A promise is fulfilled in death.
The Two Faced Goddess – Erris
Eris didn’t wait to see if they followed; she knew they would. Where else could they go? She trailed her fingers against the tunnel’s black glistening walls – it had been centuries since she had last walked this way.
Already she was regretting the promise she’d made to Sofia. It bound her and constrained her in ways she did not like, but refusing would have jeopardised everything. Why hadn’t Eritrayeaux revealed the truth? She could have. Eris twisted the ring around and around; it seemed looser. Had she missed something? Her skin prickled.
‘Where are you taking us?’ said Ty, his voice leaking tears and breaking into her thoughts.
‘To the only place I know I can keep you safe,’ she said.
She’d have to take them to the place where her power would be strongest so she could do what needed to be done. The tunnel ended in a large cavern and Eris smiled. It was good to be home.
‘Which of the two Goddesses are you?’ said Lieutenant Huxley at her elbow.
‘Eris,’ she said, leading the way, aware that the Lieutenant was dangerous. She would have to be careful. As they passed torches sprung alight with a whoosh and a roar. Shadows flickered and fluttered revealing the strange and grotesque statues lining the path, moving in the half light.
‘Why did Sofia die?’ said the Prince.
‘It was time for her to fulfil her promise,’ said Eris, increasing her pace.
‘The door could not be opened any other way?’
‘No. The key must be someone willing to give up their life for the Door to open.’ Why hadn’t Eritrayeaux told Sofia the truth? They had reached a flight of stairs that stretched up and up. Eris began to climb.
‘Because those are the rules.’
‘This is the safe place?’ said the Prince, staring at the sarcophagus in the centre of the platform they had found at the top of the stairs.
‘Yes,’ she said.
‘But it’s a tomb!’
‘Whose is it?’
‘Mine,’ she said, as they gathered round. She pushed against the heavy stone lid and it slid off, crashing to the ground where it shattered with a thunderous roar. ‘Look at what they did to me!’
They all stared at the mummified body of the Two Faced Goddess, clothed in rotting armour, bound in manacles and chains.
‘Who did this to you?’
‘My sister,’ she said, anger and pain evident in the trembling of her body, ‘Somehow Eritrayeaux severed our connection, and while I was sleeping betrayed me. I was drugged, bound and buried alive, my rings stolen from me!’
‘Eritrayeux gave up her life to seal the Door shut until someone willingly died to open it again. But in death I found freedom,’ she said, baring her teeth in a mocking smile. ‘And I have waited a long time for my revenge.’
‘You promised to keep us safe!’ cried Ana.
‘Yes, I did, didn’t I. I am honour bound to keep my word, although it will probably not be in the way Sofia envisioned. Still you will be safe for all eternity.’
‘I can’t move!’
‘What have you done?’
‘You will be safe,’ said Erris, ‘This is where my power is strongest. No harm will come to you here. And soon my General, the Grievous One, will return to me the nine rings of power, and your brother too, Prince. To think my sister was foolish enough to believe that scattering the rings throughout this world would be enough. She should have destroyed them instead.’
‘What do you want with my brother and I?’
Erris smiled, ‘You can ponder that as your flesh turns to stone…’
‘And tell me, Goddess,’ cried out a voice from below, ‘Why would I give you the rings, when it was you who destroyed all that was dear to me? I have never forgotten the darkness that devastated everything and the convenient Dark Lord that came after. I thought…but all the time, it was you!’