Stepping Through

“Are you ready?” His cloaked eyes pierced me despite the light.

I nodded and we stood. He lead me through the bustling tavern to a door at the rear latched and keyed. It opened to a deep and dark stairwell with one flickering light at the end. He bid me to go ahead then shut the door behind me and key and latched it again.

The closing and latchings echoed and then silence reigned leaving nothing but a slow but steady creaking with a throaty hum mixed in. I stood frozen for some time before a boisterous voice came.

“Yeah, I know. I told ’em it was too morbid,” low and friendly. I began my descent, daring the depths out of curiosity. The voice continued, “they would’nt even let me bring down my strummer, you believe that? And they say, ‘why you always hummin’?’ – well, what the voids else I got to do?”

I reached the bottom, the flickering light in the midst of the room – an orb floating free above a small table which behind sat a great man, his back near to the ceiling and hovering imps around him. He was old and enjoying a hunk of jerky al desko. His teeth were, surprisingly, white.

“Ah, voids.” He exclaimed at the sight of me and set his meal down amongst a pile – documents and the like. He straightened up and batted away the floaters around him. “Forgive me, little Miss. They fail to tell me who they’re sending.” He looked at me directly once things had calmed. “You hopefuls get younger every day. What’s your name, kid?”

“E-,” I stammered, “Elicad. Friends call my Shifty, though.” I spouted.

He chuckled, hardy, and rumbled the walls. “Shifty, eh? A kind nickname. Born of love.” He nodded then sighed, “you know why yer down here, Shifty?” He inquired and I simply nodded. He swung his arm out and motioned into the dark. At his beckon projected a light that illuminated a doorway angled toward the ground.

“When you go down there, you ain’t comin’ back up. Once you step through there, you’re a deserter – ain’t no kin to me. Ain’t no kin to no one.” He softened, “you understand that, right?”

I sighed and closed my eyes. Fear ran hot through me and I shook with anxiety. I did not feel prepared for this. I was not prepared to leave my brothers and sisters. I was not prepared to leave Chiku and the hatchlings she now mothered. I was not prepared to be an excommunicate.

But I was doing this for more than me.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Gate

Word of the Day: al desko

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