The Last Stone of Parax

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 44
I was sitting in a pile of mud. The rain came crashing down on me. I was lost. Lost without reason. I tried to move, but the poison that paralysed me must have still been flowing through my veins. I was stuck in the rain. Wet. Tired. Alone.


Before I could tell it was night. My legs could barely move. I tried to get up of the puddle that was now up to my waist. I was incredibly cold. I had to make it back home. Once I did… I slept. I slept for three days and four nights. When I awoke, I was fully healed from my paralysis. 


My mind was stuck in a place I didn’t want it to be, remembering the stone falling into the void playing in my head again and again. The only thing keeping me sane was my own determination to get the last stone. I had successfully drawn up a map of the lands surrounding me. Unfortunately, my journey stopped at Luxidor. I knew the lands up until there. Luckily for me I knew a better route to Luxidor. The Red Railway.


I had to venture to a part of Parax called Rengi. It was a small town on the mainland. I could get there in a day or so. Luckily, I made the journey safe and sound. I arrived at the town at night. The lights were off the streets were quiet. A very unsettling contrast to Quetzali.


I decided to camp outside the town, they weren’t known for the charming hospitality. When the sun came up, the train arrived. Because the train carried it passengers 1 00 000 kilometres, it needed three whole carts of fuel. The train would begin boarding at 10:00 am sharp. 


I packed my things. Sadly, I only had room for five things. My sword, my sorcerers’ book, the stones, my first aid kit and my bag carrying them all.
The train was one of the longest things I had seen in a while. I had no idea it would be this long. 1.5 km’s the train was. You could walk to the neighbouring town with the train still in your sights. 


7:30. That was the time. Exactly 2 and a half hours until the train began boarding. Because Rengi was the first stop, not many people boarded. Forex Station however would hold the most travellers awaiting the Red Railway. 
Chapter 45
It was time. Me and three other people boarded the train. We had to board three hundred meters down the train because our tickets were only an F class. Suddenly, two more people arrived out of the blue. One was wearing a tiger fur coat. Another was wearing a monocle. They were clearly rich. Their tickets red x Class, the second highest. They boarded right up front of the cabin. 


I was roughly in the middle of the train. The Classes went Q, X, F, V, K and Z. I walked all the way up front of the F cabin. Through the bullet proof glass, I could see the X cabin. Twenty-one cabins designed for the middle-high class passengers. I could see lounges, a bar. I even could make out a pool a couple of meters down. 


F cabin however, three beige lounges, all beaten up. Ten chairs, two fifths of a bar, and three beds. That was for this cabin at least. Rumours said that Z class was only for the poor of the poor. They stayed with cattle and horses. No beds or sleeping material, making their home on the hay. Me however… I was lucky. 


The train departed at noon. I could feel the massive hunk of metal move. It took a while to get the train up and running at a reasonable pace. We were going 100 kilometres an hour. It would take 416 days to reach the end of the railway. Well over a year. I had to find a way to get to X class. Even Q. The first stop was 40 kilometres way from Rengi. It was a small industrial village. No one got on. The stop following that was Trix Town, then What shell, Bow Hills, Regin Mountains, then Forex Station. Only ten people got on at the past stops. I even saw a man get on Z. Sad.


The train was coming into Forex. It was a very large city on the western boarder of Parax, boarding Fins. Forex is a city built on a mountain residing next to a road that takes you to Quetzali and beyond. The train went through the mountain. I looked either side of the train. The sides barely scraped the edges of the andesite and granite on the walls.
We came to the train station. It was full of people. At least over one thousand. People from all walks of life. Rich, poor, dressed for a dance or simply dressed to please. I saw one man that looked very suspicious. I saw he had an X pass. I snuck of the train and waited at the X cabin door, hoping my dirty attire wouldn’t get noticed.


I waited until the man was next to me. He was far taller than me and shouldn’t notice me. I quickly snatched his pass and replaced it with mine. I showed the camera my pass… and I was accepted. I went all the way to the front of the X cabins. 
I saw the pool. I saw the bar, the lounges. I even had my own room. I couldn’t remember the last time I had my own room. The walls were lined with gold and Saturn black paint. The celling in the main room had a diamond chandelier hanging from whatever the glimmering roof was made from. This was more than a step up from class F. It was luxury. 


I saw more and more people get on. People from classes Z through to X. But no one had entered Q class. I was curious what was lurking amidst the cabin. 


Chapter 46


I slept for at least a day. When I awoke in my private cabin and walked out to the main room. At least ten people were there. Dining, dancing. I even saw a drunk woman lying on the futon couch. What had become of X class?


Suddenly, a man with a thick beard saw me. He approached me. Three minutes awake and I was already talking to strangers. When the man was right in front of me… he walked right past me. Was I that insignificant that no one wanted to even have a civilised conversation with me?


When I turned around, I saw the face of my past. Diego Luxidor. He was wearing a pinstriped suit. He had a single umbrella on top of his briefcase. He was wearing a pair of golden black glasses. I hid. Diego couldn’t see me again. That part of my life had come and gone. 


I ducked into the room next to me. Of course, it was the amenities, so cliché. I couldn’t even breath. I heard him walk past the door. Something didn’t feel right. He was the richest man in Parax and beyond. He should be in Q class. 


Once he left for the next cabin, I left the room and went to my own. I started my own conspiracy board. Before I could even begin, the train arrived at the next station. Daedlus Station. The capitol of Fins. It was jam packed. I looked for anyone boarding Q class. I saw one.


He was a tall man. Olive skin, dark hair… Candlelight tattoo. He was a member from Warson Odious. The memories can rush back to me. I was overwhelmed. A man who lived in Warson Odious is on this train. I was nervous. I was so close to death I could almost feel it in the air. I had to do something… I had to sneak onto the Q cabin and kill the Candlelight man.
Chapter 47
I was sleepless for three nights. The Q cabin was the most secured cabin of them all. To get in you needed a fingerprint, eye scanner, pass and most of all, voice activation. 
The only thing I could do was peer through the window and wait to see the man. He never came to the main cabin. 
Three Weeks Later
I was sick. I had caught some type of disease, malaria probably. I needed to get help, fast. Because I had absolutely no medical knowledge I was suffering uncontrollably. I asked around the X class cabin, but no one wanted to even look at me.


Only one person agreed to treat me. A man I knew I could count on… I think. Diego said he would meet me in my bunk room at 4:30 sharp. When the time came, I laid down on the bed and he observed me. He gave me three antibiotics, a glass of water and advised me to sleep for three days straight. He gave me sleeping pills and… I was out.


I awoke on my bed laying in a pool of my own sweat. I felt much better, apart from the fact that my room slept like my own odour. I cleaned up and walked outside. I saw a jazz band playing on the stage, people laughing and dancing. I even saw Diego up on stage singing. All seemed perfect. Of course, everything was but perfect. I walked down the marble steps, got myself a malt whisky and sat down on the couch. 


After Diego finished his jazz singing spree, he came down and sat next to me. He said nothing. He just looked at me, then at the wall, then at me, then at the wall, then back at me. I knew something was up. 
The following chapter is going to consist of three parts. First, the explosion. Secondly, the plot. Thirdly, the betrayal.
Chapter 48


I saw Diego’s eyes start to water. He abruptly got up and said a prayer. I had read enough books to know what was about to happen. I blocked my ears and sat behind the couch. Then it happened.


Half the train was blown up. Every cabin from x to z was in pieces. The train was still operating fine. I knew that protocol would take place and they would detach from the exploded half of the train. I was bleeding. My whole right arm was covered in other people’s blood. My ears were ringing and bleeding. I was in intense pain. I had to get to the cabin hall. I tried to stand. I barely could. I slowly limped my way to the door, swung it open and… they detached. 


My hand was stuck on a piece of shrapnel from the explosion. I mustered all the strength I had to wriggle my way onto the cabin floor. I laid on the cold spruce wood flooring. I looked back. I saw the other half of the train in flames. People climbing out of the cabins crying and screaming for help. I could take it anymore. I clawed my way back to my cabin. I laid on the floor. I had to do something.
Two days from the explosion and I was healing. My arm was fully healed. My ears had stopped ringing. I walked to the door. I couldn’t open it. Outside my cabin was air full of pain. I sat on my bed. I had to come up with some sort of plan. I knew Diego was behind this, but why. I finally had something. 


I always speculated Diego was hiding something. I always thought he had a pass to the Q class cabin. I knew Diego was not the man I knew all those months at Luxidor Estate. He was a changed man. A ruthless man. A dangerous man. I needed answers more than anything. I saw Diego leave the cabin right before the explosion, so he didn’t die. I assume he went to Q class cabins to devise his second phase of his great malicious plan.


I waited outside Q cabin for days. He surely would have to leave. He didn’t. Instead I saw him leave an X bunker room. I followed him. No. I couldn’t. I had to tackle him and get him to open the Q class door… if he could. 


I trusted my gut and run to him. I launched myself onto him. I slit his throat. He wasn’t getting up on his own. I dragged him to the door. He was choking on his own blood. How gruesome. I got him thumb and placed it on the print reader. Done. Secondly, I reached his head up to the eye scanner. Also done. Finally, I searched him for the pass… he had one. Q class member Mr. Diego Luxidor. He lied.


He had betrayed me. What I once thought was a good man, became a murderer. I showed the camera the pass. It worked. I heard bolts and gears cranking, levers switching… a door opening. I went inside. It was not a class. No. It was a workshop. I knew Diego was an inventor, but not as dark and evil as this. 


Inside the cabin was a bookshelf, containing books on my sorcerer powers amongst other things. Three tables each with a blueprint, a lamp, and a pencil on it. I looked all around this deranged workshop. Nothing here resembled a good person. 


I sat down and read the books on my powers. I was stunned to read what I could do, with practice of course. My powers have always been a distant part of my life. I never really aspired to learn the full extent of them. But I also saw something lurking in the distance. Something familiar. I went over and shinned a light on the figure. I saw him. The Candlelight man.
Chapter 49


I was paralysed with fear. A man from an organization in which I feared was standing in front of me. Standing before my very eyes. His eyes went up and down my body as he scanned me. 


He walked to a book and handed it to me. The Ancient Manuscripts was the name of the book. I had seen these before. Quetzali, maybe. He sat it down on one of the tables. He walked over to another book. The Life & Times of Alderbrian Karson. He placed it down on another table. Then he got a third book, located deep inside the bookshelves. 


Lola’s Tale. That was the name of the book. I was so confused. Who was Lola? What did she want? Is she alive? The questions came to me one by one. He placed it down on the third table. He opened each book to a certain page. He then ripped the page out. I was in awe. What was he doing?


He then pulled a lever on the wall. A fourth table rose from the ground in the centre of the three tables. It was a stone table. He placed and arranged each page under an ultraviolet light. Then it hit me. It was a map. 


The candlelight man pushed a button and a blue hologram showed up. It was her. The woman from the town on my way to Luxidor. She was Lola. I was stunned. She looked more beautiful in real life than I had ever imagined. The candlelight man began to talk. 


“You have met her before I gather. In Udurn.” 
I nodded. 
“She is a bounty hunter working for Diego Luxidor. She tried to kill you there, but she didn’t for some reason. You must know. I am not a villain. I no longer work for the Candlelight organization. I rebelled an… it didn’t go as planned. I have been riding on this train from place to place hiding in the workshop. Since you have figured out who I am, you must know the secret. I am the father of Alderbrian. Lola is the daughter of Alderbrian. I am to all-father.”
I fell to the floor. He was the all-father. A person who I only heard about in myths and legends. I tried to remember the stories but, I couldn’t. I couldn’t remember them at all. I got up to confront him, but he was gone. He had left a note. Don’t finish the train ride. Get off at Tiger’s Glen. There you will meet me once again to devise our plan. 
Chapter 50 
I left back to my bunk in X class. The rest of the train was… well… blown up. I slept, I got up, I ate, I drank and did it all again until the train arrived at Tigers Glen.
Three months later
I looked at the train’s map. Three more stops till Tigers Glen. I looked at the next stop. Peters Cove. The train had left Fins and was on the border between Khedive and Lexeme. I was technically in Khedive territory but was close to Lexeme, the side which bordered Parax. The train was churning at a speed which seemed faster than usual. We were stopping at Peters Cove. One person got on. Lola. She was hunting the train. Luckily, she got on at the X class cabin. She didn’t have a Q pass. But that wouldn’t stop her. 
I got out of my bunk and opened the door to Q class cabin. I shut the door and locked it. No one was getting in. I went to the bookshelves. It was like a labyrinth in there. Books for walls, carpet for floor. It was confusing. I heard a door opening. It was her. Two more stops until Tigers Glen. I wouldn’t make it.
I heard her footsteps in the corridors. She was getting closer. I could her whistling in tune of a horror score. It was worrying. 
“I know you’re in her Raymond.” Raymond. That was not my name. But… the candlelight man. She was out to get him. The train began to slow down for the final stop before Tigers Glen. It stopped. 
“You can’t escape me. I killed Alderbrian and I can kill you All-Father.”
She said all-father with a hint of spite and rage. This wasn’t a hit job. It was personal. Wait, Axal killed Alderbrian. Was Lola Axal? No surely not. 
“The eternals made me one of their own!”
I saw a bright light shine across the bookshelves. 
“I am now Azrael. Angel of Death. You can’t escape the person who killed your son. I may be his daughter by blood… but my loyalties lay with DEATH!!!” 
I knew Azrael. I had read about her in the books. She carried a blade that could wipe anyone out of existence. Someone had got on the train. It was Raymond. 
I saw her walking in the bookcase next to me. She was walking back to the workshop. I couldn’t let her kill Raymond. He was the only person left in the world that could help me. I saw her blade to. It was flaming with fire. 
I saw her confront Raymond. She shot a blade of pure light at Raymond. He dodged. He got out a blade. He lunged at her. He managed to cut a slice of her hair off. Lola only got more enraged. 
She shot another blast of light at Raymond. The train was on the outskirts of Tigers Glen, only a few minutes before the stop. Raymond was injured during battle. A blast of light hit his right side.
I had to do something. Now was the time to read a book on my powers. I quickly scanned a nearby book. I had to learn how to do a Mongolian Fire Blast. I did a few actions and… bam. A fireball hurled towards a bookshelf. It made noise. A lot of it. I heard the footsteps come in my direction. I began to conjure up a fire ball.
By the time Lola reached me I had a massive fire ball. I hurled it towards her. She cut it in half with her blade. The fire ball blipped out of existence. I had no time to create another one. I needed to grab Raymond and get out of here. I ran to Raymond and picked him up. I dragged him to the exit. The train began to brake. I jumped of the train, leaving Lola to her angered thoughts.
The last I saw of her was her face in the window, staring right into my soul, waiting for me to return to finish our fight.
Chapter 51
Raymond healed well over the next couple of weeks. We began our hike to Mt Khedive. From there you could see Parax. Even Luxidor. Raymond told me to learn new powers and harness them. I practiced them while walking in the endless fields of grass and dirt. Raymond told me he was a member of an organization founded in Quetzali. He also happened to tell me about the eternals. The organization managed to capture and send everyone back to their home realm but one. Axal. Makes sense. Axal didn’t go to her realm and well… Lola was also apparently Axal. Add two and two together and you get Axal walking among us as the angel of death. How pleasant.
We could see Mt Khedive from here. The journey up the mountain would be a bad one. Because I had never reached a height that high before means it would take twenty days to climb the mountain so I could climatise to the environment. 
There would be ten camps. Base camp, camps 1,2,3 and 4, camp 89 (that’s where the training camp is), camps 05,06,07 and finally camp peak. I knew what we were doing, I just didn’t know if we would survive. 
We stopped at a village nearby. They supplied us with food, water, clothes, and oxygen tanks for our journey up the mountain. We desperately needed it. It was the night before the hike. I was cold and hungry. I had had plenty of food for dinner, but I still craved food. I went outside to the kitchen to get some water and biscuits to help clench my hunger and thirst.
I saw something move. A wolf, no A tiger, no. A person… yes. I looked around. I got the torch from the drawer and shone it in a 360-degree direction. I saw a figure. My first thought was Lola, and yet it wasn’t. It seemed to a tall thin person. I walked closer. The figure didn’t move. I walked closer, and closer, and closer. Then he did strike.
I woke up in the back of a car. I pretended to still be asleep. Maybe I could overhear their conversation. 
“Diego will be pleased”
“What about Madame Lux?
They reminded me of someone. The bulky man at Luxidor Island. The ones I heard talking to Alexandra Lux. Of course, they would be working for Diego. They were his henchman. His hitmen. What I going to be killed? 
They pulled over the van at a refuge island. They threw me on a pile of garbage. Great. The two men drove off. For all knew, I was hundreds of miles form the camp at Mt Khedive. I walked out of the trash and onto the gravel road. I kept walking until the road became bitumen. I noticed a sign. 
Hiens 20 km - ->
<-- Khedive Border 140 km
<-- Mt Khedive 97 km
Great. I was 97 kilometres away from Raymond, the camp, and hope. I only knew Hiens was the closest city from here. My hopes were placed in the fact that maybe there was a bus going to Mt Khedive. And I was right.
A man named Rufus Gonswal had a long-distance tourist bus. The only bad thing was you needed one dollar per kilometre. I didn’t have 97 dollars on me. I didn’t even have ten. I had to find a way in the next hours to gain money.
After three bar fights, nine attempts at begging and a few kind souls, I was on my way to Mt Khedive. Hopefully Raymond was still there. That chance quickly depleted. I arrived to find no Raymond, I knew the organization was up there, I just had to get said there. There was no way in hell I could climb that mountain. 
I had to place my thoughts somewhere else for the while. I had to think about Lola. I had no idea if she was following us, if she was dead, if she had somehow gotten to Raymond. I needed to find her… and kill her. 
Chapter 52
I had left the camp and followed the train. Obviously, it was hundreds of thousands of kilometres away. I still walked on the tracks from town to town. There was only the one train that rode on these tracks, so I was safe. From trains. 
I night, I stopped at a rural town in the middle of Yurok Desert. It wasn’t very pleasing. I tried to get some sleep for my venture ahead. I would be walking for at least the next month everyday from dawn till dusk. 
I managed to last the first week before fatigue got to me. I had to delay my mission for three days to recover. Not the best start. On the other hand, I survived the next three weeks no problem. I stayed well hydrated, ate well, drunk well enough. Overall, I did well. That was until I met Rango Scott. He was – at the time of our crossing – drunk, angry for no reason and… well, classic drunk behaviour.
I ended up lying in the town hospital. Three broken bones and a black eye. I couldn’t walk for three weeks. Instead I had to walk around with crutches like a weak person. I was far from weak.
When I recovered, I heard news of an attack on a local city not far from where I was. It reeked of Lola. I travelled to the city to hunt her down. Turns out, hundreds of other people were to. That was bad.
The fight needed to be between Lola and I alone. No one else could be there. I tried to get rid of some people by telling them I had seen her circle back to the Yurok Desert. That got rid of most of them. MOST. I needed to get rid of three more people. Jack June, Uther Drakos and Karay Mondson. I needed to ward them off. I worked for June and Drakos, but not Mondson. What was he up to? 
The night had come were we found her. Lola Karson in all her glory. Granddaughter of Raymond. Child of Alderbrian. I saw her blade was more blazing than ever. Karay had the first shot. He attacked her from behind. She noticed, but he used magic. Who was he really?
During the action of battle, Karay’s mask came off. Wait. MASK! Raymond was Karay. I had found him. That’s how he used magic. We both shot her with fireballs and blast spells... Dealing damage like cards on a Friday night.
Eventually, Raymond formed a light sword. I sword that deflects all light, making it invisible to the eye. He stabbed and slices Lola’s arm off. I did the same… and missed terribly. 
The point is that in the end we got her pinned to the ground. Raymond and I cast a spell that would banish her to the void for all eternity. She would need another sorcerer to bring her back. After we rid of Lola, we searched her stuff. Bags, any items she left behind. One item caught my eye. It was the last stone. How though. It fell into the void. Could Lola, with the help of Azrael’s blade bring her back from the void. Unfortunately, we would never know. I would never know. I packed the last stone and binded it to me. 
Chapter 53
I decided I would leave back to my island. The journey her was shorter than usual, but now I had all the stones. Every single one. I could now summon the eternal gateway. That was the place of great power. There I could unlock my true potential. My true magical potential that is.
I’ll fast forward to the interesting part. From that point until me entering Parax is boring. However, this part is where it gets interesting.
Raymond had left me at Yurok Desert. Said he needed some space to process everything that had happened in the past moths. Although was reluctant, I said yes. Now I was drowning my sorrows in beer and rum. Scotch and whiskey all around me.
Where was I you ask? Club Twaz. The most famous pub in Khedive, Parax, Fins and Gorgess. Known for its ravishing wines and top shelf rums. It was located at the west point border between Khedive and Parax. Although a few meters away form me was my home state, I still had months of travel left.
I decided to cross the border the next day. I knew my journey was long, so I had to leave quick. Even though I had only walked a couple of meters into Parax, it smelt, felt, sounded like home. 
My island was 300 kilometres due north west from here. The fact that I had to cross marshlands, swamps, and dangerous forests to get back home was an unsettling one. In fairness I had made much more perilous journeys. I had to be careful about the path I took. There were three main ways to get back home. The swamp/marshland way, The Barren Forest way, or the Forex Mountain way.
The Swamp/marshland way was the quickest, but it meant I had to lose hundreds of valuable items to cross the water ways. It would mean I would be more vulnerable to the dangerous snakes and wildlife in the area. 
The Barren forest way was the longest. I could take all my items with me no problem but navigating through the forests at night and even day was hazardous and risky. The forest was made of thirteen different variants of forest, all with their own perilous risks.
The last way was the Forex Mountain way. This was the hardest and most dangerous route. It was not the quickest, not the safest, but it was the most obvious choice. Taking the Forex route meant I would exit only a few days away from home. In the end I decided to take the Forex Mountain route.
Chapter 54
I began the route by walking up Karting mountain, the beginning of the route and the Forex mountains. I had enough safety supplies, food, and water for the journey. The only thing I had to worry about was the caves. I wasn’t going to be walking above the mountains, I was going to be walking in the Forex caves, a notorious place for death.
I had to spend the first night on a cliff. I could already sense the creatures of the cave coming out to feast on the animals that lay below the mountain. I tried to get some sleep but, I simply couldn’t. The sounds of the monsters lurking in the caves haunted me. After about four hours of sleep, I began my journey up the rest of the mountains to enter the caves. 
I walked up the stepped west-ward cliff to find the entrance. It was an abandoned mine entrance. Wooden pillars rotted away after hundreds of years of not being used. The lanterns were out, the gravel on the path had turned black and brown from age as if they somehow rusted.
I entered with many doubts in the back f my mind. Holding a torch that was sure to burn out before I entered the main caves, I reluctantly walked through the mineshaft.
About an hour in, I heard the first of the deathly creatures. Their echoes resonating through and out of the cave. I could barley see what was in front of me, which didn’t help. I tripped on at least a hundred things before reaching the main caves. The deeper I got, the thinner the mineshaft became. It was extremely claustrophobic. By the end I practically had to wriggle my way through. 
I finally reached the end. I saw the torches on the walls of the caves. Lighting the bare minimum to see. The pool of water below seemed black from the shadows and blood. The entry point to the main cave was perched high above the bottom of the cave. A small narrow path guided me down the walking trail were the miners would have walked drowning in their own nightmares and fears. 
A couple of hours into the cave, I saw the first animal. A demented deer with three heads came running past the track. The mix-raced animals in here only grew with every day. Deer’s with dogs, spiders with… god knows what. The only thing for sure in the Forex mountains was that every animal had its dangers.
I camped at edge of the water. It seemed like the most dangerous place to sleep, but it was much safer than above on the cliffs and ridges. Looking up at the cave, I realised just how big this place was. The whole mountain range was essentially carved out, rock by rock, swing by swing, chisel by chisel. 
I managed to get a good night’s sleep. Even though there was no way of telling whether it was day or night in here, my body seemed to continue its daily routines. I walked through masses of smog, toxic vapour, and other fatal things. This cave only seemed to get worse. And I only got more correct. 
On my third day in the caves, I had to go down into a ravine. It was so wide it would take ages to form a way across. I had to go down, whether I liked it or not. As I took my first steps down into the ravine, I felt the ambience change. There was something down there that didn’t want me in the ravine.
Chapter 55
I continued my steady decent in darkness. I only had a finger sized flame going down the path. Once I reached the bottom, I relit my flame using oil I had collected from the well halfway through my second day. 
I was on my own. Not just in the caves, but in terms of the path. The path had eroded away. I had no way of knowing whether to go left or right. I decided to go left. For no good reason, but I had to go in some direction. I stumbled across dead remains, precious ores and everything form a to z. I needed a way out of this cave. I knew I was far from home, or the way out, but I needed to press on. 
My body started to feel tired soon after entering the ravine. I decided – going against every urge in my body – to sleep under a small cliff. I trusted gravity would win as I placed myself under the ledge. I slowly drifted of the sleep.
I got used to the sounds of the creatures. The howls and hissed echoing through the cave. I began my sixth day still in the ravine. I was very confident that I was lost. That was until I reached a point were the light was brought back into my eyes. Lanterns were placed in groups of three on the edge of the ravine wall. I soon saw a path. I was so thankful. I had found my way out of the ravine. Oh, was I so wrong.
After a while of my confidence boost, the trail started to dip. Further and further down. By this point I must have been somewhere below ground level. I realised the path had turned into a steep cliff side. I was soon sliding down the ledge. 
I landed in a pile of rocks and ground gravel. I had just slid down a ledge at least one hundred meters. There was no getting back up. I tried and tried again but I was stuck down here in the pits of hell. I began to think going right was my best option.
I walked aimlessly for ten days, down in the bowls of the Forex cave. I soon came across a light. A blinding light… and heat? What was this mysterious light? It turned out to be a forge. More commonly known as the Forex Forge. The most advanced and largest forge in all the lands. It was somehow still operational. 
I walked through the forge, next to the lava and the ores being smelted into ingots. It took almost a day to cross the forge. Once I did, I saw hope. I saw light. I saw a way out. I began to run to where the exit appeared to be. I was distraught when I realised what it was. A hallucination. 
I had been in the caves for so long I could even keep myself sane. I needed to find my way out. And I did, kind of. I found a path that took me up out of the forge area and above to the other side of the ravine. I was in the second half of the caves. 
I was in the section of the caves that was most unforgiving. Boulders fell from the roof, lava geysers opened everywhere with you even knowing it was there, creatures swarming and hungry everywhere you looked. It was a death sentence. My death sentence. 
Chapter 56
I walked through the perilous caves for three days and three nights. By the fourth day I had tackled many monsters, eaten many rotten foods, and slept sleepless nights. I was more than sick; I was on deaths door.
I had to get out of the caves. Not only did I not want to be in here, I didn’t need to be in here. I should have left the caves by now. Some days I struggled to walk. Sometimes I could even stand. I was becoming live meat for the animals laying in the shadows waiting for me to drop dead.
I got out my map of the Forex caves. The map said the exit was by the Lava Fall. It was the largest lava pool in Parax. Larger than a sea. After a while, I found it. The only problem was I couldn’t cross it. I had witnessed the stone passageway crumble away and fall into the lava. I was stuck. The worst part was I could see the exit. Only a few minutes away from where I was, but no way of getting there.
I saw something move in the corner of my eye. It was a wolf. Or a half wolf half horse. A Horf. I tried to stay still. Its eyes were directly looking at me. I had no where to run, but nor did the horf. I could see him planning his attack. I reached for my sword, already stained with blood. He lunged at me. I swung my sword and cut his leg. It grew back. The stupid animal had a healing spell cast on him… which means someone else was down here.
I had a plan. Get the horf into the lava. It would forever suffer being melted, then regrown and melted again in the process. It was the most horrible way to die, or not to die. I swung my sword and cut off its head. I only had a couple of seconds to push him to the lava. I pushed and pushed the horf to the edge of the lava fall. 
Its head grew back quicker than anticipated. It bit my arm, causing me to drop my sword in the lava below. I threw him over the edge, with my arm still in his mouth. I punched and kicked and wriggled my way out of his grasp. It fell to its death howling and screaming. I saw it plunge into the water. I still had a problem. Getting across the lava fall. I searched for a hidden passageway or a corridor taking me across the pool. I never found one, and yet I managed to get across.
The only way out was to fly. I had never really practiced that spell. I needed to learn it quick or else more monsters like the horf would come. I tried and tried again, but only a second or so airtime. I was not going to get airborne anytime soon. 
I focused all my magical energy to that one task. I did it! I flew across the lava fall. It was more than nerving flying across a pit of lava. I got to the other side safe and sound. I walked out of the caves alive and… still sick. 
 Chapter 57
I managed to heal myself quite quickly. Breathing fresh air and seeing the sun really helped. I felt amazing. I had to now make me was home. It was a long and tiring journey. On my way I saw a shop. Braidy Bargains. 
I walked in the shop. It was a nice little bungalow away from civilization. I saw they sold runes, gems, swords, rope. Anything a traveller would need. I search my bag for coins. I, in total, had 4 000 coins. That was enough to by a new sword, food, water, some rope, and a tent. Even though I was a few days away from home, I needed to sleep in something that protected me. 
Nightfall came, but I wasn’t tried. My body seemed to have gotten used to the caves. Now I had to do the opposite. It didn’t take very long for e to get tired. Walking in the night felt wired. My body felt the same way. 
Waking up the next day was a God send. Not because I got up but because I survived another night. The caves had changed something about me. I felt more… alive. More energized. I walked the whole day until I reached the ocean. Beyond this body of water was an island. My island. 
I had to get a boat. Not a very easy job. Thought a boat would be easy to get on the coastline. I was very wrong. I travelled all the way up and down the coastline. From beach to bush I searched for a way to cross the sea. I finally found a woman who owned a boat hire shop. I offered to buy the boat for three times the price. She reluctantly agreed. I got on my boat and sailed home.
A storm hit real hard the first night. I managed to survive hoping I was still on course. Three days later I arrived at a very familiar place. Melbrise. My hometown.
I got off the boat. I walked on the beach. The place where I camped after the death of King Bishop. I walked through the fields or crops. I saw the castle of King Bishop. Abandoned, but still scared form war. 


I walked into the forest and out the other side. I had never seen such as sight as confronting as this. Civilisation. People. Homes. I saw a whole community standing strong. I saw the train tracks. It was now a proper station. I saw people not hunting for a loaf of bread, I saw them buying it from a store. 


The place I grew up in, poor, undernourished, and sad, was now a township. Farms and houses, streets and roads, stores, and parks. This was not the place I knew all those years ago.


The last time I was here was when I was 8 years old. I, at the time, was 32. Where had that time gone. I was temped to move here, in this small community, but this placed was scared with memories only I bared. It was my own personal hell on Earth. 


Chapter 58
I arrived back home. My hut was still standing strong. I had gathered all my equipment and put it back in my shed. All the books now in their place. All the food now in the pantry. 
My thoughts turned grave as I unpacked one item. The last stone. I needed open the eternal gateway. I took the ten stones to the forest. I ventured to a place where the story began. I walked in the steps of Alderbrian. I breathed the air of a fresh place. I saw the ten stone runes where the stones were meant to be. I placed each one in their place. The doorway opened. I walked in. 

Submitted: May 06, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Aly Ross. All rights reserved.

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