Preserved(Part 2)

November 10, 2010
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“Not at all... "
“Back at the lab... There were a lot of them... Like a family of them. But, he said that they were tamed ones. "
Aiken seemed intrigued. “Lab?”
“Why yes...” I said, puzzled. “North of here.”
“Are there.... People in this lab? “He asked.
“One... Person. Well, two... When I was there, and a few of these creatures," I said, pointing at Perdire.
“Weird. I was always told there were no other people on this planet, aside from us. They all 'disappeared' somehow. "
“My old world burnt in flames... The core exploded." I explained.
“Wait, so you're a... Alien? From another world? "
“I wouldn't say... Alien... Just... A stranger. "
Aiken looked at me, deep in thought.
“We call this world Zale...” He paused. “It’s just a legend... But, my people lived here for a very long time... There used to be others... "
I nodded. “I don't remember much of my own world... Just the explosion... And the flames... “I mumbled, my eyes clouding with pain.” I come from Earth. It was a very old world... Pollution, wars... Everything inched it closer to exploding. I could feel it...” I began to shake, but continued on. “I told people... But no one listened... They called me crazy... And then... It happened... And I was never to hear the shock of the people... For they all burned." I nodded solemnly.
Aiken shuffled. “That is interesting... My people have nearly died out as well. "
“Hmm... I guess that's why I couldn't find anyone around here. "
Aiken continued. “But what is more interesting is how did you get here?”
I gazed up at the sky, then down at me feet. “I honestly don't remember, I was told that my body was 'Preserved' and locked away... And I have been asleep on this planet for a few years now. I don't get very much of it myself. "
Aiken showed a shocked expression, as if trying to remember something.
“No... It can't be…” He said, looking away.
“What?” I asked, confused.
“Well...” He began. “There is a legend among my people - What's left of them, that is. - That someone... The 'Preserved One' would come... And restore life. "
“I don't feel that important...” I mumbled, while looking at Aiken as he gazed into the water, lost in thought.

Suddenly, I turned around as two pairs of footsteps sounded from behind me. Two males, wearing similar to what Aiken was wearing- except with cloaks- ran up in front of me, and bowed.
“Oh Preserved One! You have come to save us!” One said.
“Yes!! You are finally here!” The other said.
“I... I what?” I said, bewildered.
“HEY!” Aiken growled.
I clutched my gun tightly.
“The legends tell of the Preserved One who will come to save our people!" The first one continued. "We cannot believe you're here!"
I grumbled. "I don't feel like a savior...”
Aiken stepped forward, “We don't know anything yet! What are you two doing here!? "
"We were sent to find you, Aiken." The second one said. "But... This... This is a new discovery! We must tell of this to Brujula! "
"NO." Aiken said. “No way.”
I remained there, lost as ever.
“I don't want him involved in ANY of this!” Aiken growled. “Now you two can go back... And might not... Make it back..” He said, now holding the hilt of his blades. " OR, you can keep quiet about this. "
Perdire began to growl.
I gently pat her, “shhh... "
“But Aiken! You don't understand the significance of this!” The cloaked man yelled.
“How’s that?” Aiken said, sounding rather annoyed.
“This has to be the Preserved One, Aiken! You were right! Why should we hide this from Brujula and the others?! "
Aiken cleared his throat. “As I said, we know nothing yet!”
"Y-yeah!” I said. “You can't be so quick to jump to conclusions. I don't want to get your peoples' hopes up, and then have them crushed... "
Aiken sighed. “Just go back and say NOTHING of this! Brujula will believe you. Pelo already lied to him today... He couldn't handle thinking more lies would come... "
“But I wanted to check it out...” I whined.
“Fine, but Aiken,” One of the cloaked men began talking again.
“You must confirm this for yourself then, the several tests metio-”
“Alright, that's enough.” Aiken interrupted. “Just go, say not a word of this to anyone but Pelo... “He won't tell Brujula... Yet. "
“Very well.” The hooded men said together, bowed, and headed off.
I shuffled. “Did Me... Do something wrong?” I asked, confused.
“Nono! I'm sorry I even mentioned it...” He paused. “It’s just a very...” He sighed. “How to put this... -”
"I don't want you getting in trouble for silly ol' me meddling in your business." I said nervously.
"Hah!" Aiken laughed, "I'm in enough trouble as it is."
"I'll go over and apologize!" I said, worried.
“N-n-NO! Don't go there!" He freaked.
"Why..?" I mumbled, "I'm supposed to be finding reagents..."
His eyes grew serious. "They will put you through severe tests... Until... You... Die...”
"... Why?"
"To see if you're 'The One'."
An ominous silence fell between us, and then he began talking again. "Only 'The One' can survive the tests according to the legend."
I grumbled. "This world is so confusing!"
Ignoring my comment, he rambled on. "Since you are an off-worlder, they will surely do it with you and if you are not the Preserved One... You... Will die."
I nodded. "I guess what I am looking for is not near your people... But where then?"
A silence fell between us.
"There is a temple... Near my people's camp... It glows during the night and can be seen all the way from our camp...” Aiken murmured, breaking the silence.
"Then maybe... That's where I must look."
"But...” Aiken said, "There is a spirit... A Guardian... Made of stone... Some of us have tried to enter... But it has not allowed anyone in."
"I think I can take it...” I said, aiming my gun. "I got Perdire, too."
Aiken looked doubtful. "Maybe, but... Pelo once told me... A while ago, that it was our source of life... The reason our camp did not die out... I don't know what to believe, but... If that's true, it's very important to our people."
I shrugged. "I'd like to see for myself; maybe my master can do something... If I could describe it in the best way to him, he may know."
He shuffled. "I could take you there now, if you'd like."
"Cool. I'd like to get somewhere, before nightfall... Then I'll have to hunt and junk... But, I'll worry about that later."
"We can stop now... If you wish." Aiken mumbled.
"Now? The light is still out, let's travel!"
"As you wish, Terra."
I mounted Perdire, and followed Aiken to... Who knows where?

Aiken led Perdire and I to places I did not know of. We did pass that gaping hole into the ground again, but Aiken said he knew nothing about it. He led us south, where it became less marshy, and more sandy and rocky.

"Ah... Sand... It feels so much better than marshy land after a while... Eh Perdire?" I breathed.
Perdire purred in agreement.
"The land is not marshy where you come from?" Aiken asked, curious.
"Well, there are in some parts, but we had put cement over it, making it harder, so it didn't feel like marsh."
He turned his head, "cement...?"
"It's like...” I thought of a choice of words he would understand, "Like rocks. It was hard flat land that felt like smooth rocks beneath your feet."
"Your world is strange."
"As is yours."
We fell silent for a while, as we trekked through the sandy lands. I could feel Perdire's footsteps getting heavier, as well as Aiken's. Everyone was getting tired. You could hear the sound of little animals scuttling about on the sand. The sun was now down, leaving it rather dark. The sky was turning black, with overcast, the stars and the moon hiding beneath the cloudy blankets. There was a gentle breeze occasionally, whipping up sand into our faces. All was peaceful, like the world should be. We came across a dead end, after a few hours of silence, and I finally spoke.
"All that way... For a -"
"This is not a dead end, Terra," Aiken said, pointing to the crevice in the rocks. “There’s a trail down here that forks, one way which leads to where I'm going to take you, and the other back to my camp."
"Ooooooh...” I mumbled.
He and I squeezed into the crevice. "What about Perdire?" I asked.
Aiken turned his head at her. "Dig under?"
Perdire gave an exhausted grunt, and began to open the crevice more with her tusks, enough so she could squeeze in.
"That works."
Peridre nodded, with a grin on her face.
Aiken stepped in front of the two of us, and led us down the path. I mounted Perdire, and followed him. I wondered how Aiken could see where he was going; I couldn't even see my own hand in front of my face. Did he have the trail memorized? Or was it because he wasn't human, and he could easily see through the darkness? I also thought about Perdire, and how she could be doing this, as well. I suppose both their sight and sense of smell was better than mine. I dozed off, resting on Perdire's head, as Aiken led us on.

Eventually, I awoke by a strange sensation, like a moth to light, just wanting to be close to it. There were faintly glowing flowers sticking out of the ground, which lead to a ramp.
Aiken pointed up the ramp. “That’s where the Guardian is."
"Why is he there?" I asked.
"He guards something, I suppose. I really don't know though. He doesn't let anyone in."
"Hmm...” I pondered.
"Here, let's have a 'chat' with him. I'll show you what I mean."
"Uh... Okay."

As we walked, the ground beneath my feet glowed with a minty green, in the shape of my footsteps. I shot a glance at Aiken and Peridre's feet. That wasn't happening for them. What did I do now...? I thought.
As we approached the ramp, the terrain turned to stone, with runes engraved into them.
Aiken stepped up the ramp, and kneeled before the Guardian. "Oh Great Guardian, I ask for your approval to enter your chamber of which you guard."
The Guardian's eyes lit up a golden yellow, his stone body leaned over to Aiken, and he spoke, “Only the Preserved One may enter."
The Guardian stepped back a few steps, and his eyes stopped glowing, as if he turned off.
Aiken sighed, and walked back to me. "See?"
"Oh! Can I try?" I asked.
"You'll probably get the same answer as me, but sure... I'll... be over here." He said, laying down in the grass and letting out a loud yawn.
I stepped forward, noticing the runes engraved into the stone lit up as I touched them.
I kneeled before the Guardian. "Hey uh, Mister Guardian, can I see what's inside your little chamber?"
The Guardian's eyes lit up once more, and he stepped towards me.
"Please? I just need a quick look...” I whined.
He looked down at me. "Only the Preserved One may -"
The Guardian stopped, and stepped aside and bowed. "You may enter, Preserved One."
"You must have me mistaken...” I mumbled.
The Guardian said nothing, and waited for me to enter.
I sighed, but entered the chamber.

The chamber itself was pitch black, nothing to be seen. I ran my hand against the stone walls, -which suddenly illuminated as I touched them- and sent an icy chill down my spine. I looked at my fingers, which were now covered in dust.
No one has been in here for years....
I continued down the hall, keeping my fingers pressed to the wall, which gave very faint lighting, but enough to see where I was going. The floors were made of a dull kind of gem, not a footprint or scratch to be seen, other than the ones I had caused. The roof was dotted with crystals, which also lit up as I walked beneath them. I stopped as I came across -what looked like- a door. There was no knob, no keyhole, so how am I to open it?
I glanced at the rifle on my back, then took it off, and aimed it at the door.
This 'ought a do the trick...
After a few gunshots, the door creaked open. I stepped inside. The room illuminated as I entered, and strange designs covered the walls. In the center, was a large, square shaped, sea-blue crystal, on a rock stand. I could feel its power pulsing through my body.
Could this be what I'm looking for?
I stared at the crystal hard, remembering every detail about it, and then I turned around, and left.

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