Dawn saw Vanessa’s face crumble but he only stood there stone-faced. He wasn’t an idiot, he knew that nothing good ever came out mixing business with pleasure. He saw businesses and marriages fail thanks to people doing that.
Dawn nodded his head. “No, now let’s go back.” He said, starting to walk back to the clearing. He stopped when he heard Vanessa start to cry.
“Why? Is it my face?” She said, looking at Dawn who still hadn’t turned around.
“No, it’s not.”
The scars on Dawn’s back was starting to itch now.
“It’s personal.” He said, hoping that would end the conversation, it didn’t.
“It’s personal,” Vanessa said parroting him. Dawn didn’t move and she only hung her head and clenched her fists.
“Fine,” With that she briskly walked back to the carriage, pushing past Dawn and leaving him alone. Thanks to Dawn’s scars itching some memories flashed before his eyes. He quickly managed to suppress them but still, he felt dirty, used and powerless.
“It’s fine, they’re gone. They haven’t done anything for years. And besides, they can’t do anything to me in the dungeon.”
Dawn walked back to the clearing and saw the driver open his mouth to say something. He stopped when Dawn looked at him though, which was fine by Dawn. He looked at Yarla who was looking a bit uncomfortable without him nearby.
“He’s not them. I know that, but still, maybe I shouldn’t take the chance.” Dawn didn’t feel comfortable letting anyone touch him anymore. His scars were still itching and Dawn knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep, would the memories invade his sleep if he did? He hoped not and laid down to rest.
“We start dungeon crawling tomorrow, I need to rest. I just hope that I don’t have nightmares.”
Dawn felt sleep coming to him and he reluctantly embraced it, fearing that those awful memories would come back again.
They didn’t, Dawn woke up but didn’t feel as refreshed as he usually did.
“If that’s the price for no nightmares so be it.”
With that thought, Dawn got up and saw the group already eating. He got up and joined them, shocking them with his silence.
“You ok? You weren’t beside me when I woke up.” Yarla asked, making room for him as he looked at Dawn. Dawn sat beside him and shrugged.
“I’m fine. Just a bad night is all.” He said, making Vanessa flinch a little. Nobody noticed however and Dawn put some food on his plate and started eating.
“Ah, don’t be a wimp. You can go a day without sleep. ” Katriina said, spraying food across the table. Dawn only shrugged in response and ate silently, causing everyone to do the same. They finished their meal and after waiting for the servants to clean up they went into the carriage and left, heading closer to the dungeon. The carriage was silent and Dawn sighed, even if there was little risk of the memories popping up he wanted to distract himself.
“Got a plan for our formation Daniel?”
Daniel looked at Dawn and nodded. “Yeah, I was thinking of having me, you and Katriina in front. Yarla can watch our left and Vanessa can watch our right while Vanessa can watch our backs. Azel and Vezal can be in the middle.”
Vitalia only glared at Daniel, however, “Why should I do that?” She asked, clearly not wanting to.
“Unless you can fight up close, which I bet you can’t due to a lack of melee weapons, you’ll just get killed. And if we don’t have someone watching our backs we could get ambushed.” Daniel said, stating the obvious. Vitalia shrugged and looked out the window, clearly uninterested in Daniel’s plan.
“Hold on,” Yarla said, “I can’t fight! Why am I on the left?!”
“Because you can summon monsters. Right?” Daniel said, drawing everybody’s attention to the boy who hung his head.
“I only have a baby firefox.” He said, clearly ashamed of his lack of variety. Everybody was silent and Dawn shrugged.
“Why don’t you and Katriina fight in the front and I’ll support whoever needs it?” Dawn asked Daniel, who looked at the huge girl who grinned.
“More for me!” She said, smacking her fist into her palm. She laughed and Yarla sighed in relief while Daniel sighed.
“Fine. You’ll be in the middle with Azel and Vezal then.” He said to Dawn, who only nodded.
“Good, what about you Vanessa? What spells can you do?” He asked her, only to get a mumble about ice spikes.
“As long as it’s long-range then that’s fine.” Daniel said, “Now, everybody ok with their positions?”
He got varied responses, from Dawn’s nod to Katriina’s shouting agreement and everything in between. He nodded and with that everybody settled down and tried to relax. Dawn couldn’t however,
“Will that formation work? It sounds good, the problem is how well will we work together?”
Dawn looked at Vitalia who was looking bored, “Will she even try?” He thought to himself. “I hope she does.”
He looked at Vanessa who was currently admiring her shoes, “I wonder if she’s still mad?” The scars on his back started to itch and he shook his head, “Stop, don’t think about her otherwise, the memories will start again.”
Dawn sighed and closed his eyes, he used the silence as an opportunity to rest. After around an hour, the carriage stopped and the driver opened the door.
With those words, everybody got out of the carriage and looked at the entrance of the dungeon.
“Shhheeeiiit, I thought it would be, uuhhh”
“Grander?” Dawn said, finishing Azel’s sentence.
“Yeah! The hell is this bullshit?!” Katriina shouted and pointed at the entrance.
“That bullshit is the dungeon,” Daniel said,
“I thought it would be more ominous,” Yarla said, looking quite confused.
“Who cares? Let’s just go already.” Vitalia said and marched towards the dungeon’s entrance. Dawn and the others just stared at it however, they couldn’t believe what they saw.
The ‘dungeon’ is just a big, square, pile of dirt. It looked as big as a small house with a simple wooden door facing them. No huge pillars, no huge entrance, not even any symbols, there was nothing remotely fancy in sight, except for the two guards that were beside the door holding spears.
“Are we in the right place?” Dawn heard Vanessa say, only to hear a bark of laughter.
“I told you they would have the same reaction! Now, pay up!”
Dawn saw the laughing driver get some money and got suspicious,
“We are in the right place, right?”
The driver nodded,
“Yeah, everybody has the same reaction but he thought you guys would be different for some reason. You might as well get in now.” He said, shooing them away. That irked Dawn but he simply went towards the dungeon’s entrance and stood beside the others who went ahead of him.
“Who wants to go first?” He asked the group.
“ME!” Katriina said, and rushed towards the entrance, only to be stopped by the two guards. One pulled out some parchment and a quill and the other started asking questions.
“Why do I have to answer that?” She asked the guard.
“So we can confirm who entered and their families can continue getting the gold. Name?” The guard repeated.
With that finished the guard let her through and she opened the door, revealing only darkness.
“Now that is ominous,” Azel said, taking a huge drag of his roll. Dawn nodded and saw Katriina hesitate for a second. Dawn saw the guards plug their ears and he did the same,
“Everyone, plug your ears!” He shouted, causing everybody to look at him.
“Why?” He faintly heard Daniel ask him. Before he could answer they heard Katriina bellow and run into the dungeon’s entrance. The door slammed closed behind her with unnatural power, creating a powerful boom and causing everyone who didn’t cover their ears to groan in pain.
“So that’s why,” Daniel said, looking at Dawn. “How did you know to plug your ears?”
“The guards did it.” He said pointing towards them. Dawn heard more clinking behind him and deduced that another bet had just occurred, probably on how many of them would cover their ears.
The group heard Vitalia going next and covered their ears. The door slammed shut again and Dawn sighed.
“I’m going next.” He didn’t want to keep listening to that door close after all.
“I’ll go after you then,” Yarla said. Dawn nodded and stepped towards the entrance and towards the guards.
The guards looked at him, then Daniel, then stared at him.
“What? Is something on my face?” Dawn joked. The guards shrugged and let him pass. Dawn opened the door and looked into the darkness.
“Is there even a floor?” Dawn wondered. “Will I just fall to my death?”
Dawn started to panic a little, “Is that why nobody ever lives? They all fall to death?” Dawn gripped the doorknob harder and started to shake a little.
“Maybe I should go home. I could try to become a general like Dad. I’d make a lot of money that way.”
Dawn was considering that when he was interrupted by a guard.
“Hurry up and go!”
The guard pushed him in and Dawn stumbled inside. The door boomed shut and the light was cut off, leaving Dawn alone in the darkness.
“I can’t see! I can’t see!” Dawn tried to shout, only to hear nothing.
“Oh my god! I’m deaf! The door made me deaf!” Dawn could feel his chest contract trying to push out his voice, yet he couldn’t hear it.
Dawn turned around and flailed around, trying to feel for the door.
“I got to get out of here! Where’s the handle? Where’s the handle?!” Dawn thought, starting to panic.
“I can’t find it! Where?! Where is it?!”
Dawn was sure that the door was right behind him, yet it was gone. No matter how much he flailed his arms he couldn’t find the door.
“It was right here! It was RIGHT HERE!” He thought wildly.
“GUYS! HELP!” Dawn tried to scream only for the darkness to swallow it whole. “KATRIINA! DANIEL! YARLA! AZEL! SOMEONE!”
Nobody answered him, leaving him all alone in the darkness. Dawn started to run, trying to hear or see anything.
“ANYONE, HELP ME!”
Again, the darkness swallowed his words completely like a gluttonous beast. Dawn only continued to run deeper into the darkness, trying to see light or hear his own voice.
"MOM! DAD! CHARLIE! LIZZIE! SOMEONE! ANYONE!"
Dawn felt his throat rapidly get dry but he heard nothing.
Dawn screamed and pulled out his sword. He started swinging wildly, throwing all his training out of the window. He swung his sword as hard as he can and continued to damage his throat, trying to hear his voice. He tripped and fell to the ground, smacking his head onto the cold, hard ground. He lost his grip on his sword and he felt it leave his hands.
Dawn reached out and started to scramble on the ground, looking for his precious sword.
"Where is it?! It has to be in front of me! That's the only direction that makes sense!"
Dawn started to wildly paw at the ground, hoping to find his sword. Dawn felt blood start to drip down his head but he ignored it.
"My sword! My sword!"
Dawn continued to paw at the ground uselessly.
"I can't find it! It's lost!" Dawn thought. He laid down and felt tears sting his eyes.
"Dad's sword. I lost it."
Dawn felt something hanging from his back and slowly touched it. He started to caress his bow only to feel that it had broken during his fall.
"Even my bow is gone?"
Dawn felt his face crumple and the tears start to fall. He threw the useless bow away, laid down on the ground and cried. He cried for all he was worth, feeling his face crumple, tears streak down his face, and his chest shudder with every sob. The darkness, however, swallowed the sight and sounds of Dawn's grief eagerly, letting nothing escape.
“Somebody, anybody, help.” He felt his lips say to the darkness.
Dawn laid there sobbing, robbed of his sight, hearing and weapons he could do nothing but cry and lay on the ground. But even the ground was taken away from him as he felt himself start to fall, throwing his mind and body into chaos.