by Zentara Shadowsoul
Thorne lifted the lantern and pointed toward what appeared to be a bricked area of the old cellar. Cobwebs hung from rotting shelves, and debris, including broken glass, old timbers and shattered barrels, littered the stone floor.
“See it?” he asked. I nodded as he continued “I’ve always thought it strange when the rest of the walls are of stone.”
“Agreed,” I replied. The brick filled a small roughly door-shaped area in the back wall of the chamber. Stepping forward I laid my hands on the brickwork and sent my senses through it, finding what appeared to be a hollow space beyond.
“Could be an old passageway,” I said. “Any chance that you can break through those bricks?”
Thorne grinned and hefted a large mallet.
“Best stand back,” he declared, waiting until I was far enough away before swinging the tool at the brickwork. Strongly built, Thorne was the son of the half human-Shay temple cook, and was apparently the result of her short fling with a wandering human vagabond. The latter had long since melted into the forest, never to return. Leaving Sarrini with a son whom she adored. I had to admit, if the father was anything like his son in looks, I could understand why she’d been attracted to him. Thorne’s dark hair and brown eyes were a stark contrast to the blue eyes and blonde hair of his mother. His rugged features might not be regarded by everyone as handsome but he had a smile that lit up any dark day.
It didn’t take long for the bricks to disintegrate into a pile of rubble and Thorne quickly cleared them out of the way to reveal a passageway leading into darkness.
“I’ll go first,” he announced. “Would never live it down if something awful befell the adored Seeker.” He grinned playfully and I felt myself blushing. Grateful for the dim light of the lantern, I waved my hand for him to lead the way then followed.
The narrow and roughly cut tunnel twisted and turned as if following some logical route although it made no sense to me. Thorne had to bend his head as he walked but being shorter than him I was able to remain upright. It was built, I decided, for Shay and Targ, both much shorter than humans. I touched the damp earthen walls, feeling a pulse of life beyond and realised with shock that the roots of Anshey du Khull lay behind them. Was this, then, the reason for the tunnel’s route? To avoid cutting through the tangled roots? It would make sense, I decided. She was, like Anshiana-kuftir, an ancient being, here since the birth of the world if Yasmina was to be believed.
Long before we reached the end of the passageway I was aware of the growing sense of Power. Here, I knew, was what I sought. It had taken two days of fruitless searching and probing before Thorne appeared, rather shyly, and told me of the disused cellar and the bricks. Wasting no time I’d asked him to show me. And now, here we were, staring out of a dank passageway and into a cavernous room.
At the centre stood a pillar on a large circular dais that could hold several people, even horses, I realised. There was no sign of a path or way from the pillar to anywhere but it hummed with Power and I felt, knew, that this was what I sought. I could hardly hold in my excitement as I stepped closer.
“This is it, Thorne, it has to be!” I exclaimed. “But how is it used?”
There was a round depression in the pillar, a circular cylinder at the centre, as if an object needed to be inserted. Above the depression a carved arrow pointed downward. I looked around. Close to the dais were scattered pieces of broken stone. Thorne had seen them too, and picked one up, examining it closely in the light of the lantern.
“Seems to have markings on it,” he said. “See, this looks almost like a triangle, or would if it was whole.”
I nodded. “I think you’re right. Let’s find the rest, take them back to where we can see properly. If I’m not mistaken, this is the handiwork of the Bwekhirazii. Smashing anything that they could to prevent the use of the Pathways. I just hope that we can put the object, whatever it is, back together. And work out how these Pathways are opened.”