Chapter 6: Wind in the Darkness

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Cail descended into the cave, with Laney following closely behind him. The stairs were made of firm, sturdy stone, and the walls and ceiling were composed of bricks that matched the stairs that they were walking on. Cail lit small torches that were posted on both of the walls as they walked down the seemingly endless staircase. After several minutes of trekking downward, they finally arrived a platform made of dry, hardened dirt. Cail could see one last torch setting on top of a post in the ground a few arm lengths in front of him. He walked towards the post and lit the torch, and when he did, flames slithered down a path of powder that went along the sides of the post. The flames then followed the powder which bifurcated exponentially throughout the entire room.

The illumination from the fire revealed that at the edge of the platform that Laney and Cail stood atop was a ladder that descended down into an intricate labyrinth made of stone walls. The powder had been set on top of the walls of the maze, so that the entire room was irradiated, but the labyrinth was so vast that they could see no end to it.

"I'm not sure about this, Cail," said Laney, menaced by the monstrosity of the maze. "We may never see the end of this cave."

"I don't know," said Cail regretfully. He sat on the edge of the platform, his feet dangling over the puzzle that lay before him. "A place of hand, thick or thin. That's the next line of the riddle." Cail said as Laney sat beside him, pondering over what they could possibly do to overcome this obstacle. "I wish that you wouldn't have come with me, Laney. We could die down here."

"We won't die," Laney said, trying to reassure Cail. "If we can make a giant rock disappear then we can manuever our way through a maze." Cail chuckled at her confidence. "Besides, you're my best friend. You're not going anywhere that I can't go."

"If we do make it back alive, your parents are going to kill me," Cail said while laughing. "When we were in the forest earlier you started talking about Kadir. Why didn't you want him to come?"

"Kadir is a great friend and I love him as I would a brother, but he needs to lighten his heart. He worries so much about how people view him and maintaining his image. You have the same problem, although not quite to his extent. I think that's why I came with you, because I love seeing you chase after what your heart desires."

"Well if I wanted anyone to come with me on this adventure, it'd be you," Cail said, smiling brightly towards Laney. They sat together, enjoying each other's company, forgetting the stress of their current situation. "As much as it pains me to say this, I think it's time to venture into the maze." Cail said, rising to his feet. Laney agreed and they descended down the rickety, wooden ladder. The walls of the maze stood twice as tall as Cail and were made of a crimson stone with mildew and fungus growing on it.

Cail and Laney began to jog through the corridors of the maze, weaving in and out and quickly spinning around when they discovered a dead end. Every path they took seemed homogenous, as if there was a curse befallen upon the maze, trapping them in their frantic state of searching. After hours of running around the labyrinth, Laney halted and yelled out, "Stop!"

Cail froze in his tracks and looked back to Laney who was bent over her knees. "I can't run anymore," she said in between her heavy breaths. "My legs feel like they're going to fall off."

"I'm sorry," Cail said, feeling remorse for pushing Laney to the edge of exhaustion. Once she had finally caught her breath, she walked over to the wall of the corridor and leaned her back against it. Drops of sweat were rolling down her jaws, making her face glisten. Cail then looked into her hazel eyes and saw something different, something he hadn't seen before. He always looked at Laney as a friend and had a close relationship with her since they were children, but now he was starting to feel a new affection towards her, a new attachment. In the same way, Laney looked into Cail's eyes, and her eyes focused on something beyond Cail. "Move," she said, staring at the wall right behind Cail.

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