Nikt felt like a statue the moment the light swallowed her brother. Her heart stopped its pounding, and she fell to the comforting shadow of the earth in despair. The Above was forbidden and sacred. The Above was death. The Above was a myth, and now her brother was too. Just a story of a memory she held oh so dearly to her heart. She could not save him, but only lament.
Tears fell like melt down her cheeks as she stumbled back through the maze of rock. She sobbed hysterically as her fingers grappled with the sharp edges of canyon and crevice, blood mingling with salts. The walls and holes were harder to maneuver and scale. Her breathing was panicked, but her mind was calm.
Survive, she told herself. Get back. They will rescue him. They will help me grieve.
The Sleep was already long passed by the time she emerged from the fissure to the commonway. The dull light of glowworms and the gentle heat of people caressed her troubled mind. A passerby stopped to berate her and ask what she was doing crawling from a hole so filthy and disheveled.
"Bit," she only whispered. "My brother. He went to the Above."
The passerby, a strange old man carrying a sack of dried harvestmens, gripped her shoulder. "Who are your kin?"
"Diagen," she answered, breathless.
"Ah, my child, I am Diagen as well. Come, we must find you fresh water and new silk."
"No," she answered, ignoring the stinging pain from her multiple cuts and scratches. "I must go the the Diagen hall in the Crown Cavern. Immediately."
The stranger put his hand to her heart for a silent minute before answering. "Certainly. I will help you."
On only three occasions had Nikt been to the Crown Cavern; once just after she was born, second when she came of age and third when the Crown died and a new one was chosen from the young. This time she stumbled in dirty and bloody and in no condition to meet her kin.
"What is this?" the Crown asked from the end where the darkness was so deep it was mind-numbing. His voice bounced off of the decorated walls and sank deep into the endless and ageless pools.
"Nikt," the Mother answered before Nikt had the chance to. "What is it?"
"Bit. He has transcended to the Above. Of his free will..."
"He emerges through the efflux," the Crown murmured. "It is true then. It is as it was predicted."
"This was predicted?" Nikt asked, horrified and slightly angered that such a prophesy was not shared, else the whole situation could have been avoided.
"Yes, he was destined for trouble since his birth," the Mother answered for the Crown, her voice showing no emotion. Nikt searched the darkness, but the reflection off of pools and crystal disoriented her vision.
"Is there any way to save him? Is there a prediction as to his return?" Nikt asked.
"If he is in the Above there is no return," the Crown answered, his voice deepening in ferocity. "He is gone. It is done."
"But there must be a way!" Nikt cried, feeling passion at the Crown's lack of passion.
"Take this girl away. Get her some new silk. Black. She must be in mourning now," the Mother said coldly.
"But the legends! It must be possible! I can't live without him!" Nikt cried too loudly. Her voice echoed and reverberated desperation through the hall and into her skull
"Take her away," the Crown ordered, and a pair of hands gripped her tightly by her arms and pulled her away. "Bit is no longer a problem. Think of your kin now. Think of your kin."