Disclaimer: I do not own or lay claim to any Smallville characters.

Decadence

Prologue

Being the closer of the two, Chloe received the worst of the explosion.

A brilliant, blinding, resplendent blast of light exploded through the cave with energy so fierce that it shook the walls as it flared outwards in all directions. Instinctively, Chloe's arms flew up to shield her face as she was swept clear off her feet and into the rough wall behind her. There she was pinned, her feet dangling into nothingness, for a fraction of a second— the light, like the gust of a hurricane, holding her chest; the jagged, ancient wall supporting her back. Her right hand was out the furthest, still attempting to protect her vulnerable face. It felt like the light were searing her palm, burning it as if a torch were being applied to the skin.

A torch. How ironic.

When the infinitesimal yet infinite moment ended, the light receded and Chloe was dropped like a rag doll onto the ground. Her forehead came into contact with solid rock, and with a sharp crack she was out cold.

Letting out a groan, she squinted one eye open into a slit and found consciousness swimming in and out of focus before her. All she could see was the uninteresting, coarse ground stretching out around her. Aching consumed her entire body, but mostly her head, which pounded like the tireless beat of an advancing army's footsteps. Deciding that it wouldn't be very productive to lie there all day, she rolled over and sat up, placing a hand to her forehead and discovering a steam of crimson blood flowing from a deep gash.

That's good. It'll accessorize nicely with my red purse.

But it wasn't the time for pointless sarcasm, she realized as she stood up, spotting an unconscious Lex Luthor sprawled out in a far corner. Dimly aware of a continuous pain in her hand, Chloe turned over her right palm for a closer examination. Her lungs momentarily constricted as she stared, wide-eyed, at her branded palm. Burned into her raw red skin were three small black marks. One she recognized instantly, for she had seen it earlier that day on the stone in Clark's hand— when she had found him, lo and behold, passed out in Lex's mansion. The other two symbols looked chillingly like others found in the caves.

So Clark is connected to the caves. The caves are connected to the stones. The stones are connected to the blast of light. The blast of light is connected to… my hand? And the leg bone's connected to the knee bone!

She shook her head futilely, seeing that her random thought process was partially due to her normal brain (or lack thereof) and partly due to her recent head trauma. Dropping her fascinating hand for the time being, Chloe's eyes danced around the cave in search of her friend, from whom the strange blast of light had emitted. Yet the unmistakable broad shoulders and plaid were nowhere to be found. Neither, apparently, was the alcove in which he had stood.

Not possible. Chloe warily trod over to the spot where the opening had been. Her heart fluttered uncomfortably in her chest. Nothing. Where there had once been a doorway now adamantly sat a solid wall. Feeling as if she had been thrust into some freakish funhouse, Chloe tested her voice, which remained quiet so as to not awaken her captor.

"Clark?"

The harsh whisper that escaped her lips fell dead in the air. She stared blankly at the firm, unmoving wall. She had seen people who could control bees, start fires, teleport— hell, she had witnessed the depth of Clark's powers— yet she could not for the life of her fathom a moving wall. Her reportorial curiosity, which sometimes felt like a chronic disease to her, overcame her rationality as she stepped forward. She eyed the innocent looking wall as if attempting to sway it out of its disguise by staring at it. Was Clark still in the room masquerading as a cave wall? Had he been chucked somewhere far off from the blast? Had that overwhelming light hurt him? Then again, what could hurt Clark, right? Still, she called out his name again, louder this time. Was he… behind the wall, perchance? She stepped so close to the wall that she was mere inches from it, ready to press her ear against its rocky texture to try and hear anything going on behind it. It was what she often did with the door of her bedroom to see if the coast was clear to sneak out late at night- a tactic she had never divulged to her father.

She lifted her hands to place them on the stone wall, allowing her fingers to brush the jagged rock. It was cold. She pressed her palms up against it. Her right palm began to sear again as if she had placed her hand on a stovetop. And suddenly the wall exploded in a burst of pure white light so intense that Chloe had to squint and stumbled back a few paces, her arms once again flying up to shield her eyes from being blinded. The light was terrible, unbearable… yet somehow intriguing, beckoning to her. In a lapse of thought, she started moving forward again, toward the cave wall that had vanished behind the glare, into the light…