Damn, that was too close! Vynette thought as she continued to lead Jett deeper into the heart of the mountain. She’d let her mind stray for just a moment, thinking about Jett, and then he was gone. It wasn’t until she saw that red glow that she knew what was happening. She sprinted as fast as her legs could carry her and reached him just in time before he touched the crystals. He had no idea how close he came to death.
She recalled his reaction to when she pulled him away and they embraced. She’d held on to him so tightly, unwilling to let him go in fear that he may reach out for those crystals once more; and Jett had made a flirtatious joke about the whole ordeal. It had made Vynette so furious, how could he make light of what had just happened?
Because he didn’t know the seriousness of what had occurred… Because I didn’t warn him before we set out…
Yet the crystals had taken Vynette by surprise. They hadn’t been seen this close to Helsia Deep for over a thousand years, and the fact that they had run into them, and they had appeared conscious and incredibly powerful had shaken her deeply; she would have to report this sighting to the Chieftain upon her return.
She was brought out of her private thoughts as they approached a sealed off passage.
“Here we are. It’s just beyond this entrance.” she said cheerfully as she pulled out a hammer to start pulling away the planks of wood barring their way.
Vynette carefully set aside the planks, planning on resealing the entrance when they’d finished exploring, and gestured for Jett to follow her once more.
They passed more crystals, these ones different from the ones they encountered earlier; they hummed quietly and pulsed in what Vynette could only explain as a peaceful way.
“These are different to the others.” stated Jett.
“They are different but the same.” Vynette replied as she carried on, smiling at the sound of the gentle thrumming of the crystals.
Before long they exiting the passage and stepped out into a gigantic cavern. Jett’s eyes widened as he took in the beautiful scene around him.
“This is amazing!”
He looked up and noticed a massive tear in the mountain, a hole that revealed the open sky; clear of any clouds, the stars shone brightly above. In that moment it was hard to believe that a Hot Summer was occurring.
“This is where the meteor struck Xaabos.” Vynette replied.
“It’s hard to imagine that something so destructive could create something so beautiful.”
Vynette smiled and gestured for Jett to follow once more, “Come on, this isn’t what I wanted to show you.”
They walked a short distance ahead, up a small incline until they saw a building in front of them. Vynette stopped just in front of it and turned to face Jett.
“This building was here long before the meteor struck, and somehow it is still here now. I don’t claim to understand how that is possible, only that it is.”
They stepped inside the threshold of the building and felt instantly at peace. Nature had reclaimed most of the structure, with ivy covering most parts of the walls and roofing, but what looked to be an altar placed in the middle of the room appeared untouched.
“What is this place?” asked Jett, peering around to take in the wondrous surroundings.
“I don’t know.” replied Vynette, “At best guess, I believe it to be some kind of temple; any trace of the civilization that built it is long gone.”
“Whatever it is, it makes me feel…”
Yeah, I feel it too.” Vynette sat down on the bench, “I suppose you have questions about what happened before. Anything you want to ask?”
“Tell me about those red crystals. What’s their story?” Jett asked as he took a seat next to Vynette.
“They are not native to this planet. They hitched a ride with the meteor and spread upon impact. You can probably guess, but they are sentient, and exceptionally dangerous.”
“I gathered that much based on your reaction earlier.”
Vynette shot him a withering stare and he just smiled, nodding his head for her to continue.
“They’re a parasitic race that feeds off life-force. They use compulsion to lure in their prey, one touch and your mind is stripped away, you become a husk of your former self.”
Jett looked shocked, “And you didn’t think to warn me about them?”
“They’ve not been seen this close to Helsia Deep for a long time, I never even thought I would see one in my own lifetime.”
“You’re immortal though, surely you would’ve expected to see them at some point?” Jett asked.
“We’ve been at war with your people for over six hundred years. What that has taught me is that immortality means nothing in war.”
“This war makes no sense.” Jett snapped, “Korv has always been hot-headed, and his hatred for your people will never end, but he loved my father and I’ve never known him to be ambitious.”
“It is possible that you never truly knew your cousin at all.” offered Vynette.
A gentle breeze passed through the building and Vynette felt a sense of warmth pass through her body; she saw that Jett felt the same too as he turned to her, smiled and her heart skipped a beat.
They moved to the steaming water that was just outside the building and sat down next to each other. Time stood still as they sat there in silence, attempting to steal glances at each other when the other wasn’t looking.
Another breeze brushed past them and that feeling grew stronger, Vynette moved closer to Jett until their bodies touched, her skin shivering at the contact even though it was warm to touch.
“This is nice.” Jett said as he stared into Vynette’s eyes.
Vynette didn’t trust her voice, she just returned Jett’s gaze and put her arm around him, drawing him in closer. Nice is an understatement you stupid Gronyx-head, she smiled as another gentle breeze licked their skin; the crystals in the background humming quietly in perfect harmony, sending out gentle waves of energy with each hum, delighted at the scene that was happening before them.