Suddenly, I came to and repeatedly blinked my eyes, clearing my mind of the thick fog that hazed over my thoughts. I shook my head as my eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light that the moon gave from overhead. There was a crisp nip in the air that made me shiver in my cold, metal armor, yet I stood tall and still as I had been trained to. The night sky was painted deep blue with stars littering the sky alongside the moon, emitting the vague sliver of silver light spilling across the grass upon which I stood.
As I wondered in deep thought of where I was and why I was here, I found it difficult to recollect my memories. I could not remember traveling here…The last I remembered, I had gone to sleep within my quarters. What was I doing outside? Why was I in my armor? Glancing over myself, I caught a glimpse of the moon’s reflection in the silver of the metal covering my body. The King’s crest was displayed proudly against my chest, showing that I was a knight of high status.
The night air seemed fresh as I took in a deep breath, and the overall feel was placid. I felt soothed as I stood within the darkness, yet there was a slight sense of nervousness within me. Although I was calm, I could feel a deep fear hidden within my soul that seemed to dawn on me greatly. It felt heavy and tiring, causing me to long for the safe comfort of my warm bed and kept my mind from drifting once more. With a yawn, I decided to disregard my unusual trip and turned to return to my room.
All of a sudden, I heard a voice in my mind. “Sly Lynx, pry thy crypt. Reveal the secret within.” The voice echoed throughout my mind before fading into the depths of my thoughts, yet it seemed real. It seemed as if I could hear the voice aloud as it drifted amongst the darkness surrounding me.
“Who is there?” I called out, nervousness overcoming me and shaking my voice. I quickly regained my assurance as my hand automatically reached for my sword’s handle against my waist, preparing for the worst. A knight should always be ready. “Show yourself!” I challenged the empty night that could possibly be hiding the voice’s owner in obscuration. My eyes scanned my surroundings, glancing quickly over the area, searching for an opponent. I held my face in a stern, determined smile as I awaited a response.
It was then that I realized that my hand had not fallen upon the cold metal of my sword, but of the empty leather slot of my sheath where it should have rested. I glanced to my waist in surprise, only to find myself to be unarmed. Where was my sword?
As I averted my eyesight to search the ground around my feet, I made a chilling observation. My faithful partner, most honored knight after me, lay spread across the ground, dressed within his protective armor, with his sword just inches from his outstretched hand. His sword rested in the grass without any sign of battle, no blood upon the shining silver that reflected underneath the moon’s light, the blade still sharpened. His face bore the look of dismay and terror as he reached for his weapon with eternal failure. I was astonished to find my own sword penetrating through his breastplate, allowing the red of his blood to flow about his body and spill across his armor. The blood that escaped from my dear friend’s chest was fresh and glimmered in the moonlight upon his still body. My partner was dead. Underneath the moon’s faint light I was able to see the stains of blood contrasting against the green of the grass and noticed signs of a battle upon the land. If there had been a fight, I guessed that it had been a short one and he had easily been taken.
But was it by my hand?
I suddenly threw out the disturbing thought as I collapsed to my knees with a clang of metal and placed my hands upon my friend’s body. As I stared into the unblinking eyes of the dead man, I felt a sense of guilt. His cold face focused upon mine with a disturbing look of pain and fear. In tribute, I closed his eyes and recited a silent prayer for him.
Why had he been killed? Who had killed him? I knew that it couldn’t have be me for I would never kill one of my own men, especially not a partner. I would not betray my kingdom, or my friends. I would not! As the frustration and rage rose within me, I gritted my teeth with little patience. A scowl spread across my face as my brows narrowed upon my eyes. I grimaced under the night sky and wrinkled my face with irritation. “Nooo!” I yelled out, pulling my head back as a wolf would cry out to the moon.
I yelled in agitation as I mourned the mysterious death of my friend. He had fought beside me many times before and I felt weakened to have him leave my side. Together, we had overcome many challenges and had brought victory to our kingdom’s name many times. Our enemies feared our armies as we fought with great courage and valor and my partner had saved my life quite a few times. It seemed as if a piece of my soul had been stolen with the death of my friend. I could not fight without him. I would not continue without him.
I stared upon the gauntlets that covered my hands, searching for any evidence to my guilt. There was no blood upon my hands, yet there was none upon the hilt of my sword either. It couldn’t possibly be so! I would never kill- My thoughts ceased abruptly as the voice within my head returned to me. “Sly Lynx, pry thy crypt. Reveal the secret within.”
Once again, I was frightened by the unusual voice. “Where are you?” I came to a suspicion that the voice’s owner may have killed my partner. I could be free of the crime. “What have you done to my friend?” I called out.
The words seemed more distant as there was difficulty making out the words clearly. “Sly…pry…crypt. Secret within,” it repeated.
Returning to my feet, I began to spin and frantically search around me. “Where are you?” My voice was steady, backed with courage and bravery, yet I was troubled in my thoughts. I knew that I was unarmed, and that I could easily be overcome if an opponent was to attack. Then, the glint from my partner’s sword caught my eye causing me to sweep it up within my right hand. I held it steadily as I continued to circle, waiting for any sign of movement.
I scrutinized the land around me and suddenly realized where I was. As tombstones and stone crosses met my eyes, I noticed that I was standing within a cemetery beneath the watching moon. Thick, overgrown weeds had encroached the graves, invading their markers while covering their words beneath their leafy veils, hinting that no human foot had passed through for many years and a sharp chill crawled beneath my skin against my back as I shook with uneasiness.
It was then that I discovered the entrance to the crypt. A small, stone building rested a few yards before me, sleeping beneath the night sky. Its tall, stone columns held its triangular roof and framed the quaint entrance as the white of its walls glowed with radiance. A tree that loomed over the ancient vault cast shadows of leaves and blocked the light from the entrance, covering it within darkness and hiding it from suspecting eyes. I stared upon the grand, refined details that had been carved into the rock and noticed the leaf-like designs that seemed to twine around the pillars and curl about the roof.
When I caught sight of words engraved above the doorway, I passed my friend lying at my feet, and approached the aged structure. I graced my fingers across the indent of each letter and found it to be in a different language. Each symbol was foreign to me, yet as I studied each design, I heard the voice within my head return. I had realized that the voice was from my mind, rather than around me, and was unalarmed when I heard the words ring through my thoughts. “Pry thy crypt. Reveal the secret within.”
As I listened to the strange words and understood the lines beneath my fingers, I took in what came across my ears and tried to understand what it was saying. Thoughts raced through my head as I momentarily forgot about the mystery of my friend’s death and puzzled over the cryptic message that persisted in my head. What was in the crypt? Where had I heard the voice? Why was it repeating itself?
“Reveal the secret within…”
I placed my hand on the cold, brass handle of the crypt’s doors as I took in a deep breath. Should I open it? What was hidden within its dark corridors? I brought my head down as my chin rested upon my chest plate. My eyes rested as I contemplated over my decision, running through each consequence carefully. My curiosity drove me to press against the handle to “reveal the secret within.”
The door did not give.
I swore as my frustration drove me to pound upon the aged wood of the door and drop my friend’s sword to clang upon the stone of which I stood. As I released my hand from the handle that protruded from the portal, I noticed a small keyhole within the door. The door was locked and I needed a key to get in.
“Sly Lynx, pry thy crypt…” The words taunted me once more.
“I know! I know! I hear you!” I cried out in annoyance. “What do you want me to do? What am I supposed to do?” As I dropped my head to rest against the barrier that kept me from entering the crypt, I puzzled over my current situation. The phrase tugged at my mind and persisted continuously. “Leave me alone!” I cried out, lifting my head from the door.
I turned to leave the strange building as the sword resting at my feet caught my eyes. My friend! As I suddenly remembered the death of my partner, I returned to his side. His body still rested in the grass beneath the moonlight, his face tense, yet the blood covering his armor was beginning to dry. Dropping to my knees as the emotional weight bore down upon me, I mourned in silence. There was a slight glint that seemed to come from my partner’s neck that averted my attention towards it. From my angle, a thin beam of light aimed at a necklace that was upon my friend’s neck, causing me to reach for it. There was a cold, metal chain that was frozen as the body of its wearer, and it stung my fingers as I grasped it. I was amazed to find a small, brass key dangling from the necklace as I forcefully broke the chain from my friend’s lifeless neck. The key was rusted and suggested its age from its weak glint as I studied it within my covered hand, its quaint size making it easy to grasp.
A flash of the locked door came to my mind as I held the key that enabled me to pass through the portal.
“Reveal the secret within,” the voice seemed to be stronger than ever before as it reminded me.
I sat beside my friend’s remains as I pondered over the phrase. Should I open the crypt? Should I find what is hidden behind the locked door? Why was the door locked? Was it keeping things out, or in? What if evil forces rested behind the door? Why did my friend possess the key? Was he keeping secrets from me? Questions seem to rush in as if I had released a dam, blocking the mightiest of rivers. My mind was overcome with curiosity and I thirsted to quench it. I longed for answers, and suddenly remembered the conflict with the mysterious death. Had I committed the crime? Was I guilty? Did my hand, or just my weapon kill my friend?
With a stern look of determination, I swiftly rose to my feet, the chain of the key dangling from my tightened fist. I marched to the crypt’s entrance and glared at the door, forcing all of my anger and frustration to escape through my eyes. As I intensely leered at the brass keyhole, I felt the words nag at my mind consistently.
“Sly Lynx, pry thy crypt. Reveal the secret within. Sly Lynx, pry thy crypt. Reveal the secret within. Sly Lynx, pry thy crypt. Reveal the secret within.”
With the voice driving me forward, I put aside my thoughts and unanswered questions as I slowly trudged towards the door. It felt as if it was to take me years to reach my destination as I slowly brought one foot forward followed by the next. Intently focused upon the keyhole that mocked and teased me with the secret that it held I filled it with the brass key in my hand. It smoothly slid into its destined home as I turned it with a slight click. A smile spread across my face as a feeling of relief swept over me followed by a sense of guilt. Why had my friend been holding the key? Was I trespassing?
As I pushed upon the unlatched door, a musty gust of air blew into my face. I noisily coughed from the musty layer of dust that dawned in the air and I felt as if I was walking through thick smog as I entered. Leaving the door open behind me, I hoped that the air would clear and begin to ventilate new, fresh air. I figured that the crypt had not been open for many years as the dust filled my lungs, making it difficult for me to breath. Once I grew used to the thick air, I began to observe my surroundings. The halls carried my breathes through their long emptiness just before they faded into the darkness, causing me to realize that I was unable to see. Without windows, the crypt’s halls were deprived of the moonlight. Opening a small, leather pouch that I carried with me, I removed a piece of flint and struck the rock to light a torch that I found lying along the rocky floor. With the new light blazing throughout the burial site, I found more writing engraved into the walls. As I ventured forward I dragged my fingers along the ridged texture of the writing, yet was unable to make out the designs as I had earlier. There was complete silence except for the wisps of my breaths and the slight crackle of the fire.
I ventured forward, moving silently down the long, dusty hallway that was laid out before me and couldn’t help but feel a shiver crawl up my spine. I felt frightened as I continued through the unknown building, unsure of what I was to unveil. As I continued, my heavy, metal boots clanged against the stone beneath my feet, echoing down the hallway and telling me of how much farther I had to walk.
After I passed through the stone hallway decorated with the many, interesting designs that covered the walls, I entered a desolate chamber. High ceilings stretched far above my head as I studied the room in awe. Four strong pillars held the roof while adding a sense of artistry to the musty crypt and continued with the designed patterns of foreign words. The room was open and barren as I walked into the center and observed around me, holding my torch out before me. The room was circular with four tunnels branching out from each side, one of which where I had come from. What was waiting in each corridor?
I took the hall to my right and began to explore down through the dust that agitated my throat. Brushing spider webs from my face, I heard the voice ring through my mind, encouraging me to continue forth. “Sly Lynx, pry thy crypt. Reveal the secret within.”
Soon, the tunnel opened into a room that made my heart skip a beat. My jaw dropped as I stepped into the room and marveled at the glittering beauty before me. Piled on the rocky floor was a magnificent collection of jewels and gold. I found sapphires, rubies, emeralds, opals, and topazes spread about the pile amongst the golden coins and pearl necklaces. The pile seemed as if a wealthy king who enjoyed displaying his wealth throughout his collection of jewels owned it and I felt a sense of jealousy as I realized that it was not mine.
But it could be…
The thought was there. It lingered in my mind as I stood in awe at the treasure. I could take this collection and I could make it my own. I could run from my country and live in wealth elsewhere. In just a few short days, I could be a wealthy nobleman in a far off place. My dreams soared through my mind as I continued to marvel at the sparkling display before me. I did not take time to think of the consequences as I schemed a plan. There were no consequences for me.
Suddenly, there was a slight clang at my feet. I shot my eyes to the stone to find that I had dropped the rusted brass key and I found it lying on the ground. As I stared at the object that enabled me to find the exquisite jewel within the dark crypts, a picture of my friend flashed before me. I had forgotten about him. He had held the key from me. This treasure might have been his, or his family’s. He could have been protecting this treasure. He could have been keeping it for himself. Perhaps he had found the key and did not know what it went to. Why had he held the key?
My thoughts became more logical as I explored the possibilities and the consequences that would follow. No matter how hard I tried, I could not force the questions from the past to leave my thoughts. Had I killed my friend? If I had, why had I? Why had I abandoned my friend and betrayed him? Did I know of his treasure and had killed him to take it for myself? I felt lost with no answers as I stood in the little light of my torch and I was unsure of what to do. Should I take the gold? Should I start a new life and throw my present one away? Should I betray my country, my king, my duties? Would I live as a good person, without doubts and regrets or would I mourn in shame? What was I to do?
Just then, the fire from my torch died out, leaving me to my thoughts in the darkness of the crypt, and there in the dark I contemplated treason.