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The Forge of Souls

By Amali Roarka All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Prologue

All was still and silent.

The Anvil lay dead in front of them, no fire to tickle the metal, no heat to warm them up.

It was dark, to say the least. He was most likely the only one who could see their horrified faces as they stood in the dark depths of the cave. The Forge of Souls, it was called. And it was dead, its heart lying in front of them, just a pile of cold metal.

He did not wonder what was going to be with them, but his companions did. It was written all over their faces.

No one broke the silence. They just stood there, staring in front of them. He was sure they could see naught, but they stared. They most likely still saw the scene from hours ago in front of them. He felt nothing. Well, almost nothing.

It was the first time The Forge of Souls was so cold. Its heart, The Anvil, had always been there, always warming up its insides. Now, no souls lingered around it like they used to.

"Thirey Pyl," he heard someone call him with a soft whisper of his name. With a glance, he noticed Er Hrishen turned in his direction, but her eyes did not see him. His companions were too young to be Darkness' friends. He felt like an old man, a wrinkled elder, though he was still young. A young soul, compared to so many of them which had fled upon The Forge's death. Only the five of them had stayed.

"What is it, Hrishen?" he whispered back. The other three paid no attention to them. They were the youngest of them.

"What... are we going to do... now?" she whispered so quietly he would not be able to hear her if the silence were not as dead as their home. He closed his eyes for a moment.

"The Ancients," he spoke. He only raised his voice the slightest bit, but it echoed like the deepest, loudest growl of a monster. The other three turned their heads towards him. Hrishen shuddered. Thirey guessed it was because of his words. The cold was around them for too long now to continue shivering and shuddering because of it. He just hoped it would not be their new home.

"Really?" the third oldest of them spoke. Bur Arlethip. A stubborn girl. "And what are They going to do?" She clenched her ethereal fists as pale as bone. She lacked the usual light blue hue of soul matter. "They will do naught but laugh and chase us away." There was pain in her voice, he noticed. She was not wrong.

"You are right, Bur," he spoke in a low voice. He noticed her face cringe the slightest. He remembered her as a living. She had never minded having her name ignored. However, she despised being thought unworthy and put low by others. He had known that, and he knew that now, as well. In both of her lives so far, they had been peers. He met her that way. He knew her because of that. Nevertheless, he could not suffocate the tradition of men calling women by their family names. It was equally demeaning for a man when he was called by his family name. Disrespectful towards both, but accepted when it came to women. At least in the world of the living. It would always anger her.

"Of course I am, Pyl," Arlethip spat. Coming from her, it stung more than it usually would. She flung her long, pale ethereal hair on her left shoulder and tugged on it, tightly squeezing it with both her hands, anger filling her grimace. She was again looking towards The Anvil, though her eyes could not see through the darkness. He saw her pale hands shake despite her attempt to stop it.

He wondered whether he should walk over to her and apologise, quietly, to her ear so only she could hear him. He had lived two lives with her by his side as a friend. Apart from her, those two lives had something else in common: how he apologised. For some reason he could not discover, he could never apologise to her firmly and aloud. The only way he was able to tell her those two words was by leaning down to her ear and whispering it. A long embrace always followed it. He was meant to have quite different lives when they were one after another, but those two seemed strangely similar. Was it because of her? He often wondered about that.

He sighed, keeping it quiet as possible. His eyes landed on The Anvil, as well. The five of them were once again looking at it. Well, only he could really see it. He ran his fingers up his left forearm and let his right arm fall by his side again. He did so several times. He felt the chill becoming colder and colder. So much, yet so little time had already passed since they broke the silence for the first time.

"It is time to go," he said. The heavy silence seemed to muffle his words, but they fought and echoed in the emptiness of The Forge of Souls. The four looked towards him. Arlethip still seemed to harbour the same anger from before. Stubborn girl.

"Where?" Hrishen asked. She had her arms folded. Her large eyes seemed wider than ever. There was an unspoken plea in them.

"Outside, for now," he replied after a moment of heavy silence. The Forge of Souls was now the home to sorrow, despair, cold. It was no place for them to stay, even if Darkness accepted them. It made it worse, if anything. Darkness' kindness when lending them sight was the only positive thing She was capable of.

They seemed to understand. With curt nods, they moved towards the exit. It was a long distance, many winding tunnels away, but every step brought them closer.

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