Sword of Galu
rating: +3+x

They had set out from the wooden ruins, heading toward the center of the Island. Cain and Roland walked in front, for somehow they had become the leader of this group. Every noise made Cain point his spear at the source of the sound. Most of the time, the sounds came from the birds in trees, the small creatures running away from them, and the rustling of the trees from the wind. And for the remaining times, the sounds came from a snapping twig that someone had stepped on. Every time that happened, Cain would twist around and shout at the person.

It was not only him, though. Everyone seemed a bit wary of every noise in the forest, so they could accept Cain’s manner. Travis and Oliver were the worst off, though. The noises made them twitch and jump. Only one sound did not make the group uncomfortable, and that was the sound of water trickling over beds of smooth rock.

Caelyn was the first to hear this. “Listen. I hear water.”

When she said that, everyone stopped and listened, including Roland. He became excited with he heard sound of water falling onto rock. His throat was dry and parched—he had not drunk anything since he had awoken. The only source of liquid was the leaves on trees, which tastes horrible and does not provide the satisfaction of cool water flowing into throat.

After a while of searching, they finally found the source of the refreshing sound. It was a small stream of water, flowing downwards like a waterfall. Roland charged toward the stream and knelt down. He cupped his hands and threw water into his mouth. The water was like the long awaited during drought. As the coolness trickled down throat, his mind seemed to clear. Roland strolled to Cain after both of them had their fill.

Cain saw Roland coming toward him. “We will walk along the stream until we reach the mountains.”

“And what will happen after?” asked Roland. “The mountains are blocking us from reaching the center.”

“We will worry about that when we get there. Right now, we have to worry about surviving the night. Send a few people to gather some wood.”

Roland turned to others, who were sitting by the shore of the stream. “John and Leslie, prepare the camp.” He paused. “Lucis, Oliver, Theresa, and Caelyn please gather some wood.”

The group disappeared into the forest. Nightfall had came when the four of them returned back to camp. They piled a portion of the wood in the center of the pit as John tried to light a fire. When the night was dark, Leslie helped him make the fire. After a moment, a roaring flame was lit.

The fire was bright, yet the darkness in the forest seemed to absorb the light—the firelight only lit the closest of the trees. Caelyn and Theresa had collected a mango for each of the remaining twelve people. At first, Roland was confused at how to unpeel the fruit without a knife. This mystery was solved when Travis used his teeth and bit into the mango.

As the juice dribbled down his chin, Travis exclaimed, “This is the best mango I ever had.”

So, when Roland saw this method of eating a mango, he dashed to the stream and cleaned the dirt off the mango. And then, he bit into the mango’s leathery skin. Juice squirted out and onto his face. The pulp seemed to explode with sweetness in his mouth. Only after he ate his first bite of mango did he realize how hungry he was.

After they finished their mangoes and washed off in the stream, everyone was in a good mood. He leaned against the age worn tree and sighed. For the first time since he had waken up on the Island, he felt relaxed. The warmth from the fire combined with the good food and water in his stomach was pure bliss.

Roland said to Cain, “These mango truly are good, aren’t they.”

While staring into the fire, Cain responded, “Yes. And yet another mystery this Island had given us. These fruits are beyond good.” Cain got up from his tree and walked toward the stream for a drink of water. Yet on his way, he paused. His body tensed. “Listen!”
All conversation around the fire ceased and everyone heard what had made Cain tense—the whisperings were back. The voices had surrounded the group. Everyone got as close to the fire as possible. Cain raised his spear, but dropped it when the dark smoke gathered on the forest floor.

From the darkness of the forest, a shadow materialized. A pale mask glowed under the hood of its cloak of void. Roland could not see any weapons on the shadow. Yet it had a greater weapon as if it was a force of nature. Though as the being came closer, Roland could see a gleam of silver under the shadowy cloak. Roland’s gaze fell on the person closest to the shadow—Leslie.
She crawled backward, but her back was almost touching the flames and she could go no further. Everyone around her crawled away, not wanting to get between the predator and its prey. Roland was paralyzed with fear.

Then it happened.

Faster than what Roland’s mind could comprehend, a silver blur came from its cloak. And without a sound, Leslie fell. The shadow turned its attention to Cain. It moved with a surprising speed toward him. And a shine of silver came from its cloak. Just as the shadow was about to slay Cain, a flash of light enveloped them. When the light cleared, Cain’s breath was heavy and the shadow being was no where to be seen.

It was only then could Roland move and breathe again. Roland stumbled toward Cain and checks on him. The shadow did not seem to have done any major damage on him. Cain was shaking, staring at Leslie’s body.

He said, “Its going to pick us off one by one.” Cain turned his head to Roland. “We must get to the center as quickly as possible. Every night we delay means someone dies.”

Travis, who had been next to Cain at the moment, said, “Maybe that dream we all had was a lure for us.”

“No. I highly doubt that. The figure that appeared in the dream was glowing with golden light—the same light that caused the shadow to flee. I think the Deity is trying to help us.”

Jumping to his feet, Travis said, “If the Deity is trying to help us, he wouldn’t have brought us to this Island.”
“We have no way to confirm that the Deity brought us here.”

Travis shook his head and sighed. With a glance at the forest, Travis sulked to the fire and took a seat there.

Cain took a sad look at Travis. “I can’t blame it on him. He had no mental preparation of the shadow attack. It just came so suddenly for him.” Then he nodded toward Oliver. “He is probably in the same distress as Travis. But he is much more silent on matters.” The two of them looked at Isabelle, who was sitting next to Oliver and comforting him. “Its strange how we somehow form bonds between each other. Its the only way we are going to survive.” He picked up his spear and went toward the stream.

Roland took a deep sigh, and went to where Caelyn and Theresa huddled together. They were on the other side of the fire, toward the stream, so the view they had of the shadow wasn’t clear. It was clear that they were trying to avoid the body that laid on the other side of the fire.

As Roland came toward them, Caelyn raised an eyebrow. “This place is strange, isn’t it? I have never actually believed in ghosts or anything related to them. Yet, now.” She leaned back. “I still don’t believe in them. From what I can tell, everything that happened off this island is not actually ghosts. But on this Island…” She shook her head. Theresa whimpered, and her arms around Caelyn tightened.

Caelyn looked at her. “Poor Theresa, look at what this place has done to her.” She glanced at the body. “Look at what this place has done to all of us. This place is evil. I can feel it.”

As the fire dwindled, John threw more more wood into the fire. The boy kept glancing at Leslie’s corpse. When the fire was restored, he knelt down and clasped his hands. He started to whisper a prayer. Theresa watched as he did so, and tears streamed down from her eyes. Caelyn brought her closer.

That night was another sleepless night for all of them. In the morning, they started once again toward the mountains. Since no one wanted to touch the Leslie’s body, they left it there, exposed. Roland knew it was wrong, but could not bring himself to bury it.
Once again, Cain and Roland walked in front. Everyone was silent after what had happened last night. The only sound was the water on stone. Occasionally, the group stopped and took a drink from the water. Yet this break was quick, and they resumed walking almost as soon as they stopped.

The trees cast a shade that protected them from the sun. But that was not enough to cool them. Sweat rolled down Roland neck and onto his shirt. Everyone’s clothing was soaked with sweat. The entire group was miserable as they walked. Only the water could provide a temporary relief from the hot day. It was noon when, they reached the lake that the spring of water originated from.

Cain squinted at the mountains. “Strange, another mystery.”

“What mystery?” Roland asked.

“The last time we stopped, the mountains were still very far away. But look at it now, it seems we are already at the foot of the mountains.”

Shading his eyes with his hand, Roland gazed at the mountains. “I have to agree. Our pace was slow. There is no way we could have reached the mountains that quickly.”

Cain turned to the group and said, “We will rest here. But only for moment. I want to reach the mountains before nightfall.”
Roland went to the spring of water and gulped a few handfuls of water. He then came to where Caelyn was deep in conversation with Lucis. They seemed to be talking about how close the mountains were.

Lucis noticed Roland approaching them and smiled. “This Island is very mysterious, I have to say. It is quite exhilarating.” He frowned. “Though Lesile and David’s demise was tragic.”

Roland found Lucis to be dreamy and eccentric. There was an air of tranquility around him. His appearance was beautiful, yet not as unearthly as after he became the Deus.

“Indeed,” said Roland. “What do you think that shadow ghost could be?”

Lucis thought for a moment. “Ancient beyond words, I suppose. From what I can tell, the Deity and the shadow are opponents.”

Caelyn nodded. “Makes sense. After all, every time there is that bright flash of light, the shadow goes away. Maybe the Deity sent that light to protect us.”

“Then why did Leslie and David die?” asked Roland.

After he said that, Theresa walked toward them. She was still shaking from last night’s encounter. Caelyn embraced her.
Lucis observed this and said, “I think the greatest influence of the shadow is its ability to manipulate emotions.”

Caelyn tilted her head and thought for a moment. “I agree. Maybe it is trying to doubt the Deity.”

From the spring of water, Cain shouted, “We are continuing.”

The group gathered and continued on their way. Only after a moment did they finally reach the foot of the mountains. The mountains were a tall barrier from the center of the Island. Roland had to strained his neck to see the peaks of the mountains.

Cain turned to Roland and said, “How are we going to get over the mountain?”

With a shrug, Roland responded, “Maybe we could find if there is a passing through the mountains.”
Lucis came up to them. When Cain saw him, he narrowed his eyes.

Ignoring him, Lucis said, “If there are people on this island, maybe they made a tunnel to the center.”

“Perhaps,” Roland said, after thinking for a while.

“I don’t think so.” Cain shook his head. “If they had mines and tunnels, then why are their villages made of wood?”

Lucis shrugged. “Just a suggestion.” He walked away.

As he walked away, Cain glared at him. “Lucis is the one who have brought us to the Island. I know it.”

“He woke up just like everybody else,” replied Roland.

“Didn’t you hear his conversations with Caelyn? He believes that we are here for a reason.” He pointed a finger at the ground. “Who would wake on an Island, see people get killed, and believe that they are there for a reason?”

“I mean, he is a bit strange. But, that doesn’t mean he brought us here.”

Cain put a hand on Roland’s shoulder. “I want you to keep Lucis under watch. I don’t think he is who he says he is.”

“Fine, I’ll keep a watch on him.”

An orange glare was cast upon the mountains from the setting sun. From the slope of the mountains, a fire roared and crackled. Everyone gathered around it, except for Cain, who was guarding with his wooden spear. Roland found himself frequently glancing at the forest, like everyone else.

As the night when on, the whispers were silent and the black smoke did not gather. Roland was waiting for the shadow to come. Some of them had somehow fallen asleep. He himself was also tired, but the approaching danger of the shadow made him stay awake. In the end, Roland fell asleep.

The sun was only on its verge of rising when Roland woke. Cain was the only other one that was awake—he had kept watch for the entire night. Roland jumped to his feet and looked at everyone who was asleep on the ground. He couldn’t see who was dead and who wasn’t.

Cain walked over to him and said, “Don’t worry, the shadow didn’t come.”

Roland took a sigh of relief and went around to wake everyone up. After everyone was awake, Roland went to Cain and asked, “Which direction should we go?”

“Westward, perhaps?” Cain replied.

Roland shook his head. “I think we should go east. Remember when we found those ruins in the east and the Deity came?”

“I mean, we are lost regardless. East, then.”

They began walking along the mountains. Above, the sky was covered with gray clouds. From afar, the sound of thunder and the flashing of light came. Wind began to quicken and turned colder.

Cain saw and recognized these signs of a storm and said to Roland, “We need to find some shelter, perhaps a cave. We would probably die from the cold.”

Just as he said that, a drop of rain fell onto Roland’s head. This drop was followed by another, until the air around them was solid with rain. Everyone broke into a sprint, hoping to reach a cave somewhere around the foot of the mountain. Thunder was closer now, as if they could feel its power as the lightning flashed toward the ground. From behind, someone slipped and fell with a shout. No one went to help them.

From ahead, Cain pointed into the mist the rose from the ground. “A cave! There!” he shouted.

Roland ran with renewed vigor. Finally, he could see a faint lineament of the cave through the fog. And it was only a moment before he passed into its shelter of stone and rock. As he wandered the cave, he found that it went deep into the mountain. An orange glow was cast upon the walls as John made a fire. After his quick exploration, Roland went to join the others.

“The cave goes deep,” he said, as he sat down on a boulder. “I don’t know what lies at the end of it, but it might be a tunnel to the other side of this mountain.”

“No.” Cain shook his head. “It is too dangerous. We don’t know what lies in the darkness.” He glanced at the darkness that laid before the true depths of the cave. “What if this is where the shadow ghost resides? There is too much risk.”

“But if there is the possibility of an exit to the other side of the mountain, then the risk is worth it.” Caelyn stood up. Within the light of the fire, she looked powerful and brave. Her twinkling eyes were determined. “What if we formed a small group to explore the cave? I’ll go with Roland.”

Just as she had finished her declaration, a dark silhouette appeared at the opening of the cave. Cain readied his spear. But as the figure came to the firelight, its face was revealed—it was Isabelle, who had fell down in the rain. Shivering, she came to the fire and sat down. There was silence for a moment, before Lucis stood up as well.

“I’ll go as well,” he said.

Cain narrowed his eyes as Lucis said that. But as usual, Lucis ignored his glare and came to Caelyn’s side. Charlotte also stood up. As she did so, Diana reached toward the girl’s hand.

When Charlotte saw this gesture, she said, “It’s okay. I’ll go as well.”

“I want to go as well. Please.” Diana’s eyes were filled with shock and disbelief. “If it’s okay, then let me go with you.”

“Fine.” She sighed.

The moment Charlotte said that, Diana jumped up from her rock. And the two of them came to Roland’s side.
Cain regarded the group with a raised eyebrow and said, “I believe that is enough for an exploration. We can’t have more than half of us go running into a dark cave. We need to stay together in order to survive. You have to get back before the storm ends or else we will be going on without you.”

With the warning said, the five of them began their walk deeper into the cave. After a few steps, Roland looked back and saw that the light from the fire had faded into the shadows. All was covered in a layer of darkness, and the only light was the torch in Roland’s hand. After a while of walking, the torch burnt out and darkness fell upon them once again. Fortunatly, everyone each carried two pieces of wood that could be used as a torch. However, by the pace the torch died out, it would be soon before all the torches were used up.

At first they walked in silence, but after the first torch died, conversations began. Diana was the first to speak. “The ground is sloping downward.” Indeed, that was the case. Although the slope was not noticeable at first, it began to become steeper as the went on.

“Maybe the ground level on the other side of the mountains is lower?” Caelyn shrugged.

Lucis said, “I don’t think that this is a tunnel to the other side of the mountains.”

Diana stopped walking. “Then why are we going down the tunnel anyways? If it leads to nothing then we should head back and avoid being killed by some monster.”

“I never said that there was nothing down the tunnel. I just said that it doesn’t lead to the mountains.”

“Yes, there is something down there. A monster that is all to happy to devour us!” Diana’s voice echoed through the tunnel.
Roland noticed that the tunnel’s walls were becoming more narrow as they walked deeper into the cave.

Caelyn asked, “Lucis, how do you know that?”

“I don’t really know. It is a feeling, like how you recall something that didn’t actually happen. You know that feeling?” Lucis frowned.

“Yes, so that is what you are feeling?”

“Indeed, it feels like I have been down here before,” said Lucis.

Roland shivered as he glanced at Lucis. At that moment, he believe that Lucis truly was the one who had brought them to the Island.

The tunnel bent right. When they turned the corner, the ground was even steeper. Diana’s mouth was wide as she looked at the darkness.

Roland noticed this, and said, “If you want to go back, then I will not force you.”

Diana glanced at Charlotte, who nodded. Charlotte lit a torch and the two of them disappeared through the shadows.
Roland turned to his remaining companions and gave them a sad smile. Seeing that his torch was running out, he turned toward the tunnel and deeper into the mountains they went. As they walked, Roland noticed that the walls were made from stone bricks.

“It seemed that people came down here before,” said Caelyn. “That is usually a good sign.”

Roland looked at her and smiled. “Maybe people built these walls here in order contain a monster.”

Giggling, Lucis said, “Even if there was a monster, it probably escaped long ago, seeing how old these bricks are.”

“That makes sense.” Caelyn lit another torch after Roland’s went out.

And Caelyn gasped.

Roland squinted his eyes to see what Caelyn was gasping about—the tunnel had ended in a tall stone door.

“Well, we found where this tunnel ends, at least.” She breathed.

Lucis examined it for a while, and said, “How do we open it?” He walked over to the door, put his hand on the stone, and gave it a push. “Someone help me with this?”

Roland hesitated, before walking over to Lucis and putting a hand on the door. As soon as he did so, the door swung open as if on a smooth hinge. Inside was a small chamber, lit by torches on the wall. However, these torches were emerald green. The center of the chamber was a large stone sarcophagus.

When the door opened, Caelyn asked, “How are there torches?”

Sighing, Roland said, “Mysteries upon mysteries.”

He walked over to the sarcophagus. The lid was carved with the likeness of a warrior, who’s hands rested on his chest. Clasped in the warrior’s gauntleted hands was a sword. The sword shone as if it had been forged and polished not even a day ago.

Around the sarcophagus were piles of scrolls. The scrolls shown no signs of damage from time. He picked one up and rolled it open. On it were letter that Roland did not recognize. There were also pictures of a soldier fighting.

Caelyn walked over to him and said, “What is this?”

“I don’t know.” Roland shook his head. “Maybe a battle?” He rolled the scroll up again and put it back on the floor. There was something else on the floor besides the scrolls. As he looked closer, he saw that it was a sheath.

The sound of stone break and metal scratching echoed the chamber. Roland looked up and saw Lucis holding up the large sword that the warrior was grasping. The broken stone fingers of the warrior laid on the floor.

“This is heavy.” Lucis handed it to Roland.

What Lucis said was true, the blade was heavier than anything Roland had ever lifted. Only with two hands was he able to hold it properly. Looking back at the sheath, he picked it up. The blade slid smoothly into the sheath. There were two straps on it so that Roland could sling it over his shoulder.

“This could be useful,” he said.

Caelyn looked at the blackened torch in her hand and then looked at the green torches on the walls. Finally, she threw the stub of wood on the ground and took a torch from the walls. After that, they head out of the chamber and back from where they came from. At the doorway, Roland paused and looked back at the chamber. He wanted to bring the scrolls with him, but was afraid that they might get damaged. So, he closed the door and thought, I will come back for them. And after he became the Nephil, that was exactly what he did.

The trip back to the surface seemed to be faster than their trip down. When they came into the light of the fire, the storm was still as strong as before. Cain looked at the three of them with surprise. Getting up from the boulder, he walked over to them.
“That was quick,” he said, warily regarding the sword strapped Roland’s back. “Where did you get the sword and fire?”

Lucis tilted his head. “How much time had past?”

“I don’t know exactly, but after a conversation, Diana and Charlotte came. After questioning them, I was just getting ready to relax when you three came.”

“That is strange. Time seemed to be distorted. It felt like an absolute eternity down there.” Lucis stroked his chin.
Cain shook his head and sighed. “Mysteries upon mysteries upon even more mysteries. What even is this place? There are ghosts, distance is strange, and now, even time is strange.”

“Well,” Roland smiled and unsheathed his heavy blade, “you’re not the only person with a weapon now.”

“What are you going to call it?” Lucis tilted his head.

Roland’s eyes examined the entire length of the blade. “Hammer. I am going to name it Hammer.”

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