‘Our home,’ I say, and touch Lorien gently with my finger. A chill goes through me as the Loralite seems to pulse in answer, almost as if it recognizes me.

‘My home,’ Adam says dryly. He points to an area that’s notable only for its complete absence of Loralite, like a void existing in the glowing universe. He frowns. ‘At least your ancestors got the whole forbidding-darkness thing right.’

‘Those aren’t our homes, not anymore,’ Marina says, tracing her fingers across the wall, following the exact trajectory our ship took from Lorien to Earth. ‘This is our home now.’

The Loralite outline of Earth glows much stronger than any other section of the wall. Marina presses her fingers against it and the Loralite crackles and vibrates.

Something below us is moving.

Dust and dirt shake loose from the ceiling, the motes sparkling in the suddenly hypercharged light of the Loralite. I know I shouldn’t be scared – this is a Loric place, it won’t hurt us – but I can’t help backing up to the nearest wall, the Sanctuary suddenly feeling very claustrophobic now that it’s shaking around me. Adam stumbles in next to me, his eyes wide.

With an ancient groan and a grinding of stone, a circular section of the floor at the room’s center rises up. It’s like an altar or a pedestal extending up from the floor. The room stops shaking when the thing has risen to about waist high. This new extension is made from pure Loralite. The slab of plain limestone floor sits atop the Loralite cylinder, almost like a seal holding in whatever might be down below. Cautiously, the three of us approach.

‘It looks like this piece comes off,’ I say, touching the limestone seal, but not yet removing it.

‘It almost looks like a well,’ Adam says, musing. ‘What do you think is down there?’

‘No clue,’ I reply.

‘Look,’ Marina says. ‘The drawings.’

I see them. They’re similar to the cave paintings that Eight showed us back in India, except these are carved directly into the well’s Loralite sides. I have to walk a circle around the well to take all the images in.

Nine silhouettes looming over a planet that looks like Earth, with nine smaller silhouettes standing on the planet below them.

A person – I can’t tell if it’s a male or female – standing in front of a hole in the ground and dumping the contents of a box into the opening.

Nine silhouettes again, this time arranged in front of a castle, fending off something that looks like a tidal wave or maybe a three-headed dragon.

‘More prophecies?’ I ask.

‘Maybe,’ Marina replies. She is paused in front of the carving of the person with the box. ‘Or maybe they’re instructions.’

I stand next to her. ‘Do you think this is the place? Where we, uh, commit our Inheritances to the Earth?’

Marina nods. She sets Eight’s body gently down to the ground, then uses her telekinesis to push the slab of limestone that seals the well aside. It crumbles on to the ground with a huge thud, the old stone instantly breaking apart.

A column of pure blue light flows up from the well, so bright that I have to shield my eyes. It’s like a spotlight. I can feel the warmth from the light deep in my bones.

‘This is …’ Adam trails off, unable to complete his thought. There’s profound amazement in his dark Mogadorian eyes.

Marina kneels down in front of her Chest and opens it up. She cups her hands and removes a handful of Loric gemstones, then drops them into the Sanctuary’s well. They glitter and flash as they slip through her fingers, falling into the light. In response, the whole room seems to get a little brighter. The Loralite veins in the walls pulse stronger.

‘Help me, Six,’ Marina says excitedly.

I grab the pouch of soil from the Chest, open it up and dump the contents down the well. A fragrant, greenhouse-like aroma fills the dusty chamber, and the light grows stronger still. Marina follows the soil with the bundle of dried branches and leaves. In that moment before they leave her hand, while they’re bathed in the light, I could swear the branches look green and alive again. As they drop out of sight, a swirling breeze fills the chamber, cooling us down.

‘It’s working,’ I say, even though I’m not sure what exactly we’re doing. I’m only sure that it feels right.

When we’ve emptied out the Chest of everything else, I pick up the can of Henri’s ashes. Carefully, I remove the lid and empty it into the light. Each of the ashes briefly sparks as they swirl downward into the well. I wish John could’ve been here to see this.

I turn back to Marina, inclining my head gently towards where Eight’s body rests on the ground. ‘Should we …?’

Marina shakes her head, looking down at Eight. ‘I’m not ready yet, Six.’

I take a moment to sweep my gaze over the room, checking to see if anything’s changed. The light from the well is nearly as bright as the sun, but it doesn’t really hurt my eyes anymore. The Loralite veins in the walls pulse with energy. Our Chest is empty and Henri’s ashes have been spread.

‘There’s nothing else to do,’ I say to Marina. ‘It’s time.’

‘The pendants, Six,’ Marina says. ‘We have to give it the pendants.’

‘Hold on,’ Adam says, stepping forward for the first time. He’s been watching all this take place with awe, but Marina’s words snap him back. ‘If you drop those pendants down there, we’ll have no way out of here.’