The Key Seeker
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Chapter VII

The smell of bonfire suddenly filled the air. Siphter looked up and saw the white smoky plume and decided to find where it was coming from. Anyone making a fire at this hour obviously did not mind being found. The stars above the tree line danced above Sipther’s head. If he needed to make a quick escape he had Pikel’s gift. Ever since his run in with the Shadow, his paranoia and self-doubt grew quite harmoniously. He approached an opening in the trees and to his surprise he was at the temple. Siphter thought he was the only person that knew its location. He ran tiptoed to the facade of the stone structure. Siphter stood straight with his back flat against the wall. He crept to the corner of the building and peeked around it's corner. There he saw an old man with a long snowy white beard, alone. He sat peeling an apple with his bare feet warming close to his fire. “Hello Key Seeker.” The old man’s gravely voice startled Siphter out of hiding. “Sorry.” he replied, “I didn’t mean to scare you...” As he walked closer to the fire he could feel its warmth. “You didn’t.” the old man said with a hearty chuckle.

The two looked, paused and awkwardly examined one another as the bonfire painted the temple behind them. “What did you call me just now?” Siphter asked. The old man sliced a piece of apple, poked it with his knife and fed himself. “Key Seeker…” This time he whispered. “That’s what we are.” The old man threw the apple core into the fire and placed his small knife into his jacket pocket. “I’ve been searching for the keys a long time and have been taught many things from this forest.” The old man handed Siphter an apple. He took it in his hands and placed it in his pack for later. He sat next to the old man and enjoyed the large camp fire. Besides the knife it looked like the old man had no weapon to defend himself. How had he lasted this long? Siphter thought. “I never start a fight I can’t finish,” the old man said as he picked apple skin from his teeth. Siphter looked into the fire not knowing what to say. “How many keys have you collected thus far my young friend?” asked the old man. “Just one,” said Siphter. He felt it in his jacket pocket. “Haha, that is wonderful!” exclaimed the old man. He tussled Siphter’s hair and smiled even harder. “And how much have you learned already?” Siphter smiled back. “Do you mind if I stay here tonight? I really enjoy looking at the temple.” Siphter said. “Me too.” the old man replied. Our hero fell asleep by the warm fire, with the thought of the temple dancing in his mind. When he woke that morning, the camp was empty and the old man was gone. Written in the dirt beside him in perfect script read “Morning Key Seeker, unfortunately I have to continue my hunt alone. Good luck! Head north. Look for the mountains in the distance, past the badlands. I am glad to have a new friend on the great hunt. Best of luck, a fellow Key Seeker.’ Siphter grabbed his sword and looked at the temple one more time. He walked on, continuing the great hunt.