Sea of Stars
Grey stood there in shock, sitting on the cavern floor. He watched as stars filled up the darkness like drops of rain on a leaf. They twinkled from a distance, and everything was silent. Kayla looked to Grey for direction.
“What does this mean?” she asked him, looking at the darkness. The path had ended before them, leaving nothing but a bottomless chasm of stars.
“I am not sure,” frowned Grey, thinking back on his books. He had read many books about dungeons, but nothing about stars that had appeared beneath the ground. The thing about dungeons was every dungeon was unique.
He couldn’t make a guess by relying on information he remembered in books unless it was completely the same. For example, the 108th Dungeon ‘The Whirlpool of Dreams’ had many large lakes inside its jungle-like labyrinth, but most of these lakes were harmless except when occupied by a sea-faring monster. However, in the 127th Dungeon ‘The Mysterious Miasma’ the lakes teleported a person to different parts of the dungeon.
This area of stars was just the same. It could be a trap or have a hidden function that was not apparent from its looks. Grey could not think of any good solutions to keep them from falling into danger, and decided to ask the group what they thought they should do.
“We can’t go back,” said Lee, pleadingly. “Don’t go back.”
He was the one who had suffered the longest in the cave. If this expedition did not work out, they would return to getting beatings and starving.
“We should have someone go first,” said Erick, resolutely. “To see if there is any danger. If something bad happens then we will know how to deal with it.”
“Who will go?” asked Kayla. “We could draw straws? I heard my mother do something like that with her friends whenever they had a hard choice.”
“I don’t think we should draw straws,” said Mylene, interjecting. Her shoulders slumped. She looked at Grey with a straight face. “I think I should be the one to go.”
“No,” said Grey, quickly. What was Mylene thinking? He was working so hard to keep her alive. Did she want to kill herself? He wouldn’t accept it! “Anyone else can go, but you definitely cannot.”
Mylene trembled, unwilling to concede. She gathered up her courage and struck out her chest.
“I have decided. You…you can’t stop me!”
“Yes, I can!” said Grey, defiantly. He imitated how his father would lecture him when he had done something wrong. “If someone should go it should be someone who has a good at surviving. I am fast, I am strong, and I am smart. I think I should go.”
“I knew you would say that,” said Mylene, depressed. She wanted to stop him from volunteering himself, but had failed. Grey quickly guessed what she was thinking from the look on her face. She wanted to protect him like he protected her. Even so…she definitely could not go!
“Actually,” said Erick, placing his hand on Grey. “I think I should go.”
“Erick?” said Grey, taken aback.
“Yeah,” said Erick. “Grey you are right. You are smart…too smart. It would not be right if you went and got yourself killed. If there is another riddle later on what will we do if you are dead? Lee is a little weak from being here so long and Kayla is girl. My dad always said a boy should protect girls. I should be the one to go.”
Grey wanted to object, but Kayla and Lee held him back
“Grey. Let Erick do it,” said Kayla.
“You…” said Grey. He thought for a moment, and reluctantly turned away. Sometimes it was better to listen to what other people were saying. If something bad did happen to him….would Mylene be able to survive on her own. He wasn’t sure.
“Be careful,” said Grey, looking at Erick.
“Yeah,” smiled Erick. He walked out to the bottomless chasm. He whispered a light prayer to himself to keep his spirits up.
“I, Erick, am not a brave boy, but today I think my dad will feel proud of me.”
He looked around, trying to see if he could find something to grab onto. It was possible that they may be able to climb down or up to a bridge. He touched the darkness in front of him, trying to find a foothold. His eyes opened wide as his hand sank…into the darkness as if it were mud.
He had thought that the darkness simply meant that things were so far away that he couldn’t see anything. He did not imagine the darkness itself was actually a solid object!
“Erick!” said Grey, running to him. He grabbed Erick’s back to stop him from being pulled into the darkness. Kayla, Mylene, and Lee tried to help Grey pull him back, but no matter what they did he was being sucked forward
“Ah!!!” screamed Erick, being absorbed by the darkness.
“No!” said Grey. “I can’t let g-”
And Grey too was dragged into the darkness.
“Grey!” said Mylene.
“Stop,” said Kayla, pulling her back. “It’s too late! They are gone.”
“Shut up!” said Mylene, pushing Kayla back. Mylene stood straight. Her eyes full of determination. “I am going to save him. Stupid darkness! H-He is mine! Give him back to me!”
She leaped into the darkness, allowing it to devour her completely.
“She is crazy!” said Kayla, but Mylene was already gone.
In the vast emptiness of space, Grey flew through the pitch-black darkness as if it were a river. He was being dragged towards something, but he couldn’t tell where it was. Erick was in front of him, surrounded in a bubble of light. Grey looked at his own hands, and found he too was surrounded in a bubble of light.
What was going on?
He reached out in front of him, and suddenly the bubble stop moving, leaving him suspended in space. His feet touched something hard beneath him and he stood up, walking on an invisible path in the sky. The stars below him. The stars above him.
Erick lay on the invisible path, looking just as confused.
“Grey,” said Erick, groggily. “Where are we?”
“A different part of the dungeon. I think,” said Grey, contemplating. He tried to make sense of what he saw, and remembered the bubble of light. “I think we teleported.”
“Teleported?!” said Erick. “What’s that?”
Grey remembered that ‘teleporting’ was a word invented by mages to describe an aspect of magic. To a normal child. They would not have any idea what that meant.
“It is where you go someplace really, really fast,” said Grey, looking down on his feet. He really was walking on thin air, across the sky.
“Look. I think I see something.”
Grey saw a tall wooden post with a plaque that read. “Paradise.”
A shrine lay in the distance on top of a grassy hill, bathed in a white mist that rose from deep within the earth. A celestial shrine! Grey hurriedly followed the path up the steps to the door of the shrine. His heart pounding. He opened the door.
Treasure! Chalices of Silver. Emeralds. Rubies. Diamonds. A venerable chests of wealth sat brimming with glittering gold. He touched one of the gold coins and held it in his hands, admiring the shimmering sheen of its metallic surface.
Erick quickly followed behind him, and nearly fell backwards when he saw all the treasure.
“We are rich!” laughed Erick, running up to pick up several fist-sized Sapphires. “Rich! We will never need to work again!”
Erick picked up chest and began to lift it up. “We need to find out a way to take all of this back!”
“Yeah,” smiled Grey.
The two spent the next few hours sorting out the treasure, and taking a look around the shrine. The path ended here. There was no other way out other than the way they had come in. Grey had also found many books and set them up in a pile. If there was any magic in them. He would study them later. Once they figured out what to do with their new wealth.
Although they were now rich. They couldn’t spend any of their money. If one of the guards found out they had this much gold. Then perhaps they would get killed over it or robbed.
“We have to hide it,” said Grey.
“I guess you are right,” sighed Erick. They may be able to trade some of their jewels for food, but the coins could not be handed out to anyone without arousing their suspicions.
“We should bury the treasure somewhere and make a map to help us find it again,” said Grey, thoughtfully. “As long as it is buried deep enough. I don’t think anyone else will find it.”
“Okay,” said Erick, picking up his pickaxe. “I’ll start digging.”
“We should dig many holes to make it harder for people to find out where it is.,” said Grey. ” I’ll help you.”
The two began to set out on their work and began to dig holes all over the grassy hill. A frantic girl began to race towards the shrine.
“Grey! Where are you! I am here to save you! Oh! Treasure!”
Grey looked around, and laughed. He went over and found Mylene inside the shrine wearing a pretty silver necklace.
“Grey! You are okay!” Mylene ran up and checked on him. Her eyes turned suspicious “Is this a trap. Are you the real Grey? Maybe I am dreaming and have not woken up yet.”
Grey chopped Mylene on the head.
“Aya,” said Mylene, rubbing her forehead. “You are real.”
“Good,” laughed Grey. He told her about their plan to hide the treasure and they both went to work. Perhaps they would be able to get out of this place after all.