When I walked back into the other chamber I noticed that it now had another doorway. This place was spooky; doors and halls don't just appear out of solid stone, but I saw no other way. After walking down a long and decidedly not straight hallway, I entered another chamber far larger than any chamber I had seen so far. When I saw the stone altar with the orb hanging over it, I knew it had to be the same chamber where my friends had brought me that first night. The large stone block was in the center of the cavern. It was about three feet high, four or five feet wide and nine or ten feet long. Above it, a big stone ball hung, suspended from nothing I could see. If it was a plastic ball filled with air, I might be able to get my arms around it enough to hold it - any bigger and I might not, no matter how light it was. It wasn't glowing now though, so I could get a good look at it. Made of rough-cut stone, it looked very heavy and hung entirely too close to that stone altar. I had lain on that altar for a time - I just knew it. Standing on the other side of it were my three friends and Durmas. They didn't notice me until I was on their side of that stone block.
Brom was the only one who happened to be facing me, so he saw me first. "Liam," he called. He strode forward to make some sort of familiar greeting, but when he got closer, he suddenly held back. "I'm glad to see you."
These guys, my best friends, they brought me to this place where all these strange things were done to me. Could I call them my friends anymore? "Brom, I hear that y'all were waiting for me."
"We wanted to be here for you. The Master just told us that you want to go home. Why?"
I offered them the same reason I had come up with before. "My parents must be worried." I was confident it was true, but mostly I just wanted to escape this place.
Brom looked down at the floor. "Yes, your family is...different."
Why was he acting so strangely? Oh well, I was more than a little pissed at them just now, so as far as I was concerned, they could stew for a while.
We all headed down another winding stone hall. Someone had spent a lot of time carving these halls out of this stone. Durmas led the way; Brom, Lagge and Carm followed me, and the suddenly we were outside. I didn't realize it at first. At first, I thought we had been struck by lightning. With a cry of pain, I threw myself back against whoever was directly behind me with my arm thrown over my face. I thought that if I could knock them all down, they might survive the strike. I figured Durmas was already a goner.
Carm was the first to recover. I was sprawled on the ground with someone's feet under me.
"Liam, Liam; are you all right? What happened?" Carm's voice was full of concern and he was pulling at my arm.
I just knew I had to be a scorched cinder, so you will for give me if I huddled there for a few seconds longer. As soon as I realized that, aside from the discomfort of having someone's boots under my ribs and a dull ache in one of my elbows, I wasn't in any real pain, I slowly lowered my arm and looked around. Everyone was looking at me. It was Brom's feet I pinned down, so he was the only one who wasn't standing. Looking beyond them, I saw sunlight and green bushes and I heard birds singing nearby. There had been no lightning strike. I felt like such a fool.
"I'm sorry, Liam," said Durmas in his infuriatingly calm voice. "I should have warned you that we were about to go outside."
My eyes were aching in the bright light and I reached up to rub them. I didn't rub them very hard; they felt bruised. I clambered to my feet feeling like a complete idiot and noticed that both Lagge and Carm had bloody noses. They must have banged their heads somehow when I knocked them down. "Are you guys okay?" I asked.
"We'll be alright," said Lagge. "You just swept us down. I've never seen anything like that before. You really are magic."
"The light was so bright; I thought we had been struck by lightning." It was true, but out loud, it sounded lame to me.
Durmas just frowned and pulled me to walk closer to him as we headed out of the small valley. What Lagge had said bothered me. I'd pushed them down. I wanted to save them - and myself. So why did Lagge sound so awed that I'd done it? It didn't have anything to do with magic.