Chapter 2 –
“I told you it was going to rain again!” Shouted Clark as they ran through a storm worse than the shower they had received earlier that day.
“It’s just a bit further!” Kayden yelled back, still not wearing his cowl which was allowing his hair to be soaked once more.
“What’s further!?” Clark asked, but Kayden didn’t seem to hear him over the thunder and rain. They just kept moving down a side path Kayden had suggested. He had no idea where they were going, but his brother had been certain that this would lead to some shelter for the rain. Kayden did know. He had planned to go down this road even if the rain didn’t fall. That just happened to work in his favor, and make convincing his brother to veer from their goal much easier. He knew exactly what lay beyond this path, and now it was just getting them there before the storm drenched them away, or worse something else found them.
As they ran down the muddying trail, they spotted a structure in the distance. They both let out simultaneous sighs of relief, though; Clark could have sworn he heard Kayden’s be one of excitement. He couldn’t tell with the other sounds around him, and just shrugged it off as paranoia. See, Clark had started to think that, knowing Kayden, he had planned to go down this road anyway. That Kayden had took them down this road on purpose, specifically for visiting this place. That was not a good thing.
As they drew closer, Kayden confirmed this when he looked back at Clark. He mouthed something along the lines of “There it is!” but it was lost behind crackling thunder. If the church was right, and there was one all mighty being, he did not want them communicating today. Either that or he wanted Clark to just go along with his brother’s plan. For Clark saw the excitement on Kayden’s face. The view of childlike wonder that a kid got from say looking in the window of a toy shop. Clark didn’t like that; Kayden was eating this moment up. This was his surprise, and he knew Clark was going to hate it.
They reached the structure, a large shambled tower. Pre-church era architecture from what Clark saw. It was the same type of structure that the mage towers, old as the stones on the mountain, deployed in their working. The stones were covered in heavy ivy, and there was obvious damage from the old wars, and even time itself. Though, the structure seemed stable, as if some old magic lingered in its mortar. Clark felt the tingling of magic as he drew near, and, as they reached a wall to get out of the rain, he realized where they were. They were in a ruin of Lyragon’s past. This was a relic from a time that was forgotten by even the elders of the Elven race. No one remembered who built them, or what they were for. It was actually forbidden by the laws of the church, one of the most vast and popular religions in Lyragon, to even set foot in these places.
They were scattered across the continent, and were marked clearly so no person would trespass. It was said even animals shied away from these places, as they were haunted by malevolent spirits and demons. That was what the church taught, and it was decreed in the scripture of their ancient text that walking upon the soil was punishable by death. Clark realized they must not have seen the markings in the rain, and hoped no one saw them go down this way. He really hoped this was not something hatched by his brother’s mind.
“Let’s get inside!” Kayden shouted, despite the fact that they were in a quieter, but still wet, place. Clark assumed his hearing had not adjusted yet, as he was cocking his only good ear to him to hear him better.
“Isn’t this a ruin?” Clark replied back, pulling his cloak over himself better as to not get his underclothes as wet. Kayden didn’t reply to that, Clark assumed on purpose. He knew the answer, and as his brother poked his head out into the rain from their outcropping of wall he was sure he had bigger plans than setting up camp here.
“There’s a door over there.” Kayden pointed towards an opening that looked like an oval. A large wooden door sat in its frame. “Let’s get inside out of the rain.” Clark was shocked at this. Who was this person, and where was his brother. He was openly defying laws that they’d known since children. Clark had always known his brother to be curious, but he normally, few exceptions in time, followed laws. This was a serious offense he was getting into. Clark was not a religious sort, not believing in the god the church professed as their “Almighty Father”. No reason to believe had been given to him except a book that he was supposed to take as truth. Elves and Dwarves laughed at the absurdities of it, and most mages did not follow a belief in it. It required devotion they spent elsewhere. Clark knew Kayden was somewhat on the same mindset, as he had not been on good terms with the priest in the church in their hometown.
Despite all of that, Clark still did not know what to say. He stared at Kayden for what seemed like several minutes before Kayden finally said words to convince him.
“Clark, I’m not sleeping in this rain.” With that being said, Clark full heartedly agreed and they ran through what appeared to be a courtyard to this door. As they got closer, Clark noticed the door was larger than he thought. It was set into the wall in a dugout area. To get to the point of entry you had to walk down stairs and the door still remained a person’s height above your head. As they approached the door they also noticed that it was not made of planks of wood. The stones where may have been large and brick like, but the door was one solid piece. It was as if a person had carved a tree into this shape, and they both assumed it was by magic. They didn’t have much time to appreciate it as when they got down the stairs they were standing in ankle high water. Clark was caught in hoping that it was locked, but in also hoping it was not. He was starting to feel just as curious as his brother, and he hated that. That was exactly what Kayden wanted, and he knew it.
The door opened with ease bursting open into the room. They quickly both got in and shut the door behind them. It offered no resistance to shut, and somehow no water flowed inward. They shut it behind them with a small slamming sound and noticed the door did not even try to budge inward. They could hear the wind and rain beating against it and the stone and yet it did not even stutter. It was quite amazing to them.
“I want one of these in my house when I’m old.” Kayden retorted and as they both turned around they noticed there were not alone. They stood in a room lit by a fire burning in its hearth. The smell of stew filled the air. It had a faint smell of pork, though they guessed it to be wild as it was a bit different. Amongst the light from that flame sat a few, nine to the brother’s count, people sitting on whatever they could find as chairs. To their looks, Clark guessed bandits, and Kayden confirmed that with a sigh and a glance. They all had hands on weapons that did not match their outfits. Some had swords with nice hilts; other’s held axes with shoddy blades. Kayden thought it they seemed very cliché. As they looked to be ripped out of a child’s story. Mentally, Clark agreed.
“Well, boys” A bandit, who appeared to submit himself as leader, spoke. “Look what the storm washed in.” Kayden assumed; if they weren’t illiterate, they stole that from the same storybook they stole the clothes. The bandits all laughed at his dialogue. The leader wore a blue bandana over his head, and a black quarter mask covered his left eye, blacking it out. Kayden assumed he was blind in that eye, as he didn’t appear smart enough to use that for anything else.
“Actually, we just needed a place to get out of the rain.” Clark said humbly, trying his best to be nice, hoping they’d just let them leave. Looking at his brother, he didn’t think that Kayden would let them leave. Kayden was standing in a way Clark didn’t recognize, but it seemed as if he was owning the space. To put it frankly, he seemed to be claiming it. Remembering placements of objects, for example, the tables in the middle that contained the bowls steaming stew, each bandit’s place and what they held. He was exhuming a respect for his brother with the recognition of that. That was brilliant of him.
In reality, Kayden was just trying to think of what he could do or say to throw them off. He knew he wouldn’t remember where each guy was. He wasn’t a photographic memory person. He knew Clark might be able to do that. In fact, Kayden hoped he would.