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The Door Closes: Part Two

by ellbot1998


Art by ellbot1998


It feels so strange and different.

     But if I can do something to restore her, and restore myself, then I have no choice.

     The days fade into nights, the forest into desert. I slip by Hunters, never once having to run despite my bright orange skin and tall stature. I've spent a large part of my life going unnoticed, and that hasn't changed. My rests are dreamless. The woods are far away.

     I feel like I've left something else behind. Something I'll never, ever go back for. Not Rubia, Cerulean and Faith – but whatever happened to me when I lost Dromiay.

     The sun shimmers across golden sands. They rise and fall like frozen waves. Heat simmers faintly across my skin. I feel free from my old self, like the last drops of corruption are evaporation.

     On my second day in the desert I come to a city around an oasis. I've never seen buildings made of mud and plaster before, but I know what this place is. Just as Rubia said, it's Shinedune.

     I take my first steps down into the settlement. Walls of square buildings rise around me, the smell of cooked fish filling the air. Many of the inhabitants bear hard, dusty looks on their faces. Many of them sell food and supplies out of the fronts of their tents; others move about in the streets, trying to cling to the center aisle and not brush up against each other. This place feels dead, but also alive.

     I push open the door of a dusty café, head hanging low, and order a hot drink with a few of the gemstones Rubia gave me. The place is busy and drab, decorated with greyscale rugs and creaky furniture. Light streams in from the windows at the front. Images of Dromiay still flicker through my mind, but her face is gradually being clouded out by changing landscapes and brand new faces.

     Old faces, too. Rubia, Cerulean and Faith stay with me, in a way. Since I've never had family and left them until now, I never realized that when you walk away from somebody, they don't immediately lose presence in your mind. I've spent my travel so far thinking of home, but without longing for it. I know this is the path I'm meant to be on.

     I sip my drink. Bubbling fruit juice, laced with cinnamon and cocoa shreddings. It's powerfully tangy, but calms my heartbeat a few notches down. The janitor, a Zafara, pushes a wheeled bucket of cleaning supplies by.

     "I know you're different."

     I glance upwards. A grey-skinned Buzz sits calmly in front of me. A puff of vapor appears over my drink as I sigh. Abruptly, I feel vulnerable, realizing this stranger can probably sense magic. Does he only know that I'm a Creator's Child? Or does he know also that I'm not a Creator's Child, but an accident?

     "You're a vampire."

     I groan.


     I am home alone, and there is a knock on the door.

     I climb up the stairs to answer it. "Hello," says the tall Mynci who appears to be made of stone. "How are you, Nephew?"

     The rhyme mildly annoys me. I sure hope he didn't mean it. I recall that he did call the Creator his sister, so this makes some sense. In a calm tone, I reply, "I am fine, Uncle. What brings you here?"

     "Please, call me Uncle Manor."

     I don't like him. What bugs me more: I can't figure out why.

     "What I'm here for... oh, it isn't much." He shrugs, and lets himself inside. He doesn't walk, he floats: he's obviously magical and willing to show it. His lips move again: "I don't suppose Rubia is home?"

     "She's not."

     As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I regret it.

     And I can swear: Manor's face lights up for a fraction of a second. If it does, it doesn't last, but I saw it. Almost as if to cover it up, he says pitifully, "Oh, that's too bad. I was hoping to ask her something."

     "She and Faith will be along shortly." I have to keep from gritting my teeth. "Uncle Manor, would you like some tea?"

     "Not in a million years."

     Manor and I have just now reached the bottom of the stairs. I've been trying to stay ahead of him to make it feel more like I'm leading him and less like he's invading, but I think it just made him move faster. I allow in to the main room, the one with the kitchen and the storage.

     "What do you want?" I finally ask him. I've had it. If he doesn't like tea, I don't have to be nice to him.

     He goes over to the cupboards and opens one up. I clench a fist.

     "Close that."

     He lashes around to me. "Cerulean, I am here for something that I am sure Rubia would not mind me borrowing." He turns back to the cupboard and begins rummaging through it. Maps and notes fall onto the counter. "And I assure you that it cannot wait until Rubia and Faith are back."

     "I never said Faith was gone. She can be more dangerous than you think. And I am going to have to ask you to put all of that back."

     "And I will."

     "After you get what you want."

     "But of course."

     "BUT, as Rubia's maps are not mine to lend out, you will put all of those back, and wait for Rubia to get here. Or else leave."

     "Ah... I am afraid that will not be happening today."

     I hurl my fist at him.

     He dexterously catches it in his own palm. I grimace and then scream as he tightens his stone grip on my fingers. He pulls his slender tail forward, the obsidian star at the end of his wand glowing with black sparks. His lips pull back into a snarl. "I need this and I don't want to hurt you."

     "If you needed it for any decent reason... then you would wait for Rubia." I launch at him with my other fist.

     He swings his wand forward. A few grey beams of light shoot out of it and wrap around me; six spikes of stone jut from the ground, pinning me to the ceiling by my wings, arms and legs. I gasp from the pain, even though it's clear he wasn't trying to hurt me – at least, any more than he had to.

     "Found it." Manor unrolls a map and then rolls it back up again. He is facing me; I don't see the map's contents. "Now if you excuse me, I need to go catch up with Rubia and Faith."

     I hang my head as he leaves. I have no hope of moving, no hope of catching up to him.

     A few tense minutes later, Rubia barges in, alone.

     "Cerulean, it's Manor– He's taken Faith."


     The Buzz chews on a few strips of bacon from the plate he ordered. It's loaded with syrup and samples of meat.

     "I've never met a vampire before," he eagerly says. "Tell me, where do-"

     "I am not a vampire!" I blurt. "I'm—I'm a Creator's Child."

     "Whoops!" He raises his hands and starts to leave, but I stop him. I need all the help I can get.

     "Would you know anything about a door here?" I point to the southern tip of the continent on my map. The Buzz sits back down, furrowing his brow.

     A tall rainbow-skinned Kau emerges from the crowd. Her rough vest and jeans are coated in dust from somewhere, and she wears her pastel hair swept back to one side. She sits down and asks, "Who's this?"

     "My name is Amadeus," I tell her. "And I'm on my way to the end of the world."

     "Joreph." The Buzz gives me his hand. I shake it. "I might know a few things about the end of the world," he growls in a warm voice.

     "And I'm Yuandi." The Kau sits down bashfully across from me.

     After he finishes eating, Joreph takes me to his small square apartment. On the way up, we traipse through the bookstore he owns, which is closed for the day. From the Hunter-warding beads, pamphlets on communicating with the dead, banners with arcane lettering, and numerous books on the supernatural scattered both upstairs and downstairs, it's easy to see that he mixes the reliable with the gibberish and everything between. But he may be just the person I need. I can tell that Yuandi is a close friend of Joreph – the two shout at each other, but appear incredibly friendly and calm at the same time.

     Joreph closes his shutters and lights a gas lamp. "As far as I know, there's nothing but a door there nobody can open."

     "I need to get through that door."

     Yuandi and Joreph both look at me in surprise. I feel strained, like I've been too abrupt with them already.

     "You need to get through," Yuandi repeats.

     "Have you heard of the... the place people get sent when they would otherwise be obliterated? Not killed, obliterated entirely. Like if they'd sacrificed themselves, magically."

     "That'svery specific," Joreph remarks.

     The three of us sit cross-legged on the indigo cushions in Joreph's den, which is crowded with more of the same kind of paraphernalia. His house has walls of plaster, like the rest of Shinedune, except many of the surfaces in his home are painted over in thick, dark oils. I wonder if the grainy fields and billowing clouds are art or another superstition.

     "Do you know of anything that would help me?" I ask.

     "Know of anything?" Joreph looks surprised. "I know of everything."

     He pulls a slender tome off from a shelf and sets it down between our seats. "There are caves," he chimes cheerfully. "Underneath the Great Hills in the West. Not like many people have ever been in them, but they have a known connection to the door."

     "How so?"

     "This book's account claims the makers of the door took shelter in the caves. Many believe the makers left their secrets there."

     "That's it?"

     "Yup." Joreph is flipping through different pamphlets and shoving hieroglyphs to my face. "It is very likely the secrets would be written in an ancient alphabet, if they're written secrets at all. I know many ancient languages, but I have to keep my shop... so that's why I'm sending Yuandi with you."

     Yuandi jerks back, genuinely alarmed. "Joreph?! I don't even know him!"

     "You do now... after all, Amadeus is your brother."

     Yuandi and I look at each other.

     Guess I have help.


     He happened without warning.

     Rubia and I greeted the Mynci curtly. He bowed loftily, sweeping his arms to either side and grinning with his eyes closed.

     "My name is Manor, if you so recall."

     We did not.

     I turned away from him, back to gathering herbs as Rubia began to small talk with him. I hoped Rubia would get the message that I had bad feelings about this person. But before I could think of a way to convey this clearly to Rubia, my hunch was confirmed. 'Faith. Watch out.'

     I winced upright at the Creator's message. So did Manor.

     He grabbed my wrist in his painfully-tight grip and pulled a platform of stone from the ground, elevating us slightly. The earth begins to rumble, and our platform moves.

     Rubia cries my name and reaches for my hand. I reach back. Her fingers grasp mine.

     "Faith!" she cries out. I already feel her fingers slipping away.

     "Mom!" I cry back, desperately stretching my arm.

     "Nice seeing ya!" Manor calls out to her. Horror is etched across Rubia's face as Manor and I shoot off through the land. Frustration wells up in my heart as Rubia vanishes from sight.

     This isn't happening. I feel paralyzed. Manor's hand still clenches my wrist. I reluctantly hold on to him.

     'But it will happen.' Manor's face stays determined, satisfied, accomplished as he focused on moving the land beneath us.

     'I've been kidnapped before. And I've broken away from it. What makes you any different, Manor?'

     'Everything. Absolutely everything, Faith.'

     'Tell me, monster– what do you intend me for?'

     Manor snatches both my hands up in his and stared me in the eyes. Passion dances in the back of his face. 'Something great, something to right the wrongs of history. You...' he closes his eyes, relief in his grin, 'You will open the Door.'

To be continued...

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