The Whispering Gallery: A Flamekeeper Archives Short Story

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The Whispering Gallery: A Flamekeeper Archives Short Story Page 3

by Vina Lockhart

when my time in this world comes to an end." With a grunt, the rock came loose and toppled off the pile. She moved the rest of the rocks away, revealing his legs. "Can you move?"

  "I think so," Trey said, and Kayla helped him to his feet. "I thank you. Perhaps my first impression of you was not entirely accurate. You have much honor."

  "That's the first time anyone has said such a thing to me. Most words directed at me are not kind ones. You can understand." Kayla smirked and extended her hand.

  Trey grinned. "And a sense of humor, too? This one is not much like the women of the sands." He shook her hand. "Then we agree to work together. We have the same goal in mind, after all."

  Kayla nodded and started to walk toward the sacred haven of the Crimson Order. If, by chance, everything the Flamekeeper had said was trickery, then Kayla would have to kill her new companion to guard the secret of its location. She did not understand why, but she hoped that Laerin spoke the truth, for his sake. Trey walked beside her, looking around in awe at the great willow trees of the forest. She was unaccustomed to having company, but something about sharing the trek back to the haven felt... nice. She reflected on the events of the day and looked up at him. "How are you feeling?" she asked awkwardly. "About Laerin, I mean."

  Trey smiled warmly at her. "I am at peace, Kayla. I grieved for her when she first told me she had taken ill. By time her final moment came, I had accepted it. She suffered for months, and has spent the last week in bed. It took her great strength to meet you as she did. But, I have a question for you in return. What does it mean to you and your order, that you were not the one to return her to the spirits?"

  Kayla frowned at his question. "To be honest, I have no idea. I have never had a target die before I could reach them. But in a way, that is all the confirmation I need that Laerin spoke the truth, and the spirits did not command her death."

  Trey seemed to accept her answer, and looked up at the green canopy of willow branches. "I have never seen so much green in my lifetime," he said in awe.

  Kayla smiled. "I suppose I took it for granted."

  "A shame," he said, looking at her with his dark, almost black eyes. "There is much beauty here."

  Kayla blushed faintly at the suggestion, but quickly changed the subject as they approached the entrance to the haven, the soil at the base of the tree still spotted with faint blood stains. Her hand was beginning to heal, but she drew her dagger and sliced it open again, letting the blood flow freely to the ground. Trey watched with great interest as the illusion faded and revealed the stairway leading to the Hall of Whispers. Trey clutched her arm as they descended, not to restrain her as he did before, but for guidance. There was no light in the stairway, but Kayla was used to moving within the darkness. She reached up and removed his hand from her arm, and held his hand as she led him down the steps.

  She could tell something was wrong the moment her feet stepped on level ground. There were no lit candles, and the air was colder than usual. Kayla unconsciously pressed herself against Trey's enormous chest. He placed a gloved hand on her shoulder. "Something's not right here," she whispered.

  Trey lifted his free hand and held it for a moment, concentrating. A small orb of light appeared at his fingertips and hovered beside him, illuminating the chamber. It was completely empty save for the circle of unlit candles. Kayla pulled away from him and walked into the center of the circle, and kneeled. He watched her with a mixture of curiosity and unease. Something was indeed very wrong here.

  The candles ignited - too bright - and created a large circle of flame around Kayla. She yelped and shot to her feet, drawing Rend and holding it in front of her in one swift motion. "Show yourselves!" she demanded as she placed herself in the very center of the circle, as far away from the walls of the raging inferno as she could. She could hear Trey shouting her name, but the smoke was beginning to gather in her lungs.

  The voices seemed to come from the flames.

  "What is the meaning of this, Kayla?"

  "You did not kill the Flamekeeper. And you brought a stranger to our sacred hall."

  "You swore yourself to us. Your life is now forfeit, and your soul will not go to the spirits, unless you kill this man and the one who will give birth to the last Flamekeeper."

  It was all the affirmation of Laerin's words that she needed. Kayla coughed violently, and stared up at the images of the Nameless within the flames. "No," she said, and coughed again, expelling the smoke from her lungs. "I do not serve you. I serve the spirits."

  "You dare betray us, mortal?" one whispered angrily.

  "Then you will die," said another.

  Spears that were constructed of shadow sliced through Kayla's abdomen, and she cried out in pain. The flames died down and extinguished as Rend slipped from her fingers and she fell to her knees, gasping for breath. The Nameless were gone, and the chamber plunged once more into silence.

  Trey ran to her and knelt beside her, scooping her into his arms. "Stay with me, Kayla. Starfall isn't that far away. We could go there and find a healer."

  Kayla smiled weakly and lifted an arm to touch his cheek. "I won't make it that far. You know that. But it's okay. It's okay..." she coughed harshly and let her hand fall to her stomach, feeling the wetness where her life's blood drained from her. "I will do as Laerin hoped I would, and... warn the others. The last Flamekeeper will live, and she will tend to the world."

  Trey grabbed her hand and squeezed it. "It was an honor to know you, Kayla. Do you have any final requests?" he asked softly, his voice breaking.

  "Yes," she said, and she focused on the comfort she felt in his arms. She had spent her entire life alone, and she had liked it, until this moment, when she realized what she had been missing. It was enough to know that someone cared about her, if only for a short time. "Hold me," she said, and closed her eyes.

  Trey held on for an eternity.

  Vina Lockhart grew up in a small town in Michigan, where she spent way too much time reading and exploring the magical woods behind her house. She loved to invent fantastic games of make-believe and become anything she wanted. Eventually, she took her imagination to paper and started writing at a young age.

  Vina lives in Virginia with her three cats, where she is studying to become an editor. In her spare time, she tweets about current events and video games, creates wonderful character art for her friends, reviews books on Amazon, and writes content for various websites.

  She is currently working on a fantasy novel, The Flamekeeper Archives.


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