“Right then Kid. I will be asking for you whenever the need arises.” Eugene then stared into the tiny squirrel. She was literally moved by the fact that she had been protected by this tiny little creature all along and also by the fact that she’s got a husband who will come running to her in times of need. She loathed Jin who had deceived such a good man and was terribly sorry to Kasser. Such mixed feelings have brought tears to her eyes all of sudden. Soon, her vision got blurred and everything started to look hazy around her.
“Eugene.” then dropped from her eyes as she blinked. Watching his flustered face had only made her well up all the more. Soon, tears were running down her face without a letup no matter how much she tried to wipe them off with her hands.
“It’s alright.” Kasser pulled her hands away from her face and wrapped his arms around her back and waist to pull her close to him. He planted soft kisses on her forehead as he whispered, “Everything is fine now.”
Eugene sobbed and began to cry her eyes out in his arms. Before this, she never once had a good cry in her whole life, nor had she been dearly consoled in someone’s arms. She bawled her eyes out for another while, pouring out all the sorrows buried deep down in her heart, while feeling the gentle tap and stroke on her back of her husband.
It dawned on Aldrit that they were heading to a path leading down to the entrance of the underground lake. He was blindly following Mur for a while now, he surmised.
However, Mur changed his course and got off from the familiar route just before they could reach the lake.
‘Is something on this side?’
As it happens, this was the area where children often explored around for fun. It practically served as a playground for the little ones in the settlement and Aldrit had also spent most of his childhood playing here. Therefore, should there be other paths around this area, he would have discovered it long before.
However, the path was blocked by the stone wall at its end. There was nothing else, but a few stone towers built for wish making. They weren’t the sort of remains with profound meanings but only a plain stone tower of a man’s height with stones piled up on top of another every time people came to make their wish.
Just as Aldrit recalled, the path came to a dead end before long. And the stone towers were there just as Aldrit saw them last. Mur looked around the surroundings and started to move the stones that were lying around the floor here and there. He also did take some stones out from the towers while adding some new ones on the top.
Aldrit couldn’t help but stare blankly as Mur continued with his inexplicable behavior. Where was he taking him exactly? What he didn’t know was that the next seconds would change his life forever. His eyes were soon enlarged with great surprise when the boulder which he believed to be a wall started to budge. After the boulder had completely moved away, a dark interior revealed from behind.
Leaving Adrit confounded by the sight, Mur swiftly disappeared into the darkness. Aldrit followed in haste as he said, “Sir. Is this a different entrance connected to the outside world?”
“No. The only way out from here is through the lake.”
“Then what’s this?” Aldrit, who was following closely at heel, came to an abrupt stop after bumping into Mur’s back, when Mur halted before him.
“There are stairs down from here. Watch your steps as you follow.”
They started down the stairs. Aldrit was too focused not to misstep that he couldn’t speak a word despite all the doubts being raised in his mind. He only came to realize that something was odd after coming down the stairs for a while.
Turns out it wasn’t because his eyes had gotten used to the darkness. He was able to make out his surroundings as the place was lit up to the extent the steps were clearly visible. As it happens, there were lights beaming dimly in between the steps.
“Sir. What are these lights?”
“It’s the power of the spell.”
Mur answered without hesitation as if he had no intention to hide about it.
Aldrit had been taught that the only spell that was left to the tribe was the one in the form of a rune, which had to be inscribed on the body, to help them to avoid the lark. So, what Mur had just said contradicted everything Aldrit had been taught over the years.
Mur stopped short on the last step of the stairs. Then, he groped and picked a stone up off the ground.
“Take a good look.”
Mur then tossed the stone into the darkness. Followed by the clang of stone hitting the ground, lights glowed from the floor. The lights were then formed into some sort of geometrical shape which was clearly visible in the dark.
Doubtless, it was the same rune inscribed on the body of people in the tribe, but only in an enlarged form.
“Spell…” Adrit murmured with a blank look on his face.
“That spell is capable of transporting objects from one place to another. It’ll be initiated once something touches the rune. However, there’s no turning back once it’s been transported. Aldrit. I advise you to give it another thought. Once you get in there, you’ll be bound by the new spell, and you will be watched henceforth by it. More so, you will be marked as the central figure of the pagan religion.”
A pagan religion. Aldrit recalled things he’d heard from the queen not long ago.
“Is Mara… the pagan religion of your saying?”
“I see that you’ve learned quite a lot while you were away.”
“How will the mark be revealed?”
“The knights of Mahar will be able to detect your presence. However, you’ll be able to detect them as well if they should be in the vicinity.”
Mahar and Mara. Aldrit was rather excited than feared of the truths which he was about to learn.
‘I can finally be of help.”
He remembered just how much it pained him to face the disappointing look of the queen’s face. But now, he’ll soon gain all the knowledge where he would be able to answer the queen’s every question.
“If I may ask, I’ve learned that our tribe had discarded the ancient sorcery from very long ago. Then does it mean that all the history I’ve learned about our tribe so far was false after all?”
“They aren’t false.”
“I’ll go. I have no reason to hesitate after coming this far.”
A faint sigh escaped Mur. But at the same time, Mur was also proud of Aldrit for his firm determination.
The spell was initiated with the lights radiating in the shape of the rune from the floor as soon as the two of them stepped into the rune. Soon, their figure had disappeared into thin air without even a trace.