Minh Thi Phan
The minutes seemed to drag on so slowly. Between the horror of seeing Zoey die right in front of us and the fear of what Arianna might do when she returned, every second was a new well of agony.
Then, we heard footsteps.
“If we stand by the doorway,” Wendy whispered, “maybe she won’t look closely at the room.”
“She’s going to know right away that Zoey’s gone,” Jenny shot back. “And I feel like trying to deceive these people would be the worst thing we could do right now.”
Before we even realized it, Arianna was standing in the doorway, looking at all of us. There was no way she didn’t see the utter disaster Zoey had created in the arcane chamber or notice her dead body on the ground. Her face though showed no sign of change.
“You three, please follow me. My audience with Otoh’halla was successful. He has agreed to let you go.”
A wave of relief flooded over us. This was it. We were going to make it out, alive. Not only that, we may have saved Arkham as well.
Wendy, Jenny, and I left the arcane chamber with Arianna leading the way. We walked past the shadows and right through the Throne Room. Otoh’halla was still on his throne, but bore no expression as we walked past. We were back in what we had known as the Book Room. Arianna then spoke an incantation and summoned something out of the ceiling we had not seen before.
It was a spiral staircase that went up yet again. So it seemed there was a third tier to this temple.
“We will ascend to the Portal Room,” Arianna said. “Very few mortals have ever seen it, so consider yourself blessed.”
“We already do,” Jenny said, a smile on her face.
As we walked up the stairs, I couldn’t help but quietly wonder… where were the others? Calvin, Pete, Preston? Roland, Finn? I briefly looked behind me but saw nothing. I never did find out what happened to them. Were they all dead? Or were they perhaps hiding somewhere? I would hate to think that we were the only three left alive.
We made it up the steps and before us was another new marvel.
A massive portal crackled with arcane energy. It was powered by a ring of crystals attached to a stone circle. The portal must have been about 20 feet tall. Inside it, we couldn’t see anything beyond a distorted blur, but if what we had been hearing was true, then… then this portal led back to Arkham.
“The exit you have been looking for,” Arianna said, pointing to the portal. I thought I saw a hint of a smile crack on her face. I wasn’t sure if she was happy to be helping us or to be rid of us.
“Well, I guess our work here is done,” I said.
“What?” Jenny asked. “What are you talking about? We still don’t know what happened to the others. What if they’re still alive and here we are just abandoning them?”
“I’m sure Arianna can help guide them to the Portal Room just as she did us,” I said.
Arianna nodded. “I would be happy to escort any survivors to safety.”
The way she said survivors made a chill run up my spine, but I was so close to escape, I did not wish to dwell on it.
“Well, I’m not leaving until I’m sure we are all leaving,” Jenny said.
Wendy clasped Jenny’s hand. “Me too,” she said.
“Well, I’m going. We’re done here. We’ve saved Arkham. The only thing left for us to do is escape,” I said. “I’m going through. I hope to see you all in Arkham soon.”
Without even a glance back, I walked through the portal.
I don’t remember what happened immediately after that. All I can remember is a vast darkness. But when I opened my eyes, I was in Arkham but…
The buildings all around me are nothing but rubble. A dark mist hangs over the land. I’ve heard rumblings of creatures off in the distance, and I’ve eluded their grasp a few times. Not the byakhee, but something else. On my third day in this place, I found a few people who have taken me in. I’ve asked them what year it is, and tell me it is 3007. The world seems overrun on by these creatures whose name I have yet to discover. I’m not sure what’s going on and I fear for my safety every day. We live in a wooden shack that stands over a system of underground tunnels, with one of us having to keep watch every day. Our watches exist only to sound an alarm to escape because we have, from what I understand, no weaponry that could ever hope to stave off an attack from one of these creatures.
I hope there is some way for me to get back to my time. To the Arkham I knew. Perhaps there is. One of the people here shared with me a map that she said may lead to an ancient ritual site. A small band of four of us are heading out tomorrow. I’m terrified that we all die on the journey, but I’m also terrified that we all die in these ramshackle tunnels. We have no real choice.
Every day, I wonder whatever happened to Jenny and Wendy and the rest of the them. They’re surely all dead by now, but still, I can’t get them out of my mind. I lay awake hoping against hope they made it back to the real Arkham, to 1925, and had a good long life in the home we knew. But I guess, barring a miracle… I’ll never know the truth now, will I?
June 24th: MINH, transported via a portal to Arkham in the year 3007
June 23rd: ZOEY, electrocuted by the metal globe in the Arcane Chamber
June 22nd: AGNES, merged with High Wizard Arianna in the Arcane Chamber
June 21st: CALVIN, shot dead by reanimated Joe in the Armory
June 20th: URSULA, impaled through the head by The Sullied Crown in the Throne Room
June 19th: ROLAND, shot dead by Finn in the West Room
June 18th: YORICK, transported to Carcosa
June 17th: SEFINA, transported alive via a portal to Arkham
June 16th: MARK, devoured by an abomination in the West Room
June 15th: SILAS, succumbed to earlier poisonous gas exposure while in the Book Room
June 14th: AKACHI, succumbed to poisonous gas in the East Room
June 13th: RITA, woke up alive in Arkham
June 12th: LEO, shot dead by Finn in the South Room
June 11th: REX, torn apart by byakhee in the North Room
June 10th: MARIE, fell into the chasm in the South Room
June 9th: CAROLYN, head smashed by Lola in the Button Room
June 8th: JOE, shot himself in the Lust Room
June 7th: SKIDS, dismembered in the Greed Room
June 6th: JIM, possessed by Ambrose in the Lust Room
June 5th: DIANA, possessed in the Lust Room
June 4th: MATEO, drowned in the Sloth Room
June 3rd: DAISY, shot dead by Roland in the Gluttony Room
June 2nd: NORMAN, disintegrated in the Envy Room
June 1st: LOLA, abandoned in the Button Room
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