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Havering and the Temple of Horrors: Part One


by numbertwelve

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The Darigan Buzz stood alone, shrouded in mists, wondering how he had come to this place. He hadn't believed the tales true. He had followed the instructions of his faceless informant of his own free will, not concerned with the outcome, simply bored with the monotony of his existence. And so it was that Havering found himself on a small isle a dozen miles southwest of the coast of Meridell. The island was nameless, floating amidst the endless blue expanse of the Neopian Oceans, a seemingly empty expanse of swamps and rotted woodlands. But he came to understand that it was not so empty as it first appeared.

     He had come across a small village, desolate and lifeless, but proof enough that there had, at some point, been life on the nameless isle. The mist had closed in not long after he had discovered the uninhabited settlement and he had been forced to stumble on blindly through the impenetrable gloom. He didn't mind. He could feel his spirits rise as the gloom enveloped him; limp and lifeless it clung to him like an insubstantial web, sending him blindly this way and that, but never halting his steady progress towards the center of the isle. It was here, he had been told, he would find the temple and, he had been promised, a treasure of immeasurable worth.

     Truly, he cared little for the value of the treasure, or the wealth it might, or might not bring him. His only reason for venturing to the nameless isle was to rid himself of the emptiness of his life, the daily routine that left him feeling lifeless and subdued. His blood pumped furiously through his veins as he pressed on, his excitement growing palpable, his insect eyes slowly becoming accustomed to the mists.

     At his side hung his only companion, a weapon he had possessed since before he could remember. When he tried to think of life before the weapon, he saw nothing but a black abyss, as if his memories had been torn from him by some power beyond his reckoning. As with most other things, he didn't care that he couldn't remember. His life had probably been even more monotonous and grossly uninteresting before he had come into possession of the sword. The crystal blade and intricately designed handle felt warm through the scabbard as it brushed against his thick abdomen, a constant reminder of its presence. Not that any physical reminder was truly necessary. The sword spoke to him. Not spoke, exactly, but communicated telepathically, a sentient weapon whose magic Havering could not even begin to fathom. He didn't care that he didn't understand the sword, or how it had come into his possession. He only cared that while it was hanging close at hand, he felt untouchable.

     He had been lost in his thoughts for some time, pressing forward through the murky depths of the nameless isle without paying much attention to his surroundings, and so it was that he did not even notice the presence of another until his sword screamed a warning in his mind. Within a split second the sword was pulled free of its scabbard, a different sort of scream issuing forth as the blade scraped against its casing.

     A figure rushed forward from the mists brandishing a strange hook blade, body riddled with scars, eyes burning with a hatred Havering could not understand. How had he angered this creature so? He brought his sword up effortlessly turning aside an arcing strike and spun on his heels to meet the second attack. Though his agile assailant appeared badly wounded and was covered in strange shredded rags, there was no mistaking it for a Techo. The movements were fluid to a fault, the attacks made with unerring precision. Havering met each attack with a perfectly placed parry, his own blade weaving an intricate dance with his opponents. There was no doubt that they were evenly matched; the battle could have worn on for hours had neither he nor the Techo grown tired. But suddenly, without warning, the Techo stopped his furious assault, head tilting peculiarly as if trying to listen to something beyond its normal range of hearing. And then, as quickly as it had appeared, the Techo was gone, rushing off into the gloom without ever looking back.

     Havering straightened, sheathing his blade once more. The crystal hissed -- and it seemed to Havering that the sound was one of disappointment -- as he slid the blade back into its scabbard.

     When he turned back toward the direction he had been travelling, he could see a square of blackness deep within the gloom. It took him only a few moments to realize that what he was seeing was an entrance of some sort. A portal, perhaps leading into the very temple he had been sent to find. Steeling himself he moved forward, thoughts of the journey that had lead him to this point flashing through his mind.

     He had begun his search in distant Brightvale, where a faceless stranger had come to him, pleading with Havering to seek of the nameless island and, more specifically, the temple hidden at the very center of the isle. He had told the stranger that he didn't care about a stupid island in the middle of nowhere and that he would not waste his time seeking out something that probably didn't exist. The stranger had pleaded with him, begged in fact, but Havering had steadfastly refused the undertaking.

     And now, he stood at the center of the island he had sworn he would never visit before a gaping portal that would lead into a tomb he said he cared nothing about. He didn't know why he had come; he was bored with his existence, that much was true, but something was compelling him onward, something beyond his control. For but a brief moment, Havering was frightened. Not for any danger he might be in, but for the lack of understanding he truly had of his life. He had forgotten his childhood, he cared for nothing, his heart was an empty place, black and cold, his eyes were lifeless, and his only friend was a sword which might or might not have been a living creature of some sort.

     He snapped himself for his thoughts angrily, berating himself for reflection so much on things that did not matter. Steeling himself, he moved towards the oppressive blackness that hovered just within the gloom. As he neared the opening the rest of the structure began to take form around him. Ancient pillars rose up from the swamp, crumbling and ravaged by the harsh conditions on the isle, but impressive nonetheless. The pillars themselves did not support any of the main structure, which was no more opening into the earth. It appeared as if the main bulk of the temple was below the island. An ancient subterranean fortress! Havering could feel his own excitement welling from deep within, as well as the excitement of his sentient blade. The sword seemingly understood the dangers of this haunting place and revelled in them.

     He suppressed the sword's excitement, sickened by its implications. The sword wanted to be used, wanted to destroy life; it longed to be in his hands and made that fact known again and again. With the sentient blade's thoughts pushed from his mind, Havering took a single hesitant step into the tomb and then another and another until the murky gloom of the outside world was replaced by the impenetrable darkness of the world within.

     Havering continued forward, his feet seeming to propel him of their own accord. His orb-like eyes scanned the encroaching gloom, searching for side passageways or, more important and far more dangerous, traps. He saw neither for a long while; the tunnel seemed to go on endlessly in but one direction. Dust and spyder's webs were thick and stifling in the passage, sticking irritably to his body, getting in his eyes and coating his wings. And so he continued onward, travelling for what seemed like days but could not have been more than a few hours, never turning, hoping against hope for any change of scenery, wishing to be free of this place and yet not wanting to go back after coming so far.

     Then he heard the faint sound of footsteps far ahead and, he noted to his surprise, around a corner! From the rapidity of the footfalls Havering could tell that whatever lurked ahead was moving quickly, most likely running. Then he saw the light, dancing along the hallway before him. Whatever was approaching was carrying a torch. He moved forward hurriedly toward the light then halted suddenly, noticing an irregularity in the floor only a few paces down the hall. Had it not been for the torch light Havering realized he would have fallen victim to the spike trap. He would have perished in the middle of nowhere and not a single person in all of Neopia would have noticed.

     He was torn once more from his thoughts as the torchbearer rounded the corner in the tunnel and began running quickly towards him. It was a young Kacheek, tiny and bedraggled looking, horror etched clearly upon its countenance. The Kacheek rushed blindly along the tunnel, seemingly unaware of the spike trap only a short distance ahead. Havering cried out a warning but the Kacheek continued on, the horror on its childlike face twisting its features peculiarly. There was a click as the trap was engaged, but Havering was already moving, head down, racing towards the Kacheek. Three quick strides and then he leapt into the air, pumping his wings fiercely, propelled forward like a rocket. He saw the spikes rushing from the wall, heard the Kacheek's whimpers of panic turn to a scream as the tiny Neopian realized too late what was happening...

To be continued...

 
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