There is a certain comfort that can only be found underground. When you step into a cave, the outside world falls away. All the worries, drama, and struggles are replaced with walls of ancient stone, restless shadows, and flickering light. Every thought of adventure, exploration, and even a little fear demanded your attention. A cave is full of history, but requires the present and leaves the future to the unknown. They were some of Kane’s favorite places and the Lime Sink did not disappoint.
Despite being afraid of the dark, it wasn’t long before Kane left the surface world far behind. With his torch burning brightly, he followed the tunnel’s gradual slope down into the earth. His hand slid along the limestone walls, worn smooth by a millennia of erosion, following the wall to avoid getting lost after each turn or bend. Each step, overturned rock, and breath echoed out into the darkness, reminding Kane that he was foreigner here.
After a few more minutes of walking, Kane found the tunnel opened up into an enormous cavern. Unlike the tunnel he had come from, this cavern was filled with natural sound and light. A gash in the earth, hundreds of feet above, allowed light to permeate the depths and a waterfall on the far end of the space crashed into the cave floor, sending mist and the sounds of churning water in every direction. He stood at the bank of a crystal blue pool of water that split the cavern floor down the middle, but that wasn’t what drew Kane’s attention.
On either side of the pool, rose ancient ruins and structures of a long-lost settlement. Buildings, draped with algae and falling apart with age, climbed the stony walls. Carved ledges, giving the impression of stairs, wound through the buildings and up towards the ceiling.
“Woah…” Kane gaped at the sight.
The sense of exploration exploded in Kane’s heart and urged him forward. Jumping from rock to rock, Kane crossed the pool and began his climb up the natural staircase. At first he raced up the steps, but learned his lesson quickly after slipping on the moistened stone and almost following his torch into the pool below. After regaining his footing, Kane climbed more methodically, examining the buildings as he passed.
Most were simple shelters, no more than a single room. There were signs of fires being made, from what Kane could only assume were others who had stumbled upon this place as he had. Higher, the carvings became more ornate and the shelters more elaborate. Multiple rooms and connecting tunnels that lead deeper into the earth. These tempted Kane back into the darkness, but without his torch he wouldn’t risk it.
Kane spent several hours wandering through the lost city until he made his way to the waterfall. He made sure to find a way to not only touch the falling water, but also fill up his water-sack with the cool, crisp water before returning to a specific ledge that jutted out into the cavern. Sitting down, with his feet dangling over the edge, Kane pulled out a few tasty morsels from his back pack and looked out over cavern below him as he ate.
With a peaceful sigh Kane quietly spoke to himself, “I’m definitely going to come back here someday.”
“I wouldn’t blame you.” said a voice from behind him.
With a jump that nearly sent Kane to his death, hand flying to his sword, he turned to see a robed figure leaning against a wizened staff a few paces away. His beard doing a terrible job at hiding a smile of someone who is clearly proud of themselves.
“Oh… why am I not surprised?” Kane said as the sudden rush of adrenaline subsided.
“I’d say you looked pretty surprised to me a moment ago.” Dyn Hysbys said as he walked up and sat down next to Kane. “You wouldn’t happen to have a spare apple, would you?”
“You’re lucky I’m not pushing you off this ledge for the fright you just gave me.” Kane said sharply as he pulled another blushing apple from his pack. Dyn Hysbys took the apple and eagerly bit into the fruity flesh with a snap.
“You really do grow the best apples, Kane. I hope you realize.” he said with a mouth full of pulp.
“Flattery will only get you so far, Dyn.” Kane responded with a small smile. “What are you even doing here? Have you been following me?”
Kane knew he wouldn’t get a straight answer out of the old man. He was the Village crackpot, but everyone knew he was wiser than he looked. If Dyn Hysbys shows up somewhere, there’s probably a reason.
“To be completely honest, I fell in through that crack up there.” He said with giddily, pointing towards the broken ceiling. “I had no idea you’d be here, but what a pleasant surprise to find you. I absolutely love surprises!”
“That’s because you always seem to be the one surprising people. Are you at least going to tell me why you’re here?”
Taking a final bite of apple, Dyn Hysbys tossed the remaining core out into the abyss. Only after the core had struck the water below and the ripples faded away did he reply. “No. I’m going to show you.”
As Dyn Hysbys finished responding, he stood up and began walking away. Kane took one last long look over the cavern before releasing a defeated breath through his nose. Gathering his things, he stood up as well and began to follow the old man.
The pair walked back down the carved staircase and across a narrow bridge connecting the two sides of the cavern. Dyn Hysbys lead on without looking back, expecting Kane to be following. Kane followed him silently, expecting no further explanations to be forthcoming. Eventually, Dyn Hysbys produced a torch and left the cavern behind via a tunnel in an unassuming shelter.
On and on they walked in the darkness. Each step was either a rush of curiosity, fear, doubt, or excitement. Kane wouldn’t put it past Dyn Hysbys to just disappear and leave him lost without a light, but hoped that would not be the case. Kane trusted Dyn even if he didn’t always understand his motives. It was just another plot twist in his own story that he would look back on or tell around the fires back home.
After some undetermined amount of time, Dyn Hysbys stopped and bid Kane to do the same. Without saying a word, he slowing snuffed out his torch permitted the darkness to envelope them. Taking a deep breath, Kane could feel the creeping sensation that always crawled up his spine when left in the dark. It taunted his eyes to look and fro, but Kane refused, not knowing what he might find in the dark corners of his vision. A churning panic began to boiling inside him, urging him to run back to the light. His body tensed as he prepared to move and then…
A subtle glow began to shine and push back the darkness. Blues, greens, and reds covered the cave. In less than a minute, it was evident that the pair were standing in a chamber of crystals. Only after Kane’s eyes had adjusted to the newfound light did Dyn Hysbys turn and face him.
”Kane, I brought you here because you will need what I’m about to give you. The Lime Sink is an otherworldly place and these crystals are no exception.” As he spoke, Dyn reached out and snapped a small crystal from the stone wall. As he did, a slight tremor of light rippled through the other crystals.
“Before I give you this crystal, you must swear to never tell anyone what I’m about to tell you and what purpose it will serve.” Even in the low light, Kane could see the stern look across his face. “Do you swear, Kane Anturiaethwr Driscol?”
After a moment of thought and consideration, Kane responded, “Yr wyf yn tyngu.”
Dyn Hysbys expression softened as he leaned forward and whispered into Kane’s ear, pressing the crystal into his hand at the same time. When he had finished explaining, Kane looked down and saw that the crystal was wrapped with a strong cord and that a faint wisp of red glowed within it.
“You can’t be serious?” Kane asked, looking back at Dyn but he already knew the answer by the look at Dyn Hysbys’ eyes.
“Don’t worry, Kane. Everything will work out.” Dyn Hsybys said with a small laugh. Looking around he bent over and picked up a few things from the ground before offering them to Kane. “As consolation, take these blue mushrooms. I hear that they make a very delicious stew.”
Kane laughed as he took the mushrooms and placed them in a side pocket of his pack. “Are you sharing your source of wisdom with me, Dyn?”
A Few Days Later…
The sun had already set for the day when Kane finally arrived back in the Village. Most people had gone home and the streets were clear. Kane himself would have headed home too if it weren’t for the flickering fire he could see coming from the Garrison courtyard. A warm fire and some fresh food would be a relief after his journey.
As Kane approached the fire, he could only make out a few faces. Edward and Evanlyn were bundled up in a cloak, Tysng and Draco were discussing something, and Danaskel was fast asleep leaning against the wall of the Garrison.
“May I join you?” Kane said as he stepped into the light of the fire.
The group turned tiredly, but perked up as they recognized who spoke.
“Well, hello.” Edward said.
“Where have you been?” Evanlyn said right after.
“Hey, brother.” Tsyng added. “Have a seat.”
Kane set his pack down next to him and took the seat offered. The warmth of the fire warmed him almost as much as it was to be back among the Terrasylvans.
“So are you going to tell us where you’ve been?” Draco requested.
“Well it’s a bit of a long story, but if you throw another log on the fire I think I can tell you.” Kane said with a smirk, feeling the soft edges of the crystal hanging beneath his shirt.