“It is too late to turn back – for all of us,” I said. “We have to go on. We were chosen for a reason.”
Around us the landscape had turned starker until only short brush remained and the red dust was whipped into the air to scour our faces and hands. The prison tomb, after all, had been built to be forgotten. And it had been forgotten for nearly a thousand years. Books, though, can make memories last a lot longer.
It felt an eternity before we reached the cliffs where the Khalver had been entombed. Some of us – those too weak – had been left behind to be buried in the sand. I wondered if their souls would reach the Veil now. But we had no choice but to push on.
The tombs were carved into the rock and blood-red stone doors, their once pristine carvings worn by time, stood the only guard. I took the tattered tome from the bag digging into my shoulder and opened it at the passage where the words to open the doors had been written down an age ago.
I stumbled over the old words, but, when I had finished, the doors opened with a deep groan. Skeletal remains lay at the doorway and, now that sunlight shone into the tomb, I could see the mass of roiling grey shadows inside.
One of them rushed out and into Raonaild’s screaming mouth. The light of his soul flickered out in a burst of light.
I could hear my own voice echoing a “No!” against the cliffs.
When Raonaild spoke again, it was not with his own voice – or in his own tongue. I stared at the Khalver before me and dropped the book.
The other shadows rushed from their tomb.
This story is set in the world of Airtha-Eyrassa (in which my WIP The Charms of Life and Death is set). To read more flash fiction pieces set in this world, you can click on the titles to read Dust Red As Blood and Charms of Ash.