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Chapter Twenty-one

Fitz’s persistent whimpering awakened me from my nightmare. He seemed to be in a fearful state, lying in the corner whimpering with his tail tucked between his legs.

“What Fitz?” I inquired, restlessly.

Fitz kept his gaze locked on the front door, and I decided to inspect the source of his constant whining.

Approaching the porch, I gazed out into the cold, dark valley. I saw nothing but the barren wasteland for which I had become accustomed.

Deciding to return inside, I noticed red dots on the rugged mountains. I squinted my eyes in an attempt to ascertain what the dots could be.

Realization hit me like a jolt and I rushed back into the house, closing the door, and barricading it with a nearby shelf.

Turning my head towards Fitz, I reached out to comfort him.

“It’s ok little one. They can’t get you in here.” I was quite terrified myself, since there were a multitude of red dots on the mountains, gazing down at the house.

Later that day, I was researching the writings in the professor’s library, trying to discover Fitz’s breed and the foreign language which I had heard in my dreams.

I had at last, found a book, which contained a section dedicated to Shadow Hounds.

“Ah, there you go Fitz. Look, that’s you!” I showed Fitz an illustration in the book. Fitz lay down beside me showing a measure of displeasure.

“Ok, ok, ok…” I uttered as I read through the text. “Aha, I think I might have uncovered your predicament,” I added. “Hounds which are born into the sun’s rays are deemed passive. Passive hounds are killed and eaten by the alpha hounds. In most cases they first begin by eating at the horns.”

I halted and lowered my voice.

“Ripping them off in a sign of dominance…” I slowly turned my gaze toward Fitz.

He seemed to stare out at space as if looking at nothing. I felt a sense of regret, knowing he probably did not understand the words I was speaking, and yet, it did seem as though he was processing what I said.

“Well, Fitz. You are a strong little hound; I respect you for it.” He did not react to my words, continuing to stare at the blank wooden wall. “How about a truce. Would you like some steak?”

Fitz perked up as he lifted his gaze at me and wiggled his fluffy little tail.

“I thought so.”

Approaching the cellar, I noticed a book which was sealed in red. It was forbidden of course. As I looked closer I noticed that the seal seemed to have been broken. Against my better judgement, I picked up book. As I opened it, I noticed that the writings were that of the professors. His handwriting was quite unique. In places along his writing he had drawn pictures of the dry landscapes and dead objects.

Flipping the page, I was dumbstruck by the imagery. The landscape which he had drawn was akin to the one I had seen in my dream. This but intrigued me more, since next to the drawings were translations, of these perplexing symbols into Latin.

Hastily I made my way into the living room with a dictionary and writing stick in hand. Flipping through the book I was able to discern the translations of many of the sentences

“De pugione, non est tuus”

“Animam vis esse liberum.”

Many more phrases were scattered on these pages. I was in a great state of bewilderment and was unsure how to process what I saw. I proceeded to translate the words which I had heard in my dream along with the perplexing symbols, dreading its meaning

At last, after many hours, I had discerned the translation of the words which were uttered. Staring down at the text, I was quite puzzled as to its meaning.

“Vos autem unus ex nobis.”

The meaning of these words continued to elude me. I searched until the sun dipped beneath the rugged mountains. Nowhere in the writings did it speak of these matters. It seemed to be drawings of a place which had no name. The translated scripture was nothing but random sentences that did not seem to connect in meaning.

Frustrated, I threw the book across the room and went over to the contraption in an attempt to suppress my irritated state. As I was working on the machine, questions cluttered my mind.

I felt completely unprepared for what I was sent out to do as if I was sent without knowledge of the situation. Truly, I had no clue to what was happening. Were the claims of the professor and the sentinels true? I desperately tried to suppress my thoughts of dread, for the more I lingered on it the more I realized how much of it was but an enigma to me.

The following morning, I at last, decided to walk about the valley to see if there was any value at all in this this barren cold waste land.

As soon as Fitz and I stepped out of the house, I was filled with a strong sense of oppression. I had always experienced an aversion to the unknown. The unknown to me was like what I experienced in nightmares, nevertheless, I overcame this feeling with the help of little Fitz who nudged me off the porch.

The rocky ground was hard and black, resembling a frozen river. It stretched out for as far as the eye could see. The distant mountains encompassed the land on both sides.

Every step further from the house made my heart beat faster, and my legs feel like rubber, but I persisted, and with the aid of Fitz, we ventured far into the barren valley.

It was truly painful to walk on that black rugged rock. Its uneven surface was constantly causing me to twist my ankle. In spite of it all, we finally arrived at the narrow entrance to the valley. In reality it seemed to resemble a grand canyon with a narrow entrance between the rugged walls of rock and ice.

Fitz halted in front of this colossal entrance and whimpered.

“What is it, Fitz?” I asked him.

Turning my gaze towards the pathway, I noticed the sun began to set behind the mountains.

My eyes widened. I had completely forgotten about the time!

“C’mon Fitz, we have to go.” I fretted, as I began to hastily walk back to the house.

The house was quite a distance from our current location, so I hastened my step.

After a few moments had passed, I once again began to feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise, and a sense of dread began to fill my mind. I looked back at the canyon’s entrance. There looking back at me were numerous red eyes, lingering in the shadows.

“Faster Fitz! Faster!” I yelled out as I began to sprint forward.

The shadow of the mountains began to engulf the barren valley and I could hear the hounds growling at the edges.

Breathless I persisted, constantly tripping and falling on the rugged black rock. Fitz was by my side trying to pull me up with his jagged little teeth.

Knowing we would never make it; my mind began to frantically search for an alternative.

“The satchel!” I quickly kneeled on the ground and began to frantically rifle through it hoping to find something that could assist us. “C’mon, c’mon! There’s got to be something!” I muttered.

The shadow was still a short distance from Fitz and me. I soon began to discern their horrid shapes lingering in the shadows. Their bones protruded from their constant hunger and their teeth were covered in dried blood.

Presently, I found an ordained candle with an emblem of the sun engraved on it. I was unsure of its use or how to execute its purpose. I did, however read the caption underneath the sun emblem.

“Sun’s Inferno.”

Frantically, I began to search for a match or something with which to light the candle.

Noticing two black rocks which resided on the ground, and with the assistance of my dagger I attempted to create sparks.

The hounds were a few meters from us, and I could already smell the foul stench of rotten meat and blood.

The candle would catch the sparks but refused to light. Already in a state of great panic, as the shadow moved forward, I threw the rock at the hounds and moved away with the candle.

In a desperate attempt I took out an amulet and again attempted unsuccessfully to light the candle.

One of the hounds viciously snapped, nearly biting little Fitz, but the sun’s rays scorched the hound causing it to move back into the shadow.

Feeling hopeless, I nevertheless looked once more into the satchel. Gratefully, I found a small flint rock with the same symbol as was on the candle.

Quickly removing it, I laid the candle on the ground, once more attempting to light it as the hounds continued to growl, impatiently their drool dripping on the black rock.

The candle still would not light. This being my last hope, I could not give up. Even though I knew the candle would not work, I continued to try.

As the shadow engulfed the candle, I tried to reach for it but the hounds were quick to snap at me. Barely avoiding the snarling hound, I jolted back. Once more, in desperation, I attempted to light the candle. At last a flame was brought to life.

As the fire burned, the emblem began to glow its rays growing stronger until it finally drove the hounds away into the dark.

The glow of the candles blinded both me and Fitz, as we hastily scrambled up and ran forward.

Fitz and I ran with all the speed we could muster. My lungs felt as though they would burst from lack of oxygen, but I could not halt my journey.

For almost an hour we ran, until at last we entered the safety of the house.

“Quickly Fitz!” I yelled breathlessly

As Fitz entered the house, I slammed the door shut, barricading it with shelves and chairs.

I collapsed onto the floor of the hallway, breathless and utterly exhausted. Fitz lay next to me and tucking himself under my arm, fell fast asleep.

While Fitz slept, I stared down the hall, at the contraption. I had to find a way to get it to work, for it was either to fix the contraption or perish; the candle would burn for only so long.

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