The Sanctum of Revelations
As Alan descended the steps to the sanctum, blissfully unaware of what was happening back home. He looked around, the stairway he was in was completely baren, other than the blue torch light every few meters. He went to take his gun out of his holster, but when he put his hand to take it out, he found to his astonishment that the pistol was no longer there.
“Fuck.” Alan said to himself, fumbling around the holster and then proceeding to his pockets, but there was no sign of the firearm, nor was there any sign of the knife he always carried. He looked down the flight of stairs thinking hard, if he turned back to look for his gun, he may never be able to enter again, on the other hand, if he continued, he would be going into the unknown, completely unarmed, minus his staff, which for some reason hadn’t vanished when his gun and knife had. A voice from behind him drove him out of his thoughts.
“Weapon systems. Offline.” The Bot said in a robotic voice.
“Re-engage weapons.” Alan commanded the robot, but it was no good.
“Weapon systems unable to relaunch.” The bot replied to Alan’s command. This at least answered one of the questions he had about this place. It appeared that no weapons would be allowed, or work in this strange place. He looked back at the apparently solid wall, waited a few seconds and left the sanctum temporally, just to prove his theory.
Once outside he put his hand on the holster and found the gun back where it had been, as well as his knife.
“Why do you wait brother.” The voice of Gerrard said, sounding like he was getting impatient. Alan looked over at the Bot.
“Wait here for my return.” Alan instructed the Bot’s. without their weapons they were of no use to him, and besides, he had his staff, which had not been taken away from him when he had entered.
“Understood commander Wolfrick.” The Bot spoke and this time Alan entered the sanctum alone.
Back inside the sanctum, Alan moved down the stairs more quickly, with the knowledge that his weapons would be returned to him once he had completed his mission and left this place.
“Welcome home brother.” Gerrard’s voice said, echoing all around the stairwell. “Beware, though, the forces of the enemy have already begun to temp you away from your goal.” Gerrard continued as Alan continued to descend until he reached a large cavern.
“Who enters my domain?” The voice of Xyla said, although Alan didn’t recognise it, he looked around drawing his staff to a defensive position, although without his other weapons he stood little chance against whoever was speaking.
“Show yourself!” Alan shouted into thin air, there was silence following this demand.
“Another Wolfrick who doesn’t know his place.” Xyla responded, which made Alan halt in his own demands, and wondered to himself, what in the gods name was this stranger talking about.
“Who are you?” Alan said looking around the cavern, he decided to take a more polite tone in the hopes that he could get whoever was speaking on his side. And for all his doubts, this process seemed to work as the voice responded in an equally calm tone.
“I am Xyla. God of the dawn.” Xyla responded. As a shroud of mist came up directly in front of where Alan was standing. As she deciding to appear to him in person. A tall, black woman with equally black hair and bright golden eyes came out from the mist.
“Your… you’re her aren’t you. The one my son told me came to visit him. After the attack.” Alan said stammering slightly. Remembering what Jack had told them about his encounters with this god. He also knew that whilst she was not wholly evil. This god was not above using innocent people for her own ends.
“That I am. And I do not use people for my own ends, let alone your son, despite what you think.” Xyla answered, whilst also rebuking his silent thoughts about her.
“Do you send my brother?” Alan asked. He had been wondering about whether his brother had help reaching out to him from beyond the grave. And a god like her would certainly be able to do that. However, this news seemed to anger the god.
“I do not bring people back from the dead!” Xyla shouted. “That is the work of my dark reflection. The one who shall never be named.” The god continued, and it appeared to Alan that the god was growing in size as she rebuked him. “Whatever your brother’s intentions are, I would be mindful of that fact Alan Wolfrick.” Xyla finished in a much calmer tone and returning to her regular size.
“What is this place?” Alan asked, he knew that the snow mountains were the biggest of the mountain ranges in the known world, but even he doubted that those hills could hold a place this big, whilst the cavern was empty, he was willing to bet everything he had that he could fit half the imperial city inside with room to spare.
“My home on your world. You are standing at the direct centre of the world, both geographically and magically, mortal.” Xyla said, looking around. “And I wouldn’t bet everything you have Mr Wolfrick, elsewise you would be a very poor man in no time at all. Not that time exists here.” Xyla finished.
“What do you mean time doesn’t exist?” Alan said making to look at his watch, but he quickly realises that too was gone, along with his weapons. ‘Great.’ Alan thinks.
“You could wait here, and an eternity could pass you by. End of the universe and the start of the next. And you could walk out not having aged a day.” Xyla said. And Alan wondered whether the god was trying to make him an offer to become immortal with this last statement. “But I digress Alan Wolfrick. You are here to recover the last of my gems.” Xyla finished looking at the mortal with curious interest. Before walking off, Alan was about to follow when an idea struck him.
“Can you see the future. Do I die soon.” Alan asked.
“Soon is a relative term here. Yes, your chapter will end. But when. I do not know.” Xyla said gliding back towards him. “Even the wisest can’t see all the future. But I think you still have a part to play in this story. Before it is over.” The god finished and glided off into the darkness. And Alan, now completely confused, followed in her wake. With a still lingering doubt that this was one of the temptations that his brother had warned him about.
As the pair continued to walk through the cavern, it was taking everything Alan had, not to think that he was being led on at this point, due to the fact that this god had proven her ability to read his mind. As they passed a collection five massive statues, Alan paused to look at them, they were certainly old and worn, with many cracks running down their stone heads.
“What are they?” Alan asked, continuing to gaze at the stone giants.
“You know what they are Alan Wolfrick.” Xyla said looking at the monoliths with nothing short of hatred in her golden eyes.
“The Raven’s” Alan said, more to himself. But these were different, they weren’t wearing the black robes that they were seen in now. These were wearing armour and on each of the gauntlets was an engraved stone.
“They were The Raven’s as they were. They were after all once humans. Not much unlike yourself, but then they were corrupted by him. And robbed of any humanity they had left.” Xyla said, looking at the statues.
They quickly left the statues at this, much to Alan’s relief, as for the briefest moment, he had start to feel something that was close to pity for those monsters. Until he reminded himself that whilst those men may have been torn apart by an even greater evil. They had murdered and slaughtered at will for many years before their torment.
He was still in his thoughts when he arrived at a large waterfall. He started, the falling water seemed to have appeared out of thin air when he approached it, given the fact that he had not heard the sound of it when he first entered the cavern.
“You will look into the water Alan Wolfrick.” Xyla commanded.
“What will I see?” Alan responded.
“Only you can find that out. Maybe your past. Maybe your present. Or maybe your future. But it will always be the truth.” Xyla said holding out her hand, gesturing for Alan to look into the falling water. And so, he looked. Initially there was nothing but the water. But then the water became solid and turned into glass.
He looked into the window and saw something that would not have been out of place in a horror film. The land was dead, he saw piles of corpses littering the ground, to the point that thy formed human dams across empty riverbeds. Turning to his right he saw a fortress in the hills on fire as the dead clambered up the slopes towards it. He then saw something a whole lot worse. Five black robed horsemen, driving the hoard of the dead up the slopes and behind them. A tall pale skinned figure with gleaming red eyes.
Alan had had enough, he pulled back and the glass once again became water. He looked around at Xyla who simply stood there watching him curiously.
“What did you see?” Xyla asked.
“Death.” Alan said, it was an oversimplification, but ultimately the truth to the matter, he had seen the apocalypse play out in that waterfall and was wondering how this god was acting so blasé about it.
“You are ready then.” Xyla said looking at him sternly.
“What do you mean?” Alan replied. Looking genuinely confused, he had just told her the seriousness of what he had seen, maybe not in words, but this woman had proven her ability to look into his mind.
“The waterfall shows what will happen if the gem is lost. Alan Wolfrick. Most whom come here lie about what they see. You did not. You saw the dangers in taking the gems out into the world. And have thus proved yourself ready to take them.” Xyla said.
“That was a test then?” Alan said looking back at the waterfall, which looked innocently back at him.
“Only the first. You have proven yourself ready to take. Others will follow. Whether you succeed in them, remains to be seen.” Xyla replied, she seemed pleased at him, although it was impossible to say if that was genuine.
“Now I see why this gem has remained unclaimed for so long.” Alan said in an undertone whilst also realising why Jack had been reluctant to speak about his encounters with the god. But he put all that aside as he followed Xyla towards his next trial.
“Where am I going?” Alan asked, it had felt like he had been following her for hours now, although he had no idea how long it had actually been.
“Your next test is across the bridge.” Xyla said as a stone bridge appeared in front of him, Alan looked over the side for a quick moment before pulling back. He had never like heights himself, and the drop seemed almost endless.
"What’s on the other side?” Alan asked of the god, although in truth he didn’t expect a straight answer and sure enough the god delivered on his doubts.
“Your fears.” Xyla said as she turned to face Alan and continued. “Are you ready to begin?” Xyla said. He nodded his agreement and walked forward to show his support. The god nodded as well and as she walked to the side, a bolt of sunlight came from the roof of the cave and illuminated a long stone bridge, which connected where Alan stood, and a small stone podium with two tall pillars rising a few feet from the ground.
“Free me.” A rasping voice said from across the bridge causing Alan to look up into the distance, but he couldn’t make out the speaker.
“Who was that?” Alan said, his voice echoing around the deserted cave. But no-one answered, he turned to face Xyla, or at least he tired, for the god had vanished leaving Alan alone. He continues to look around the cavern but can find no sign of the god. So not entirely sure that he was doing the right thing, he took a step onto the bridge. As Alan walks across the bridge, his mind returns to the voice that had come across the caesium, he had no idea who the voice had belonged too, although as he continued to walk, he expected that he would soon fine out.