Chapter 9 CERTAIN DEATH Fear. Fear is inside us all. More instinct than emotion, it binds us to fate, and to security within ourselves. Fear shackles the heart and taints the mind, dancing at the edge of every soul. Fear is our only recourse It is inside us all... The darkness had a heartbeat. It danced across his vision and left an eerie tingle with every passing movement. False figures and fictitious horrors crept on the edge of his vision. Eyesight was no help in this nightmare prison, this labyrinth of horrors where those who fought against Viridosian cultures were sent to rot. It was but a crutch, impairing those who leaned upon it, making them ripe for the picking by those who did not. The man knew this, he had known this for longer than any mortal man should have had too. For five years Gidian Ross had crept through these halls, hoping that he would eventually find the light at the end of this god forsaken tunnel. Gidian had been a fearless man, or so he had thought; memories made within the back alleys and black markets of Hosia, memories he had thought would never seem so far away, flooded his mind. So many crimes commited, so many lives taken. Only one had ever been proven, but that had been enough, enough for them to stick him in this unholy sanctuary for as long as it took for some vile beast to swallow him up. Sweat crawled down his cheek, the cold sting pierced the veil of his idle thoughts. Standing up, he darted about his surroundings with his senses, relying more on sound than vision. Gidian cursed his luck for being born with such a foolish reliance on light, if only fate had birthed him as a sightless fae, or some other strange woodland creature that never would have gotten caught up in this mess in the first place. For a moment the man contemplated what it would have been like to live life as a bat. It may have been a fleeting thought, but it had granted him a moment of intrigue, which was a welcome escape from the horrors experienced within this prison regularly. Gidian then returned to his corner and laid upon the cold stone walls of his prison. He would need rest if he had any wishes of surviving any longer in this place, so despite his fears Gidian relaxed his body and let his mind slumber. ************ Heartbeats danced off the walls, guiding the way for the miniscule creature as she darted about the haunted corridors of her misbegotten home. Before long she happened upon the source of her guiding 'light', a middle aged man sat slouched against an inconspicuous corner of the Labyrinth walls, resting peacefully in the darkness of her beloved Shartan. If it had been possible, the creature would have dawned a curious expression as she peered in at the slumbering figure, but it had not been and so her thoughts on the scenario were forcibly internalized. The Micro-Fae known as Oaksbane shuffled closer to the hapless wanderer of this desolate hall, slowly losing sight of her surroundings. She became lost in the rhythmic beat of his heart. Each thump sent a wave of awareness through her body, drawing her ever closer each time. The fae was mere moments from colliding with the sleeping figure's face before it happened. ***** A sudden, deafening screech stampeded throughout the hall, jolting Gidian into wakefulness. Immediately coming face to face with a horror that pierced his very soul. The creature sat within inches of his face, empty sockets where eyes should have been stared blankly into his heart, paralyzing him with a fear so powerful it caused his entire body to shiver uncontrollably. The fear. Can you feel it flow through you? The moment he had spent looking into the creature's empty soul had felt like an age, and the horror that took its place after it danced away from him more than easily sent him running in the direction it had gone. Blackened tendrils slithered out of the darkness grasping at every orifice of the confined labyrinth hall. A thick steam billowed from what he assumed was the creatures maw as it crept forward in search of its hapless prey. ***** The Fae sped through the darkness, only briefly acknowledging the screams of horror as the beast devoured the man she had stopped to admire. The creature had been following her scent ever since their initial run in several hours ago. A small piece of her conscience recognized that she had played a part in the mans' fate, even if she held no qualms in her heart with using him to slow the creature down. If she was lucky that meal would be enough to satisfy it... That thought was more then enough to quicken her pace as she zipped through the darkness of her Shartan's chaotic halls.