Chapter 4: Farewell, Earth
Chapter 4: Goodbye Earth
let his head rest against the metal exit door once silence had fallen
over the campus. His eyes showed emotion, but he found not the words
to express them. His hands lazily laying against the ground, as if
he'd given up on something. Renne put a hand on his shoulder, earning
a look from the boy to which she offered an encouraging smile.
"Come on. I have a feeling your friend will be fine. Let's go." She said, motioning with her head away from the building. Riy seemed hesitant, but something caught his ear.
"Friend huh... guess I never thought of him like that." He said, turning on his backside to face the girl. "He's always just been this, nice track teammate." Renne crossed her arms and smirked.
"Guess you aren't so alone then, huh?" She quipped, turning away. "If you still want to come after that, then we need to hurry. I'm sure this incident has drawn the attention of the locals." Riy sat there for a few moments, raising a knee and placing a hand on it, thinking. Renne looked over her shoulder, a little concerned but that faded when the teen rose to his feet, dusting dirt off of his jeans.
"Alright then, let's go." He said. Renne grew a content smirk, putting a hand on her hip.
"Well, follow me." With that, she started walking away from the school building, and Riy wasn't too far behind. They quickly distanced themselves from the track field, towards the front of the west wing of the school. A black car was parked just outside the steps, illuminated by the dim streetlights nearby. The windows rolled down as the two teens walked forwards towards the vehicle, revealing Alistor sitting in the front seat.
"I see you've made up your mind." He said to Riy, who nodded, straightening his jacket.
"Yes." He responded. Alistor made a motion with his head as the sound of doors unlocking were heard, and Renne reached over and opened the front door. She looked over her shoulder, nodding to Riy.
"You get in first." She said. The teen complied, stepping forwards and getting into the car via the front. Alistor pushed something on the dashboard, and the back of theseat next to him suddenly leaned back, allowing him to get into the back seat easier. Once he was situated, Alistor pushed the same button, causing the seat to rise back again and Renne got in next. She shut the door behind her, keeping the window rolled down and then Alistor reached for the wheel.
"So what's the plan, miss Araa?" He asked. Renne placed her hands in her lap and curled her lips.
"The warehouse by the lake. The gate there should still work." She explained, her gaze wandering along the various objects outside the car. Riy leaned forwards, his face between the two seats.
"What's this gate? Where are we headed now?" He asked. Renne narrowed her eyes.
"We're going to Arlaum."
hours passed since the trio left the front of the school, having put
it long behind them. Their vehicle was moving along a small road
surrounded by various trees, with bushes and flowers scattered about.
The branches hung overhead, casting a unique shadow over the road
under the moonlight, and small animals ran between the
Inside, Renne had fallen asleep with her head resting against the back of her seat, while Riy was watching the landscape continue to change as they headed towards their destination and Alistor kept his eyes on the road, As he watched a raccoon climb between tree branches, something crossed his mind, and Riy leaned forwards towards Alistor.
"Hey, Alistor." He asked.
"Yes?" The teen paused.
“Do you know anything about this place we're going to?" Alistor removed one hand from the wheel to stroke his chin, and nodded.
"Once." He replied. Riy furrowed his brows, his head tilted sideways.
"Once... what?" He repeated.
"Once. I went there once. It was a year ago. Quite a fascinating place, Arlaum is." He explained as they turned a corner and came out from under the tree branches. They now were in an open meddow surrounded by large fur trees, with a single large body of water to the right and a cabin right next to it. They could see twigs and leave across the patches of grass, and fireflies danced in the air around them.
"A lake... in the middle of nowhere?" Riy breathed in surprise. Alistor turned the key in the ignition while simultaniously pressing down on the brakes, bringing the car to a stop and turning the engine off.
"We're here." He announced, nudging Renne with his foot. The girl blinked a few times in response and stretched, yawning. She rubbed her eyes and stared at the lake, seeing the reflection cast under the night and sighed.
"We're getting close." She stated, a hint of exhaustion in her voice. Riy's brows furrowed as he scanned the area from his seat; something was tugging at his mind.
"So where's this 'gate'?" He inquired.
"It's underneath us." Alistor unbuckleld his seatbelt and opened his car door as he said this, stepping outside and shutting it behind him. Renne did the same, and Riy was close behind. Once they were all outside, Alistor ran a hand along his forehead and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Underneath us?" Riy mouthed. Renne nodded as the teen walked up next to her, pointing to the lake. "Hidden beneath the lake, to be precise." Riy frowned.
"We're not going to swim to that, are we?" He asked, his voice showing his nervousness. Renne giggled and shook her head.
"Of course not! We're taking a different way." She replied, stepping forwards towards the edge of the lake. Riy leaned his head sideways in confusion and watched as the girl knelt down at the edge, and began running a hand along the ground. Alistor stepped up next to the young male and placed a hand on his back.
"What's she doing?" Riy wondered aloud. Alistor looked to the boy and pointed to the lake.
"She's making our path." He responded. Riy looked confused, but figured he'd know what the man meant soon enough and focused his attention on the lake. Renne continued to move her hand along the edge of the lake, muttering something to herself. For a moment, it seemed like she was just petting grass, but then she said something.
"Almost, there!" An audible rumble was heard and then Riy nearly stumbled backwards, feeling the ground shake beneath his feet. He moved his arms out to gain some balance, and kept his eyes trained on the lake. What he saw next, took his breath away.
The water of the lake had started to rise into the air. Not all of it, but a large section was definitely going upwards.
The remaining water didn't swarm the empty space like it normally would, instead it sat in places, as if being held there by a force. The ground then started to slant downwards towards the very bottom of the lake, where a hole was opening up.
"Whoa." Was all Riy could say. Alistor chuckled, patting the boy on the back with a grin on his face as they watched the spectacle unfold.
"You're having the same reaction I did when I first saw this." He remarked, watching as the lake water that now lay suspended in the air. It was a mysterious sight; the water neither move nor changed shape. Renne let a relieved sigh escape her mouth before rising to her feet and turning to the two men behind her.
“Alright, we’re all ready to go.” Alistor nodded, still grinning and patted Riy on the back again.
“Let’s go kid.” He said to the teen. Riy slowly walked with the man towards the lake up next to Renne, who motioned with her head.
“it’s this way.” She stated, then started down the slanted path that dove towards the deepest point of the lake. Riy was surprised, as if the girl wasn’t afraid of the water suddenly caving in. Then again, she was from another world entirely, so who knows what she’d seen by now. Taking in a big breath and steeling himself, Riy stepped forwards onto the path. Then two, and eventually more, with Alistor close behind.
“Wow.” Was all he could say, glancing from left to right at the sight of the water cascading downwards, but never swarming towards them. Alistor laughed and put a hand to his side.
“It’s a magnificent sight. Don’t worry, there’s plenty more of this were we’re headed.” He said. Riy looked to him, a sign of interest present in his eyes.
“Really? Say, what is this place like?” He inquired. Alistor put a hand to his chin and went into thought for a moment, then responded.
“It’s truly a marvelous place, I’ll say. There’s no way to describe it with what we’ve got here on Earth.” Riy looked back towards the path with wide eyes. Was this place so different from Earth? What was he getting himself into? He had to put that thought process on hold, as the trio now stood before the gaping hole at the bottom of the lake. Renne kneeled down and peered inside, then nodded to the two behind her.
“No one’s here. We can go.” She said. Riy turned to Alistor, a little nervous at the fact that he couldn’t see anything past the hole. Just blackness, inviting them to jump into what could be an endless void. Alistor noticed the boy’s hesitance, and laughed, stepping forwards, pushing the boy with him.
“Come on kid! Let’s go at the same time!” He exclaimed. Riy gulped, and peered inside the hole. As he suspected, he could still see nothing. If he had any second thoughts, the teen had not the chance to act on them as Alistor leaped forwards, dragging the boy with him. The older man yelled with excitement, extending his arms outwards as if he were on a giant slide. Riy cringed, still not seeing anything. He snapped his eyes shut and braced for what every impact was coming up.
Splash! The teen his body’s decent halted suddenly, and slowly started to float upwards. He opened his eyes, and realized what it was, water. Quickly, he pushed himself up to the surface and let out a breath of air upon reaching it, desperately clawing his way towards some semblance of solid ground. Feeling his fingers touch cold wet stone, he flopped his body onto it and let out several more breaths. Alistor just chuckled while climbing out of the water, shaking his arm to wring out some water.
“Ha ha ha! That makes twice I’ve gone diving into a dark cave with water.” He shouted, very evidently enjoying himself. A third splash sounded behind them, signalling that Renne had followed suit, and she quickly moved towards the solid ground and climbed out. Her hair, now thoroughly soaked, clung to her shirt and face, as did her clothes. She shook her entire body a few times, expelling droplets of water before turning her gaze to Alistor and Riy.
“Always exhilirating, isn’t it?” She asked the older male. He nodded and glanced at the boy on the ground.
“Yeah, should really do it more often.” He replied, crouching down and grabbing hold of the back of Riy’s shirt, yanking him to a sitting position. “Hey kid! We’re fine, get on up!” Riy grumbled to himself while slowly rising to his feet and turning around. Wherever they were it was dark. Next to no light was present in the aera, with just the outlines of cave walls and the pool of water visible.
“Peh. What is this place?” He asked, shaking his body to get water out of his clothes. As Renne started walking towards one of the walls and placing her hands on it, Alistor pointed over his shoulder with his thumb towards a single tunnel straight across from the water.
“We’re in the gate’s cave. It’s not that far now.” He said. Riy frowned and crossed his arms.
“You’ve said that several times now. What ‘gate’?” He responded, clearly confused. Alistor simply shrugged in response.
“It’s a tad difficult to describe in words. It’s…” Turning over his shoulder he saw Renne approaching with what appeared to be an unlit torch in hand, and she nodded to him. “A portal to Arlaum, if you will.” Riy dropped his arms to his side.
“Sounds like something out of a book.” He noted. Alistor chuckled.
“Oh it’s very real. Trust me, you’ll see what I mean.” He responded eagerly. Renne stepped in between them, clearing her throat and turning to Riy.
“Let’s go on. I want to get there quickly, in case someone is really following us.” She stated, and ran a hand along the surface of the torch she held. In response, a symbol on its iron surface sudden glowed a bright orange color, and almost instantly, flames shot forth from the top, gathering together and creating a light source. Riy breathed out in awe again.
“That’s, cool.” Was all he managed to say. Renne smirked, and walked over towards the tunnel ahead.
“Onwards!” She proclaimed with a wave of her arm. Riy and Alistor quickly jogged up to her, following the girl into the tunnel. Inside it, the younger male noted how close together the walls were in comparison to the ceiling, which was high up. Feeling a bit clausterphobic, he shuddered.
“A bit cramped in here, isn’t it?” He remarked. Alistor shook his head, running a hand along the jagged surface of the wall.
“Eh, sort of. I think of it more as, anti soldier defense stuff. You could never fit through here in a suit of armor.” At soldiers, Riy grew interested, then remembered that Renne had mentioned there was wars that were fought in her world. Somehow, the teen imagined it wasn’t done with guns or explosives.
Their track through the narrow tunnel was short, as soon they found themselves in a much more expansive network of caves and pathways. Some were hanging overhead, lit by the same torches Renne held, others were lower down, surrounded by running water and vines that crept along the walls. The entire area seemed a mystic blue under the light of the torches, and the ground itself was a dense brown. Seeing this, Riy was amazed.
“How can a place like this stay hidden from the rest of the world for so long?” He wondered. Renne motioned with her arm, turning a corner and continuing down a slanted path that led to another tunnel.
“It’s protected by a special seal created in my world.” She explained as they stepped into another narrow passage. “Created by what are called Spiritists, otherwise known as ‘those gifted with magic’.” Riy put a hand to his chin at the words ‘gifted with magic’, and inwardly nodded. Yep. Definitely not fought with guns.
“Strange sounding, ain’t it?” Alistor said out loud, earning Riy’s attention. “A world with a completely different structure of society than Earth. I for one, hope no one else ever finds it.” Riy looked down at the ground, his remark made him think about something. It was true, that Earth was looking for life on other worlds. Maybe…
“Here.” Renne’s simple comment drew him from his thoughts, as they stepped out of the narrow passage and into a more open chamber. This one was more orderly than the one they’d arrived in. Very round in shape with a low ceiling. Towards the center of the room, there was a platform composed of a white stone substance; stairs of the same kind led up to it. There were pillars at the four corners of this platform, with torches hanging at the fronts. Alistor wrapped a hand around Riy’s shoulder and pointed.
“Look at that. We’re here.” He told him. Riy’s face had gone white, not of fear but of shock. Intricate patterns were carved into the cave walls here, making various shapes and symbols. Vines curled along the pillars, reaching for the flames of the torches, and droplets of water occasionally fell from the ceiling. Renne stepped forwards with a sigh, and smiled.
“Almost home.” She murmured to herself, then turned to the two men behind her and nodded. “Step on the alter.” Alistor quickly complied, making his way for the stairs but quickly noted Riy wasn’t behind him, and glanced over his shoulder. Indeed, the teen was standing in place; he could see the gears in his brain turning.
“Come on kid, we gotta go.” He said. Riy blinked a few times, snapping out of his trance and walked quickly up to Alistor, following him up towards the center of the platform. Glancing down, he saw what looked like a symbol engraved into the stone, one he wasn’t familiar with. While observing this, Renne stepping up to the center with them and looked to Riy.
“Are you really ready to go? This might be the last time you see this place, for a very long time.” She said. Riy nodded.
“Yeah, I’m ready.” Seeing a new conviction in his eyes, Renne stepped towards the center of the symbol on the ground, and shut her eyes. Extending both her arms in front of her, she breathed out.
“I am Renne Araa, heir to Fenrir’s throne.” She said out loud. As if in response, the symbol on the ground lit up, a marvelous rainbow of colors shot forth around the trio. Riy watched different colors swirl around them, then looked to Renne who gave him a nod. He then looked down, and widened his eyes. His body started vanishing, from the feet up. The teen saw that the same occured with Renne and Alistor, who were silent in this process.
“Keep calm kid. We’re heading over.” Alistor said. Riy relaxed his shoulders, but continued to watch as now his lower body had vanished into the lights, the mysterious occurrence engulfing his stomache, then his chest along with his arms. Then, slowly, his shoulders. Breathing out one last time, he shut his eyes as the last of his body vanished into the air, saying these words.