Echoes of Dark Reflections
Part Seven – Life for Life
In the barren, dead earth of the ground outside of the tower, eleven graves were dug, eleven members of the band, the family, fallen to the horrors that had lain within; not just within the tower, but within themselves. Upon each Nhaqosa set a simple tone carving of a wolf, in the ancient rite of his people, sending them a guide to lead their feet on the long paths home.
Less than half remained now of those who had broken free of the gladiator pits in what seemed to Nhaqosa a lifetime ago. Pain still wracked at his arm as he stood before the graves, his fingers stiffened and twisted by the touch of the obsidian sword. The pain did not exist just in his arm, but deep in his heart as well. So many had died; Oliat, Telata, golden Mirianya who had torn at her face and eyes and died from the horrors she had seen, and eight more. His head sunk to his chest while tears flowed freely down his cheeks.
A shuffling sound caught his attention as Veqtos limped over.
“I am sorry for your losses,” he said to Nhaqosa.
The minotaur turned to face the burnt giant. “Did they die for a reason?” he asked, yearning for an answer.
“Yes. I could not have done that alone. I did not think that any of you would survive the ordeal,” he admitted honestly. “But yes, they died for a reason. That was a creature of the darkest shadow, whose very existence is in opposition to all life. You have seen the lands that extend out around the tower. That was its work, and only the start of it.”
“So life was given to preserve life.”
“It has always been so.”
Nhaqosa nodded slowly. “And there are more of these fiends?”
“Many, but not here, not yet. There is a doom, I am afraid, upon this world. Shadows and darkness and flames encroach upon it until all will be lost.”
“No,” Nhaqosa replied, face growing grim and determined, “Not yet. Not as long as I live. Evil may have set its eyes upon this world, but until the day I draw my final breath, they shall not prevail.”
Veqtos rested an iron-clad hand on Nhaqosa’s shoulder, the heat gone from it. “Then I wish you a long, long life, Nhaqosa.” He turned and limped back towards the crystal tower wherein had lain echoes of their own dark reflections. “A long life indeed.”