Reads: 25

“so you are good?” Zane asked.

“yup. Just want to go back home,” Alisa agreed.

She kept her word, Zane thought. It wasn’t what he truly expected. Maybe it was useless bringing the sword…

“and everyone in the council except the youngest are the bad guys?”

“well, I'm sure of that now since you are trying to do the same thing as me,” Alisa said.

“Max had the key in his tongue?”

“Lucy probably took it out,”

“you are going to the surface now?”

“when Max and Lucy is here,”

“so you made a contraption—”

“I told you everything including the answers to your questions” Alisa said. “its all true,”

“I doubt it,” Zane said. “you are also saying that Ginny could be one of the bad guys. How come? She never talks. I get Samuel might be, but Ginny?”

“hey, that part is a maybe,” Alisa corrected.

“can they be really the bad guys?” Zane asked. “I mean what is making them the bad guys?”

“well, they are the ones I predict that knows about this door,” Alisa said. “yet they aren’t doing anything like researching what is up there to stop it so the life of this planet can go to the surface. Staying underground doesn’t make most things better, it is making things worse. Bemonats are dying,”

“hey, about that, would this be related to how Samuel isn’t even sick?” Zane asked. “all Bemonats his age has a bit colourless skin but his skin is normal. And he never coughed,”

“do you think, he can be—” Alisa began.

“going to the surface to survive?” Zane ended. “I mean he can, but if he is, how is he still alive? Do you think this gas thing might actually not be there?”

“what if it was just a plot? For something bigger to take place on the surface?” Alisa panicked. She and Zane were doing good brainstorming together, it was a good idea letting Zane know about it all. Though the duo of formulating got interrupted.

WHAT IS HE DOING HERE?!” Max shouted. He was about a few meters away from them, running speedily, Lucy and Gary on his tail.

“they are here?” Zane mumbled. “would it be a bad impression if I run away? Max will have a temper…”

“that will be a horrid impression,” Alisa said. “hey there!”

“ok, tell me what he is doing here,” Max panted, stopping beside them, and raised a finger at Zane. “I won’t like you even after whatever Alisa says,”

“are you okay?” Alisa asked. “you don’t look—”

“yeah I'm good,” Max said. “Lucy was good at it and healing potion was yummy, also the pain killer one. Now, Zane is going to go if you don’t tell me why he is here,”

“I have a sword,” Zane said holding his sword’s hilt tighter.

“why do you have a grudge against each other?” Lucy asked, next to Max with Gary, Gary who was staring at Zane, his brows visibly bent as if he is angry. Max must have told him, somethings.

“I don’t know, but I will keep it up!” Max said. “now, why is he here? I bet you took the potions!”

“here,” Zane handed him the map, leaving Max speechless, and took out a potion from his back pocket.

“okay didn't expect that,” Max said. “what’s going on here, and why do you have three eye lids?” he asked Alisa.

“wait what?” Alisa gulped touching her eyes. “what do you mean?”

“don’t worry it will go away after he squints,” Lucy said. “he over dozed himself,”

“oh that’s expected,” Zane said.

“when are you going to answer my question?” Max asked Alisa. “why is he here?”

In a few minutes, Alisa told Max and Lucy everything briefly while Zane stayed still, staring back at Gary. Max didn't like most of what his friend was saying but he had to accept it.

“well, join the team of friends, now becoming misery,” Max gritted.

“what was thee reason to say that—” Zane started.

“so, are we going the open the door?” Alisa asked interrupting. “like for real?”

“something can be behind it waiting for us to,” Lucy said.

“let me do the honors,” Max said, spinning the key in his finger. He walked up to the door, and looked at the keyhole. He hesitated for a while. This was the place that silenced his parents enough to do as his uncle said.

He pushed the key into the keyhole and turned it. They heard a loud ruckus of metal falling that scared Gary to run a bit far away. With a deep breath, Max pushed open the door inside and dust came out.

The others started coughing, worried that the poisonous gas had entered the undergrounds of Polatil. But no. It was just the dust that the gate to the surface collected over the years on the door. The others peeped inside curiously.

When the door was opened, it showed an almost endless spiral staircase that was built connected to the inner and hollowed wall of the pillar, made with metal or iron. It was a bit lively inside, since there was a long, glowing crystal right in the middle, emitting light showing barely any signs of dusk on the stair case, only the most under the stairs.

“woah,” Alisa got herself to say.

“this is place is sick,” Max gasped.

“its safe?” Zane asked.

“it looks like it,” Lucy said.

“I'm gonna go in first!” Max exclaimed, going to step inside, but Lucy pulled him before he did.

“no,” Lucy said. “only one person can go, just to be safe,”

“why?” Max asked.

“we still don’t know what’s there,” Zane said. “I say two people should go. And one of the two will stay in guard near the last step of the staircase if there ever will be. The other will go onto the surface and place the contraption, take a look around, see if the gas is gone, and then we both come back down,”

“you are a good planner,” Alisa complemented.

“thanks,”

“wait, why can’t I go?” Max asked. Gary pushed his owner away from the door.

“you might be still over-dozed,” Lucy said.

“oh yeah,” Max realized.

“and Lucy, you should stay keeping an eye on Max,” Alisa said. “I will go, and Zane can guard,”

“wait should I go?” Zane asked.

“you have a sword,”

“oh, okay,”

“and since I know how to start the contraption I will be the one who actually gets on the surface,” Alisa said.

“maybe, I will stay right by you,” Zane said. “I have a sword!”

“pause. You could be sacrificing yourself by doing this,” Lucy said. “why are you so calm?”

“well, we have been calm enough to come all the way here,” Alisa said. “I have confidence to go to the surface, and find out why Samuel isn’t bothering to do something, and what’s with your uncle, Max,”

“would love that,” Max sighed.

“but, Alisa, I thought we will be going together,” Lucy said. “I don’t want something to happen to you without it happening to me,”

“it might take over an hour going up the stairs, but it will be less than ten minutes one the surface,” Alisa said. “I will be fine, as long as I have the suit—”

Thump. A thud came. The sound echoed all the way down to Azure. It came from the surface. The others skipped a heartbeat. 

“what was that?” Max gulped, bending down to rub Gary’s head, who was sort of whimpering. He can sense that something is wrong.

“something,” Zane said. “I thought it will be quiet there,”

but what if that isn’t the only thing you should be afraid of?” Lucy asked fearfully.

“it won’t be long,” Alisa said, looking over at the stairs. “we have to find out what that sound was now. And, checking up on the surface will tell us that, and what is there will decide our next move with this key,”  

“sure you will be okay?” Lucy asked.

“nothing can happen up there,” Alisa said. “Samuel must be going there to get starlight from our star, right? He looks fine,”

“hey, you are right,” Lucy supposed. “maybe that’s the only reason he is keeping this place a secret. So he can have it all to himself,”

No, that isn’t right. Zane thought. He would hide it if it is a bigger reason.

“if I'm going,” Alisa started and went to the bag. She took out two suits and one of the two bags of crystals, since she will be not needing all. “I would love carrying something less heavy,”

“you said it wasn’t heavy,” Lucy said.

“you knew that was a lie,” Alisa laughed. “I will be back really quick, just guard here, someone might come,”

“like who?” Max asked.

“you said your uncle was very obsessed with this, he might come to check if there is anyone here,” Alisa said.

“uh oh,” Max sighed.

“I'm going?” Zane asked.

“yes,” Alisa said.

“you are serious?”

“I made up my mind,”

“ok,” Zane said. He might sound chilled, but inside he was panicking. He didn't think he will be involved in it this much already. What was he supposed to do? Was he supposed to attack who or what made that sound? Is it the weather that’s being so loud? Why did he even bring the sword? That’s definitely what made up Alisa’s mind…

Is he going to see a star for the first time? The sky? Would it be morning or night? Are there really not going to be any crystals hiding what’s over him? This is a strange thing to get used to, and strangest from Zane’s point of view. He was born underground, and obviously didn't get a chance to see the surface. He seen some on the internet, but never with his own eyes in reality. Would he get a chance to see Polatil’s rain?

Some planets rain is water, ice, diamonds, stones, glass, or acids. Polatil’s rain is small ice droplets shaped like tears but would deform into other shapes if the wind is strong to one direction, according to the researchers. Nature on the surface and inside, both Polatil has, is beautiful.

“bye,” Alisa waved. She and Zane stepped inside.

“don’t close the door till we come back, but close it if something else is coming,” Zane said.

“what can come?” Lucy asked.

“definitely a bug, like there should be one coming out right now…” Max started.

Lucy and Max watched them walk up the steep stairs speechlessly till Alisa and Zane went out of their view. They were gone.

“good luck,” Lucy said under her breath. Lucy and Max was nervous, but Lucy was more nervous since she thinks of things on another level. She hoped that they wouldn’t need a reason for Zane to use his sword.

 

????

 

Walking up the staircase was super hard. Physically, it was steep and some were a bit bent, and it is always hard walking up the stairs more than it is going down. It wasn’t built securely that much. There was about hundred flights of stair cases for Alisa and Zane to walk up.  Zane was now holding the bag on his shoulders, hating the nerving silence. He didn't want to be quiet in this place, he didn't feel like he had to be.

“do you think there will be something up there?” Zane asked.

“that thud didn't come from nothing,” Alisa said merely. “maybe, but I'm too mad at Samuel to think about what,”

“why would you be?”

“well, Perry and Samuel are Bemonats, but Samuel is in the age of getting sick. Why isn’t he sick? Is he having the surface to himself?”

“maybe, I suppose,” Zane said.

“if he is the one who owns the other key, it means he was the one who might have murdered your father before he can go on to the surface,” Alisa said. “I think, your father got a hold of the duplicate key and tried to go to the surface to do something. You told me he ran away to here with his sword? Well, he was going to be a warrior and save Polatil from something in Azure or the surface but Samuel got him,”

Samuel. Zane thought in anger. The one who said to lighten up that day.

“I'm going to avenge him with his sword,” Zane said. “if that bastard was really behind his murder—”

“he is behind whatever is on the surface,” Alisa said. “I don’t believe he is only keeping the surface for himself. That is too useless,”

“but for now, lets think that the thud was something like a small thunderstorm,” Alisa said positively.

“eh?”

“it’s the lighting thing from the sky,” Alisa said. “I don’t remember seeing it at Earth, but I think I heard one,”

“oh I read about that too,” Zane said. “turns out that it’s the other way to get electricity directly,”

“you like reading?”

“Polatil is like a fantasy land in stories, it like a place people who doesn’t know about magic thinks that is not worth escaping since it’s all magic,” Zane said. “but everyone needs to get out reality to a place they want to spend time in. Reading tells me a lot about surface-lands, and reading them makes me live in another world. If I read at night, I go to these places in my dreams. It greater to know that it isn’t reality, whatever goes wrong is fake,”

“that’s some deep-thinking,” Alisa said. “I wonder, if I can still go back to my home-planet. I wonder if my family still remembers me,” Zane started laughing.

“what?”

“you just said you wonder if your family remembers about you,” Zane chuckled. “this is your family you are talking about, you know that?”

“I do!”

“they aren’t going to forget you,” Zane said. “you spent your life with them till you got dragged into Polatil,”

“I fell…”

“the point is, family isn’t going to forget about each other,” Zane said. “they are still waiting for you to come back home, and they aren’t going to forget any of the special moments you spent with them,”

“they might not, but I did!” Alisa whined. “I forgot so much! What will I say when I come back to them? Would I recognize them? Have I forgotten their real faces?”

“first, it has been about or almost ten years since you have been in Polatil away from your family, do you think they will look the same as always?”  Zane asked. “second, I have noticed you forget a lot of things. Yes, since the time I met you, I can see that you forget a lot,”

“I do, a lot,” Alisa said. “but that was a bit before. Now I remember things more clearly. I remember how my family looked like at the time being, but I'm not sure if I'm right since my mind might be just making it up. But I still hate myself for not remembering much. I hate it,”

“well, it isn’t like you forgot you woke up when I cheered when I found the map,” Zane snickered.

“wait, what?”

“I got in your house to get the map obviously,” Zane said. “I got so happy when I found the map that was just chilling under the bed! Didn't think it was there the whole time. And then you woke up,”

“what did I do?”  Alisa asked, still stunned.

“you just stared into my soul and went back to whatever dream you were having,” Zane said. “I'm guessing you didn't see me or something, I thought I was caught for sure, but I wasn’t,”

“so I simply continued to sleep?” Alisa asked.

“yeah!”

“wow, that would have been weird,” Alisa said.

“well lucky for me!” Zane laughed.

They continued their conversation for what seemed to be a long time. Walking up the stairs, regretting not bringing a water bottle, made it seem endless and also it made them think they spent a lot of time inside the pillar.

They didn't take a break since they didn't want to waste time, but they thought of the end as a place where they can take a break so that’s was something that gave them a boost. It got darker than before, and then they came to the end of the crystal pillar, now they were in the outer layer, the dirt of Polatil. The length between Azure of Polatil’s underground world and the surface was just about a few meters or more. The crystal layer and the dangers of the surface and itself didn't have much of a gap. They were close.

It was getting much harder, and they started sweating even if it was getting colder the higher they went. They can tell the surface is cold, or the cold that is bothering them is a foe waiting for them to come. The cold didn't feel natural, it felt wicked cold. It didn't feel right. It made them uneasy and unsafe.

“look,” Zane stopped to catch his breath and pointed up. Alisa looked and saw the end of the light crystal, and its light also showed a metal door, to the surface. Finally. They knew it led to the surface.

“let’s go!!” Alisa cheered and ran up the stairs with Zane. They didn't look tired, but they were desperate to achieve.

They went up quickly and just in a few seconds they were right next to the door. They both sat down on the stairs next to the door with a bump.

The door was metal and didn't hold a lock. It had some designed engravings on it, like an ancient door in a mythical story, but they didn't pay much attention to that detail.

“that took forever!” Alisa sighed.

“but we are here now!” Zane sighed, and took off the bag from his shoulder and threw it on Alisa’s lap. “you know what to do now,”

It was time. Alisa didn't have an ounce of fear in her. She was too happy. She was now unbelievably close to go back home. She will still need an aircraft to go to earth, or maybe a union with a teleportation sorcerer, but checking what is on the surface is the hardest part of the plan. Well, that’s what Alisa thinks.

“wear this over your clothes but that thing that holds the sword,” Alisa said and gave Zane one of the suits. Both of them wore it. It was incredibly heavy, mainly because of the oxygen tanks. It was hard wearing it, the plastic covering their face made their vision a bit blurry. Zane held the sword in his hand, waiting for Alisa to open the door.

“what are you waiting for?” Zane asked. “let’s get this over with,”

“yeah,” Alisa sighed.

“what’s wrong?”

“do you feel that?” Alisa asked. “I just noticed it,”

They both stayed silent for a while. The door was constantly shaking with impacts from what was behind it. It was the sound of massive things falling on each other. They felt it. It was like, something was being destructed on the surface by quakes through the ground. Alisa got nervous now. A lot. She felt like she was trembling now. The sound, it wasn’t normal to just happen. There was something or someone waiting for them. Her edginess was telling her that. She started to wonder if the nature was able to make such noises naturally. They made it so far up near to the surface, but they haven’t felt anything natural yet.

The door didn't have a lock, but Alisa stared at its handle as if there was one to open. When she opens the door, there will be more answers, or more questions? More opportunities, or dangers? Freedom, or what else?

Alisa didn't want to continue her trail of thoughts and pushed open the door. Cold fog entered and both of them stepped on the other side of the door and closed it without giving some time to look around on the surface in case they would lead the toxic gas inside. Zane grasped his sword, Alisa turned around, expecting to experience the worst. 


Submitted: May 14, 2021

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