“Help us,” the voice pleaded.
“Who’s there?” asked Himmel, spinning around into the darkness.
At first, there was just silence – a long deafening silence. He turned his head, searching for the source of the little girl’s voice. But the gloom blinded him. He couldn’t see anything.
“Trapped Ones are we. But seeketh us, thou must,” replied the voice.
“Trapped? Wait. I don’t understand.”
“Help us…as we have once helped you,” it pleaded once more.
“I still don’t understand. How? Why? What help?”
“In the fullness of time, the path to our prisons shall be revealed unto you. And thus, shall you shatter our manacles and free us from our bondage. But for now, hearken and see.”
In that moment, the dark blur parted to give way to a feeble light which slowly grew from a bead into a torch’s light. Soon, there were two lines of torchlights. It was no longer dark. In front of him was a long corridor lighted by beautiful bluish-white flames set in torches along dusty old walls. Into the surface of the stone walls were panels carved with images of various things. There were pictures of people huddled together before a king seated on a sun-crowned throne. To its left, a female figure seemed to be dancing around an altar of sorts. There were more but they were scenes Himmel could not recognize.
He wondered if the voice issued forth from the other end of the corridor. But it was plainly dark. He could not gleam anything from that end. But to go forward, that was the only logical thing to consider right now.
In no time, he can hear footsteps – his own footsteps. He was already making his way toward the other end. Amidst the clanking of his metal greaves with the stone floor, he heard nothing else but soft cries singing in unison to an unknown hymn. This is odd, he muttered to himself.
It seemed to take forever. He was walking, unhurried, but steadfast. The blue flames, the echoing footsteps, they were almost endless. Soon, he felt a cold haunting breath issuing from the very walls. An ancient smell filled the air as he progressed, but it was pleasant and not assaulting.
His steps, as sure they had been at first, were now gaining speed. Eventually, he saw, from afar, a room at the very end.
Himmel leapt the last few strides before he was greeted by a small circular room. A stone arch stood on a dais in the center. It was roughly hewn and clumsily assembled. Time had certainly gnawed its way through the stone beams which were heavily pockmarked. He turned around to see where he came from. But the archway from which he stepped from vanished.
This scene was starting to frighten him. Himmel never liked cramped rooms. But he had to go around to see if he can find where the voice he heard earlier came from.
As he made his round, he noticed that the room was in fact lined with several altars on which stood what he knew as statues. They were all draped with soiled and old blankets, but their feet were glittering somewhat, their brilliance trying to fight the dust that had suppressed their light.
About to touch the statue that stood before him as he stopped his round, Himmel whisked around to the sound of falling cloth. The drapes that covered the statues were starting to fall into the ground one by one. His eyes followed each’s descent before, as if on cue, the next one did the same.
There was an effigy of a boy, a lady, an old man and ten more. A little girl’s statue, about the age of eleven, was his stopping point. She seemed to glow, almost giving a lifelike touch to them, except that she was made of crystal. It was the same statue where he stood now.
“A great Evil lurketh at the edge of this Age. And the Time of its Waking is nearing. It Desireth Possession of the Light, and the Mastery of the World. But that hath not been the Will of Em’re, the One. And yet, it cometh forth with Vast Strength and with Countless Lies, to taint Halïr, That Is Wrought, and wrest its Control from the Powers.” The words echoed in the room, spoken in many voices: first, that of a small girl, then, that of an old lady. Soon, both voices were speaking together. A man’s voice joined in on the triplet. But a few words more, and he spoke alone. In a heartbeat, the voices became to many to count, speaking at varying speeds, in different tongues, at different times, sometimes together, most often on their own.
Himmel did not understand the words. He was just confused, he just reassured himself. This is simply a dream. He will wake up soon.
“Though you Deny the Truth of our words now, shortly shall you find it Yourself. And by then, the Choice to turn back has been Lost. And only Forward, and unto your Destiny may you Walk.”
These words did not mean anything to him. They didn’t tell much. “I don’t understand what you ask of me. I’m a sellsword,” he paused after those words. It stung his conscience. He never liked that term.
“Find them, and you find us. Let the Threads of Fate guide you – you shall not be left Alone.”
Himmel found the words disgusting. He never believed in Fate or Her Spell and Charms and Hold over Men. Such belief was for the weak who could not take upon themselves the charge of their lives.
“Believe in Her still for She yet believes and smiles upon you, and She shall surely Pave the Way. Listen to her closely, for Her Whispers are Muffled by the Dins of the World. But Her Heart is True.” Everything went silent. All the voices were hushed by a single voice.
“Will you take this Path?”, asked the lone deep voice.
He now came to a decision. As he believed everything was just a dream, he’ll just play along with his possibly drunken thoughts. Whatever pact he makes now would have no bearing.
“To the Ends of the World if need be,” he lied.
“Your words we hold Binding. For no Pact is ever lightly made. This Moment shall you Remember, unto the End of Days, then after which Never.”
Then, all the torches went ablaze with furor. The whole room was bathed in a blinding bluish light and the crystal statues reflected them and gave light yet greater. Soon, he was lost in the glare and Himmel saw no more.