Josephine paced the cavern hallway. She wanted to move on but Divine wanted to show her around. Of course, he’d never say it, but she felt it. She stayed put. What was taking so long? She paced. Didn’t he know how important underground Jael was important for historians? What secret his here that no city allows any entrance, no matter how much weight and money they throw around. Sneaking in was nearly impossible. All above ground entrances were blown up. How did Divine have free access to the tunnel? The city knew a few De’Ray and Caris houses built passages into the tunnels, mostly to help freed slaves leave after they were locked in each night.
“You seem anxious.” Divine appeared beside her.
He walked on. She followed.
That child needed to control herself. As soon as Aliceanna started panicking, all the color drained from Divine’s face. His aura turned steel gray and went insane before jumping into red. He knew why she freaked out but his instinctive reaction was to kill whatever hurt his sister. He couldn’t do that since it was Sophie’s words that hurt her.
Divine was supposed to be the stable one.
“Do you think our parents are dead?” he asked.
Sometimes she wished for the relationship she used to have with Divine where he didn’t ask her questions like that.
“They will be alive until I’m given evidence otherwise.”
That’s my Josephine.
Her heart wouldn’t calm down. Damn, why was it so hot in here? Divine’s been calling her that in his head often, his Josephine. She never thought they’d reach the point where they’d stop seeing each other as pretty toys.
She couldn’t believe, she was actually in the cavern. She could smell the history. Josephine enhanced her senses. She wanted to understand more of the life since history wrote them off. She blinked, turning down her senses. That was a mistake. This place reeked of negative emotions. Why wouldn’t it?
Divine led them into a room.
“I’ve always wanted to know about this place?”
Shredded wood crowed the comer. The shelf survived age after being underwater.
The books, on the other hand, weren’t so lucky. If someone bothered to properly dry them, the knowledge they held could’ve been saved.
“I’ve see other places like this. It looked like people lived here. People other than the natives of Jael.” Divine said.
“Do you know about the slave trade?”
Divine nodded. “Jael, T’sya, Sorin and Cayden- the largest, wealthiest provinces in the world, realized they could steal people from the small ones, poorer lands and use them to build their towns. At the time, each province was having problems with workers rights. People no longer wanted to spend eighty-ninety hours a week working. Each government realized, they had the manpower and the weapons to force the small provinces to work those eighty-ninety hour work week and not pay them anything.
“Each province sent Collectors to those lands to steal the residents. Several smaller wars were fought while Jael, T’sya, Sorin and Cayden battled over these poor people. So, they got together and created the Cross-Province Trade Treaty. The Collectors became a business of their own. Only they were allowed to gather slaves and they sold them on a land they deemed a neutral territory.”
Josephine nodded. How in the name of Darkness did he find all that out? Josephine spent years researching the slave trade. Jael liked to cover up their part in the trade. Most books didn’t discuss it in great detail.
“When slavery became illegal in Jael, most former slaves moved to De’Ray territory because they showed themselves to be sympathetic to their plight. They offered them jobs pretty much doing what they had been doing only they were getting paid.” Josephine said. “However, the residents didn’t like this. They went about butchering former slaves who had moved into the neighbor. The leaders of De’Ray decided to make them live in the caverns, give them a curfew, for their protecting. Many years later, De’Ray was hit by a nasty storm. It would’ve flooded the city, if the water hadn’t rushed into the caverns where the former slaves live. Back then, all the entrance to the cavern for locked after curfew. They were put there to keep the former-slaves safe, at least that’s what the leaders said at the time. Anyway, those doors were all locked while the storm dumped river water into the cavern. Many residents drowned. Every territory in Jael then agreed to never let anyone in the cavern again.”
Divine leaned against the wall and folded his arms. “I heard of that tragedy but the books didn’t go into much detail about it. How do you know about it?”
“It was my job to. If someone wanted a hole in history filled, I was the one who filled it. I liked solving a good historical mystery. I’d comb through city records, personal accounts and newspaper articles. I relied heavily on personal accounts or journals witness kept. I found descendants and convinced them to give me the information I wanted. No matter how hard you try, you can’t erase the past.”
If only Jael hadn’t been so keen on acting as if they hadn’t murdered hundreds of innocent people, they couldn’t preserved the life of the former-slaves forced to live down here
Divine pushed off the wall and led the way out.
Seeing pictures and geographical layouts of the cavern didn’t prepare her for actually seeing it. This was a small city. The Native seemed to have carved out a decent life for themselves down here. Her ancestors used their powers to create this. Was that why the walls are black and rare stone used to grow down here?
She stopped at a statue carved into the wall. The wings on her Sciell symbol were the same as the ones on the figure. If only she could remove the statue and study it. Where would she take it? If only she still had access to the lab.
Explorers raided the cavern and took statues. Most of the Native’s artwork was destroyed the rest weren’t shown to the public
Josephine stood closer to the statue. The Natives liked to carve messages and names into their statues.
Like Haylan Kahya, the core inside Shade. The core of the first Sciell. She wanted to scream, dance, sing. She spent her life investigating other people’s history. She finally got a chance to study her own. Maybe she’d find an untouched chamber and some text about the Native’s deity, the Sciell ancestors.
Josephine didn’t believe the first Sciell were gods. More like they allowed the Natives to believe that because explaining what they actually were was impossible. There was no way some Jaelians didn’t know otherworldly being existed and they lived here. There must be evidence or did the Sciell erase most of the evidence except the cavern and the Native’s memories.
If the stories were true, that would mean bad otherworldly beings ran the surface. What happened to them?
She groped around the statue. The Natives were the masters at embedding secret compartment into their artwork.
The statue pointed towards a pile of rubble as tall as the ceiling. She walked to the rocks and smelled the air. There was something behind it. She could punch through the pile but she didn’t want to bring the whole place down. Where had the rocks fallen from anyway? She could leave it but she didn’t want to go away and not know where the statue was leading. She looked back at Divine. She never seen him so relaxed before. He leaned against the wall with his arms folded and just looked at her. Nothing but ease was going through his head. He kept his mouth closed and shrugged.
She faced the rubble. If the place fell in on them it wasn’t like they’d be trapped. She breathe in and out, finding all her Fykas. One deep breathe out snapped them all open, setting her Lifeblood of fire. It wanted to rage. It wanted to go wild. Josephine concentrated. She held it down. Her power needed to listen to her. It couldn’t go off on its own. When it settled down, she held out her right hand and commanded it to form the scythe. Her power groaned like a child but did what she asked. Putting the blade down, she stamped it into the floor careful not to put all her strength into it.
While still reining in her violent power, she concentrated on the feel of it flowing through her weapon. They were still connected. It was a part of her after all.
She held her hands at her side, palms up. Her fire rose around her. Slowly, she pointed her right palm to the top of the rubble and extended it forward. Her fire followed her movements. It was fighting. It didn’t like moving slow, reigning in its movement but she couldn’t have it tearing through the pile. Just because they could remove themselves from the bottom of a rock pile didn’t mean she wanted to bring the cave down on them.
She released it little by little until the fire was touching the rock. Josephine stopped. It was like trying to drag a building with one rope. Her power fought her every step. It beat against her self- control. Its rage was always stronger then she was.
“Damn the Darkness.”
All that time practicing and it was still this hard.
A hand brushed across her face. Her power lightened.
She dragged her palm across the air, letting her fire slowly eat away the rubble. The top was gone and the cave didn’t around them. She wanted to speed up but held onto her patience and the power coming from the hand brushing her face.
The rocks were gone. A long hallway opened before her. She pulled her power back. It didn’t want to go. She pulled. It needed to go back underground. Her scythe was her connection with her power when so much of it was outside her body. It kicked and wailed. She pulled until it was back underground. She pulled it through her scythe and back into her body.
The hand left her face. She raised her palm to her weapon and dissolved it. She tried taking it back inside her but Bria had gotten a hold of it. Not long ago, she ended up absorbing her Lifeblood tainted with the poisoned Bria. She was sick for a day while her Lifeblood cleaned out the taint. Most Lifeblood beings didn’t re-absorb the power they used. It sometimes meant attacking themselves. Josephine and Divine’s power were different…up to a point. Divine’s power was more alive than most Lifeblood beings. Her connection with him meant her power was protected by his.
The Lifeblood could be inefficient sometimes. Why couldn’t it turn off the attack so they didn’t have to worry about using up all their Lifeblood? Why did it become harder to control when it was outside the body? According to Shade’s journal, Sciell were merely protectors of the Dark Consciousness, the core.
Josephine raced off down the hall. Several paces, she found a row of winged figures carved into pillars. None of them were pointing.
“Damn the Darkness.”
They stood well taller than Divine. The details were magnificent, right down to their robes and facial expressions.
They all looked down except for the one in the middle. His eyes were straight on. Down the middle hallway. Josephine turned and raced down that hallway.
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