Chapter Seven: The Cave of Mystery
Making my way up the staircase to the cave was terrifying. The way to the cave was constructed in the same way as the shining staircase leading to the kingdom except it was a lot smaller in length. I didn’t feel safe closer to the stars, since I found out that the constellations are actually prison cells. Orchid volunteered to go with me. I didn’t think she would do it but she said she wouldn’t let me go alone and I had to have someone with me who knew the myths, since she saw I almost knew nothing. It was sweet when you think about it.
The queen gave us only twelve hours to get back to her, but I figured it wouldn’t take that long. We were halfway to the top where the cave stood and we had to pass through another large gate with about twelve giant guards guarding it. Orchid looked just as tense as I was. Her brown eyes looked like they were swirling away, figuring out what to do. We made it to the top of the staircase at the mouth of the cave. There was nothing behind the cave so it looked like a black hole. My nerves were getting a little bigger because I had no idea what was going to be in this hole of blackness.
I took a deep breath and looked over my shoulder for one more time, admiring the palace below us, standing on the silver dark stones.
“Are you ready for this?” I asked Orchid.
“Guess so,” she said calmly. I thought about how confident she always looked, but I assumed she was just as scared as I was.
We both stepped into the cave at the same time. The cave was pitching black and any trace of the entrance has vanished.
Orchid took hold of my hand. On normal circumstances, I would have blushed because I barely knew her but I didn’t care. I was too scared of what I was doing. It felt reassuring to know that someone else was there. So I pretended not to think about the softness of her hand and the tingling sensation going down my spine. We took a few steps forward and started to see a little glow in front of us. I didn’t know if I should panic or not but Orchid didn’t seem worried.
We walked towards it and found that it was a torch that hung on the wall. I let go of Orchid’s hand and took it off the wall. We kept moving forward at a slow pace. The cave seemed to be round with a black sheet of rock covering all around.
“So I have to ask. Why were only six of the seats filled at the High Council meeting?” I asked her breaking the silence.
She locked eyes with me. Her eyes seemed to move like a muddy type of sand storm trying to figure out the best way to explain it to me. She paused and then opened her mouth.
“You see, after the creation of the world, there came a time of chaos between the living and non-living things. Kauri and his sister, Atropa, were appointed by God to protect the earth. To balance the nature between the living and non-living things. Atropa saw this as power, instead of protection and gave the greatest witch the world new, Weskapa, immortality. In return, Weskapa had to help Atropa try to take power over the world. Kauri, however, found out their horrible plan and after initially dismissing them. He got an army ready to oppose them both if they would become a threat, creating The High Council. He gave Ruth, an animal lover, immortality and she became Queen of the Animals and joined the council. He also gave Bevora, Queen of the Stars,” she rolled her eyes, “immortality along with the four kings, Adam Cornelius, William, Hendry and Aqualon. He then gave a mortal king, King Sapien, immortality, making him the advocate for all of humanity. Kauri became The Lord of the Forest, being the advocate for keeping peace and giving the others their abilities. Then King Sapien and King Aqualon didn’t show up for a meeting with the High Council one day and the rest of them found out that they were working with Atropa and Weskapa. Therefore they were banished from the council,” she finished that last sentence in a hurry.
It sounded really bad. All of those people betraying each other just to get power and greatness. I thought about how I never knew about any of this, an entire world. There was no use in being angry about it anymore. There was nothing I could change about it.
“So who is your father?” I finally asked Orchid the question that’s been burning me up inside since the queen mentioned something about him in the throne room.
Orchid looked me up and down. She hesitated but answered, “The mortal king. King Sapien.”
I didn’t know what to say but “Sorry.”
“Don’t be, he wasn’t a bad father at all. Everything was fine until one morning one of my father’s advisers came to my room and said my father wasn’t in the castle and that he said I should leave and hide out. So a handful of people came with me and we’ve been in one of the smaller villages in King Hendry’s kingdom ever since. My father’s advisors told me I should talk tell King Hendry what happened. So I did,” Orchid told me.
“It was just after the war broke out?” I asked sympathetic, seeing her as a small girl.
“No, actually, it was four years ago,” she said. “King Aqualon started it and after a while, my father joined in.”
It was silent except for the sound of the flickering flame. She was still extremely young to go through something like that.
I imagined Katherine felt the same way as Orchid, finding out her dad that she didn’t even know, did such horrible things. I guess my new dad wasn’t that bad maybe, although he did send me up here to do this. But I didn’t think he knew that this was going to happen. I hoped not.
We kept walking forward.
“So are you immortal also?” I asked her.
“Well no. I will turn seventeen in a month.”
I stared at her.
“When the children of the council turn eighteen, we inherit their immortality. It’s the first step towards us taking their places.”
The torchlight went out and I grabbed my sword.
“Who or what is the guardian of the cave exactly?” I whispered to Orchid in the darkness.
“The Night Dragon,” Orchid whispered back.
‘Dragon’ didn’t sound good at all. I mean how big was this dragon? What did a dragon eat? I had a feeling it was people that came into his cave. I was scared, there was no denying it. It was one thing to see a griffon, and that was scary, but a dragon.
We kept walking forward and we started to see a faint light up ahead. We followed the light into a chamber room with a golden chandelier hanging from the roof. It was a circular room and not to exaggerate but it was massive. I gazed at the chamber when something caught my eye. In the corner laid a black demon almost the size of a house, sound asleep on heaps of different pieces of gold.
The dragon had large claws with a long black tail. The dragon’s head was enormous and his mouth would be able to swallow me whole.
It had two big black horns coming out of its skull and two white fangs sticking out of his mouth. It didn’t look like it had wings, but then the monster stretched out and you could see two massive wings stretching into the chandelier light. The dragons black scales looked almost as large as my hand and it connected perfectly next to each other. The scales almost made a metal type of rustling sound as the beast was breathing. Behind the dragon, there was a wooden door.
“They put the gold there so that the dragon didn’t want to leave and that he would always protect the way in,” Orchid whispered. “He, how can I put it, fell in love with the gold.”
“How do we get past that?” I whispered to Orchid.
“Well, some heroes just sneaked by it.”
“But what if it wakes up?”
“There was no hero left to tell that part of the story.”
I hoped she was joking.
My heart skipped a beat. I looked over to the dragon and became aware of some pieces of bone lying mixed with the gold. I thought to myself we should just sneak around and try our best to avoid it. I didn’t want to face that thing, not to mention fight it. I looked over at Orchid and she understood.
“Oh and under no circumstances are we allowed to kill the dragon?” Orchid whispered.
Not that I was planning to kill it? I walked into the room, the light from the chandelier lighting up my face. We started making our way around the dragon, the beast breathed in heavily as it slept.
Everything went well and then Orchid stepped on a piece of gold. I think the sound my heart was making inside my chest could easily be experienced in the same way as the loathing in her face as I unleashed Pride. The dragon luckily only moved his head and kept sleeping.
We kept moving towards the door. I tried to open it slowly but it cracked just that little bit too loud and the dragon sprung to life, slamming the door shut with its tale. I was in a moment of shock because it was a little unexpected. I stared as the beast grew to life, its previous black complexion shivering into all the colours of the rainbow. It was in a way, quite beautiful. The radiation of changing colours off its skin, giving it an aura of mystery and splendour.
Orchid ran towards the other entrance and the dragon followed her just as I got the door open again. The dragon was too big to fit into the tunnel were Orchid was in. Now that he was standing you could see he was almost as high as the chandelier, missing it just with a few feet. It slammed into the other entrance, snarling and clawing. I had to draw its attention so Orchid could run into this one. That is what I should’ve done but instead, I stood there in shock. It was just so big and strangely enough majestic.
I ran to the place where the dragon was sleeping and picked up a cup of gold. I threw the dragon with the golden cup and it hit him on the head. It turned towards me snarling and glaring at me with big golden murderous eyes. It let out a breath, which I expected to be fire and it was, sort of. The fire steamed with the same rainbow colour as the dragon’s body. That was a clear indication of how warm the flames were. The dragon’s frustration was deeply evident as I ducked from the heat that was radiated. I was just too far from the entrance to run that way without the dragon intercepting me. Orchid sneaked out of the entrance and ran to the door as the dragon was turned to me. What now?
I stood frozen again and the dragon seemed interested in my strategy. Orchid stuck her head out of the other entrance and looked at me. She nodded towards the floor and I stared down slowly. A golden shield laid by my feet. It was too small to protect my entire body from a breath of fire; it didn’t even look that heavy. In a swift movement, I grabbed it and spun it towards the dragon instead of using it.
The shield hit the dragon in the face and the monster shook his head in confusion. I was right. The shield wasn’t at all heavy.
I charged the dragon with my sword. Just as it was about to blow fire, I slid underneath it and stabbed it in the knee. The dragon roared. I then ran to the door where Orchid stood. She looked passed me and turned around running. I made it to the door and shut it behind me. That went a lot better than I expected.
Orchid was sitting on a rock just a few feet away and her dress was torn on the bottom. My knee really hurt but I couldn’t see anything wrong with it as I heaved from the run. I heard another roar and there was a big heat wave. It was the dragon trying to burn down the wooden door.
“We have to go,” she grabbed my hand and we pulled each other up. We both ran for our lives, as fast as we possibly could.
We ran for about a hundred meters before we stopped. The dragon luckily couldn’t fit into the tunnel, I told myself to ease my nerves. It hit me what I actually just did and I had trouble believing it, but then again I had trouble believing everything that was happening. I had trouble believing life at the moment.
“Thank you for back there?” Orchid said.
“I normally manage fine but I don’t have a weapon.”
I was tempted for a moment to hand her Pride.
“Thanks for pointing out the shield,” I said.
“Well, I wouldn’t have spun it at the dragon but your strategy worked well enough.”
We kept walking forward. My knee was hurting a lot now and my pants were a little torn and wet around the knee area. I wondered how much further we would have to walk.
It seemed like we were walking for hours and we couldn’t see a thing now that we didn’t have the torchlight since I left it in the lair of the dragon. My mind raced. I couldn’t decide if I was madder at the king or Bevora. Or maybe I should be angry with my mom for not telling me all this or even my ‘dad’ I had all these years. I just hoped Katherine was alright.
I looked over at Orchid who didn’t seem like she could go much further.
“Maybe we should rest?” I told her. She sighed and sat on the ground against the cave wall. I didn’t argue. I also felt like I was walking with a ton of stuff on my back and with my knee, it was even worse so I joined her on the ground. There was still not enough light but I had to take a look at the knee now. I rolled up the one leg of my pants. It was nothing serious just a cut wound, probably from when I stabbed the dragon. I must have scratched it against something but it was bleeding a little too much for my taste.
“You got hurt?” Orchid asked concerned.
“Oh nothing, just a little cut.”
Orchid tore the little piece of her dress off that was already torn and wrapped it around my knee. With a few winches from me, she got it tied.
“Thank you,” I told her. “Again.”
“You’re going to have to say that a lot when you’re with me,” she laughed.
I rolled down the leg of my pants. I wondered if Katherine was doing alright but knew she was. She was a strong girl.
Orchid judged me, “Don’t worry, she will be alright.”
“Our families have been friends for a long time. You can basically call us family I imagine, even though it was all a lie.”
It was strange to think that in some way we were family in reality.
“She seems like a nice person. It’s strange to think that you turned out to be an adoptive family.”
“The King used adoptive last night as well?”
“I think you should talk to him about it, but just remember all the stories you hear aren’t always true.”
I decided I could fully trust Orchid, because Lynx said the exact same thing to us in the forest and so far, I trusted him the most from this interconnected world.
“All I can say is, not one of the four kings are blood-related in any way that I’m aware of.”
From the satyrs’ story, I knew they had different mother’s, but from what Orchid is saying, it seemed like their father, wasn’t their real dad? In all honesty, I didn’t want to think about what she was telling me. It was already confusing. Just the ideas of High Councils and protectors of nature. Even constellations had a different meaning now. Therefore, a messed up family tree was the least of my worries now. Although I knew that it might be critical for understanding at some point or another to fully understand this strange war.
I didn’t know what to say so we just sat there in the dark.
Orchid looked beautiful here in the dark. There was a slight shine coming from her blonde hair. I couldn’t see her lips but I could tell she had them pursed. Her brown eyes looked at me and then around the cave wall. She was lovely but not just in a beautiful way, in an intelligent way too. Staring at her made me forget about the stuff that was happening around me. She was just here and she was calm, that’s what I needed, calmness. The thought crossed my mind that I should kiss her but I just passed the idea away.
I stood up and gave my hand to her. She took it and I helped her stand up. We started walking again.
“Why Orchid?” I asked.
“Yes, I just realised I was named after a constellation of a terrifying beast. You at least have the name of a beautiful flower.”
“Actually, my father liked the complexity of the flower, more than its beauty. Moreover, the fact that it grows all around the world. So I can always find a little bit of home wherever I go.”
She seemed genuinely happy and heartbroken at the same time in the faint silhouette of her that I could see. I almost imagined a tear trail her face as she stood in a field of Orchid’s, missing her home. It made me feel homesick from my village, just by staring at her.
“You’re smart,” I observed like an idiot after what she said.
“You are too, for figuring it out,” I could’ve sworn that both of us were blushing from the most idiotic sentences ever.
“My sister is named after a flower as well,” I said.
“Violet right?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. “My dad used to say that the purple flower meant that your thoughts were always occupied with love. Which is why they had her, to show that their thoughts were always full of love.”
“That is beautiful.”
“And when she was naughty, my mom used to say that a white violet meant innocence, so they definitely named her wrong,” I laughed.
Orchid joined in for a giggle, before she started to realise the complexity of the situation I was in. Their stories however seemed like a lie at this point. A lie about lying about the world. A lie they just told us, but I was still sure that they did love us deeply.
The ground started to shift from dark sand to solid rock. There was a white glow on the floor, like a liquid that spilt and dried up. We followed the glow into another cave room with a lot of black stone pillars that went up to the ceiling.
One of the cave walls had white glowing writing on it. I rushed over with Orchid by my side. Hardly thinking that there might be something dangerous here because this was what we came for, it was what we needed. The thought of this wall containing the history of the world and even controlling your destiny, it was amazing. I went to the top at one corner and almost started reading when Orchid interrupted me.
“That’s the beginning. We can’t possibly read them all. Ours should be at the other end, near this day.”
I felt so self-conscious all of a sudden. I started to feel stupid. I followed Orchid for a long while as we walked down the wall side. The cave split its walls and there seemed to be endless writing everywhere in tunnels and caverns. Every big event in history was on the wall. There were stories, prophecies, and dreams.
“We could learn so much about it all if we had time,” Orchid was interested and sad.
I didn’t know how the cave worked, if someone came to write this stuff down, but I didn’t know and I didn’t need to, because the wall alone was complicated enough.
We made it near the end when I saw a piece saying something about a bunch of elements.
“Look at this,” I told Orchid and she stopped walking. She walked towards me looking at the wall.
Nature, Mortal, Element, Mere
one child of the council each.
Seven shall rise in the time of must,
with one normal, when in need.
Together they shall stand
till the end.
Friends they’ll be,
if they survive the war ahead.
Together strong but divided weak,
all to close the door of death.
Some will die, some will live
Time will tell.
“I know all of them,” Orchid said interrupting my reading. “It is the prophecy. The great quest. The one you had to learn about.”
“Wait, wait, and wait. Who are these people and what is this all about?”
“There was told long ago, as the prophecy says that there will be a great war and people will be picked to stop it,” Orchid explained. “You, your friend Katherine, a mortal, maybe even Daucus, are in that prophecy. A child from each of the four Kings, which represents the elements? Mere probably means for the mere people, but the king has many children. Myself for mortal. Nature must be a satyr or centaur or something. Or even the Animal Queen’s daughter.” Orchid seemed ecstatic.
“Alright?” I asked.
“This is great. We must tell this to the Lord of the Forest and tell the others,” Orchid went on, reciting the words as to remember them.
I looked back at the wall. And face? That’s where the sentence ends.
I didn’t like that.
“And face what?” I asked Orchid.
She stopped babbling on and looked at the wall. She looked frustrated with herself, like she missed something big.
“I don’t know?” she shook her head miserably. After she read it again she looked even angrier.
“Let’s keep going,” she said.
We walked further down the wall. I did not know what the prophecy meant but it didn’t sound so good to me. Some will die, some will live? The door of death?
I didn’t want to be a part of something like that, yet Orchid seemed so happy that she was. At least we know now that Katherine won’t do something horrible like her father, otherwise, she wouldn’t have been in the prophecy. Or that is what I assume?
“The least they could’ve done is finish the sentence,” Orchid muttered as we walked forward. I agreed with her. It was bad enough that I was in the prophecy, now I didn’t even know what I was going to face. I stopped walking.
“What?” Orchid turned.
“I can’t be a part of this. I’m- I’m a farm boy. My life was supposed to be nothing but ordinary. I was supposed to stay in my little one street village and not have to worry about all of this.”
“Leo-” Orchid said and it seemed like she was thinking hard. “Sometimes life gives us something more because it knows we can handle it.”
“But what if I don’t want a destiny?”
“Leo,” she thought. “We are all destined for some kind of greatness. We just don’t know it yet.”
I thought about it for a moment and it somehow made things seemed better. I didn’t want to be in a prophecy but being able to say that I did something that helped the world. That would be incredible. Maybe my life was worth more than just being a farmer or even just a prince. Maybe all of us, Katherine, Orchid and me, even my new father, maybe we had something inside of us that could make a change. Maybe our destiny can be for greatness, it is our destiny in the end.
“Okay,” I said.
Orchid gave me a heart-warming smile.
“You’re interesting Leo and I’m grateful that I met you.”
“Same to you.”
Orchid turned around and I followed her down the wall, her wavy hair hopping up and down as she walked in front of me.
“Wait? Why aren’t we going back? We found what we were looking for?” I pointed out.
“Oh, I think there is an alternative exit here somewhere. One that doesn’t involve a man-eating black colourful dragon.”
We kept walking as she made a good point. The writing on the wall stopped long ago but we still kept walking. It started to get darker as we walked away from the white glowing writing on the wall. It was a really long wall, I mean really long. This was going to be a long story one day and I wouldn’t want to be the one to read it.
“Dip your sword into this rock,” Orchid demanded, pointing at a rock that looked like a barrel.
“What?” I asked confused.
“Just do it. There is fluid in here that will make the blade glow.”
I did as Orchid asked and when I pulled my blade out, the silver glowed white like the writing on the wall.
“See?” she said cheerfully, happy with herself.
I thought about the way that she never seized to impress me.
We walked for about five meters when we fell. We were sliding down a tunnel, hitting our heads and butts on rocks above and below. My head spun around trying to make sense of what was happening. I dropped Pride when we fell and I could clearly see my sword moving down the tunnel. Pride was still the only source of light so it was hard to see now with it so far in front of us.
I tried to grasp Orchid’s hands because she was in front of me and I wanted to pull her up next to me so she wouldn’t fall, but before I could we reached the end of the tunnel. Light came from all around and I had to squint my eyes as we hit the ground. I fell on top of Orchid and she blocked my fall but I felt humiliated.
“I’m so sorry,” I said trying to get up.
“It’s fine,” she moaned from the fall.
I helped her get up. When she stood our lips were literally a few inches away from each other. I looked down at her perfect lips. If I wanted to kiss her now was the time but I looked around.
We weren’t in the cave anymore. We were at the entrance of the queen’s palace again. A bunch of guards were staring at us. I looked at Orchid but she wasn’t looking at me she was staring at the palace door. My knee hurt a little more after the fall. I decided to forget what happened and pushed open the doors.
The queen was sitting on her throne glaring down at us like we were an appetizer. Katherine was sitting on the steps leading up to the throne with two guards beside her, holding her hands in chains. She stood up when she saw me. She had bags under her eyes and her eyes seemed red.
“Let her go! She won’t harm us,” I yelled to the queen.
“Oh and are you sure?” the queen asked.
Orchid recited the entire prophecy.
“She is part of the great prophecy, part of the great seven,” Orchid said to my surprise, although if I remembered correctly there were eight names mentioned.
“Very well,” the queen said.
“Now let her go,” I yelled.
“In time child.”
“You promised!” I yelled some more.
The earth started to pull me down, the same happened to Orchid. It was almost like it was dissolving us or eating us. It was like quicksand.
“What’s this?!” I screamed to anyone who would answer. I looked at Katherine who tried to come forward but suddenly stopped.
“Ahh!” I heard someone scream but I couldn’t look, I was now feet level, sunken completely into the ground, my head not able to move. How quick was this happening, it felt like seconds? I started to have trouble breathing as my lungs were forced tightly together. I tried to open my mouth but it didn’t help. I blacked out.