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Chapter 20

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Chapter XX

Rocksburg

 

The wind continues to howl as Dmitri climbs the slopes of Rocksburg, originally in had gone well, and he was able to advance up the mountain slopes with ease. That had changed however, once he had crossed the halfway point, the slope had become nothing short of a rock climb up the narrow dirt track. In fact, he had been half tempted to give up at several points along the acescent. From the ground, the path had looked easy to traverse up, but once he was up here, he had discovered their treachery.

“Can’t be too much further now.” Dmitri said to himself, as he clambered past a large rock formation in the shape of a black hooded figure. His ascent was made ever the more difficult by the long staff he had been forced to sling across his back, when he damn near fell to his death because he had been carrying the long stick. As he continues to climb up the mountain side, a few rocks start to fall beside him.

“Fuck.” Dmitri said, if the smaller rocks were already starting to fall, then how much longer would it be before the larger ones followed. Looking upwards he could see the weather paralleling this fact. Lightning bolts ripped the mountain side, as if the mountain itself was trying to dislodge its newest occupant. He had thought to himself that the mountain was itself a sentient being, when they were camped at its base. The storms that they had thought were natural events took on a much more sinister meaning if it was the case that it was the mountain trying to get rid of them. As he continued to ascend the mountain’s steep gravelly track towards the outcrop, larger and larger rocks started to fall.

“This defiantly isn’t natural.” Dmitri spoke to the night sky as he continued to battle the mountain for every pace he took forward, until he saw something wonderful. The outcrop was now, at last, in reach. He saw two white rock formations rising up out of the ground, with the path climbing between them. As Dmitri walked past, he noticed that they were not white rock. But bone, fossilised bone structures that rose three meters high. He rested his hand against one of them and choosing to ignore the jarring feeling that ran through his body when he made contact with the bone structure, continued on.

 

As Dmitri crests the final slope, he arrives on a rocky outcrop where, standing directly before him was a set of black pillars that curved upwards to from an archway, the entrance to the temple city of Rocksburg. Dmitri stands at the gates to the ruin city of Rocksburg, staff in one hand, gun in the other, both shaking slightly, partly due to the wind, partly due to his fear. As Igradust fades in next to him, despite the fact that he had seen the ghost multiple times before, he looked slightly different. There were fewer lines on the old man’s face, and his hair and beard were slightly darker, as if being closure to the temple was somehow making the ghost younger.

“Well, here I am. Can't believe I'm actually mad enough to go on your little mission.” Dmitri spoke to the apparition; he was already doubting his certainness about going inside. Why, well that answer was simple. As he looked at the blackened pillars, he suddenly realised that he was truly afraid for the first time since childhood.

“Well, someone has to do it.” Igradust said looking the soldier up and down before noticing the weapon in his hand. “Leave your gun, before you head inside.” Igradust spoke calmly, but his words frightened Dmitri even more.

“Why?” Dmitri said, he was certainly insane for even coming up here, but he wasn’t by any means stupid. And every fibre of his being told him that going into those ruins unarmed apart from the staff, which right at this moment felt as useful as a piece of wood. Was laughable. But Igradust was steadfast in his option apparently as he spoke once more.

“You will not need it. You will only need the staff.” Igradust said, with the utmost confidence of the sanest man on the planet. Dmitri just looked at Igradust dumbfounded before holstering his gun but not giving it up. As he approached the black arch way, he turned around to the ghostly figure to ask the question that he wasn’t entirely sure that he wanted the answer too.

“What's in there?” Dmitri said looking back into the black archway, it looked like it had been abandoned for centuries, but something told him not to be so certain on that fact. The black figure he had previously seen up here, was proof of that.

“Only what you take with you.” Igradust said and Dmitri shakes his head. Typical, you ask the man a simple, straight forward question and he gives you a riddle instead of an answer. He was about to challenge the old ghost on this but when he started to argue the figure of Igradust fades away, back into the darkness from whence it came. Sighing. Dmitri turns back around towards the archway before entering inside vanishing into the darkness. With a complete fear that he would never see the light again.

 

Once inside the temple, Dmitri was regretting not bringing anything that could provide him with a light source. And unlike Alan’s staff, his was unable to produce so much a glimmer that was able to break through the darkness. That was until, after a few minutes of blindly walking through the stone corridors. A series of lights came on directly in front of him. Dmitri paused at the sudden illumination. He was grateful for the light, but he had a bad feeling that they would lead him right into an ambush. But his curiosity of this place was too great, so he continued along the newly lit path, towards a set of steel doors, the first man made element in this place that didn’t have any form of damage to them.

He rested his hand on the steel for a second before quickly withdrawing it. Dmitri looked at the set of steel doors. He had expected them to be cold, but when he had touched them, his hand had been burnt from the touch. The doors were scolding hot, which did nothing to help his unease at this place, the metal should have been cold, instead the skin around his hand was burnt.

“Fucking hell.” Dmitri said, shaking his reddened hand, he had been wearing gloves, but when he went to examine it, he found that the glove had been burnt away, the heat from the doors having burnt right through the leather glove. And thanking the gods that he hadn’t put his bare hands on the door, he walked through into a large open room, that looked like the interior of a large stadium.

“What in the gods name?” Dmitri said as he looked around, he knew that the mountain that he was currently inside was huge. But this large auditorium room that he was in, was large enough to fit the entirety of Wolfrick manor in with enough room to spare. Large rows of seat lined the sides of the room, rising into the darkness above him. As Dmitri walked directly across the room, taking in what he could see of the walls and pillars, he noticed strange markings on them.

As he walked up to one of the walls, to examine the marking. He had the strange notion that he was being watched by someone. Or even worse he thought, something. He turned around quickly, but there was nobody behind him. Nor anywhere around him. So, he returned to the wall. Inscribed onto the wall was the same message repeated over and over again.

‘Journey into the light. Only the light can beat the darkness. Everyone will see the light. Those that don’t, shall be cured.’

Dmitri took a step back, the writing was the only thing that had been inscribed onto the wall, and although he hadn’t checked the others, he was willing to bet everything that he owned, that the same message was on every other surface. He was about to continue when a voice came from behind him.

“I hope you like the writings of our forebears, Captain Jones.” Colton spoke from his rear and turning around Dmitri came face to face with the man who had sent so many to their deaths, both Imperial and Barter alike with his endless raiding parties.

 

“You.” Dmitri said, drawing his gun out of instinct, before remembering what Igradust had said to him, and he lowered the weapon but didn’t holster it.

“Me.” Colton spoke. He was a fat man with a muscular man, with short black hair and a handlebar moustache that covered most of his mouth. “Welcome home, Captain Jones.” Colton said, smirking through the hair of his moustache.

“What do you mean?” Dmitri asked, he had never been to this place in all of his retched existence, thus he had no idea why this man thought that the old temple was a home to him.

“Why. It is where our organisation. The benevolent Answer was first formed. To counteract the lies of the west.” Colton said, almost chanting now. “You were a member, were you not, Jones.” Colton finished.

“I was. But not out of choice.” Dmitri said raising his gun again, at the figure that stood before him. As he walked towards the man, he saw his outline flicker somewhat, but assuming that it was just an illusion from the dim light that lit the room he ignored it.

“Why have you come to this scared place armed?” Colton asked, getting angry after he had noticed the weapon that Dmitri was carrying.

“Not exactly sacred is it. The home base of a lunatic organisation.” Dmitri replied, taking the gun and firing five shots directly at where Colton had been standing. Only to discover that he had indeed, been talking to a hologram. Or at least a crude version of it, as Colton’s voice was still transmitting despite his projection no longer being there.

“You will pay for your treachery; you will be shone the light. Or you will burn.” Colton’s voice chanted out, before disappearing just like it’s body, leaving Dmitri alone in the auditorium once more.

 

Having given up on the search for where Colton was hiding in this large stone labyrinth, Dmitri found himself well and truly lost, which was exactly what that man had probably wanted for him. He was, however, pretty sure that Colton had never even been in the building, which begged the question. If Abraham wasn’t the figure he had seen on the outcrop when the army had set up camp below the mountain, who exactly was it. He had initially dismissed the thought that it had been one of the five, on the basis that if it had been, then they would have been dead by sunrise. But now he wasn’t so sure.

As he continued through the corridors, he came to a small circler room, with a cracked table in the centre of the room, with a bloody knife resting on the surface. However, when he entered the table was no longer the creepiest item in the room, for at the far end was a black drape that, despite the lack of any wind, was gently moving as if it was caught in a slight breeze.

“What the?” Dmitri said, and as he advanced, he thought that he could hear voices coming from behind the drape. He continued to walk forward, although he was unaware of doing so, until he was a foot away and found his hand inches away from the curtain. At which point he pulled his hand back from the drapes and hurried out of the room. He wasn’t entirely sure as what was behind those black cloth, but he would take a guess that it wasn’t good, whatever it was.

Room after room, Dmitri passed as he continued through the stone maze, until he once again found himself, drawn towards one. The smallest room that he had so far seen. Inside was nothing but a pillar rising from floor to ceiling, halfway up the stone column however was nothing, just a gap full of nothing but air.

As Dmitri walked forward, he felt the staff, still attached to his back begin to vibrate slightly as he drew nearer. He took the long stick of his back and held it, gem first out in front of him.as he advanced the staff began to shake more and more violently until, going on nothing but pure instinct. Dmitri placed the gem into the gap between the pillars. At once the room began to revolve around until, getting dizzy, Dmitri took the gem out of the gap and turned around. He found the doorway that he had entered the room through still there, but other than that. He was in a completely different part of the temple. He had, in effect been transported from one place to another.

“Well. Shit.” Dmitri said as he left the room and back into a completely new stretch of corridor, wondering how in the gods name he was going to find his way out now.

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