The darkness was falling across the landscape, the howling winds and pounding rain made the cave a welcome shelter. Amber was glad of the protection it offered. She poked her head inside. She drew back frightened by the lack of light. The cave smelt mouldy and there were many other strange smells she could not identify. It made her sneeze. It was dry inside and she decided going inside was better than remaining out in the storm.
Once inside the cave she ran her hands along the wall. It was warm to the touch and the roughness of the rock scrapped her soft palm. She could hear the drumming of her blood in her ears. She fancied she could feel her heart beating in her throat. She could not deny she was frightened.
She started to gather up the scattered branches and dried leaves. These had been blown into the cave by the wind, and found their way into the dark brooding mouth of the cave. Amber began by placing the branches and leaves methodically, building the foundations of the holder of the light. She was thinking of her mother, she had taught her well. She had been the clan’s keeper of the light. Now it was Amber’s time.
Looking skyward, she muttered a brief prayer as she had been taught. Then with a shaking hand, she withdrew the box that held the magic light from the pocket of her bag. Lifting it slowly she reverently raised the top.
The glowing light was alive, and it spilled into the darkness of the cave. She thanked the Gods for keeping her safe. Using the proddle she placed some of the light in the middle of the dry leaves and remembering what she had been taught she blew until the magic light became strong and cast long dancing shadows on the cave walls. She waited to make sure the strength had been shared and would grow. Passing her hand through the light, she felt its warmth and received its blessing.
Carefully she withdrew the proddle cleaned it and wrapped it securely. Her proddle was a very old, a carved piece of bone with a hollow scrapped out at one end, it had been the property of her foremother. She began to trace the scrolls and whirls carved into the intricate patterns on the bone, she sang the song of thanks for light. Finishing her duty wrapping the proddle in fur she replaced it and the lightbox in the skin bag she always carried.
Amber was scared she had never been far from home on her own before, the tears rolled down her cheeks and with a dirty hand, she brushed them away. She could do this. She wasn’t a truddle anymore she was an adult.
Hearing soft noises behind her she sighed. The magic light would keep her safe, She sat as close as she could to the light, poking the branches into the glowing light to keep it growing. Amber knew she had to keep it fed if she did this she would be protected.
She was hungry her stomach was growling, she had some berries and dried meat in her bag. Finding her water bottle and her food. She finished eating her sparse meal and was replete. Comforted by the glow and the crackling light and her head drooped and her eyelids closed but only for a minute.
She became aware of a whishing sound. Her eyes flew open the sounds were coming closer. Then there was a whistling noise like an unhappy bird.
A stomping, swaying shadow danced eerily on the cave wall. It was big and like nothing she had ever seen before. It stopped, she held her breath one hand at her mouth to stop from crying out. She could feel her breath coming faster and faster, she started to feel dizzy. It started moving again. The long shadowy bits at the top seemed to rock from side to side, faster and faster. She was mesmerized and could not move.
The smell became stronger and she started to cough. It smelt like the latrines before the sweet soil was thrown in them. She started to gag the smell was overpowering, her legs had turned to jelly she was trapped. The whistling became louder and louder until she could not hear herself think.
The grotesque shadows grew larger and larger on the wall and she could not look away they came closer and closer. The smells, the noise, the slishy, sliding sound of something being dragged towards the cave opening. She was sobbing now, the magic light was not protecting her, and she could feel an icy cold enveloping her.
She pushed more sticks into the magic light but it flickered and died leaving only a red glow at its core. She sobbed, by the Gods she was alone with nothing to protect her.
She sat there in the dark, stripped of any protection, the hair on her arms and at the nape of her neck bristling. Suddenly she felt a grab at her hair, it was twisted, and her head wrenched backwards. The fetid breath was icy cold on her face, and that smell was the last thing she remembered as she fell into the darkness.