|Series||Fable: The Return by Scorponix|
|← Chapter 8||Chapter Chronology||Chapter 10 →|
Darkness surrounds the king on his journey through the ancient caves under the Guild of Heroes.
It is dark, so very dark, darker than the king has ever seen. Darker even than when the Crawler flooded the king's eyes and mind with corruption, darker than his journey through the desert of Aurora. He hand't expected to land in water, he had braced for a hard landing on stone, maybe even some stalagmites. But no, he landed in the coldest water he has ever felt. The king has just stumbled upon water that has been flowing under the earth for centuries before the Guild even existed, it was old, and freezing. He was now far underground, possibly farther than any man has been for a very long time.
The water was refreshing, but still it was uncomfortably cold. He quickly flopped himself out of the water onto the first piece of ground he could find within the darkness. He crawls up onto the rocky shore of this underground lake. The king stands on the stone surface and tries to feel for the wind again, he feels it better this time due to the water clinging to his body. The wind chills him down to his bones as he walks through the darkness, following the gentle breeze of air.
The king's old legs do their best to lead him through the depths of the world, they ache and they groan as he pushes them further onward. It isn't long before he starts to feel as if he is walking in circles, the wind changes somehow, driving him around the cavern over and over again. The king eventually decides to find a spot where the breeze is coming from and he forces himself to walk straight in that direction. He feels the cavern close in around him…he has walked into a cave.
The true smell of the underground returns to the king's nostrils, the walls of the earth have truly closed in on him. He walks down this winding cave not knowing where it will go or what he will find. The air has become warmer with the walls closing in, the smell has gotten thicker. At one point, the king could swear he heard a familiar noise echoing from deep within the cave, but he shrugged it off almost immediately.
As the king walks through the dark, he hears it again, this time he is sure of what he hears. He has heard the all too familiar sound of a snore. But not just any snore, the snoring of a Hobbe. Hobbes have always been a thorn in his side, the vile creatures of the underground who feast on whatever they can get. Old legends told that hobbes would steal children and torment their minds, slowly turning them into the same disturbing creatures. His father once told him about the cave in Rookridge, where he heard the cries of a boy turn into the violent howls of a hobbe.
This noise disturbed the king greatly, knowing that hobbes are daily awoken. What disturbed him more was the fact that he had no weapons and no other means of fighting. If it came to a fight, the king would have to use his own strength. The noise of one single hobbe snoring grew louder until he was standing next to the sleeping creature of the earth. He listened as the hobbe slapped the inside of its throat together with its deep and high pitched breathes. He thinks, wondering what move to make from here. He could try and walk away silently, he could fight the monster, he could find something to clog its throat so it would choke. Before he could find an answer, the snoring stopped.
The loud noise of a sleeping hobbe was suddenly replaced with that of an angry hobbe. The king heard it leap up to its feet and bark as hobbes normally do. The king acted fast, knocking the creature down and holding its head back. He threw a punch onto its face and continued striking. The hobbe fought back and bit down on his hand. Again, the king struck but this time wrapped his hands around the hobbe's throat.
"I'm sorry about this, I am." The king gripped tightly and felt as the hobbe's life slowly slipped away under his fingers. He had no other choice, the entire colony of hobbes has probably been awoken by the sounds of this fight. He had to act fast. He felt the last breath slide through the distorted lips of the hobbe and he let go. The king stood once more and began walking, that is until light blinded him.
His world turned to grey and time itself froze around him. Light filled his eyes and it blinded him momentarily. When he finally recovered, he recognized a familiar figure standing before him. "Hello, Hero."