Light Seekers #19 – Светлый

As we get closer to the top, most of the snow has cleared. The green portions of the mountain have been replaced by stone walls that seem to grow closer and closer, almost as if the mountain is trying to trap us. The light filling the space is still bright, but almost more focused, or closer. The color has changed, now a strange mix of reds, oranges and yellow. It seems like there’s a big ball, giving off the light, it hurts my eyes to look at it, so I try to avoid staring for too long. A single beam of light is shooting directly down, landing on a spot up higher that I can’t see from here, the stairs ahead and walls to the side block my view, even using magic. From where the beam of light lands, another is shooting out above our heads. I don’t know for sure, but it seems like that’s the beam of light that the migrants have been following around. I’m so far from home, no wonder the light is so weak all the way out there. I wonder if it’ll be different when the sun can light the entire world.

“I miss sunsets,” Jabez says, almost as a whisper.

“What are sunsets?”

“When the sun goes down for the night. It’s just really, nice.”

“It’s calming. Almost like it’s congratulating you on surviving.”

“We haven’t survived just yet. I think it’s telling us to calm down and prepare for whatever happens next so that we’ll make it out okay.

“I like that.”

We don’t do as much talking now. As the last bits of light start to fade the top of a tower comes into view. Slowly more and more of the temple comes into view. It’s nothing like any temple that I’ve ever seen. It’s massive. The staircase splits into two leading up to twin entrances to the huge stone walls. Towers larger than any building I’ve ever seen stand in the center and on each end. They reach out to the edges of both mountains. Appearing as if the temple was carved out of the mountains themselves. Even in the dark the torches that line the walls, and lanterns that light the windows show the bright white stone of the building that sparkly gently when the light hits it. Massive statues hang on top of the doorways on either side of the building. Each features some kind of sorcerer wearing a mask and pointing towards the other. My first thought is how beautiful the place would be when the sun is shining. My second thought is how haunting it is now to be staring down at the building.

A bell begins to ring gently as we approach the temple. Slowly more lights appear within the building. Someone must have been waiting for visitors. The doors open, welcoming us inside.

“Hey, things are going to get a little crazy in here. Just trust me, and stick by my side,” Jabez whispers as we get closer to the door.

I don’t have time to ask what he has planned before we enter the temple. The doors lead into a massive room. This place has to be even larger than it looks from the outside. A group of seven sorcerers await us as we reach the center of the room. Each wearing long yellow robes with various chains hanging freely. Their faces are covered by large oversized hoods revealing nothing above the mouth.

“Welcome visitors,” the first speaks in a light voice. “Have you come to submerge yourself in the world of magic?”

“We’ve come to,” I begin speaking before Jabez covers my mouth.

He removes his mask once again, “I’ve come to challenge for control of the coven.”

“And who might you be,” an enraged, old and deep voice comes the sorcerer in the center.

“Jabez, bringer of pain, taker of light.”

“What,” the words come from my mouth.

“Stand by my me, I promise, I’ll explain.”

I don’t have anything to say. What can I say? The sorcerer who stole the light is right next to me. But I don’t know if I can believe him. He doesn’t look old enough, the light has been gone for years. Despite his strange look, he doesn’t look to be any older than I am. The sorcerers speak amongst themselves all while Jabez waits as if this isn’t shocking. Everything is going as he planned it. He warned me things wouldn’t go how I expected it but he doesn’t seem shocked.

“How do you wish to challenge,” one of the sorcerers asks.

“I believe combat was the preferred method in my youth,” Jabez answers.

There’s more discussion amongst the sorcerers before the angry sorcerer from earlier speaks again, “Challenge accepted, if you can prove yourself worthy. You will need to first survive a two on two battle with two sorcerers of my choosing.”

“I have nothing to do with this,” I speak up.

“Silence,” the building shakes as he raises his voice. I’m not sure if it’s fear or surprise that silences me. “You stand with the taker of light. You are his ally and you will fight with him.”

“We accept,” Jabez speaks with confidence in his voice.

“You shall rest tonight and tomorrow. The day after, you will fight,” another sorcerer speaks calmly. “My friend shall show you to the guest quarters.”

I keep shooting glances at Jabez but he’s not showing any signs of emotion. None of the deep thoughts he shared on the way here. He’s just walked me into a monster’s den and picked a fight, yet he’s not bothered at all. I can’t help but wonder if he set Levi up to die now. I was wrong to trust him.

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