The TNT Roared to life with a thunderous blast; four separate sticks of dynamite illuminated the cave. For an instant it was day as the blast expanded. It sent shock-waves through the cavern, knocking most of the skeletons down. The blast was just enough to send my dad and the dark skeleton plummeting over the edge of the bridge into the darkness below. Ceiling rumbled as the explosion approached it. Gravel, Sand, and Stone fell like a waterfall, sealing off the cavern we just found. And it was all over. The dust settled, yet the ringing in my ears still continued.
He.. he was gone. I sat there for what felt like forever, taking in what had just happened.
Eventually I got up. I crawled through the hole we'd dug earlier in the day. It was smaller now, obviously. It had been affected by the TNT blast too. I was just glad it was still there. As I re-emerged into the dying light it took a second for my eyes to readjust. It was painful at first and then my surroundings slowly faded into view. The small room we had uncovered - everything was still just as we had left it. The pile of pickaxes stacked on our makeshift shelf, a shovel propped in the corner, and a pile of TNT stashed away in the far corner.
A sharp pain seared through my body. Suddenly I remembered the hit from that dark skeleton. My shoulder hurt and my sprained ankle made it hard to walk. I quickly grabbed the shovel and used it as a cane. I hobbled from our tunnels to our little makeshift room. It took a considerable amount of time. So long in fact that by the time I'd entered our alcove room at the surface, the moon had already risen.
I looked around the dark room. My dad's cot was adjacent to mine. His covers thrown across the bed, pillows thrown into the corner, along with his second pair of shoes. In the corner was a chair we'd taken from Bazel. On his desk was an array of books and writing utensils. Stacked on top of his books was a large map he kept to help us navigate. He would never touch those again... No one would.
I didn't bother lighting a fire that night. I slumped into my cot and drifted into the sweet embrace of sleep.
Eventually I woke up. I looked over at my dad's cot - Still empty. I got up and walked out of our alcove into the sand. The sun had already risen pretty high into the sky. Sand glowed as the sun hit it. A bird flew high over, but beyond that - nothing. It had been some time since I'd seen a zombie.
I was instantly reminded of my shoulder when I tried to prop myself up on the wall. It was less intense now, but it throbbed and ached. The real problem was my ankle. It would take some time to heal and it really needed to be wrapped. I hobbled back into our room and moved towards my dad's... my dad's desk. I pushed aside the books and pencils, looking for his medical supplies. He would've hated to see how his books were treated. Eventually I found the stash. They were nested in the corner, wedged between old bottles and his personal journal.
Now, this was a journal where he kept all of his most important findings and thoughts. It was a black book bound in leather. Old papers jutted out from it this way and that. Then I remembered. My dad had mentioned his book. He said it might have some kind of info on what we'd found. I thought back to the cave, the skeletons, forgotten city, the fire symbol. Now I'd definitely seen that fire symbol before.
I picked up his book and sat back on my cot. It would be cooler in here anyway. The book contained so many ripped pages it was hard to find anything. Old manuscripts from some place called Ache-sis Moondai? Weird drawings of creatures, studies on humans, histories of towns. How did you ever find anything in here, dad? But eventually I found it. Closer to the back of the book was a section he'd carefully kept. The pages looked very old and made an odd crinkly noise even when I touched them. The once white pages had aged to an old yellow tint. The borders of these pages were decorated by drawings that stretched up and down each page. There were a lot of random symbols. Each page seemed to be dedicated to some person. One page had what looked like a tree emblazoned with gold, another had a drop of water that was surrounded by a semi-circle of blue. The next page had what I needed: The fire symbol. I started reading.
The gift of fire was given to us by our god Agni.
Agni gave many gifts to us, gracing us with warmth and comfort.
Agni is capable of switching genders - appearing both as a male or female depending on their mood.
In olden times, Agni would visit the town of Frostbain for which they had a strange connection to. It was for this reason that the people of Frostbain created the catacombs of Agni.
Soon this town became a place of pilgrimage; It's warm climate invited many to its cozy location.
Setting the book aside for a second I rubbed my temples. Had my dad pulled a section from some fantasy book? I guess it was my own fault for never really paying attention to him. He tried to teach me about the old gods but I'd always shrugged it off as fairy tales.
I noticed that a brown piece of paper had become dislodged from his book. It looked sort of old and it really stuck out in comparison to the rest of his... collection. Carefully I pulled it from the book and unfolded it. It'd been a long time since I'd seen a map, but I was pretty sure this was some sort of map of our known world. Little dots marked locations of towns but what really caught my attention was four large circles on this map. There was no discernible pattern that I could recognize, though. I compared it to the map he kept on his desk. These circles corresponded to some locations he'd also marked on his maps. The closest one was only a day's walk to the west.
I decided to stay one more night here. I noticed that no sounds came from the area we'd dug. Whatever had awoken those skeletons definitely wasn't trying to get out. That night I prepared for my journey. I wouldn't be coming back. I couldn't. I had to continue my dad's plan. If something had awoken those skeletons, I bet this wouldn't be the only place to have unusual activity. I packed light. Now that I was alone I couldn't carry as much. I grabbed the map on his desk and rolled it up, stuffing it in my pack. Along with the map I took half of our water supply, a couple days’ worth of food, a shovel, and his journal. It might come in handy again.
I set my pack down and teetered outside. There were a few clouds that drifted through the sky. Every now and then a bat would fly by.
The stars were brilliant. It'd been a while since I'd admired a view like that. The full moon rose slowly over the tree tops. I looked at it for a moment, but eventually stepped back inside.
Suddenly a flash of light lit up my surroundings. It was nearly as bright as day! I looked around the room and turned back outside. Had I fallen asleep? It was… it was day time! The moon was gone now, replaced with the sun. Ground shook, sand shifted, rocks tumbled down the hill. An otherworldly hiss echoed from the north. Suddenly the light disappeared and the moon returned, as if nothing had happened. I looked around. Besides the sand that had moved, nothing had changed. That night was long, and I barely slept.
I made sure to wake up just as the sun was rising. Traveling in the desert is not a pleasant experience so traveling against the sun is recommended if you ever find yourself in a desert.
Leaving our dig site, I followed the river north, traveling just next to it. If any zombies happened to be close, I could easily lose them in the river. Crossing the river is always a bit of a hassle; You don't want to land in the water but you've also got to be careful not to jump on thin ice. Eventually I found a spot to cross. I'd be taking this ice path most of the way to our destination, so it was important I be careful. One misstep and I'd have soggy boots and wet bread. By midday I'd traveled a considerable amount. Using this ice highway, as my dad often referred to it, was a fast alternative to normal travel. Every now and then the ice would crack, but beyond that not much surprised me.
Looking north, the large, cold mountains rose to greet me as I continued on my journey. Wind rushed off the slopes, pushing me slightly, bringing me closer to the edge of this icy path. I could already see it - even before I passed the Ridgevale bridge. It rose slowly from the west. First, the large sphere of glowstone and obsidian rising high above the trees and mountains, then its four towers, then finally once I'd passed Ridgevale I saw it: The symbol.