The Key Seeker
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Chapter X

Siphter along with his newfound weapon reached a grassy hilltop. This looked to be a perfect spot to rest for the night. He set down his blade and began to build camp. The forest was filled with beautiful deep greens and it smelled new and clean. The sky was crystal clear like the cavern lake from his journies. Siphter was enjoying his new refuge when suddenly he saw something moving in the distance. Just ahead he could see it -- it was the Shadow. The foul creature was standing upright, cradling something large in it's clutches. Siphter drew his weapon and ran closer. He had a chance this time with his destined sword. When Siphter’s eyes finally focused, he could see what it was carrying in its clutches. The shadow was holding the old man. Its mouth wide open, the drool was dripping from its large fangs onto the old man’s bald head. It was moving way faster than before, tearing through the forest floor. Siphter pursued the monster. He slid down the hill top, using his free hand to jump over large boulders that laid in his way. He tripped and fell, cutting the right side of his forehead. “I can’t keep up. It’s moving too damn fast!” Siphter thought. “Key Seeker,” a voice said from behind Siphter. The blue cat had returned. “I can’t save the old man, we don’t have enough time! What do we d--” “Shut up and get on,” the cat interrupted. Siphter sheathed his sword and climbed atop his new found ally. The cat waited, Sipther watched it's great blue furry ears twitch. Then that familiar bellowing sound echoed once again off of the tree trunks.  In a flash, the cat was running like the wind following the deep tone through the wood. Jumping from tree limb to tree limb, bouncing off rocks. He knew every nook and cranny of the forest like the back of his paw. “You’re pulling my fur young one...” Siphter loosened his grip. Then they made it, they reached the clearing and saw the old man and the Shadow standing face to face. The old man was creating the odd tone from an oval shaped flute like instrument. He stoped when he saw the blue cat and Siphter had arrived. The Shadow looked like a wild dog that found a bone.

“Stay away from him!” Siphter screamed as he jumped off of the cat. He drew his sword and ran for the Shadow but it was too late. “Nooo!” Birds flew into the sky from their treetop nests. It was oddly quiet when Siphter stopped screaming. The shadow had killed the old man. Siphter fell to his knees. He soon realized he was crying. Tears were pouring from his face and landing on his blade. He picked himself up slowly, one leg at a time, looking back to his blue ally for support. “You must go alone Key Seeker…” the cat said. Our hero nodded and the blue cat walked back into the wood. Siphter could feel his orange eyes transfixed on him. “You!” Siphter pointed his sword at the monster. “What did he do to deserve this!? Tell me! Answer for yourself!” The creature did not move, just panted and continued to drool. Siphter walked toward the shadow, now with both hands gripped tightly around his weapon. “No more running.” Siphter leapt and swung the great blade for the Shadow. The beast dodged and swiped his large three claws across Siphter’s chest. Siphter’s jacket was ripped open, and he could see he was starting to bleed profusely. He ran full speed and used his shoulder to push the shadow back then swiped for its throat. The blade seemed to cut through the shadow like air. It still stood like nothing happened. Siphter couldn’t cause any damage. The Shadow was playing with him, like a house cat plays with a bug. Siphter's father always said the house cat was the most diabolical animal, because it killed for sport. He didn't know why his father came to mind now. Our hero stood tall, turned and looked into the blue cat’s eyes and mouthed, “Thank you.” He then faced his foe and dropped his sword. “I’m not afraid.” he whispered. The shadow ran on all fours for Siphter. Kicking up dirt and rock with its great force. Sipther closed his eyes. This time he saw his adventures flash before his eyes; the blue cat, blood-thirsty skeletons, knights made of amethyst, the dueling princesses, Pikel, and the old man. He opened them and just before devouring Siphter, the Shadow curiously stopped right before his face. Our hero could smell the vile rot from it's jaws, but he did not flinch. The shadow stood still, staring into Siphter’s eyes and began to change before him. It slowly lost its pitch black darkness, and its claws. It was as if Siphter was now staring in a mirror. He saw himself, but the only thing that remained of the Shadow’s previous form were its large yellow teeth. The reflection smiled at him, and in a burst of pink smoke was gone. After the smoke had cleared, our hero saw it --the last temple key. Siphter took off his torn jacket and fastened it around his body as a makeshift bandage for his chest wound. He bent over and picked up the key. This one was modest and rusty but beautiful all the same. He placed it in his pack with the others.

“You defeated your Shadow Key Seeker…” a deep voice echoed from the trees. The blue cat emerged from the brush and approached Siphter. “Just as I did it.” The feline almost seemed happy. “You told me I would die searching for the keys,” Siphter scoffed as he spun the third key around his finger. “It worked didn’t it!?” the cat retorted. Siphter placed his hand on the large cats head. “Thank you.” Sipther said. The cat smiled an awkward grin and disappeared, becoming one with the forest around him. Siphter looked at the temple, it stood mighty and majestic. He walked to it and sat up against it's wall. It was almost morning, and the sun was beginning to peer between the forest trees. Siphter reached into his pack, pulled out his knife and the apple the old man gave to him. He looked at the apple for a moment then began to peel it slowly. Our hero exhaled and closed his eyes. He was smiling.