You really couldn’t be more obvious than that. My eyes narrowed and I stood up to question Lyte but she could tell that I was on to her. She lifted a hand and closed her eyes and turned her head away.
The only time I had seen someone do something like that was when they were either about to kill someone or they were about to make a very brigh-
The room flashed with a brightness that rivaled the sun. I shouted in astonishment as everything ent white, and then gradually faded to black.
Had… Had she blinded me.
A hand, Lyte’s I presumed, closed on my Shroud and lifted me off the ground. I was carried across the room in the direction of the door. There was the sound of it opening, a few mutterings, and then I was promptly thrown to the floor with the door slamming shut behind me.
Another pair of hands picked me up and began to carry me down the hall, down the stairs, and out of the building. The arms carried for quite a ways actually. After twenty minutes, not only was I still being carried, I was being carried uphill. There was the familiar sound of another door opening. I was finally lowered to the floor where I listened to the sound of footsteps retreating, and the door closing once again.
I’m not sure how long I laid on the floor, but I believe I fell asleep at one point. It was hard to tell because when I fell asleep it was dark. When I woke up, it was still dark.
Time passed very slowly. Since I wasn’t going to move in my condition, I used the time to think.
That which you have gained, is also that which you have lost.
What had I both gained and lost?
That was too hard.
What had I lost?
Video games. College. Stability. Money.
None of those seemed like they’d fit in a mystical riddle.
What had I gained?
Love? I hadn’t lost any love when I came here.
Power? I had always had the power in me… I didn’t think that counted as gaining anything.
I was still thinking when my vision finally began to return.
That’s a nice way of saying that my thoughts kinda sucked.
When I could see enough to move, I dragged myself up the stairs and into my room. I had completely ignored the desk and shelves yesterday, so I began to investigate the desk. One drawer contained a sheaf of papery material. Another looked like it was a junk drawer. There were small bits of rock, a knife, and many many more items that didn’t hold any use to me. The third drawer was completely empty.
The fourth drawer was locked.
I sighed in frustration and banged a fist on the desk top. There was nothing else to look at it there so I despondently turned my attention to the bookcase.
I spent the better part of an hour poring through books that I either didn’t understand, didn’t find interesting, or didn’t find useful. I skimmed through most of them, unless I thought they might have something worth looking into. After I had searched all the books on the shelf, I was beginning to question my decision of coming back to help. I couldn’t do any good here if I couldn’t even remember enough to open up my desk and chest.
I retreated to my bed and stared alternatively at my three tormentors. I wanted to sleep, but my mind wouldn’t drop the unsolvable issue with which I was faced. At one point I found myself reading the titles of the books on the shelf.
Extol: A history
The Guide to Shrouds
Does Earth Exist?
A Life with a Purpose
Wait… one of the titles… one of the titles fit into the cryptic riddle… What had I both lost and gained…
A life… A life with a Purpose…
I jumped off of my bed and ran to the bookshelf. Scattering books left and right, I grabbed A Life with a Purpose and tore it off the shelf. For the second time that day I quickly skimmed through it and found nothing.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I had to remind myself that it was approximately three or four in the morning and I was trying to think.
Yeah… thinking during the day was bad enough.
I started to put the book back but was seized with a conviction that I was right. That perhaps I was on to something.
What were you hoping to find? A key? There wasn’t a keyhole on the lock… that’s not what you should be looking for. Take some time to read the book…
I waited for the other side of the argument to present itself, but no response came. Either I was too tired to argue with myself, or deep down, I really thought that I was right. I took the book back to my bed and began to read it. I went through the task somewhat begrudgingly at first, but the more I read, the more I felt like I was onto something. The book kept mentioning a metaphorical key. One that was supposed to help you unlock your purpose and live it out. As the sky outside began to grow lighter, I finally came to the final paragraph.
“I have long pondered the key to unlocking a purpose. I have thought about it as hard as I hope you are now. I’m sure that throughout this book you have been waiting for me to impart the secret, but before I go any further I must say that I am sorry to disappoint you with the answer I am about to give. There is no key, no one big secret to living a life with purpose. Your purpose is whatever you focus your will on, that which you strive for the most. In order to find your purpose, you must evaluate yourself. If there is no one thing that you put your heart and soul into, then you don’t have a purpose. I have met many people who take what I have said, and follow their hearts through life. How much are you putting into something by following? Precious little. You cannot follow your heart… to live a life with purpose, you must lead your heart.”
As I closed the book, I climbed off my bed and made my way over to the chest, trying to decide if reading that book had been the biggest waste of time ever, or if it had been one of the most important things I had ever done.
I placed both hands on the lock and decided on my purpose. To defeat Biest and bring good back into the two worlds. When nothing happened, I said it out loud.
Then I lifted the chest from the ground and awkwardly placed the lock over my heart. Still nothing.
I touched the lock to my head. Again nothing.
I thought back to the paragraph. There was no key. Your purpose was what you focused your will on. What you put everything you had into. My purpose was to stop Biest. To do that I needed knowledge. To get that knowledge I had to get into this chest. I had tried to break the lock open earlier and failed miserably, but I formed a blade and attacked it once again.
After twenty minutes of swinging and hacking I was depleted. My swings wouldn’t have hurt a fly had I been able to hit one. I was overcome with fatigue and not even my anger could fuel me.
But I had to open that chest.
I reached forward with a shaking hand and grabbed the lock. I began to squeeze it as hard I could, emptying out my last reserves of strength. I squeezed until my hand fell from the lock and joined the rest of my body on the floor.
I had given it my all. I had nothing left.
It was when I had thought that to myself, that the lock clicked and fell from the chest.