Sorry I didn’t post yesterday, I was out sick and didn’t get access to the computer. I’m feeling better today, though, so here’s the next part of Unmortal! 😀
“So this sign says that all three paths lead to different places,” Jason observed, reading the wooden signpost leaning against an old, twisted tree.
“No duh,” Amarantha replied sarcastically, peering down the middle path. “That’s what usually happens in a fork.”
“Not always,” Jason argued. “What if-”
“Oh, shush, both of you,” Dee interrupted. “Which one leads to the Secret Sanctuary? I assume that’s where we’re heading.”
“I don’t know.” Jason shrugged. “The sign doesn’t say.”
“Then it’s a useless sign,” Amarantha grumbled.
Arion stared at the path that branched off to the right. It continued a few meters before making a sharp right, after which he couldn’t see the path anymore, but it was worn, as if many had travelled over it before.
“The right path is a well-traveled road,” he pointed out. “Probably not where we’re going, if the Secret Sanctuary is so secret.”
“Right, right.” Artemis was nodding. “I’ve heard of this before. One path leads to the Overworld, one to the Underworld, and one to the mortal world – or, as some call it, the Upperworld.”
“Well, then, this is my time to part with you all,” Roran announced loudly from where he and Nephthys were chatting by the left path. “This one is to the Underworld, so I must return to my master before he flips out on me for my absence. Any longer and my excuse will be invalid.” He grinned.
Nephthys patted him on the arm. “Stay safe, Roran,” she murmured, watching him as he walked down the path and out of sight.
“Where’s Cara-delle? She’s good at this stuff. Just see through the trees, you know?” Dee said to fill the silence that followed.
“She disappeared into the woods this morning,” Winter reported, staring into the gloom of the left path. “Don’t know when she’ll be back. She’s probably hunting.”
Artemis frowned. “Arion already pointed out that the right path is well-traveled, so it’s not ours. At the same time, Roran somehow figured out that the left path is to the Underworld.”
“So the middle path is ours?” Arion guessed, finishing the sentence.
“Exactly,” she confirmed.
“Fantastic, let’s go.” Jason took off down the path.
“Jason, wait!” Amarantha yelled, running after him. Before long, the woods swallowed her up too, as well as Dee, who followed close behind.
“Have to love the enthusiasm,” Artemis commented, then turned to Winter. “Race you.”
The two raced down the path, and Arion watched them run. The trees engulfed them, too, even though he could see that the path continued further in that same direction. He shivered a little, despite the midmorning heat.
“Shall we go?” Nephthys sighed from behind him. “We can’t very well get left behind here anyway.”
Arion felt a little uneasy. “What about Cara-delle?” he asked, stalling for time.
Nephthys shrugged. “You know she always finds us. She knows exactly where to go.”
“I suppose, but…”
“She’ll be fine.” Nephthys gave Arion a small smile, then looked ahead. “It’s not as insane as it seems to be.”
“I hope it isn’t,” Arion muttered. “Some pretty crazy things have happened in the last week or so. Just when I think it can’t get worse, it does. I don’t know what to think anymore.”
“The New World can be a little daunting at first,” Nephthys murmured, “but you’ll get used to it eventually. After a while, you might not want to give it up.”
“I don’t see that happening. Ever.”
“You won’t see it now,” Nephthys replied, a touch of amusement in her voice, “but there will come a time when you have to make that choice, and it will determine your future.” She began to walk down the path, leaving Arion to stand alone, still hesitant.
“Nephthys,” he called out suddenly. “Did you ever have to make that choice?”
Nephthys froze, silent for such a long time that Arion wondered if she was still thinking about his question, or something else entirely.
“Yes,” she answered finally. “Once, long ago. I never want to have to make that choice again, and I pray that you won’t have to, either.”
Arion fell silent after that, following Nephthys through the fog that twisted around the trees, her answer still prominent in his head.
After a few minutes, the fog in the clearing began to condense, until nothing could be seen except a pair of glowing red eyes that followed the two magical beings down the path and into the forest.