The Five Sacred Stones of Geraptiku: Part Four
Part Four: The Tombstone
The journey was rough. Trekking up a rocky mountain on
a stomach that was already lurching was not a good idea, but we did it anyway.
I constantly checked for the shield and the skipping stone, which were always
there. I still didn't feel reassured, however.
Ekwi of course didn't show any emotion. She walked
in front of me, stone-faced as always; never looking back, she always had her
mind on the mission. It shook me a little; to see someone so solemn going to
what might be his or her death. I think I'd be crying. In fact, I was surprised
Fate was a weird thing, I thought as I journeyed
up Techo Mountain. Did fate bring me here? Was I always supposed to be climbing
up this mountain now? Was I always meant to die here? Could I change the fate
of Geraptiku? I hoped so with all of my heart. I wanted it more than I'd ever
wanted anything before.
"We're here," Ekwi said. I looked up and saw
a small entrance, leading forwards into blackness. I looked back and saw way
off in the distance Geraptiku, with miniscule torches indicating they were watching
for any sign of us. Behind me, Ekwi was working on a torch herself, and once
it was lit, she waved it high over her head. After a minute, I saw one of the
torches waving back. Now the elders knew we had arrived. We turned to the cave
and cautiously made our way into it, letting the torch light the way. It was
easy walking compared to the trek up the mountain.
After a few minutes' walk, we found ourselves
in a large cavern where a Kyrii with strange markings was waiting for us. He
was covered in so many different markings it was hard to tell if he was a black
Kyrii with white stripes or a white Kyrii with black markings. I guess the world
would never know. He had green hair down his spine and he carried a bright orange
staff, which seemed to be pulsating with power.
"Hello," he said with a smirk on his face. "I
take it you two are the sacrifice?"
I nodded quickly.
"Well, it's good to see you foolish Geraptikuans
are finally doing something right. Tell me, who was that fool who tried to fight
off my spirits?" he asked.
"He has been banished," Ekwi said. "We were afraid
he would use his weapon against us too." I glanced at her. She stared straight
ahead, not once blinking. I was amazed she could think up a story that quickly.
"Even more wisdom!" he said happily. Suddenly,
his smile turned to a sneer. "Well, it's time. Goodbye, children." He waved
his staff in deliberate motions. Millions of spirits exploded out of the staff,
and they were all flying towards us. I grabbed the guard stone from my pack
and pulled it out in front of us, while at the same time I tossed the stone
at the foremost specter. It screeched in pain and exploded into a million particles.
"What-" said Tura-Kepek.
The stone flew back to my hand and I tossed it
again. This time, it sliced through four or five phantoms before it came back
to me. Ekwi cowered behind the shield while I tossed the stone time after time.
The Kyrii began to shout and yell, waving the staff this way and that. More
and more spirits were blasting through his staff. There were too many for me
to keep at bay.
I kept throwing the stone over and over but it
wasn't helping. They were overwhelming me. Ekwi and I began to back up and soon
enough we hit the cave wall.
"No! No! Stop! Please, stop!" I said, panting
"So you were the one who was fighting them! Well,
well. At least that foolish Council sent him to me to finish him off! Thank
you, elders!" he screamed angrily.
The ghosts were still flying all around us, flying
through us, chilling our bones. I looked at Ekwi. Her eyes were barely open,
and she looked deathly sick.
"NO!" I cried. "Don't hurt her! Stop!"
But it was too late. Her eyes were closed; she
wasn't breathing. It was all too horrible. I bent over her, crying. There was
only one thing that mattered now: I had to get her home. I dropped the shield
and the weapon and dragged Ekwi with me back out of the cave, the ghosts still
attacking us relentlessly. I barely made it through the pathway.
When I reached the exit of the cave, however,
the spirits ceased. They didn't leave the cave. I couldn't figure out why, but
I was still grateful that they didn't leave. Lying on the side of the mountain,
in the middle of the night, I fell asleep, too tired to move another inch.
I awoke the next morning after a restless sleep.
Ekwi was still draped across me, eyes closed, looking peaceful. I cried more,
but I knew I had to move on. I stood up slowly, and lifted Ekwi from the ground.
It took me hours, but I managed to bring her home.
The Council was surprised to see me. I guess
they weren't expecting me, after all. However, their faces showed so much more
surprise to see me bringing back Ekwi.
"How can this be?" the Chief Elder asked.
"I narrowly escaped. But he has the weapon and
the shield," I told her.
"Then we are truly doomed," she said grimly.
"We thank you for your help, Jake. But I guess that fate had another plan for
Geraptiku. We will take Ekwi now."
I refused. "I will not leave her side," I said
"So be it," she replied. "But we will need to
prepare her for the funeral."
I entered the Council hut, still clutching Ekwi.
The elders swarmed around me, and lifted her body. They laid it on a body-length
cushion and began to clean her up. I sat next to her, watching them.
And then it really hit me. We didn't have any
way to stop Tura-Kepek and his band of spirits. Geraptiku was doomed, even with
my trying to help. In fact, I was the one who caused their downfall! If I hadn't
offered to go as the sacrifice in the first place, this would never have happened.
Was this fate? Was I always supposed to find
that stone, travel back in time, see Geraptiku, and then bring its downfall
anyway? Was I always the one to destroy the town single-handedly? I felt sicker
than I ever had before.
The funeral was somber. The elders explained
that everyone who died honorably would be placed in the tomb and sealed inside
one of the rooms. I didn't tell the elders that anyone could access the tomb
in the future. It would be foolish to cause them more pain than necessary.
Some of the villagers played the drums as Ekwi
was carried inside. She looked peaceful, which seemed unnatural. I had never
seen that expression on her face before, and I was sure it was a posed look.
I couldn't watch the procession.
Why did she have to die? Why not me? Was this
fate as well? This fate thing was so confusing, I was amazed it didn't kill
me just thinking about it. It was all too much to grasp for a simple Gelert
like me. I wasn't made for this, no matter how much I wanted to fulfill that
feeling deep inside me.
After the funeral, there was a small get-together
at the Council's hut to honor Ekwi. I didn't go. I couldn't stand seeing all
those people laughing and chatting when Ekwi was sealed inside the Tomb. It
wasn't the way to honor her, not in the least. I slipped away after the funeral
and took a walk. My head was still spinning and I wanted to clear it.
I walked farther than I planned to. I ended up
near the base of Techo Mountain. I looked up and faintly saw the cave entrance.
My stomach churned slightly at the thought of Tura-Kepek in that cavern with
both of the stones that could help protect Geraptiku. I suddenly decided to
journey into the cave and retrieve the stones. It was my fault they were in
trouble, and I needed to get them out of it.
I managed to reach the entrance to the cave after
about half an hour. The hardest part was yet to come, however. I still had to
sneak in and make it past Tura-Kepek without him noticing. I slowly and cautiously
made my way through the pathway that led into the cavern.
Tura-Kepek wasn't in the cavern, and I wasn't
going to go searching for him. I quietly searched for the two stones. There
were many nooks and crannies they could be in, and it took me a while as I looked
for them. Suddenly, I found them. They were placed in a small hole in the side
of the wall, on the far side of the cave from the entrance. I couldn't see the
hole because it was near pitch black. I found it when I ran my hands over the
walls. I grabbed the stones, my heart lifting.
However, as I stole across the cave to leave,
I heard someone coming through the pathway. Panicking, I turned around to find
a hiding place. Running to the area I found the stones, I hid in the dark, crouched
down, my head peeking around a stalagmite.
Tura-Kepek reentered the cave, eyes blazing,
and his staff tightly in his left hand. He began to fiddle with his staff on
a smooth rock, near the entrance. There was nothing I could do to escape while
he was there.
I was trapped.
To be continued...