After the countdown, Ryun began the trek down one side of the mine system. It didn't take him long to figure out where Railyn might have been, as he saw the warm glow of Railyn's lantern down a much narrower tunnel that branched off from the outpost. While it really was not fair for hide and seek to have a lantern telling the other person where you were at almost right away, it was far better than having to try and find someone in complete darkness. The danger of walking around in the dark in a slippery, uneven, small, cramped cave to try and hide in the smallest of spots was too high. Ryun really did not want to get stuck in the cave and not be found ever again.
On the plus side, it saved Ryun from having to try and find Railyn when that was pretty clearly not what he wanted to do. He felt bad for leading Railyn on and lying to him. Railyn didn't see what Ryun saw, and he didn't really think Railyn would even know what to do with the info if he did.
Thankfully, if he could help it, he would not have to tell Railyn anything, and he would find another way out of the mines and then... and then what?
Ryun didn't want to think about that. He didn't have time to think about that.
Scrambling with one hand, Ryun fidgeted with his belt and fished out the map. He was on the right track as he took a left on a path that split into two. His small fingers struggled to get the map back under control after it was out of the bounds of his belt. He almost slipped and lost his balance on what was most likely uneven ground. He wouldn't know, because his attention and light was focused on the map. Frustrated, Railyn ripped the part he needed off the map and tossed the rest to the side.
The lantern shone through the thin leather of the map faintly, just enough for Ryun to see the blotched outline of the trail he was following. Taking it as fast as he could without falling and dying, he made his way slowly through mines. The lantern's light shone on the walls, showing the jagged walls widening out before narrowing one more, and it became sharper and harder to cross as he got further into where the map ended.
Eventually, finally, he reached where the map stopped. His hopes for some kind of exit were crushed. Just like the inky lines on the map, the rock walls connected into a dead end. What the map didn't say, however, was the assortment of color lines on the wall. Ryun raised the lantern, squinting slightly at the intense warm light shining directly into his eyes. Once they adjusted though, Ryun gaped at the wall in awe. Striking blue lines and symbols, lit up by the light of his lantern more fiercely than the stone. Something about the lines were alluring, like it drew Ryun in, inviting him to stare at them and touch them. What were these drawings?
His free hand hovered over the intricate cool colorings. So close...
A hollow scream shattered his intense focus, echoing between the jagged rocks and into his ears. He knew that voice anywhere. Railyn.
Ryun cared little about his safety or comfort as he stumbled against rocks and slipped through water. In his search for an exit, he let himself forget that he took them into the mines to keep them safe. Why would he let Railyn go off on his own? The younger boy was a source of noise, just a huge alarm bell that begs anyone and everyone around him to pay attention to him. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The rocks looked too similar and completely different, so he couldn't get his bearings on where he was. He didn't need to, as long as Railyn had his lantern still, and it was in a position where Ryun could see it.
Oh, this was hopeless. Whoever they were running from had found Railyn and Railyn was gone, taken from him. He had just lsoe his best friend, his only friend, and the only one who really knew him and accepted him for who he was. His chest heaved with the pain of running as fast as he was and the idea that he just lost someone.
Light. Light! Light from something other than Ryun's lantern. That meant Railyn! Ryun didn't let himself slow as he got closer. The light painted the slick sides of the cave a deep purple. Ryun rounded the corner and stopped in his tracks. His eyes settled on Railyn first, and he sighed, letting out a shaky and nervous laugh. He sides hurt and his chest was sore as his heart complained from the pain he was in. Railyn wasn't looking at him, and, after a moment of catching his breath and collecting his thoughts, Ryun's focused on the rest of the cavern.
It was a circular room, with walls that had no jagged edges. They were perfectly smooth, but what really was the attention seeker in the room was the bright blue sphere settled on a white stone pedestal. Unlike the lines on the other end of the mine system, this sphere didn't need a lantern to show off its color; it was a pure and intense light of its own, and Ryun's and Railyn's lanterns could barely compete with their warm lights. Unlike the flickering of the flames Ryun was used to, the light of the sphere flowed in and out in different, and it reminded Ryun of the sloshing waves that rocked into the boathouse by the docks. The water created fancy images on the ceiling of the boathouse, and when Ryun was younger, he would lay down on the wooden floor, watching the top of the boathouse and imagining fancy stories from the ever-moving pictures the waves created while his mother busied herself with work.
For a moment, Ryun was entranced by this light sphere and he could hear the crashing of the waves against the rocky cliffs beneath his home, like a whisper begging him to come back home.
Movement snapped him out of his trance. Railyn was similarly transfixed by the sphere as he reached his hand out to it. The sensible part of Ryun's brain, or perhaps the more mature part, or the overly cautious part, whatever it was, screamed at Ryun to not touch this orb of water and light. He wanted nothing more than to tell Railyn the same, but it was too late. Railyn was already too close for any warning to be of use. Instinctively, Ryun shouted "No!" and reached out to pull Railyn away. He touched Railyn's shoulder at the exact same moment Railyn made contact with orb.
In that single instance, the orb swallowed the both of them whole with intense, burning light. It seared Ryun's insides and singed his mind. In that moment, he saw nothing but blinding whiteness, and he couldn't tell if he was still holding onto Railyn or if he was holding onto anything at all. He couldn't tell where his arm was, or where he planted his feet, if he planted them at all anymore.
Week 4 Wordcount : 1223
Ryun was the first of the two to awake. His body jolted, and freezing water splashed around his hips. He opened his eyes, not really knowing what he was expecting, but definitely not what he saw. The circular and pristine cavern they were in moments earlier was now falling apart. The orb had splintered apart, and fragments of it, now dull, were imbedded into the walls. Water was filling the cavern quickly from the multiple cracks in the walls. One lantern was still flickering light, half sunk in the water, and the other was nowhere to be found.
The water gushed through cracks on the cavern at a much faster rate now, and the cold wetness had reached the middle of his stomach at this point. He struggled to his feet through the water, his eyes scanning the water, struggling against the dim light. Railyn was on the other side of the room, still completely knocked out. Thankfully, his head was still above the water level. Ryun sloshed through the water and grabbed him on both shoulders.
Sharp, searing pain radiated from his right palm the moment he touched Railyn, and he hissed at it. Glancing at his palm, it was a different color than his skin, darker. He had burnt it somehow. He would have to worry about that later. He hooked his arms under Railyn's armpits and pulled him up that way. "Come on, wake up." He whispered coarsely. Railyn did not respond. His mind was thinking other, darker thoughts, but he didn't have the nerve to speak them out loud.
He focused his attention on getting them out. He desperately wanted the still somewhat lit lantern bobbing in front of his feet. It was either carry Railyn or carry the light. The lantern swished in front of him, dancing and taunting him. He groaned at it but focused his attention now on finding a way out. He visibly deflated as his eyes settled on what used to be the entrance that he had come from, now covered by fallen stone. How were they going to get out now?
The cavern around them answered his question as the floor gave out. Ryun, still holding onto Railyn, dropped into darkness with nothing but the sound of rushing water to keep him company.
Week 5 Wordcount: 383
AN: Thank you for reading this latest chapter part! It's cut into two sections, as the final part was written at the beginning of the new LMS week. Apologies if this gets confusing! As a final warning, the next chapter part will either be the last PG one of the prologue or the first 18+ part.