Aldrich was sitting on a reclining chair by the fireplace his leges were covered in a warm bedsheet as he calmly sipped his tea and told his story.
Although he thought that Isger would break out laughing in his face at this ridiculous story. Were he in Isger"s place he probably would have. But Isger maintained a serious expression throughout the story, only interrupting to ask questions.
At the end of his tale, Aldrich was glad that he came here to talk to Isger about it even though Isger couldn"t possibly help him much.
Isger looked intently at the fire, deep in thought. The silence was finally broken when he looked at Aldrich and smiled. "You"ve grown up."
Aldrich didn"t know why but that sentence touched him. It was like he could suddenly breath easier.
"Hey, I just said you grew up and now you"re going to cry hahahaha!"
"I"m not crying, something got in my eye. Leave me alone."
"Leave you alone? No way. Come on, we"ve got to take care of that thing. Follow me." Isger got up and started towards his own bedroom.
"What? You have a way?" Aldrich was surprised. After all, Isger was an ordinary farmer, as common as they come.
"You shouldn"t always be so dismissive of old normal people, we might surprise you. Eh?"
In the bedroom, Isger pushed his own bed across the room, and pulled a random wooden stick that was inconspicuously resting on the window"s shutters.
Then he proceeded to insert it in a small hole in the wooden floor, where the bed would"ve been. Aldrich her a subtle clicking noise as that same area opened to reveal a huge chest.
The chest was reinforced with iron at the edges, a solid metal lock sealed the entire thing up. Before Aldrich"s jaw could fall off, Isger easily carried the chest and it landed with a thud.
"Woah, what—what?! Mr. Isger are you a secret Crestmaster or what?"
"Crestmaster? God no. I am just a shepherd and farmer. Anyway I have some things in here that might help us deal with your situation."
Isger then proceeded to open the chest without unlocking the lock.
"It wasn"t locked?" Aldrich asked in confusion.
"No, anyone could open it normally but if you try to pick the lock, lets just say that you"d be in for unpleasant surprise." This time Isger"s laughter was much darker.
Isger took out a flask filled to the brim with a green liquid oddly the liquid was intermixed with bubbles, a pouch of white powder and four candles. Lastly he took out a sheathed sword.
The sheathed sword looked normal but the sheath was in a decent condition. Aldrich was so shocked that he wasn"t shocked anymore.
Isger was known for disliking weapons of all kinds, he only keeps a spear for protection and grumbles all the time about selling it off.
Isger didn"t slow down, he cleared the area, opened the lid of green liquid and poured it to draw a square on the floor then he placed the candles at the corners and sprinkled the powder at the center.
"Ok, go sit in the center. Hey, stop goofing off and get moving."
Aldrich was spurred into action, he just decided to ask later.
Isger then lit another candel and sat with him in the square, "listen, when you look at the fire in this candle you will fall asleep, and if what you told me is true, you will go back there."
"Back there?" Aldrich didn"t need to be reminded, that corridor was clear in his mind.
"Yes back there." Isgers tone was firm, "not to worry, I"ll wake you up when this candle is half way. Waking up will bring you back. Then I will see what all this mess is about."
"One more thing, in the meantime before I awake you, never let that thing kill you. Never. Even if its not real. You told me it was distracted by your flesh that it even gave up on chasing you? Well, use that to your advantage. Keep in mind that you are not to attempt fighting that thing, just don"t let it kill you until I awake you."
Aldrich didn"t have the leisure to think on that much, his eyes were subconsciously attracted to the candlelight and he suddenly felt drowsy. His eyes grew heavier and heavier.
Aldrich opened his eyes, and sure enough he was back to that cursed corridor. He was still running with all his might to the shining blue light in the horizon.
There was one unexpected thing though, the hole in his left shoulder wasn"t fixed, the insane amount of pain slammed into Aldrich like a galloping mountain goat. Aldrich was caught off guard and screamed in agony.
"What the hell?! It was fine in the real world, why is it still like this here?!"
Although he wanted to just bash his head into the walls of this place, Aldrich forced himself to channel that desire into running faster. Anyway he wasn"t here to fight, anytime now, Mr. Isger will wake him up and he will be out of here.
Aldrich hread the sound of rapid running behind him. The monster was done with its snack and was now coming for more. Aldrich felt his stomach twisting but didn"t turn around but ran even faster, if that was even possible.
"I"ve already made a good distance between us, as long as keep my speed for a while, I"ll be woken up."
It was often during the most crucial moments in life when tragic mistakes happened. The more you wished it didn"t happen the more likely it will.
Aldrich stumbled, his left leg slammed into his right, he fell face first into the ground.
Aldrich got back up quickly, it couldn"t have been more than three seconds since his fall when he felt an impact twice as strong as his fall collide with his guts sending him literally flying in the air for while.
Aldrich managed to raise his head up, to see the physical manifestation of his fear grinning at him.
Aldrich was confounded, there was a massive distance between them, how? When? It doesn"t matter. This monster somehow caught up with him and sent him flying in the air with a single punch.
Such power. Aldrich felt his entire body breaking like an eggshell. Never his life had Aldrich felt such devastating power, making even his previous determination seem like a lie.
"Escape? Me? From this thing? How dumb could I be?! This thing is an unnatural being and I"m just a normal person."
How did he gain such false confidence? In the face of such a monstrosity he should have just yielded made things easier for himself.
The monster started walking towards Aldrich, this time it"s steps were calm and steady, unhurried.
What about Isger? The damn candle should have been entirely burnt by now, yet Isger hadn"t woken him up.
The cloaked monster didn"t wait for Aldrich to accept his fate, it sent a claw attack to his stomach, intending to finish Aldrich once and for all. Aldrich even with his battered body turned and slid away at the last moment.
The attack that targeted his stomach landed instead on his right leg"s thigh.
Aldrich finally saw the attack hit him properly, it was like his flesh had no resistance to the attack, the dark claws tore through his flesh with disturbing ease.
The chunk it tore off this time was much bigger than the one oo his shoulder.
Before the attack Aldrich recalled how he made it up to here in the first place. And then he remembered Isger"s advice to use the monster"s irrational hunger to his advantage.
He literally had to sacrifice pieces of his flesh to survive and he was prepared to keep on doing it until he survived. Not missing this chance he made a run for it.
Aldrich felt the pain of his body, at every step he made his body shook, the bleeding was intense and his head was spinning but none of that stopped Aldrich.
To his surprise, he now could see the source of the blue light. Fist-sized stones were lined up to form and arch. The stones were engraved with mysterious marks and symbols that released brilliant light, but the blue light that Aldrich could see from faraway was coming from the arch itself not the stones. It looked like—
—Yes, it looked like a door, or a gate.
Aldrich suppressed the pain and headaches he was currently feeling. Actually Aldrich had no idea where this door would lead, it could lead him to an even worse predicament, but was he in a position to choose? No, This door was the only option he had.
Aldrich listened closely but didn"t hear any noise behind him. The monster was still enjoying it"s prize and Aldrich was almost at the light door.
He could make it. No, he will make it.
As Aldrich was getting closer and closer his resolve grew firmer, no matter what might be on the other side of that door, he won"t hesitate for a single second.
Aldrich suddenly felt the air behind him twist and turn, despite himself, Aldrich turned his head back to witness an ugly scene. The nightmare monster lived up to this moniker.
The monster was flying in the air towards him, with unbelievable speed. As far as Aldrich could see it had no wings but somehow it was levitating in the air and flying directly for him.
"So this is how this monster caught up to me out of nowhere! It could fly!"
This made no sense and yet it made perfect sense. But even then he was at the cusp of victory, the door was only a few steps away. Three steps to be exact.
Even with its flying speed, it was already too late. Aldrich suddenly found himself suspended in the air upside down and couldn"t reach the door no matter what.
Aldrich looked at his ankle, it was caught by a tentacle that stretched from the back of the monster.
THEN it hit him, now he understood. Now everything made sense.
Unfortunately it was only now when Aldrich figured out the true nature of this cursed monster. This monster was toying with him. This whole time. It purposely created an opening that Aldrich could exploit.
It purposely allowed him to escape time and time again. Not because it was distracted by the flesh it tore off but because it knew it could catch up to him at any time.
It allowed him to almost reach the door because it wanted him to experience hope and then even deeper despair. This monster"s favorite meal was the suffering and agony that he experienced his whole life as he kept running from it.
Aldrich stretched his hand to the door. Three steps away, that distance became an unbridgeable gap, between victory and defeat, between life and death, between despair and hope.
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