based on the clanking of chains and the thuds of bodies hitting bars that started up as I passed them.

Something tried to speak to me once, and while I couldn’t understand the hissing whispers that started up they made me feel like a ball of ice was forming in my gut, and the urge to run away got so strong I didn’t hesitate for a second in following it.

I ran until my lungs hurt, and I didn’t stop until the only sound that I could hear was that of my own ragged breathing. I could feel the Fortuna urging me on, but I couldn’t start moving again just yet. Not until I had a chance to catch my breath. I took a seat on the cold stone floor and tried my best to ignore the coin’s directions.

The air here was thick and musty, which made it difficult to breathe, and the longer I was down here the worse it seemed to be getting. The urging from the Fortuna was getting stronger, but I couldn’t follow it. My head was getting dizzy, my limbs felt like lead, and very suddenly I started to think that there might be a reason that the coin was trying so hard to get me to move anyway.

I tried to push myself back up, but I didn’t have the strength. My dizziness was getting worse, and I felt so sleepy. Something was coming towards me too, I could hear the soft sound of paws hitting stone getting closer and closer. The almost cat.

The air was getting thicker, but I was aware of the danger that I was in now. I didn’t know what I was up against, would fire stop it? Or would that make the air even more difficult to breathe? I needed something that would clear whatever substance had filled the air. I pulled open the bag that I was carrying the elemental grenades in, taking in the weak glow of the liquid. Nixie had never said which color did what, but looking at them, maybe the colors were related to the elements? And taking my best guess had been working for me so far…

I reached into the bag and pulled out a small silver vial bottle. The creature was getting closer, and I knew I needed to hurry. Nixie hadn’t shared the instructions for setting it off, either, but I had the feeling that all I needed to do was throw it.

As soon as I did, silver light exploded out in every direction, along with cold wind and snow. For a moment I could see the silhouette of something that was most definitely not a cat, but then the light faded out and the world went black again. The winds and snow were still going though, and I could finally breathe again.

There was a snarl from down the hall, and I took off in the other direction. I’d officially been seen, and the darkness was only slowing me down now. I lit a small fire in the palm of my hand, letting it light the way ahead of me as I ran through the stone halls.

I ignored the cells I passed, and whatever horrors were in them, taking turns almost at random as the coin directed me through the labyrinth. I almost ran by her when I finally found where Lilith was being held. It was a room similar to the one I’d come in through, only this one was filled with cages.

The cage Lilith was being kept in was much too small for her, but admittedly that made her easier to see. I scanned the room for keys, and was thankful to see a ring of them sitting on a table tucked into a corner. It took longer than I would have liked to get the cage unlocked, but once I did Lilith pushed herself out in a flurry of feathers, then shifted to her human form.

“Dillon, it is good to see you,” she said, grinning sharply in a way I was starting to think meant she was proud of me.

“Good to see you too,” I said, smiling at her. A growl sounded from down the hall I’d come from, and I frowned into the darkness. “We should probably get going. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s been chasing me for awhile now.”

Lilith nodded, then took a hold of my empty hand. “Put out the fire, I’ll lead the way. I think we should be able to lose it if we can get above ground again.”

I did as she said, and the world plunged into darkness once more.