In the darkness beyond, a cool draft of air awakened his muted senses with a fresh acuteness that he was unfamiliar with. His worn breath flooded out of his lungs in relief, and he felt his shoulders relax with a shiver of excitement.

    He took a step forward, stretching his hearing into the distance and feeling the closeness of the walls on either side. He was at the end of a long and narrow path between stone walls, with the harsh metal door at his back. He tentatively reached out with light fingers to touch the comforting walls. Then he began to walk the slanted path, his fingers trailing the stone beside him, and his feet finding the ground beneath him with smooth and silent motions.

    Every thought in his mind waited with bated breath. Had he really escaped? Weary fears told him to restrain his joy, and he heeded these warnings with guarded hesitancy. He did not want to lose the miracle he had been given. The door had opened for a reason. Doors that led to such passages were not often opened for the lowly worker. Tais had to live up to the moment and not let it fall to waste.

    Salla had told him about opportunities. She'd always believed in miracles. But miracles aren't magic, she'd said, You have to master them and keep them aflight. When you find your miracle, take care of it and never let it fall. Tais smiled grimly with determination. He couldn't let it fall. This chance belonged to him.

   He stopped. A sound had come from somewhere up ahead. He bit his lip and waited behind the cloak of darkness. He could hear footsteps approaching. He panicked, knowing that the tunnel he walked was only a dead end until he actually found the surface. His fears came back to him and suddenly he was unsure. Painful memories were reignited. Salla had taken her chance. She had taken her chance and she had died.

   What was to become of him? Perhaps he was destined only to follow her! He beat down hard on his dreams with ravaging doubts. How could he think himself great enough to escape? How was he any different from the hoard?

    He winced with the pain these thoughts were causing him and gave himself a mental slap. These are just the type of thoughts that'll ruin my only chance! I am different from the hoard. I am different because I am here and because I am choosing to go on with this! I am set apart because I have the courage to be so!

    Tais moved against the smooth wall in silence as the footsteps grew unbearably closer. He had to go through with this. Everything he had left, every disjointed scrap of his soul, had to unite.

    The outline of a figure could be seen. Tais closed his eyes, pressing himself against the wall. The stranger would not recognize him as out of the ordinary. Tais was silent and still, shadowed, a part of the wall. The stranger felt no intruding presences. No one was hiding from him. Tais was in plain sight. He was not intruding. He was invisble.

The stranger passed by in a whisper of air.

The End

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