Redemption The Third Era – Atmospheres of the Third Era – The Diary (Part III)

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Same day, some hourglass marks later.
Dear Diary,
I am still going the rounds in these fucking caves. I come to think that I should consider myself to be lucky to be still alive. I think three or four hours have gone by since the last time I wrote something, I still cannot keep the time down here, but I am hungry and, having checked the situation, I would say that we are much beyond a late lunch. I still have two complete food rations with me and anyway I hope to taste my next meal while seated in a comfortable tavern down at Chasm City, I love Damas cuisine…
What I could use would be a good thermos full of fresh alcoholic karkadè, but I could use as well one full of water since mine is getting shorter.
The blade of my sword is no longer electrified since a long time ago and despite Kimbar had wasted lots of Energy trying to make it more powerful, I am happy because I didn’t have the chance to use it … what a humiliating thought for a young Soldier …
I still have found none of the others, I heard no call or cry from them, this should sound good news too because presumably they could have reached an exit or be still around, having found no body it seems a small victory. I haven’t encountered any more beasts, but I heard them moving in the tunnels around me. At every light scratch on the stone or at any light swish I change my direction and go further away from the noise. I shouldn’t say it, but… I am scared …
If I won’t get out of here soon as possible I will go mad…

Same day, some hourglass marks later.
Dear Diary,
I am starting to lose heart. I met a Xintar that I wasn’t able to identify. He was smaller than the other ones, but he didn’t look like he was a cub … he was some kind of a green scorpion as big as a large dog, I don’t know how I’d been able to kill it without being bitten by its stinger, but I still cannot stop trembling and despite everything I am getting sleepy …
I have just injected one of the serums that are in the bag that uncle Mins gave me as a present for having passed the Cadet exam, it seems that it would be helpful to take away sleep and tiredness, I hope it will work because I have no intention to fall asleep in such a place! These tunnels seem endless and they all look alike. I have a very bad feeling… After having realized that the legend that claims that if you are in a labyrinth and turn always to the left you will eventually find the exit is untrue, I started to leave signs of my passage around, so that I could orient myself and not go back on my steps, but this has turned out to be a very bad idea because of its terrific result …
At a certain point I thought I got lost, so I went back to the previous fork and all the signs I made had disappeared. I thought I had made a mistake, maybe I left no mark on that fork, I recognized one tunnel that was the last one I entered, so I went back the opposite way in order to reach the fork before the last one, but all my marks had disappeared there as well! I always knew that Xintars are extremely intelligent creatures, but is it possible that they did cancel the marks left by a ‘prey’ just to confound it?
‘Prey’ … I came down here convinced to succeed in becoming a young Hunter and now I feel like a prey …
I must start marching again.

Same day … or maybe not.
Dear Diary,
I have no idea what time it is. My thermos is empty.
My small notebook on which I am writing, is about to end and I have already sharpened my pencil many times. I feel like laughing …
I stopped to rest some minutes, but I shall move on. The serum seems to be working, otherwise I would have already collapsed somewhere. I feel their noise everywhere, getting closer and closer … big paws and claws that screech on the tunnels flooring, guttural calls that zigzag in the galleries. I keep hearing them since some time, just if they were following me. Once or twice I stopped behind a wall to check if someone was ‘deliberately’ following me, but I didn’t hear nor see anything, when I started the noises started again too ….very much closer. Why don’t they attack me and end all this?
I had to light up the last luminescent stick that Alìa gave us (it seems a century has gone since that moment), I just hope to be able to get out of here soon as possible, because I don’t want to stay in the darkness.

1135-10-31-NE (or at least that is what I think…)
Dear Diary,
I have been able to look at my chasers, or at least at some of them.
I stopped to graze some nibbling of a food ration and when I was about to start marching again I heard some noise coming from one tunnel behind me. I turned back and with the corner of my eye I saw one Rixeen. He was clearly a cub. ‘I can deal with it’ I said to myself. I crouched down the most I could, against the wall and waited. I saw something moving. I sharpened my sight convinced that I would have seen the cub come closer, but the creature that was moving at the edge of the light zone was not the same one. It was almost seventy inches tall, long arms and legs, a head full of horns and indented crests, his massive body covered by blue scales, that was another Rixeen, very very much bigger.
He made a strange guttural noise and something much more smaller moved at its feet, going behind the wall, as if to hide. He then launched a low call, hardly audible, and something else moved positioning itself at its shoulders. I ran away and ran until I was sure that my heart was about to explode. They didn’t follow me, not suddenly, but now they are close again.
Maybe the fear and thirst are driving me mad, but I am sure that it was a mother with its puppies and the most horrendous conviction is that it was training them!
I am their prize, I am the toy to train their puppies to hunt! That is why they still haven’t launched themselves forward, they are learning how to hunt their food.
I will never get out of here! I will never see the sun again, never the desert, nothing ever again, just darkness and the wet walls of this shitty place!
I am ashamed, but I thought to cut my own throat … an unworthy ending for a Cadet of the infamous Academy of the Suntears Fighter, but …
The only thought that is holding me down is that there is still hope and above all I don’t want someone to find my body here and think that I died without fighting and with my throat slit by my own weapon.
It is better that I start marching again, when I walk I am not thinking …

Same day, some hourglass marks later.
Dear Diary,
I am strained. The only thing that keeps me awaken is thirst.
One of the cubs has come forward. I pushed it back with a mown of my sword. I didn’t even brush it off, but he ran away in a tunnel. He looked straight at me in the eyes, showing so much intelligence to freeze my blood and in those blood shot eyes I saw something much more dangerous than intelligence, it was enjoying it…
I heard its mother’s grunts around us, I don’t know where they were coming from and I also heard the grunts coming from the other cub … are they closing on me?
I shall move, I cannot stay here too long in the same spot.

Same day, some hourglass marks later.
Dear Diary,
I don’t know how long this farce will go on, but the epilogue is not that far away. I am limping and am losing blood.
I was right, the mother was teaching its two cubs how to hunt as well as showing to close in on the prey in order to speed up the fight. Behind a ridge they came out at the back of my shoulders and attacked me. The one I barely saw up till now is slightly smaller than the other one … how consoling that is.
They tried to hold me, but I sprinted on my side and I don’t know which one of the two was able to hit my leg with its claws, opening there three deep scratches. I am still moving from one place to the other without looking for an exit, I am just running away.

Same day …
Dear Diary,
I found a small stream, I started hearing its noise and I followed it to quench my thirst. I have bandaged my leg with the bandages I had in my emergency kit and the haemorrhage seems to have stopped, but it still burns in such an unbearable way, I would really need that Trag, or another metabolist guy, would stop by here. I thought about following the stream’s course, it could take me towards some kind of exit, maybe the water course ends up in a small pond or just in the open. The fresh water has reinvigorated me a bit and I believe I can move somehow more speedily.
It is some minutes I do not hear anymore the noises of my hunters, maybe they got tired or maybe I have reached the more external tunnels where they never venture, it could mean that one of these tunnels leads to the exit. The bright stick is consumed, but I hope to be able to soon be arriv…

[From a small diary found inside a Xintar Cave close to the borders of the Damas lands. The few pages that follow are empty, creased, yellowed and stained by blood.]

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