The Crystal Bridge

Chapter 17 - Room of Silent Tears

Aren walked in dim silence as Dveldor sang and hummed bits of music to the walls of the cavern. The sound filled the small space and reverberated down side tunnels they passed.

Aren sensed that the Dwaro could see using this sound, like a bat or a submarine. His tiny lantern didn’t give off much light and she’d hit her head more than once on the low ceiling. They’d been following the winding labyrinth of tunnels in near darkness for hours. De­spite the warmth of Dveldor’s hand in her own and the lifting song, she felt alone and lost.

She stepped on a pebble and stumbled, catching at Dveldor to keep from falling. His strength surprised her, a grip like steel and arms like stone. She would’ve guessed her weight would topple them both, but the Dwaro held her up without so much as a grunt.

She fought tears, refusing to let them fall. She’d burnt through too much adrenaline today, too fast. She knew she couldn’t last much longer. Too much fear, excitement, amazement, and sadness had blown through her body in just a matter of hours. Her legs shook with fatigue as she continued shuffling along beside Dveldor.

Aren thought of her soft bed, not miles away, but in another universe, across endless space, past countless stars, planets, even galaxies all spinning through the night. I am so small, just a speck of nothingness. She pushed that mad thought away. She’d finally given up on the idea that she could just wake up, drooling on her desk or lying in her bed, hours ago. This is not a dream, and I’m in some deep trouble here.

The small furry man patted her hand and made cooing sounds of comfort, seeming to sense her inner turmoil.

Aren closed her eyes and let thoughts of her home slip away. “How much farther, Dveldor? I can’t do this much longer.” She squinted down a branching tunnel to her right, but the suffocating blackness swallowed everything beyond a few feet.

“Almost Aren. I turn up lantern for you.” The thin beam of light grew and filled the space around them, chasing away the darkness that had clung to her.

Aren frowned. “You could’ve done that any time, Dveldor?”

“Sorry Aren. I forgot humans not see like us.”

“It’s okay; I can’t believe I didn’t ask until now.” She laughed and found herself unable to stop once she’d unleashed the cra­ziness that bubbled inside her. The laughter flowed from her for several minutes, racking her body with convulsions and robbing her breath.

If she stopped, she’d start crying. Dveldor laughed with her. Of course he’s a bit crazy right now too. He’s been nervous and afraid too. They leaned against one another, their laughter bouncing off the crystalline ceiling formations, until both gasped for air.

Dveldor grinned at her when their breathing settled. “Better?”

Aren’s eyes twinkled in the light of the lantern. “Yes, very much better. Let’s go. Whoa!” She gasped as she saw the cavern around her in full illumina­tion.

The walls glittered with streaks of silver, gold, and sparkling gemstones, all embedded in swirling patterns that drew her eyes up and down in endless spirals, runes, and pictures. Crystals hung from the ceiling, catching the light of the lantern and shattering it into a thousand glimmering sparks of every color. Rainbows danced along the walls and Aren felt that nothing had ever been beautiful before.

She’d seen the Grand Canyon, the sandstone cliffs of Zion, the delicate stalactites of Carlsbad, the roaring waters of Niagara, but those were all nothing compared to the home of the Dwaros. Every ridge of stone balanced with the sur­roundings. Sandstone, limestone, and granite swirled together as though they belonged side by side. Polished crystals shivered and hummed with the residue of their laughter and delicate stone lace draped down from the ceiling streaked with blue and white veins of shiny minerals.

The floor looked like glass, smooth and polished. She bent and ran a hand across the surface, realizing that it was glass, sheets of shining obsidian pieced together so the seams were invisible in the dim light. Her hand ran along the warm surface without much friction.

Aren’s knees quivered from the overwhelming beauty around her. “Wow, Dveldor. The trip wouldn’t have felt so long if I’d been able to see this the whole time.”


An hour or so of more walking made the beauty less striking. Her neck ached. Aren had to walk with her head tilted at an awkward angle to avoid hanging stone lacework. The glittering caverns closed in on her from all sides, built for bodies much smaller than her human frame.

She imagined a larger person would struggle even more, bent over, half crawling along behind her. The image morphed into Kaden and she laughed and choked at the idea.

Dveldor looked up at her questioning, but said nothing.

“I’m fine. Do these caves of yours get any bigger though?”

“Ah. Just ahead is a place you can stand tall again. Then the tunnels get bigger as we draw closer to the Petro Gates.”

Now that he mentioned it, Aren felt cool air flowing over them. The small lantern failed to illuminate that far ahead, but she heard the sound of their footfalls echoing in the larger chamber ahead. She could also taste mois­ture rolling toward her, sweet and metallic.

Aren sped her pace and stumbled into the chamber before Dveldor. She stood up, stretching and cracking her neck and back as she blinked into the darkness. She stopped mid-stretch as Dveldor’s tiny lantern came into the room.

“Wow!” The walls shimmered and waved like blown silk. It reminded her of the waves she’d seen just before Kaden had dragged them through the wormhole. Could it be? Am I going home? Kaden?

Aren held her breath, waiting for the dark hole to appear and take her away, but the movement of the walls continued and no scary doorway materialized. Her breath came out in a long sigh. I’m still lost.

She stood in a rounded room with a high ceiling, a perfect dome of deep blue crystal. Water entered from a thumb sized hole at the crown of the room and rolled along the surface, pooling in a cres­cent around half the room. Aren stood transfixed as the walls danced with life around her.

The lack of sound felt strange. Aren didn’t hear a single burble or trickle of water. The carvings in the blue crystal caught the liquid, swirling and carrying it in careful patterns until depositing the precious water into the silent pool. The light from the lantern reflected and refracted through the chamber, surrounding them in blue light that swam with the movement of the water.

“It’s beautiful.” Aren’s voice in the silence startled herself.

Dveldor smiled up at her and began to sing. The melody grew from a whisper, the music flowing and pooling like the water as it filled the cavern and reverberated off the dome walls.

Aren closed her eyes as the images and ideas that came with Dveldor’s language engulfed her. Shimmering blue tones rolled through her senses along with the tang of minerals gathered over cen­turies in the mysterious underground tunnels. Delicate liquid spirals appeared and then sank back into the darkness to continue their long journey through the shadows.

The song ended and the sound dissipated to a hum, like the sound of a bell after it tolled. Aren dared not speak and disrupt the spell.

Dveldor had no problem interrupting the last ringing sound. “The Room of Silent Tears.” The English rang hollow after the fullness of his song. “No human has been here in hundreds of years. You are very lucky.”

“Yes, I believe I am.”

Tip: You can use left, right, A and D keyboard keys to browse between chapters.