Puzzles and Farewells

“There’s only a few minutes left,” Joey said. I could tell he was trying to keep his voice calm, but some panic leaked through.

“We’ve almost got it,” I said. I was focusing my energy on the tangled knot of mana-weaving to the left of the gateway. Whoever had constructed this must have been a genius or entirely schizoid. Possibly both. Almost had it, right. No reason to cause alarm. It wouldn’t help to breath the others’ concentration.

“Done!” Alfred called from across the chamber. His voice echoed oddly off the strange configurations of stone that made up the walls. “Holding it open.”

I gritted my teeth. Bastard beat me again. Well, fine. I always worked better under pressure.

“Done!” I shouted as the last of the tangles fell away. At the center was a standard mana lock which opened at my first probing. There were still two more such ‘puzzles’ at the other end of the room. Mendel and Poem were on those. I had to trust them. Asking them their progress wouldn’t help anyone.

But our time was running out. Through the opening far above, I could see the full moon slipping away. The gateway could only be opened in the full moon’s light. And it had to align perfectly. If we failed here…

“Done!” came two voices, virtually at the same time. There was no need to announce it. As all four locks opened, the gateway roared into life. The air rippled and heaved with the energy pouring through it.

The five us approached it. So much work to get here. And now…

“There’s no time for long goodbyes,” Alfred said. His face was stiff, which meant he was holding everything in. But he was right.

“We’ll see each other again, some day,” Poem said softly. “Somehow.”

I wanted to hug them both so badly. To spend hours more with my good friends. It was far too late for that, though. The gate was opened, and they needed to go home.

I nodded to them each as tears blurred my eyes. Then they stepped through. A few seconds later, the moon passed from overhead and the portal shut for another hundred years.

“Goodbye, my friends,” I whispered into the dark.