The old man watched him go. He had misjudged the youth’s tenacity for the lie, and that was unfortunate. He got up and moved quickly between the youth and the door. To let him go would mean losing this store-house of knowledge, and that the old man could not bear.
“Wait please, young-one. You cannot leave; there are many things, precious things here: recipes for our weapons that can help us win against our enemies!”
“There is no ‘we’, Heretic,” the words fell out of Roob’s mouth as though dripping from a serpent’s fang. The old man recoiled, moving back towards the door. He fell to his knees before Roob.
“Please then! I beg of you! Tell no one of this place! They will rape its knowledge, forbid it from the public. There are others who would use it for the betterment of all! Please young one!”
The weight of the knife felt heavy in Roob’s hands, and he was preoccupied with its presence, more so than with what the old man was saying. No suitable Rain-Keeper would beg. They would be taken outside, chained to the ground, and left for the Rain; and they would suffer it all with dignity. Hatred filled him, hatred without reason, hatred without boundaries. How dare this being beg. How dare he promise him absolution and deliver him only heresy. How dare he promise truth and deliver only lies. The force of Roob’s heritage dictated the only thing that could be done in this situation. In a flash of movement driven by reflexes that were honed by years of avoiding the Rain, Roob’s arm drove forward, knife coruscating in the lame light of the fire. The old man’s eye popped quietly, blood drooling down his face as the knife slid quickly into his skull. The former Rain-Keeper died instantly.
Roob stepped back. It was not murder that weighed on his soul. All his life, Roob had been familiar with murder. But something weighed on his soul, and it was something Roob could not identify. It was an emptiness of the self, and once again Roob felt disoriented. He stumbled towards the door, sheathing his knife without cleaning it, and opened it. He stepped out into the larger Barrow, forgetting the door, seeing only the passageway ahead of him. He forced himself to walk, to take step after step, to climb up towards the roof of this place; towards the exit to the cavern. He realized when he got to the lightning passage that he had forgotten his lantern. It was of no matter. The path did not branch, it did not deviate. Roob crawled into the narrow, crimson passage. He navigated the corners, felt along the uncut, glassy walls. Always pushing forward, struggling through the narrowed sections, pressing himself against the wall as though he could draw strength from it, draw in comfort. But the wall remained cold, congealed remnants of a lost age… the words came without prompting into his mind and he struggled forward harder. Drowning out his thoughts by focusing on the passage, burying what he had learned under the toils of the flesh and the scraping of the rock.