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by brom21
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Fantasy · #2183498
Two archaeologists find a magical object leading to an outlandish world.
3,515 words prompt: Key to another dimension

Dr. Ronin stood atop the skyscraper, in deep thought. It was his favorite place to go to think. He began to ponder the new relic that had just been sent to the archaeological institute. The object was a tablet dated back to the 1500’s in Scotland.

He stood looking over the edge when a voice came from behind him. “Dr. Ronin, we need help to finish deciphering the relic.”

Dr. Ronin turned around. “I completed the task last night. I know what it talks of Dr. Brice.”

“Already? What did you find?”

“The tablet speaks of a superstitious claim. The notion is quite fascinating. It speaks of a key to a magical realm. I surmise this so called key is another artifact we have not discovered yet.”

Dr. Brice stroked his chin and tilted his head. “Hmm…and the tablet does not say where it is?”

“Unfortunately not.” Dr. Ronin glanced behind him at the streets below then faced his colleague.

“Let’s finish this inside.”

Both men walked into a door that led to a descending metal staircase. They followed it to an open hallway then turned left, to an elevator door and entered.

“Perhaps the excavators missed something. The ruins in Scotland are vast.”

Dr. Ronin nodded his head and sighed. “That is possible. But we don’t have the money or the free time to go to on a seven thousand dollar plane ride to Scotland and examine the site ourselves.”

Dr. Brice was silent for a time before speaking. “Wouldn’t it be exciting if the legend was true?”

“That along with the Odyssey and every myth out there,” Dr. Ronin chuckled.

“But what if there are other universes and dimensions out there? Didn’t Einstein theorize the idea?”

“I think he did. However, unless we build some kind of interdimensional travel device, we’ll never know.”

The elevator doors slid open at the first floor and they stepped out. Immediately to their left was one of the studying rooms. On a long wooden table was the very tablet itself.

“I want the tablet to be brought to the main study area,” ordered Dr. Ronin.

The two men put on some latex gloves. They both grasped one end of the tablet and hoisted up into the

air. A female staff member opened the door to the main room and the tablet was carried inside. Just as it passed through, a large brown recluse crept from under tablet and onto Brice’s right hand.

The archaeologist gasped and instantly lost his grip and the tablet fell to the ground and shattered.

“The tablet! It’s completely destroyed! What have you…!”

Both men froze in fascination at something that had come from inside the broken tablet.

“What is it?” Dr. Brice mused.

“I don’t know.”

Before them on the ground was a gem that glowed a nostalgic blue hue that was size of their palms.

Dr. Ronin knelt over the object. “There is writing on it…it’s in the same language as the tablet.”

Ronin read the translation aloud. “To he who finds the glowing jewel, will find he place of spiritual renewal. A fantastic world of fairies and creatures, each endowed with magical features. Utter the words on this stone, and enter the realm of strange renown.”

“Normal stones don’t glow like this Dr. Ronin,” said Dr. Brice. “I dare say we’re dealing with real magic.”

“It’s unbelievable – the stone could just be an unknown mineral.

“Should we do as the writing says to do?” asked Brice.

“If it will satisfy you.” Dr. Ronin said as he examined the incantation and uttered the words. “Ativus kyros ithia durman.”

In a flash of light the two men were sent flying through a tunnel that shined with the glow of the gem.

“What’s happening!” exclaimed Dr. Ronin.

“If we’re going to another dimension like the tablet says, this must a porta!”

“When will it stop!” Dr. Brice yelled.

“Not much longer I think! Look, I see the end of the tunnel!”

A few moments later, they found themselves plummeting until they fell on something soft and damp.

Dr. Ronin’s head was swimming and he saw his colleague holding his head.

They were on a plat of tall grass next to a lake in a forest. The surface of the water also glowed a nostalgic blue light. Dr. Ronin neared it and put his hand in it. He felt a potent, but gentle sensation. He looked up and was mystified at what he saw; three moons were aligned next to each other. They were the same size but the center was a dark grey while the other two were a doleful purple.

“We’ve done it!” spoke Brice. “We’re the first two humans to travel to another world!”

Both men looked around for a while before Dr. Ronin gasped. “How do we get home though?”

“Worry about that later. We’re smack dab in another dimension!”

“Well we can’t sit here. We should look for signs of intelligent life.”

The forest floor was at a slight incline from the lake shore. They began their excursion up the through the forest. The incline steepened as they went. Soon they were at such an incline, it was necessary to use their hands.

“Look, I see a cliff up above!” said Dr. Brice.

Dr. Ronin was relieved as they came closer to the cliff edge. Just as they poked their heads over the cliff, both men froze in fear.

“It looks like a…dragon!-and a huge one at that!” said Dr. Brice.

The dragon appeared to be sleeping. They saw the beast’s enormous red chest rise and sink with steady breathing.

“What do we do now?” Dr. Brice spoke in a hushed voice.

“The cliff goes on both ways. We’ll have to skirt the cliff to the right until we are far enough from the dragon to climb onto the flat ground.”

Then a deep rumbling voice vibrated through the ground. “So the time has come at last.”

The two men became like statues.

“Hiding will accomplish nothing. Come and let us talk.”

The complacent tone of the dragon calmed the two colleagues. They both climbed onto the cliff.

The dragon stood upright. “You are Earth dwellers aren’t you?”

“How do you know we’re from Earth?”

“In an ancient book, it was prophesied that two beings with your appearance would visit this realm.”

“What is this place?” asked Dr. Brice.

“This place is called Rune, the angelic city…or it used to be.”

“Angelic? You mean like heaven?” asked Ronin.

“Yes, in sense. But, as you may gather, this is more of another planet in a separate universe rather than heaven itself.”

“Exactly, I’ve read the Bible. Heaven is a lot brighter and it is filled with clouds.”

The dragon seemed to grow restless as he spoke on. “The reason this realm is how it is is because of an evil force that altered both things and beings of this world.”

“How long have things been this way?” asked Ronin.

“Over five-thousand years.”

Dr. Ronin studied the dragon. He wondered what other creatures lived in the mysterious Rune. “I must say, you’re not what I would expect from a dragon.”

“I used to be a cherubim. But the evil force made me this way.”

Dr. Brice stepped forward. “What precisely is this evil force? Is it alive?”

“The force has intelligence but it lacks a true soul. It has no divine spirit like you or I.”

“What are they called?” asked Ronin.

“They’re called Myst Dwellers – nebulous beings of darkness that physical weapons cannot subdue.”

“Where do they originate from?” asked Ronin once more.

“We created beings don’t know. Only the Celestial Emperor knows.”

“Who is that?”

“He is the creator of all things. He has many names even on Earth.”

“What happens now?” asked Dr. Ronin.

“You two coming here was no accident. You have a special role to play in restoring this place to its former glory.”

“What can we do?” mused Brice.

“Your kind is the Celestial Emperor’s most beloved creation. Hence, you possess a sway or power if you would.”

“Fascinating,” said Ronin. “Tell us, what lay at the top of this slope?”

“Before the Myst dwellers came, a tall, expansive tower called the Citadel of Divinity stood. It was where the inhabitance of this once beautiful city worshipped the Celestial Emperor. I used to be the trusted guardian of it.” The dragon lowered his head. “I don’t know what will occur next.”

Dr. Brice got closer to Ronin and spoke in a hushed voice. “Can you believe all this!-supernatural beings, a cursed world!-an ultimatum that rests on our shoulders!”

Dr. Ronin replied in the same low tone. “It indeed all sounds to fantastical. We’re speaking with a dragon. The situation must hold some merit.” He leaned against a wide tree and ran his palm down his face then took a deep breath. “Well, the only thing to do is keep going up and face whatever we find.” A shiver went down his spine and Brice’s eyes were glazed over.

“Be blessed humans,” spoke the dragon as he laid his head down and closed his eyes.

On the two went above the cliff side. Dr. Ronin was lost in thought at all that was spoken about. Dr. Brice looked fearful as he stared blankly ahead of him in a twitchy trance.

“Let’s get going doctor,” said Ronin.

Dr. Brice jerked his head at his colleague. “Oh, of course.”

After thirty minutes the terrain began to level out. Then they came to the edge of the forest in front of a large clearing. About twenty yards was a base of an immense, round tower. Facing them was a tall drop gate that was open.

“No one is here,” said Dr. Brice.

“It is odd. I’m assuming we’ll find someone inside.”

Ronin stepped forward but his companion grabbed him by the sleeve. “Should we go inside? There may be danger.”

“At this point, I see no other option. We approach with caution.”

They entered the clearing and made their way to the gateway. Stretching ahead of them was a long corridor with lit torches lining the walls. The two went on until they came to a large square chamber. Above them was a dome with a mural of the heavens with stars and galaxies portrayed on it. On the opposite end was a small door. Both neared it and there was no keyhole but only a handle.

“Get ready,” said as Dr. Ronin held his breath and pulled open the door.

“It’s empty – just like before,” said Brice.

Suddenly, a bright light lit up the room. Both men covered their eyes and fell to their knees. Then the source of the light abated to glow. Above them in mid-air was a being in a gleaming white robe. It appeared to be a male with stork’s wings and his eyes had a hyonitic blue color.

The being spoke with a booming voice. “Do not fear. I’m the angel Gabriel. The King of Hosts has sent me to give you the implements that will grant you the ability to harm the Myst Dwellers.”

Dr. Ronin was still too shocked and in awe at the glorious creature before him. He was speechless as was Brice.

Dr. Ronin bolstered his wits and courage to speak. “Wha…what do you mean? What do you want us to do?”

“You must travel to the NetherRealm where the Myst Dwellers come from and obtain a holy object of great power. It is called the Staff if Ifria. It is what will be used to return Rune to its former self.”

Ronin was confused and overwhelmed at Gabriel’s words. Everything was going too fast.

“Be at peace. Do not fret. The spirit of the Celestial Emperor will be with you.” Next the angel descended to the ground. “Come,” ordered Gabriel.

The two reluctant souls obeyed and the angel spoke with raised his arms. “Receive the Swords of Fire!”

Two double edged swords appeared having blades burning with white fire suspended in the air three yards close to Brice and Ronin. Both were wide eyed and neared the weapons carefully.

Ronin gripped the hilt and a surge of power flowed through his body. Nevertheless, there was a calm, peace about it. Instantly, all his fears, inhibitions and doubts vanished.

“Are you alright” asked Brice. “Your eyes are glistening and you have a different persona. You’ve changed.”

“Don’t worry. Just take the blade.”

Brice glanced at the sword then at Gabriel. Brice stretched forth his hand and grabbed the handle of the sword.

Dr. Ronin saw his colleague’s countenance alter in moments. “Amazing! I’m filled with such…I can’t explain it.”

Gabriel spoke in a raised tone. “Now that you have been equipped, I will open the portal to the NetherRealm.” With a mere wave of his hand, a dark purple spinning vortex appeared. “Make haste and step through.”

The two humans with altered hearts went through. Once again, they were flying through a tunnel of light but it was purple. Moments later, the two doctors ran out of the other end of the portal onto solid ground rather than falling vertically.

The NetherRealm was like a nightmare. Dilapidated, crumbling stone structures were ablaze with chaotic flames. Stinking tar pits were everywhere and the sky was black like sackcloth. The most disturbing thing were black smoke-like beings in dark cloaks sifting through the air like phantoms. Without a doubt, these were the Msyt Dwellers.

Suddenly one of them charged at the two trespassers. Ronin raised his sword and made a vertical strike, splitting the being in half as it shrieked and dissipated like a fading shadow.

“Where do we go?” asked Brice.

“I think we go there,” said Ronin as he pointed past the smoke at a castle that was intact. It lay on a high hill.

They sprinted ahead and a barrage of Myst Dwellers came at Brice and Ronin.

Dr. Brice lunged ahead and pierced the dark being with his blade, disintegrating it with a shriek of pain. The two men pressed on as they slashed and hacked with fervent valor, vanquishing the nebulous foes. But the process was grueling and horrific. Brice and Ronin had to have destroyed at least twenty Myst Dwellers in no more than fifteen minutes. The two men reached a bridge of stone. Then the Dwellers suddenly stopped their siege.

“They’re retreating!” exclaimed Brice.

“Yes, but why?” replied Ronin. “In any case, we must continue over the bridge to reach the castle on the hill.”

They stepped onto the bridge and looked over the edge – nothing but abysmal darkness. When both had crossed the bridge, they scaled the hill and ten minutes later, they had met the top. Before them was an open gate at the base of the castle.

They walked with a cautious alertness. Overhead was a towering vaulted ceiling with a mural of every kind of monstrous beast they could imagine: harpies, gargoyles, manticores, evil dragons, basilisks, giant spiders and other hideous creatures too horrific to describe.

“Halloween aint got nothing on this place,” said Dr. Ronin.

“Where is that staff supposed to be?”

A voice came from behind them. “Why it’s right here with me.”

The two men turned and saw an old man in a scarlet robe. “It appears the prophecy is true. I am Nephaal, ruler of the NetherRealm. I see you must have been given the weapons of heaven. If you think you can take the staff from me, you’re welcome to try.” Then Nephaal was silent.

An unexpected anger welled up in Brice. He gritted his teeth and ran with his blade over his head ready to bring it down over Nephaal. But the evil ruler raised his hand and Brice was sent flying back into the air and fell to the ground. “Ackk!” he uttered.

“Ha, ha, ha! You may wield the implements to destroy me but you’ll never get close enough to strike!” He motioned with his hand and a pillar of fire rose in front of Brice and Ronin.

“How do we get the staff?” Brice put forth.

“Let me try something!” said Ronin. The man brandished his weapon and vertically sliced down on the wall barrier of fire. It was split in half to the amazement of the two archaeologists.

“What? It can’t be!” cried Nephaal.” Then the other worldly being raised his arm and clenched his fist as though he was grasping something. Dr. Brice grabbed his throat as he was lifted off his feet and into the air writhing and kicking his legs.

“I could kill you right now, but I want to relish this moment!”

Ronin looked in horror. “Brice!”

Suddenly, the ground under Ronin gave way and turned to quicksand. He was sinking rapidly. Just as he was mid-chest deep, he heard Gabriel’s voice echo in his head. “ You have the power within you! You can do anything! Fight back!

When he was neck deep in the quick sand, he burst out of it and landed on solid ground. “Let him go!” Ronin charged at Nephaal. When Ronin was only a few feet away, the evil being raised his palm and the archaeologist was stopped in his tracks. Nephaal’s distraction caused him to release Brice.

Ronin was in a gridlock with his foe who was struggling to use his magical force to subdue him.

“You can’t surpass me forever! Soon you will tire and I will pierce you heart!”

Nephaal glared at Ronin with searing hatred. “Cursed human! How are you doing this?”

“The power was within me all along! Someone just reminded me of the fact!”

Dr. Brice was grabbing his throat as he took in all the air he could. Five minutes later, the Ruler of the NetherRealm was sweating as Ronin was inching closer.

Just as Ronin was inches away, Nephaal exploded in seething wrath and shot a stream of lightening at Ronin and was hurled against the wall. He dropped his sword and cried in pain.

“It seems I also have an untapped power inside me,” taunted Nephaal. “Time to die!” He raised his arms and a continuous volley of lightening pinned Ronin against the wall. The being dropped the staff in the process. “Ha, ha, ha, ha!” his foe cackled.

But Dr. Brice was nowhere in sight of Nephaal. He had lost track of him. As Ronin seemed to be nearing death, his colleague came from behind the assailant and pierced his chest. He grabbed his wound and stared at the sword in wide eyed disbelief.

“No! It can’t be! You wretched creatures! “You…!”

Brice pulled out the blade and Nephaal topped to his side. A stream of black blood seeped out of his body.

Brice rushed to his friend. “Are you okay!”

Ronin held his head. “I’m in pain but I think I’ll be okay.”

Brice ran and picked up the staff. “I have it.”

“But what do we do with it?” asked Ronin.

“Perhaps the dragon will know.”

Dr. Ronin examined the staff. “There is writing on it. It is in the same as on the glowing stone that brought us here. It looks like another incantation.”

“Maybe that is all we must do to restore Rune back to its former self,” Brice out forth.

“It won’t hurt. Let’s go outside first. I just want to get out of here.”

The two exited the tower out into the light of the three moons.

“Here we go. Cross your fingers,” said Ronin. He took a deep breath before reading the words on the staff. “Electio mordicus vorea corporial.”

“Suddenly a beam shot from the staff and up into the clouds. A burst of white light exploded in the sky. It expanded like the ripple of water from a stone being cast into a pond.

“It’s glorious!” exclaimed Brice. “We’ve done it!”

The brightness of the light exceeded that of the sun on Earth. Suddenly Gabriel appeared beside them. “You’ve done well. Rune is restored to its former beauty and splendor.”

Brice looked down sheepishly like bashful child. “I was wondering, may we stay here?”

“This is not our home Dr. Brice.”

Gabriel addressed Brice. “Your friend is right. You must go. But- you may keep the staff. Its need is gone.”

“Very well,” said Brice.

The angel smiled. He motioned with his hand and portal appeared. “That is your way home.”

“It was an honor to help,” said Ronin.

In a silent reverie the two humans looked one last time at the landscape of Rune and then stepped through. One again they were spinning through tunnel of blue light. Seconds later, they were back at the institute.

“No one will ever believe us,” said Brice.

“What happened to the stone?” asked Ronin.

“I think you must have dropped it in the portal.”

Dr. Ronin sat on a chair and sighed deeply. “Our experience would make for one fine novel.”

“Perhaps, But I wish there was a way to go back. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

“Indeed Dr. Brice. Indeed.”

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