everything the light touches, it destroys.
The outside world was unknown to her, but she could see a glimpse of it through the window in his room.
"Don't get too close," he would say.
I'd always take a few tentative steps forward, careful not to disturb the vines that crawled across the floor.
It was beautiful - the Crus Mors - the shiny death.
This was the one window that Charon was sworn to never reveal to any dweller of Teneberium. Like many of the Window Keepers before him, he was sworn to secrecy by the alliance - he was my secret that I would take to the grave.
Charon grabbed my hand, pulling my eyes from the world that lay beyond.
"That's enough, Chrysa. The light will be flooding in soon."
I hated hearing those words. They were so sweet coming from him, but almost nauseatingly so. His voice had a way of luring you in and making you feel sickly. It's what drew Chrysa to him in the first place.
He stepped past her, flipped his blade from its sheath, and cut into the vines. She remembered him telling her stories of how quickly they would grow. The light made everything grow at incredible speeds, it's why even the Teneberium would only allow a few moments of light to be reflected in by the mirrors. Anything more than a few well-timed seconds would cause the crops to mutate into inedible foliage, and most of the time they would become plagued with some sort of plant-like blister.
Each vine was meticulously cut, weeping a clear liquid. Charon would mop that up as soon as he tossed the newly severed foliage into the incinerator. He had been told through the texts of other Keepers, he knew to never make contact with the fluid. It was one of their three golden rules; never touch the blood of the plants, never let the vines grow past the window nook, and never be bathed in the light of Crus Mors.
Charon was supposed to be constantly clad from head to toe in black robes in case the light accidentally struck him. He told Chrysa that was just a precaution, and that he was careful enough that he could be without them. I always worried about him during the week when he forbade me to visit him at the Window. Charon was allowed visitation with the dwellers of the Teneberium on very rare occasions, and for the festivities of the winter solstice. It was the longest night of the year, and the one time when his duties could be left for a few extra moments to celebrate the darkness before the day would begin to reign supreme. At any other time, dwellers were strictly prohibited from speaking to the Keeper.
Charon and Chrysa were both breaking some rules while being out and about midday.
Chrysa could distinctly remember running into him whilst she was meandering about the shelves of the library. It was one place that was always vacant during the day - everyone was asleep, and nothing here needed protecting. Apparently Charon had the same idea. They both nearly toppled the other one as they rounded the corner shelves. Since then, they've both been learning about each other.
Charon finished up his duty, the Curs Mors being sufficiently culled. He smacked his hands together before tossing his tools to the side, where they slid beneath his desk.
"I wonder what would happen..." Chrysa mused.
"Nothing good, if the plants are anything of note." Charon interrupted firmly.
The two would often get into debates about what would happen if they were to touch the Crus Mors. Charon relayed that the old texts spoke of unspeakable horrors - a glowing, blinding radiance that would render you petrified. Chrysa would often counter that if that was the case, how did any of them exist underground? Someone had to have survived the Crus Mors, at least long enough to get into this cave system. She had a hard time believing people were just living here before... well, before the light washed over everything.
Why would anyone choose to remain here when there is that whole world outside that window?
Charon gently bopped the back of her head to bring her down from her musings. She rolled her eyes and hopped off the bench. It was so tempting to her, she just wanted to reach out and let it fall upon her hand. Just for one brief second.
"Don't even think about it." He muttered, turning his back.
She stepped forward, closing her eyes, standing just before light. It was calling to her, drawing her in. She reached out her hand just as Charon turned back around.
All she saw was a flash of light. Searing pain erupted from her hand as she clutched the stump that now remained. Her hand fell with a thud, hissing and sizzling as it seemed to burn in the Crus Mors. Scale-like protrusions erupted from it as it seized and wept, the blood hissing as it met the floor.
Chrysa fell backward, Charon deftly catching her before her head hit the floor.
About the Creator
A young adult still trying to find her place in this world.
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