Chapter 17 - A Lost Soul

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Two creatures with braided hair down their vertebrae, noses up in the air, and tar that slid off their bodies crept in a hallway perpendicular to theirs Eirek tightened his grip on his sword and followed Cain's lead by brushing up against the wall. He didn't care about dirtying his white crushed-leather tailcoat with rows of braided fastenings that extended down his chest; it was already dirty from their encounter with an identical creature earlier in the labyrinth. Eirek had done nothing besides get in the way then.

"We won't be able to take on both of them. We barely managed one," Eirek whispered.

"Now that I know power cannot be used, I will not get distracted," Cain said. "Even if you cannot kill, you can distract one of them while I manage mine."

Eirek sighed. The most he had done in the first battle was slice the creature's vertebrae, but it congealed only seconds later. Cain had finished it then with a single swipe through the neck, clean and thorough.

Eirek peeked around Cain; the two creatures were not visible anymore. "Where did the creatures go?"

"Down the path I believe." Cain tilted his head against the sandstone slab. In front of him was a picked carcass—scraps of clothing, dirty and uneaten, still clung to the ribs. Cain exhaled and gripped his dual-bladed halberd. "Ready your weapon."

Eirek was ready; he had been ever since entering the labyrinth. But his readiness only consisted of a shaking arm and slow reactions. When Cain moved from the wall to the next hallway, Eirek followed him.

Nothing.

A roar occurred—a powerful roar, as if the planet itself was cracking.

A single raindrop hit his nose. And then another on his cheek. A sconce on the wall that had been unlit like all the others now glowed with fire. What kind of power is that? "How is that possible? It's raining."

"It is this labyrinth. Let us quicken our pace."

Eirek followed Cain around the next bend. "Did the roar make it happen?"

"Potentially. My father told me that an item lives here that gives the ability to cast power without any natural source present. Like this." Cain pointed to another flaming sconce. A little farther down the path, Cain paused. "Did you hear that?"

Eirek hadn't. He shook his head as he perked his ears to try and catch what Cain heard. A light patter of sporadic raindrops hitting the dirt barely reached his ears.

"We need to move faster." Cain's pace quickened, and Eirek found that he needed to keep a light jog to stay with the man's long strides. His partner took a left and then a right. A dead end. Eirek looked at the slab of sandstone and wondered how the others were doing. That was their sixth dead end so far. A rustle of footsteps echoed behind them.

"Did you hear that?" Cain said.

Eirek gulped and nodded. He put his forehead to his arm and wiped his face clean. He noticed Cain touch the side of his glasses. A red film slid down the lenses from the frames.

"What's that?"

"A heat sensor. We are being followed. To the left."

Eirek saw only sandstone.

An eerie, tenebrous laugh echoed throughout the maze. "Lost, are you?"

Eirek kept close to Cain as he walked back the way he came. Whenever Cain tilted his neck, he did the same. Rain started to patter more frequently now. Eirek looked up and noticed the clouds no longer contained any hint of gray.

After returning to the split and going the other way, Eirek saw a man step out from the labyrinth walls. He was of Eirek's height, with dark-brown hair. He smiled and went through the opposite labyrinth wall, which opened up for him and closed immediately after.

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