“Blankets! Bring blankets, now!” She commanded trying to warm his body with hers.
This is not an ordinary cold that makes him tremble, she thought as Oaran lay in her arms fighting the images that filled his unconscious mind.
Oaran watched through the small crack in the castle wall. There within he could see a figure bound and gagged to a post with chains. His parched throat prevented him from calling out to the imprisoned figure. Even though he did not want to be discovered, he felt compelled to help.
Can it be Cusapal, he thought as he tried to get a better view.
On the far side, he could see a silhouette of someone or something just beyond the glow of the single torch illuminating the center of the room where the chained figure stood. His vision blurred from his weakened state. It seemed that the two within were speaking to one another. His thoughts drifted back to the forest and Sicajes. He needed to inform the valley of what he had found.
Maneuvering to get a better view his footing gave way dislodging some stones. The chained figure looking in the direction of the sound gave Oaran a better view. It was Cusapal and the silhouette had vanished. He was about to motion to Cusapal when he felt a foreboding coldness come over him. He turned to see the strange silhouette floating behind him. Startled he lost his footing and plummeted down into the darkness of the ravine below him. He must have fallen for an eternity before he crashed into the murky waters that saved his life but left him unconscious.
Back inside the castle, the two figures spoke as Oaran floated away.
“You will never win," Cusapal shouted. “My father and the others will find me and destroy you.”
“Your would be savior has fallen to his death and no one will come…Ever,” boasted the silhouette. “You will remain here the rest of your days chained in the dark never to look upon daylight again.”
The silhouette vanished as Cusapal looked to the crack in the castle wall. “Please be safe whoever you were,” he prayed watching as the thorny vine that covered most of Castle E’drosh filled the crack slowly removing his last connection to the outside world.
He looked up to the heavens, closed his eyes, and prayed further, “I summon upon the mystic powers of the twelve stones to give me strength.” He thought of his father and sister and begged for their forgiveness. He had been impatient and careless. Who or what was his captor? He knew his actions would bring sorrow to his family. Cusapal dropped his head in defeat as laughter from the ominous silhouette echoed throughout the castle.
Oaran found himself waking from his ordeal just to be struck by a branch or rock as he was tossed and beaten by the torrid rapids of the underground river. How long had he floated and where had he come to as he dragged his naked body from the frigid waters. There in the distance he could see light. Warmth, he thought as he stumbled and crawled his way out of the cavern. Reaching the mouth of the cavern, he pulled himself up, leaned upon the stone wall of his temporary shelter and looked out onto the unfamiliar landscape. Thinking as he stood for a moment, how am I to get word back to the others. Looking back, he thought of Cusapal and the evil behind him. The dark coldness he felt at E’drosh returned. Falling to his knees, the impact shot pain through his body. Holding his head, he slowly rolled over on his side, sobbed then fell unconscious.
Oaran began to stir as Sicajes held him in her arms. She placed the blankets around him holding him close. She had never experienced terror as when Oaran finally open his eyes and looked back through her eyes deep into her soul. It was but for an instant, yet the coldness that ran through her came from a dark and soulless place. She knew then that Cusapal was lost and wept.