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Chapter Seventeen

The deeper we went into the cave, the more perplexing it had become. Stones began to move like water, and trees began to shake but there was no wind. Baffled by all of this I moved quickly to the forn.

I didn’t want to burden it with inquires, even though the sight was longing for answers. I noticed beneath my feet were cracks of luminescent light pulsing a white hue. The cracks became more prominent as we ventured further into this cryptic cavern.

Venturing further into the vast cavern, it soon began to darken, with only streaks of a white luminescent hue lighting our path. The forn stopped in its tracks as I continued forward.

“Augustine,” the forn called out to me.

I kept walking forward, ignoring the forn’s call, when suddenly; I halted at the edge of a colossal ravine. Nearly falling headlong... Breathing heavily, I turned to the forn and asked. “Where are we!?”

The forn stepped forward to gaze out into the ravine.

“Come, look for yourself.” As I approached the forn, I looked down.

Hundreds of luminescing crystals accompanied the gigantic ravine, varying in size, from tiny specks to gargantuan chunks, all working in unison, glowing and exposing the vastness of the cavern.

“Are those what I think they are?” I asked the forn.

With its gaze, the forn assured me that my assumptions were correct. This ravine bore a cluster of peregrination crystals. ---

--- “Blasted!” I bellowed whilst striking the heap of rusted gears and broken pipes. The contraption was in utter shambles, but in desperation I pulled the lever that was above it.

I halted, closing my eyes, pulling it, praying that it would lift the house. As I pulled the lever down, the gears at last began to move. Finally, I could hear the pipes rattle and hum.

“Yes! God, yes!” I breathed and fell to the floor in relief. This was short-lived, however, as the contraption began to bang and rustle. “No, no, no! Please! No!”

I pleaded with the motor as I gazed down at the machine, attempting to ascertain what the problem was.

The final crackle of the contraption broke me. Yelling out in anger, I persistently slammed the gears until my steel rod broke.

It was impossible to fix it. I had no knowledge of how the contraption worked. Even after four days of attempting to learn its’ inner working, nothing I tried had worked. I at last conceded failure.

Donning my frock and woolen mittens, I went out on the porch and stared at the gray and desolate valley.

The land was gloomy and surrounded by rugged mountain ranges. Black rock covered the ground, ranging as far as the eye could see. It was as if the spirit of the land had departed, carrying with it all life that had adorned the valley. There was no color or bloom to be found anywhere in this barren valley. Perhaps that was the beauty of it. Perhaps that was what stood out in this vast valley of barren rock, silence of the wind as I liked to call it.

Despite of desolation, I had this sense of dread; a sense of helplessness. I was in the middle of nothing. The closest elevated land was hours away from me. If anything were to happen, I could but run and hope for a swift death.

The wind began to blow so I returned inside, to tidy the house. I began with the shards of the peregrination crystal. Cleaning them up was a painful chore. My head began to pound and the weight on my chest became more prominent. Even though the shards were of no use to me, crushed and crumbled as they were, I did not want to get rid of them. Perhaps I thought in vain that one night they would magically reverse their crushed state, and once again become whole.

I was, to some extent afraid to leave the house and venture into the unknown. There were times when I could bear it no longer and would leave the house, only to return. The fear of leaving what I had known tormented me. My best option now was to get this contraption going.

The walls were cracked and deformed. I detested living in this house of shambles. It was worse than the cold which creeped through the cracks at night, mischievously waking me from my slumber.

Evening descended as I completed the cleaning of the dining room. I put the last chair in its proper place and walked back to take a broader view of the room. I was quite satisfied with what I had accomplished, and then I began to notice the many details I had left undone.

The rays of sun revealed the faint dust particles dancing in the air and landing on the dark wooden table. There was rust on the edges of the gray iron sink and scratches accompanying the legs of the spruce wood chairs. Miniscule breadcrumbs lay in the corner of the room. My eyes were jumping left and right, as flashes of the past blinded my sight. The laughter of Amalia, Bartholomew, Rahil and the professor filled my ears causing me to run out of the room and into the hallway.

A translucent figure resembling Bartholomew passed by me and greeted Amalia.

“Stop!” I yelled as I turned my back to them and closed my eyes.

I quickly ran upstairs and locked myself in a room. Faint whispers of the crew could be heard on the other side of the door. I put my hands against my ears and cowered in the corner of the room.

“Please stop. Please stop. It’s not real. They are all gone. It’s all in my head…”

I desperately attempted to comfort myself, when all of sudden, silence filled the house catching me completely off guard.

I cautiously rose from the corner and went to unlock the door. Peeking through the crack I noticed that my hallucinations where gone. Slowly I went down to the levitation contraption and sat next to it. I stared helplessly down at the machine with a tired and weary gaze. I had not the slightest clue where to begin, wishing at least I had someone to suppress my loneliness and fill my thoughts. I was running out of distractions and my mind was slowly caving in. God knows what waits for me next.

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