Within the Ring

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series The Trilithon Gate

Swayne considered. Nothing in his training had led him to believe that he would be transported away from the Ring. Maybe this was one of the test that was never spoken of. He decided to look around.

Most of the furniture in this room seemed to be basically functional. A small table had two chairs; a bed lay in the corner. All-in-all, this seemed to be everything needed for a one-room cottage. Yet there was another door on the other side of the room. This one was slightly ajar, so Swayne decided to open it fully and see what was behind it.

Swayne opened the door to find it led to a library. All four walls were covered in shelves, and more filled the room. The only part of the room that did not appear to be dedicated to book storage looked like a desk in the centre of one wall. This was pristinely clean, without even the dust that covered everything else. The desk chair, too, was clean. Although it was a wooden chair like the others in the house, this one was covered with leather and looked much more comfortable to sit in.

Although Swayne knew that he couldn’t read, he pulled out a book at random. It was filled with odd symbols that he didn’t even recognize as the letters he had seen in the temple. Swayne cursed, wishing that his education had included reading; however, this was not offered to anyone who was not selected for priesthood. This was the first time he regretted that his training had not called for it.

Seeing no other exit from the room, Swayne looked at the desk. A drawer was attached to the bottom of it, but even though there was no lock or keyhole visible, it would not open no matter how he pulled or rattled it. Another look around the room revealed no more secrets, other than those contained within the books. Hoping that he would be able to learn his letters and return, Swayne left the room.

Back in the main room, Swayne looked around some more. There was nothing more here than he had seen on his first inspection. A chest of drawers stood beside the bed, but all the drawers in it were empty. The dust lay thick in the room, preventing him from doing much without sneezing as he kicked it up. Once again he wondered that all the dust here had stayed out of the library, even though the door connecting them was open. No other footprints were in the dust, so he guessed that, for some reason, the spirits kept the library clean while leaving this room alone.

Seeing no other choice, Swayne went back to the first door. It opened at his first touch, but it did not lead back outside the stone circle. Instead there was another small room, where a single chair stood. In the chair sat a skeleton. The remains of rotting skin and clothing covered the bones. A book was open on the table in front of it. Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to read the book, Swayne ignored it, looking instead at the skeleton. It was a human, but he had no idea how long it had been there. Long enough for the flesh to rot off, obviously, but no dust filled this room. It was as though all the dust in this house had been trapped in the living room, leaving this ante room and the library clean.

On the other side of the room was another door. Again, Swayne decided he had nothing else to do but to open it. This time, it opened into the outdoors.

Swayne went through the door. He now found that he was surrounded by rocks, possibly the Ring; he didn’t know how the Ring would alter his perceptions once he had entered it. He had not yet felt the presence of any spirits here. Was this part of the test? Had he already failed something by not being able to read the books?

After leaving the building, Swayne turned and looked at it. It was a wooden structure, much smaller than the interior would have indicated. The building was in the middle of a ring of stones, but it didn’t look like the Ring.

Swayne considered his options. There was nothing to be gained by going back inside. Nor was there any point in just standing here – the test was still going on, and he didn’t think the spirits would look kindly upon him loitering now.

He turned his back on the house, and went to inspect the nearest rocks. They were the same kind as in the Ring, and had similar runes. Not being able to understand the runes, Swayne didn’t know if they were the same or not, but they were close enough that he guessed they came from the same source.

Unlike the stones at the Ring, however, these ones were not arranged in a circle. Instead, they seemed to be scattered about randomly, as though they were the castings-off from some giant’s workshop. With that image in his head, Swayne looked around for any other sign of a giant’s presence, but found none. Besides, on further inspection, he saw that these weren’t just lying on the ground; they were partially buried and anchored into the ground, the same as the ones in the Ring.

Swayne went farther from the house, inspecting more of the rings as he went. They seemed to go forever, and none gave him any sign or guide as the ones in the Ring had. Once he had gone far enough in his mind, he turned back to look at the building. It was still there, although he had briefly feared that it would disappear. From this vantage, he surveyed the rocks on the other side of the building. They looked, from here, to be the same. He wondered what this test could possibly be; there was no apparent clue for what he was to do next.

Swayne looked at the sky. It was starting to get dark, so he walked back to the house. He decided, before going inside, to wait until the sun had set completely, in case the stones lit up in the dark.

After the sun had set, however, Swayne found that it was useless. He was trapped here, in a strange place. He had no idea where he was, nor how to get back to the Ring. Despite the earlier assurances that there was no way to fail, Swayne wondered if he had somehow done just that.

Deciding there was no use staying here, he went back into the house. It hadn’t changed. Not expecting to get anything done, he went to the library. He wandered throughout the room, picking up books at random, leafing through them, and putting them back. None seemed to have pictures in them, so he wasn’t able to do anything with them.

He was getting tired of wandering around. Nothing was getting accomplished. Apparently, he had missed the test somehow, and he not only didn’t know how to get back on track, he didn’t know how to get back home either. He wondered how long Warren would wait before going back to Stonering without him. Would another priest come looking for him? Maybe when another candidate 1came in, he would get somehow forced out of the ring.

Although this was a somewhat encouraging thought, Swayne wondered what he would do until then. He didn’t know that any candidate would be testing in the next few days, and he was without food or water. How long would he be able to wait here? Would the spirits somehow sustain him?

Was this still, somehow, part of the test?

He had finished his third circuit of the library, still finding nothing. He went back out into the main room, and found that the exit door was glowing. Deciding that he had nothing to lose, Swayne went through the door.

He emerged to find himself back outside the Ring, with several priests surrounding Warren outside the gate. As he emerged, he was surprised to see that they all bowed to him.

“The Prophecy is true. The Trilithon Gate has opened!!”

 

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