Barrett was sure he wouldn’t be an inheritor of the wind mage’s legacy. Sure, he’d passed the trials… but if that was all that mattered then everyone would just go straight in. Expecting to be chosen as some sort of apology for the tornado trying to kill him a couple times was a bit much, and he hadn’t really shown any qualities he wanted in a wind mage.
Stepping through the door, he saw exactly what was promised- two doorways. One of them led to the exit- probably the open one. The wind mage’s voice echoed around him. “You have not been chosen to receive my legacy. Remember that my protection will not extend out of this area.”
Barrett nodded. At least the warning implied that Victoria hadn’t been chosen either. Maybe that was just wishful thinking. Barrett walked towards the door, just a few steps away. Then the ground fell out from underneath him.
Alnherr watched Barrett step through the door. A few moments later, there was a loud rumbling and crashing noise… then nothing. It had only taken ten seconds or so for the first person to go through, but it was more than a minute before the one after Barrett went in. Had something gone wrong? It didn’t happen with any of the next dozen people. He shook his head. That kid probably wouldn’t die even if the whole world collapsed on him.
Barrett found himself falling… and falling. He couldn’t see the bottom of the pit- or anything, now. His light had gone. He did his best to fall slowly, flattening out to increase drag. Then he hit a slope and started bouncing and rolling down a steep tunnel. It was unpleasant, but it slowed him down. As he rolled down he finally saw a light source up ahead. He rolled into a moderately sized chamber- not a cave, but a place with smoothly worked stone. His momentum carried him to approximately the center of the room. Barrett looked around, seeing only strange markings on the walls and not much else. He stood up and brushed himself off- though that was purely a gesture of intent. He was covered in bits of rock and dirt still.
The deep, rumbling voice he’d heard briefly before echoed out of the walls and floor, causing them to undulate. “Welcome!”
“Umm… hello.” Barrett nodded at the place in general. “What is this place?”
The walls and floor moved as if they were the ones doing the talking, visibly deforming as the voice spoke, “This is the chamber of my legacy. Untold years ago, I fell in battle with my rival. My remnant spirit carved my entire knowledge of earth magic into the walls of this chamber, lest it be forgotten.”
Barrett carefully walked closer to the walls, but only saw very faint traces of any sort of writing. “It must have been quite a bit of knowledge…”
“It was…” the walls creaked and groaned in a sigh, “I am certain of it… but I don’t remember any of it. I don’t even remember my own name, or that of my rival. As you can see, even the rocks have eroded with time. Not that you would have been able to read it anyway. I have heard people speak above the ground, over the years… and speech has changed much.”
“I see,” Barrett nodded, “Why did you choose to bring me here, in particular? I believe there are some earth mages among the candidates.”
“It’s because…” the walls warped outward then back in, “Because you called him a stupid tornado!” The chamber rumbled with laughter, chunks of the ceiling falling off. “Besides, there’s no knowledge left here anyway. It doesn’t matter that you’re not much of an earth mage.”
That was somewhat disappointing to hear from the earth itself, but Barrett supposed that someone who could rival the person who created the Tornado Plains would have high standards. “I see. So you just want someone to remember you, then?”
“That would be something! Though I barely even remember myself these days. All I know is that guy has a nearly complete legacy left. I have to give what I have…” The floor tore apart beneath Barrett, trying to pull him in two directions. He picked one side, and moved along with the floor. The shifting floor had sloped away and left a fist sized box visible at the bottom of the new valley. “Go ahead and open it.”
Barrett slid down and opened the small box. In it was a shrivelled fruit that might have once looked like a peach. “Should I eat it?”
“Are you joking? That fruit is so old, I don’t even remember what it’s called! No, it will do no good to eat it now. Plant it! Somewhere with good soil and plenty of mana to feed on. Then it will grow into something amazing!”
“Oh, what will it be?”
“A tree! Or was it a bush? Whatever those fruit grow on… Once it produces fruit… then you can eat them.” The walls and floor sagged, “Well… good luck… on your… journey.”
The light around Barrett faded, and he was left with just a box in his hand. He carefully put the fruit back in it, and then that in his storage bag. Now he just had to find that tunnel… He walked in the direction he thought it had been and fumbled around to find it.
Then he began the climb back out. At first the tunnel was just steeply sloped, which was fairly easy to climb even in the dark. It just took a bit of patience and fumbling around. Nothing was trying to stop him. Barrett did have some torches he could light, but they would take up a hand and use up the air which was already pretty stale. Climbing in the dark was much better than climbing without air.
Nothing was pushing against him or dragging him down, which meant it was just a matter of finding handholds. For the vertical section he was having trouble finding places to put his hands and feet… so he just started digging into the rock and making his own handholds. Like that, he went hand over hand until he reached the top. It still took perhaps half an hour, though he could have done it much faster if he could see- or if he felt a sense of urgency. Then his hand hit something above him. His energy senses weren’t quite tuned for finding handholds for climbing, instead mostly feeling a wall… but they were good enough to know that what was above him was the floor he had fallen through, apparently repaired. He knocked on it. “Hello?”