A Trip To Galacia
“You should get it!” Carol beamed.
Binta’s lips curved into a sheepish grin. “I don’t know; I don’t really need it.” She twirled the metallic orb in between her fingers, feeling the intricate pattern carved on the body. She ran her thumb over the jewel attached to the top of the orb and released a heavy breath.
“You clearly want it,” Carol pushed.
“You’re supposed to talk me out of it,” Binta chuckled.
“That fact that you even expect that from me shows how little you know me,” Carol said, feigning disappointment.
Binta raised her hands dramatically in surrender. “Alright, I’ll get it.”
“Good,” Carol straightened, clearly proud that she had just guilted her best friend into an impulse purchase.
. . . .
A couple of moments later, Binta stepped out of the antique store with the silver metallic orb in her palm. “I can’t believe you made me buy this.”
“Hey.” Carol turned to Binta. “No buyer’s remorse, alright?”
Binta nodded wordlessly with a shy smile.
“I know you’re trying to save up right now, but this was a small purchase. Every now and then, you need to indulge yourself. Think of it as self-care.”
“I’ll place it on my desk and cherish it,” Binta said.
Carol’s phone buzzed, and she pulled it out of her pocket and unlocked it. “I need to go, but I’ll see you tonight, yeah?”
Binta nodded. “Don’t be late.”
“You know I will,” Carol said and walked away.
Binta looked down at the orb, watching the sunlight reflecting on the sapphire jewel. She ran her thumb over the jewel and heard a click. I broke it. She panicked and began examining the orb. To her surprise, she didn’t find any cracks or broken parts, but the jewel had dug slightly into the top of the orb. She furrowed the eyebrows and pressed on the jewel. It dug deeper into the orb, and this time Binta heard the delicate turning of cogs and gears. Then, the metal on the orb peeled and fell away like a shell, leaving a dazzling, royal blue gemstone in Binta’s palms.
Beams of light shot out of the jewel and blinded Binta, forcing her to close her eyes and turn away. When she opened her eyes, she was no longer on the pavement by the antique store. Towering crystals jutting out of the floor replaced the cityscape surrounding, and the pavement and street below were replaced by black dirt. Binta looked around, her eyebrows furrowing and her jaw falling as a metallic scent filled her nostrils. Where am I?
“Hey!” a voice called, and Binta turned to see a figure stepping out of a distant crystal. “That’s mine,” he bellowed.
“What?” Binta asked, surprised.
The figure pulled out a crystal dagger. “It’s mine!” it yelled, its voice sounding more mystical with each word.
Fear surged through Binta’s mind like lightning striking a dead tree. She tossed the gem at the figure and darted the other way with all her might. As she bolted past various structures, a powerful hand reached out from a nearby crystal and pulled her off her path. Before she could yell, a palm fell over her mouth, silencing her, and her eyes fell on a man who gestured to her to be quiet. The man had dark hair, and his lips were pressed into a hard line. He wore dark robes that hugged his chiselled figure, and a crystal dagger was fastened to his belt.
Binta’s eyes widened, but she swallowed her protest and nodded slightly. The figure zipped past them, and the man slowly took his hand off Binta’s mouth.
“What—” Binta’s started.
“Where did you find the regaruz crystal?” the man interrupted, his voice deep.
“I...I bought it from the a...antique store,” Binta stuttered.
Before Binta could respond, a distant explosion lit up the mauve sky made the air shiver.
“We need to get the crystal to the sky tower,” the man said.
“What are you talking about?” Binta demanded, her voice shaking. “Where are we? What is happening?”
The man released a heavy breath. “I don’t have time for this. Give me the crystal.”
“I threw it away,” Binta said.
The man reached into Binta’s pocket and pulled out the shimmering sapphire gemstone. “Don’t lie to me.”
The man turned and walked out of the crystal structure, leaving Binta alone.
Another explosion rang through the air, and panic filled Binta’s senses. She darted after the man. “Wait! How do I get back?”
“Not my problem,” the man retorted. He suddenly stopped in his tracks and turned around. His palm was empty; the crystal was nowhere to be seen. “What?” The man stared at his palm with narrowing eyes.
Binta felt a lump in her pocket. She reached in and pulled out the crystal that had miraculously found its way back in her possession again.
The man’s eyes fell on the crystal, and he marched towards Binta and reached for it.
Binta retreated her hand and stepped back. “Tell me how to get back. Then I’ll give you the crystal.”
“Don’t play games.”
“I’m not playing! If you want my crystal, I need something in return.”
The man grunted. “If you want to get back, I need to place that crystal in the sky tower.”
“Where am I?”
“You’re in Galacia, and we’re in the middle of a war.”
“What is this crystal?”
“It’s a fragment of our power core. It needs to be whole so that we can reactivate our celestial force field and keep the venetrans at bay.”
“I have so many follow-up questions.”
The man reached out and snatched the crystal from Binta. “Save them. I don’t have the time to explain everythi—”
An explosion filled the air, knocking Binta and the man off their feet. Binta drew a sharp breath and pushed herself up on her elbows. Before her, a towering creature stood. Its body was covered in brown scales, and horns jutted out of its nose and elbows. The creature lunged forward and swiped at Binta with its talons, but the man stepped into the path with lightning speed. He pulled out the crystal dagger from his belt and blocked the swipe. Before the creature could react, the man leapt and pushed his blade into the red eye of the creature. The creature shrieked with a deafening roar, and the man charged on. He pulled out another dagger from his belt and jammed it into the creature’s other eye. The creature instantly froze and crashed onto the floor, motionless.
“What is that?” Binta gasped.
The man knelt and pulled out his daggers from the creature’s eyes, leaving trails of green blood oozing onto the floor. “A venetran.” The man stood up, sheathed his blades and extended his hand towards Binta. “Do you want to come with me to the sky tower, or do you want to stay here and wait for another venetran.”
Binta grabbed his hand and stood up. She swallowed a lump in her throat. “Let’s go.”
. . . .
They ran across the war zone and reached a massive crystalline structure that sat at the edge of a cliff overlooking a violet shore.
“Is that the sky tower?” Binta panted.
The man nodded.
Binta looked up at the structure, searching for the top, but the tower continued beyond the clouds. “That’s high.”
“Let’s go,” the man said, extending his hand to Binta and pulling her through the crystal walls of the tower.
The inside of the tower consisted of a wide hollow chamber that continued upward infinitely. Binta looked about for a staircase or an elevator but found nothing. The chamber was entirely empty. “How do we get to the top?”
“Stand your ground,” the man said and knelt. He touched the floor, and with a jerk, the ground started moving upwards.
Binta stumbled and reached for the man. She grabbed his arm, regaining her balance. “I’m sorry,” she spat, “I have terrible balance.”
“Then, hold on tight,” the man said.
As the floor kept shooting up, silence enveloped the duo.
“Who are you?” Binta asked, her voice echoing off the crystal walls.
“I’m the Galacian commander.” the man said, his gaze fixed away from Binta. “You can call me Erlathan.”
“You’re human, right?”
“I am glalcian.”
“Where is Gala..cien?” Binta asked, biting her lip in embarrassment.
“Galalcia,” Erlathan corrected her, “it falls just outside of your galaxy.”
Binta took a deep breath, questioning her reality. “How did the crystal get to earth?”
“We believe a venetran took it there so that they could invade our planet. Thankfully, the crystal can warp space. So, when you activated it, it came back to its planet of origin.”
“I travelled through space?” Binta’s eyes widened.
Binta broke into laughter and fell to the floor.
“What’s funny?” Erlathan asked.
“This is a dream,” Binta chuckled. “My medicines have never given me hallucinations, but hey, there’s a first time for everything.”
“I hate humans,” Erlathan muttered to himself.
Soon, the floor stopped moving, and they arrived in a wide, circular room that seemed to be made entirely of glass. In the middle of the room, a massive sapphire orb was floating in the air, emitting streams of warm blue energy in every direction. Around the sphere were two venetrans.
In the blink of an eye, screams of pain filled the air as Erlathan darted forward and killed both the creatures by stabbing them in the eyes. Binta was about to walk towards the orb, but a crystal suddenly grew around her, imprisoning her in place. Through her translucent cage, she looked towards Erlathan, and her blood ran cold. He was no longer standing in between two dead venetrans. He was on his knees with his hand around his neck, gasping for air. Next to him, a slender venetran stood. It was taller than any other venetran that Binta had seen and looked more menacing with the scales on its mouth, forming jagged teeth.
“Here to die Erlathan?” the creature hissed in a gravelly voice.
“Galacia will survive,” Erlathan choked. His eyes fixed on Binta. “We still have hope.”
Binta’s crippling fear held her back, but a voice inside her screamed for her to charge forward and rescue Erlathan. She wanted to help, but she was powerless. If a warrior as skilled as Erlathan couldn’t fight the beast, she stood no chance. She watched the life slowly slip from Erlathan’s body. With trembling hands, she reached for the crystal, and something odd happened. The crystal was glowing brighter than it had ever shone before. Binta fixed her sight on the massive orb behind Erlathan and drew a deep breath. The creature doesn’t know I’m here. I have to do this.
She reached out, and her hand phased through the crystal prison. She stepped out of the cage and hurled the jewel towards the massive orb. The sapphire jewel soared through the sky, but before it could reach the core, a scale-covered hand reached up and caught the jewel.
“NO!” Binta screamed, and the creature turned towards her.
Instantly another scream filled the air as Erlathan stood up and cut off the arm of the creature with a crystal spear he’d summoned. The creature’s arm immediately grew back, and it lunged towards Binta, but Erlathan raised a crystal shield in the creature’s path. As the creature slammed against the wall, Erlathan charged forward and impaled the creature through its eye. “Get the crystal,” he bellowed.
Ignoring her shivering knees, Binta charged forward. She dashed across Erlathan’s battle and stopped by the decapitated arm. With trembling fingers, she reached down and tried to pry the crystal free, but the fingers were clenched tight. Looking around, she picked up one of Erlathan’s discarded crystal daggers. She braced herself and cut the crystal out as she held back the bile crawled up her throat. She turned, and another venetran lunged at her, but it was quickly cut down by Erlathan’s spear. Soon, dozens of venetrans filled the room.
Erlathan grunted and touched the floor. Crystal spikes shot out of the ground and impaled some of the creatures in their places. The remaining venetrans filling the room overwhelmed Erlathan. One of them swiped at him, slashing him across the thigh as another got him across the back. He grunted and spun, slicing down the creatures with crystal swords that had appeared in his hands. He panted as he summed more crystal structures to stop the creatures’ advance. “The orb! Go!” he shouted, snapping Binta out of her thoughts.
Binta gulped and reached for the orb. As a sea of venetrans flooded the chamber, Binta touched the sapphire jewel to the orb.
A pulse of power exploded out of the orb, incinerating every venetran. It was followed by a dazzling shine that forced Binta to close her eyes. When she opened her eyes, she was no longer in the sky tower. She was lying on the street outside the antique store, and a crowd had gathered around her.
“Are you alright?” a man kneeling by her asked. “I’ve called 911. They’ll be here soon.”
Binta nodded and sat up slowly. It was a hallucination. I need to get my meds changed. She looked down at her hand, and her worldview crumbled like dead leaves. Clutched in her palm, in place of the orb that she had bought from the antique store, was a shimmering crystal dagger.