Mikaela hoisted her pack and limped toward the glowing light deep inside the cavern. The light began to illuminate the area. She found a small path which wound its way around stalactites and stalagmites which formed throughout the cave system. The riverbed continued to flow along side her, but the rush from outside had slowed to a small trickle.
Mikaela felt as if she were in another world. Cool drafts of air floated by as she moved deeper into the opening. She called out again for the team, with no response.
She continued forward and saw a man-made structure. It appeared to be supports from an old mine system. She paused a moment and looked around. The mine shaft continued forward for at least a hundred yards to her left and then off to the right. If her instincts were correct, the team should be finding their way to this location. She found a small rock to sit on to rest and drink some water.
In the distance down shaft, she believed she heard voices. She called out again, “Frank? Sin? Moe? Anyone down there?”
A faint echo seemed to repeat her voice, then she heard a response, a faint call of her name. “Mike? Come here, Mike.”
Mikaela paused. The voice wasn’t Frank’s nor anyone else from the team. It was his. But that wasn’t possible, was it?
Mikaela stood back up and headed towards the voice. As she walked through the mine shaft, the glow of blue green grew until she came to a solid wall along the side of the shaft. She reached her hand out and rested it gently on the wall. The wall pulsed and she heard it again.
“Mike. Come here, Mike. Find me.”
The glowing tattoo on her pinky became hot as it continued to glow and the only relief she found was placing her hand on the wall. It cooled her hand. She became entranced and her mind drifted. Visions of him appeared in front of her. Memories and dreams and wishes became jumbled in her mind. Flashes of reality were mixed with desire. The rest of the world disappeared away. Her mission to open a portal no longer meant anything to her.
“Mikaela!” A voice from behind her called out. An arm wrapped around her, pulling her backward. She fought it, wanting to stay in the moment. “Mikaela, wake up!” Frank’s voice commanded while Moe pulled her back.
Moe fell backward, dropping Mikaela as the wall released her. They both were splayed out on the ground. Slowly, Mikaela regained awareness and sat up. “It is so beautiful. I need to go back.” She reached back towards the wall.
Sin stood in front of her. “Stop Mikaela. This isn’t real.” Sin’s stern voice snapped her out of it. She never fit into the story, and always would break it apart….back then and even now.
Mikaela became angered, wanting to fight them all. “Leave me be.” The wall’s magic pulled on her even harder. Tears streamed down her face.
Moe moved in front of her. “No. This isn’t you. Mikaela, focus.”
The hurt and the confusion showed in Mikaela’s face. This is what Moe was worried about when James decided to bring her in. Her desire would override her reality.
A voice, his voice, echoed in her head. Mikaela, it isn’t time. She slumped, overwhelmed.
Slowly, Mikaela came back to reality. “We need to finish this, Moe. What do we need to do?”
Frank piped up. “We need to find the spot where the portal closed. It should be near by. The power of the wall grows closer to the portal, and based on what we just saw, we are close.”
The team picked up their things and began to follow the mineshaft deeper into the earth. Frank, Moe and Sin formed themselves along side Mikaela, keeping her away from the side of the mine lined by the wall. Ahead, an archway formed out of rock with carvings could be seen. Scrollwork much like on her ring and the knife Frank gave her glowed in vibrant colors.
When the wall closed, it broke off parts of the arch. Each of them stepped up to one of the 4 stone pieces laying on the ground.
Frank hoisted the first one up and looked at the pattern. “I think we need to replace these back into place so the portal is whole. Then we need to figure out how to open it.” Three of the stones were able to be quickly placed back into the arch. They each were small enough that Mikaela, Frank, and Sin could easily restore them.
Moe looked at the fourth stone. “I’m a strong guy, but there’s no way I can lift this one alone.”
Mikaela snickered a little bit. It was odd for Moe to admit defeat, especially in the realm of his own strength. “What do you mean, Moe? We all handled ours.” She chuckled as she wiped the dust off her hands.
The stone was considerably large, no doubt. And it needed to go into an opening well above Sin and Mikaela’s reach. “We might be able to help get you boys started, but there is no way for us to reach that spot,” Sin spoke up, then looked at the gap.
The four of them positioned themselves around the stone and began to lift. Mikaela’s rings made contact with the stone and it began to glow. With the stone alit, it quickly became weightless and almost floated up. Mikaela’s reach however was exceeded as the team lifted the stone, the light disappeared, and the stone returned to its heavier weight. Frank and Moe struggled under the weight and started to lower it back to the ground.
Mikaela looked more closely at the rock. Then she took off all of her rings. She saw the scroll work from one ring matched a repeated pattern in the stone, but there was a second mark, similar to a cresting wave, like the one in her wedding ring also carved into the stone. She first set the emerald ring down on it. A small glimmer came from the stone. It wouldn’t be enough.
She picked up the ring and then placed her wedding ring set down. Again, a small glimmer, different, but still not enough. She added the emerald ring atop the others and the stone began to pull on the rings and glow intently. However, they wouldn’t stay in place atop the stone and started to slip off.
She caught them before they hit the ground. “We need to find a way to hold them in place.” If the cost to her were her rings, she would part with them willingly. Rings could be replaced.
Frank watched Mikaela as she worked on this puzzle. He laid on the ground and cried out, “Roll it over!” As the team took his direction, they discovered a small thin slit. “Mikaela, the knife.” He pointed at her hip. She pulled it out. “Will the rings fit somewhere in the hilt?”
Mikaela fiddled with the pommel stone and removed it. Inside, there were three slots, perfectly sized to hold the emerald band and her wedding ring set. “Frank, did you make this?” Frank looked at her and quickly shook his head indicating no. “It’s his. I don’t know why, but I somehow suspected it needed to be here. He had it with him when he tried to stop all of this from happening. The emerald ring was inside.”
Mikaela slipped her rings into the hilt and replaced the pommel stone to hold them in place. She thought to herself, the past and the present are the keys to the future. She didn’t know what it meant however. She walked over to the side of the stone where the opening was and slid in the knife. The stone began to glow again. This time Frank and Moe easily lifted the stone back into place, the knife still sticking out from the stone, holding the rings in place.
As the stone slid into place in the arch, the knife began to vibrate and the openings in the hilt glowed white and green from the stones in Mikaela’s rings. Mikaela reached for the knife but it was too far away from her. The team all stepped back from the archway as more light poured out filling the mineshaft with blinding effect. The team shielded their eyes from the brilliance.
The mineshaft began to shake and wind from outside was pulled in as the wall area flashed. Sin and Frank held on to each other behind an outcropping while Moe grabbed Mikaela’s hand as he held on to a nearby rock formation. The winds picked up, pulling everything in its path towards the wall. The wall began to give way under the archway. Rocks, old mine tools, even their packs which laid on the ground were sucked in.
Moe hollered, “It’s working, the portal is opening!” While it was a relief, the team worked to not be pulled through. They didn’t know what actually lied on the other side of the portal, but knew having it opened would bring relief to their world.
Moe’s grip on Mikaela tightened as she kept being pulled towards the opening. Her body floated up from the force of the wind. In that moment, she understood what needed to be done. She loosened her grip. “It’s okay. Just make the promise, nothing said to him.”
A tear came from Moe’s eye. He never allowed his emotions to show, but he understood. He shook his head, “I promise.” With that he let her go. The portal swallowed her up. As she passed through, the knife was ejected by the stone and was pulled through with her.
The winds through the mineshaft settled. Sin, Frank and Moe walked toward the portal and looked through it, hoping to see Mikaela on the other side. But it appeared to just be another branch of the mine. Frank turned to Moe and started to fight with him. “Why did you let her go? We all needed to go back together.” He pushed Moe to the ground and started to hit him repeatedly.
Sin just stood there, tears rolling down her face. “He’ll never hear about it from me. I promise, Mikaela.” She turned and pulled Frank off of Moe. “Frank, it’s for the best. For both of them. It isn’t time.”
Moe slid out from Frank’s grasp, stood up and dusted off his pants. “Let’s head home.”
The trek back was sad and slow. The mission was accomplished, but at what cost? As they neared campus, they saw people milling about, all of those who had tried before. They made their way to the field tent and walked into the room where everyone had been placed when they fell. One bed remained filled. He laid there, looking to the ceiling.
He threw some balled up paper in the air and caught it repeatedly as the trio walked up to him. “She was here, wasn’t she?”
None of them would reply.
After a long pause, he continued, “Is it fixed?” Moe shook his head yes, turned and walked away with Sin.
Frank pulled up a chair. “Pop, is she…”
He responded, “Yes, she is.”
A booming voice came from the garage door. “Honey, I’m home!” The sound of the garage door closing behind him echoed through the house. “Hey, you up yet?”
He fiddled in the kitchen and made a cup of coffee and a cup of tea. He heard her groan from the sofa.
He chuckled, “Cats wouldn’t let you sleep in bed again, huh?” and set her tea on a small table beside her. She sat up, covered by her furry grey throw. “I also grabbed some breakfast.” He placed some egg bites and a small scone on a plate in front of her as she rubbed her eyes, then he kissed her on her forehead.
“I had the strangest dream just now. It was crazy, Rich. Crazy.” She sipped her tea.
“Well, that storm last night looked horrible. I wouldn’t be surprised if you had nightmares. There are branches down all throughout the neighborhood. Glad you are okay.” Rich then reached toward the coffee table. “Hey, you found that emerald piece you were looking for! When did it come in?”
Mikaela’s eyes opened widely as he handed her a glass jewelry box covered in scrollwork. Nested inside were her wedding rings and an emerald ring. Her heart skipped several beats. She smiled to herself then at him. “It just arrived.”