Word Bytes | Cave of Secrets
A monthly flash fiction by Allusir who loves dragons and unicorns, and if there is a place, book, or game with one or both of these magnificent creatures, you can bet he'll want to be there and maybe even live there!
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Stony teeth grinned and drew the lone adventurer deeper into the maze. Dripping between the rows of stalactites and stalagmites, rainwater from the heavy storm outside drummed through the ancient limestone cavern. Would he find great treasures or a watery grave?
Cryptic ciphers littered the map. Warm torchlight dimmed. Food supplies ran low. And a mysterious beast lurked in the darkness, waiting to pounce. Stalking him from the shadows, the creature only peeked its golden eyes around corners to watch and wait for the cloaked explorer to lower his guard.
For now, the torch was enough to chase the eyes away but never for long. They would appear ahead of him, behind him, on the left, or even the right. Seeming almost to be many creatures rather than one in the dark, the same golden orbs would open from a passage high above or from deep cracks along the cavern floor.
The adventurer looked over his map once again and let out a long sigh. Blood stained the final clue on the map. Had he known the pirate captain had such a map, he might have been more careful when killing him.
He had battled pirate hordes on the high seas, slain evil wizards in their sinister towers, and of course, saved a damsel in distress each time. Giving up wasn't an option for the renown champion of countless voyages, and with this ancient treasure, his name would spread even farther throughout the lands.
A growl from his stomach echoed off the stone walls. Time had lost meaning in the underground realm, measured only in the bites of food that remained. Plodding onward, the structure around him shifted from limestone teeth to a forest of crystals. Gemstones sparkled brightly alongside the quartz formations, lit by countless glowworms and their luminescent parents.
An endless chasm dropped in the center of the jeweled room. Only a narrow bridge span the shadowy abyss, leading to a massive pedestal which held the Ifrit Stone.
A genie lived in that stone.
The daring explorer took a moment to ponder what three things he would wish for. Would it be riches? Supernatural power? Or perhaps a princess to marry? Food would certainly be the first thing, riches meant nothing if starvation took him first. He carefully made his way to the bridge.
The creature pounced. It came from a cavern high above the explorer's head, swiping away with its vicious claws. His heavy cloak took the initial attack, but the beast had him pinned. The adrenaline that poured through his veins was the only thing holding back the fangs of death. Struggling to get free from the deadly cat, he reached for anything he could to help and snatched a skull to jam into its gaping maw.
Dry bone shattered, and the unfazed beast held its prey firmly. A rough tongue grated against skin as the creature took some time to taste the meal beneath its jet black paws.
Drawing the monstrous feline's attention, a ghastly cry echoed through the corridors. Ebony fur melted into the murky shadows as the terrified cat abandoned the adventurer for the safety of the nearest hole.
The voice called again, closer.
Not wanting to wait around and meet whatever scared off such a vicious predator, the adventurer bolted for the treasure. It was the only thing that could save him from the hair curling voice that approached. He had only to cross the narrow bridge and touch the jewel. Then, he could wish himself to safety.
His feet deftly bounced across the treacherous path when a boulder fell, crushing the fragile bridge. The ground began to shake. There was no time to check for traps, he would just have to take the gem and deal with the consequences as they came.
The instant he touched the Ifrit Stone, the crystal around him began to crumble away and bury him.
"Noah, didn't you hear me?" His dad pulled the sheet off the living room fortress, which caused the pillows to fall onto the boy hiding inside.
"Sorry daddy, I was on an adventure. I got a treasure map from some pirates and I went to this cave and Jasper was a big monster that attacked me and..." A loud growl from Noah's stomach interrupted the spasm of words.
"You can tell us all about it in the dining room son," the man laughed. "Papa says dinner is ready."
At the mention of food, the boy quickly fished his fuzzy best friend out from under a chair and ran to the dining room to tell his dads all about his latest adventure. After, of course, he had a bite to eat first.
~ THE END ~
This piece was the winning entry for the #JustWriteBits Feb'18 writing challenge prompt. I really hope it brings back some childhood memories of playing imaginary adventures on rainy days.
Often we as adults forget how important play is.
“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” ~Dr. Seuss
(Illustration: Pei-Ling Chiu)
Like Pei-Ling's awesome illustration? Then follow Pei-Ling on Instagram: Pei@pei_groovyart