The Second Sword

A short story

image/svg+xml Openclipart Simple Horizontal Rule 1 2012-10-13T19:58:51 Simple horizontal rule designed to be used in a programme/ending of a chapter. Based on one seen in an out of copyright book called "The universe: or, The infinitely great and the infinitely small". https://openclipart.org/detail/172738/simple-horizontal-rule-1-by-nasfarley88-172738 nasfarley88 decoration horizontal rule

Even as the massive wooden gates to the underworld slammed shut, Ehrlich Mann knew he was going to die. It had taken him two whole weeks to prepare and make the trek halfway up the northern side of the Chomolungma mountain range, known more commonly in the modern world as Mt. Everest. The secret warrior path had taken him across a gorge and into the gaping maw of the underworld, where he now stood, catching his breath.

This knowledge had been drilled into him since he was of learning age. Every seventeen years, ancient sundials located at various positions on the globe leap into action; the dials begin to point in the directions of clues and hidden marks and tomes and passages about a long-lost city beneath the ground, ruled by chimera of ancient times. Nobody knew how the chimera creatures got there in the first place, and nobody knows how the sundials still continue to point warriors down the sacred path. Two and a half weeks ago, it happened again, and part-time autoparts manufacturer Ehrlich was spurred into action.

Inside the cave, Ehrlich had caught his breath and was examining the surroundings, which were dark and sparse. At the end of the oblong cave existed a short, rough window, like a square-ish crack in the rock face, through which light was streaming in. He blinked twice and threw his food pack over one shoulder. Then Ehrlich Mann, the last chosen warrior from an undisclosed Balkan country, leaped through the opening.

The moment he landed in a tuck-and-roll and jumped to his feet, the pack dropped from his shoulder and he stood, gaping in shock at the scene in front of him.

A gigantic cavern that was covered in shining, ancient-looking gold leaf swept over and around the massive rock formations before him. At the base of the cavern stood a short, oblong rock, with a metal object sticking in the middle of it. It was the lower half of a pedestal that had been carved right out of the rock face. The scene reminded Ehrlich of the Excalibur scene from any of King Arthur's depictions. Four massive pathways led away from this pedestal in four directions, swerving and going up and down and around obstacles and... creatures?

Ehrlich realized that his earlier assessment - that he would die today - held true now more than ever. Because the lower half of the cavern was roiling with dark and slimy creatures, hovering at the edge of the four paths leading to the centerpiece.

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