• E. Paige Burks

The Story of Gladianima - Part 18

The cavern that Kegan and Thyra stood before was ominous. It was dark and seemed to consume any light that tried to penetrate it. Thyra glanced at Kegan, who nodded in solidarity, before taking a first, timid step into the darkness.

As they moved away from the entrance, the cave became colder and seemed to draw the air in behind them, creating a wind that was practically shoving them deeper inside. The rock below their feet was slippery, and the cave floor seemed to tilt forward slightly, as if trying to hurry them along.

Thyra felt her feet slip and she caught the wall to steady herself. Her heart was racing in her chest as the cold wind sucked at her. She could tell that she was so close now. She barely managed to keep her footing as she and Kegan came to flat ground.

A light suddenly flooded around them, making them both shield their eyes. It pulsed and filled the cave, really a large, domed room around them. The ceiling stretched high into the air, covered with thick stalactites.

Thyra lowered her hand slightly to see where the light was coming from, and she gasped in surprise when she saw that the wall in front of them was rippling and shining brightly, shimmering like water reflecting the afternoon sun. The wind suddenly swirled around them and Thyra realized it was a portal of some kind as a shadow began to form just beyond the surface.

"I've been waiting for you, Thyra," a woman's voice called. "I have called you for quite some time."

"I'm sorry," Thyra said, hearing the edge to her voice. "It took me a while to make my way here."

"Who are you talking to?" Kegan asked, standing close to her shoulder.

"Her," Thyra said, motioning toward the portal. "Can't you hear her?"

The shadow was becoming more clear, and suddenly the wind swirled angrily. The woman's form was just beyond the water, which looked like glass, although her face was still obscured by ripples. "This man is not welcome," she snapped suddenly.

Thyra jumped and lunged for Kegan when the wind suddenly sucked him up into a swirling vortex, before roughly shoving him from the cavern. Just as he was thrown back into the blackness, a massive rock fell in front of the entrance, effectively sealing Thyra in with the woman.

She ran toward the rock and pressed her hands against it, fear washing over her.

"Kegan!" she called, her voice cracking. "Can you hear me!"

"It is just you and I, as it should be, Daughter of Doran," the woman said, finally emerging fully from the portal. Her hair was stringy and appeared to be clear as it fell around her face, reflecting the light of the portal. Beneath jagged bangs, her eyes were solid white, glowing brightly as she looked at Thyra. A dress dripped across her body, brushing against her knees, and her feet were bare.

"Who are you?" Thyra demanded, drawing her sword. "Why have you called me here?" She gritted her teeth. "Why would you spend so much time calling me to my death?"

The woman laughed suddenly, the sound filling the cavern. "I am not your death, Daughter of Doran," she said. She held out her hand suddenly. "I am your salvation. I am called Gladianima."

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