Flying in Darkness

“Sure, they tell you to make sure you have a rope, but a lantern? Nooo!Bringing a lantern to a cavern is a triviality to those people!”

Doren’s whispering voice echoed lightly in the darkness. The rustling of his rope being tied to a stalagmite was almost inaudible. He surprised himself sometimes being startled by the sound, though. He thought a snake was slithering somewhere close to him.

“Descending a wall in total darkness must be the easiest thing for them.Why would you need to know where the bottom is?  

The chill air of the cave made sweating easy. Tying his rope made beads of sweat from his forehead fall to Doren’s arms and chest. They felt like tiny icicles upon impact, which released quivering gasps from his mouth. 

One final pull and the rope was ready. He threw the rest of it over the ledge and sharpened his hearing, hoping the rope would reach the bottom. A thud resounded in the darkness, but there was no way of telling whether it hit the bottom, or just the wall, lacking length. He tried to look through the darknessin vain.

“And noticing jutting rocks is useless too. Why would you need to hangon to them if you fall? Madness!”

Doren crouched down. He rose again, rope in hand, and made sure of his grip tightening his hands on the rope. He walked closer to the ledge, turning to face the stalagmite behind him, and threw his weight back. The rope tensed. His body hanged diagonally, prevented from falling by the rope and his feet on the ledge of the cavern wall.

He knew it would to be too perilous to climb down without any visibility at all. He hanged motionless against the wall for a few seconds until an idea came to him. From his back, he unsheathed one of his swords.

I hope this cavern has minerals in its walls, he thought and struck the wall with the blade.

Sparks flew from the wall with the impact, and light came off for less than a second. That was enough for Doren to take in his surroundings, and clim bdown a little farther.

And they say youcan’t fix everything with these ladies, he thought referring to his two swords.

Doren kept striking the wall as he descended. It soon became apparent to him that the rope had not touched bottom after all. There was another ledge, however, in front of the wall he was climbing down. It took three flashes of his sword for him to estimate the distance.

After three months of adventuring, Doren had become accustomed to acrobatics. He jumped off the wall to build momentum. The rope brought him backagainst the wall, and he pushed himself away again. One more push would do it.

Just like flying, he thought.

Air. Air beneath him, above and to the sides. This moment was why he adventured. He opened his arms wide and let the air caress his whole body as he dived towards the floor in front of him.

He landed gracefully. His hands were the first to touch ground. He used them to control the direction in which he rolled to break the fall.

He could have stood up after the roll, but he didn’t. He lied down on the floor heaving and smiling. The tingle running up and down his spine was magic for him. He savored it, delighting in the ecstasy.

It was as his breathing settled down that he noticed a light growing in intensity around him.

He sat up. A feminine waist covered in white fabric appeared in front of him. He slid his eyes upward, to her abdomen, where black hair streamed up behind her from that point on. He slid them farther, to her chest, her neck.The white dress she wore contrasted beautifully with her glittering jet blackhair. A slightly accentuated cleavage revealed tanned, smooth skin. Finally,his eyes met hers. Bright white sparkles shone against emerald green irises.

“Huh! You have a lantern!”Said Doren.

“What are you doing here?” Demanded the girl in a puzzled, soothing voice.

“Adventuring. What do you do when you find a gorgeous girl in a dark cave?”

“I-I… don’t know.”

“Damn, I was hoping you could tell me.”

“I came because I heard noises; steel hitting rock repeatedly. Were you making them?”

“Oh! Yes. Sorry, I had to-”

“Shh.” The girl put her hand on Doren’s mouth and blew out her lantern.She took his hand and pulled him so he would follow her. He kept up with her until she stopped abruptly. Their bodies collided lightly.

“Sorry,” said Doren. “Where are we?”

The girl didn’t answer immediately. Doren sensed her walking close tohim. He was going to ask her where she was when he heard the sound of flames behind him. He turned around and saw the girl with the lantern lit. They were in a chamber. Behind the girl there was a crevice through which Doren guessed they’d accessed.

“That’s better,” he said. “What happened?”

“I was being chased when I found you. I heard noises behind us, so Iguided you here so we could hide.”

“Who’s chasing you?”

“Dark beings. I’ve had to deal with them for years.”

For years? How is it that a girl deals with who-knows-what for years ina cavern? Still, Doren’s priority was to know the beautiful woman in front of him. Other matters could be addressed later.

“So what’s your name?” He asked.

The girl turned to look directly at him. She took a few seconds to answer. Doren studied her face during that brief moment. She seemed to bearound his age, 26. He saw an ageless wisdom too, instead of the naivety found in people that age.

“You won’t be around here long enough for it to matter.”

Doren felt disappointed. Not because he was denied her name, but because he could have stared at her indefinitely the way she was just then. She had turned away after speaking, and he lamented that.

“Fine,” he said. “I think we should get going.”

In response, a gelid scream froze his very soul. He looked up, but the light was gone. He stumbled to the crevice, groping around, hoping his hands would find the girl’s. He crossed the crevice and saw a light ahead of him to the left. He ran to it as carefully as he could.

The light came from the lantern the girl had. It was lying on the floor. He picked it up and raised it. He turned around frantically trying to catch a signal of where the girl had gone. Frustrated, he continued going in the same direction he followed to find the lantern.

Shortly, he discerned a distant orange glow that grew and faded, accompanied by the girls’ screams. He walked hurriedly towards the tumult.

The glowing stopped by the time he’d come near an opening in the cavern’s side wall. He faltered momentarily. Two figures entered the lantern’s sphere of illumination. They seemed like human shadows materialized, sentient and capable of moving of their own accord. Their eyes were milky, like the ones of a corpse, and glowed ghastly against the light. Ironically enough, thought Doren,their swords were the last thing he noticed about them.

One of the figures shrieked and slashed horizontally. Doren ducked, avoiding getting decapitated. He let go of the lantern and, with a swift movement, unsheathed one of his swords and slashed the creature, cutting through it diagonally. The other creature thrust forward. Doren deflected th eattack with his sword and spun 360 degrees. In mid-turn, he reached for his second sword and struck the creature, felling it. He hadn’t noticed with the first one, but the creatures seemed to evaporate when killed, turning into black mist.

He hurried through the opening, and found the girl lying on the floor,tied up and muzzled by a metal strap.

“Wow, they really wanted to keep you quiet.” He said.

He cut the rope binding her body and unbent the metal strap over her mouth.

“Are you well?” He asked.

“Hurry!”

She took his hand and hauled him. They ran through the opening again, leaving the lantern behind.

“The lantern!” He said.

“Don’t worry! I know where to go.”

Every stride in the darkness was torture for Doren. He feared his next step would never get to meet with the floor, and they’d fall down an abyss to their deaths. He sighed heavily with relief when the girl told him to stop.

“What is it? Why are we running?” He asked through heavy breaths.

“Listen”

They both fell silent. There was a rumbling drawing nearer and nearer to them.

“Is the cave coming down?” He asked.

“No. There are hundreds of creatures coming for us.”

“Two I can handle. Hundreds… I don’t know.”

“We have to get away.”

“Let’s keep running, then”

“We can’t. We’re at the spot we met, near the edge the abyss.”

“My rope is still there.”

“We’d be killed climbing it.”

“So what do you propose we do?”

“You have to ride me.”

Doren was baffled by this answer

“I don’t think now’s a good time to…”

Silver light surrounded him. He turned around to see the girl shine magically and grow in size. The light grew so bright he had to cover his eyes.It faded, and he uncovered his eyes to find a marvelous black dragon in front of him. Its scales glimmered with a metallic hue, and its green eyes sparkled enchantingly.

“Huh!” He said. “You’re a dragon!”

The girl’s voice came to him from nowhere. The dragon didn’t move her lips, but he still heard the girl telling him to get on.

He obeyed. The dragon spread her wings and jumped powerfully upward. Her wings pushed down the air underneath with great force, which heaved them upward with each flap. Once they’d cleared the higher wall, she threw her body forward, forcing her wings down violently.

All Doren could feel was chill air hitting his face. It wasn’t long until they flew through the entrance to the cave. He blinked, annoyed by the light as his eyes strained to get used to the light.

More magic. Doren felt the same tingling he’d felt before, jumping across the chasm. He closed his eyes to enjoy it.

The dragon landed in another mountain nearby. Doren dismounted her and she began to change again. As she did so, hundreds of shrieks came from thecave they’d just left. They echoed throughout the peaks of the vast mountainrange.

“You’re not going back there, are you? To your lair?” He asked the girl once she’d finished transforming.”

“I could… Once they calm down I could go back there and deal with them as I’ve always had.”

“So?”

“I’d like to know why you rescued me.”

“I’ve a weakness for cute girls,” he said. The girl opened her mouth to say something, but he interrupted her. “For dragons too, I guess.”

The girl smiled amusedly.

“You’re capable with swords, aren’t you?” 

“I do like to think I am.”

“Then I guess I can accompany you. You’re not thinking of settling down in a human society, are you?”

“If avoiding it allows me to be with you, I’ll shun it as long as I can.

They began to walk down the mountain together, giving their backs to the hundreds of cries coming from the darkness.

“Can I know your name now?”

They stopped. Again, the girl looked at Doren sternly. She spoke only after a few seconds of considering.

“I don’t have a human name.”

“Oh!” He raised his hand to her chin and held it with his thumb and index finger, turning it delicately so he could appreciate her face. “Let’s see now… You seem like an Ana to me.”

Ana smiled.

“Ana?”

“Yes, Ana.”   

 

           

           

 


Comments:
 
kt6550   kt6550 wrote
on 2/28/2009 7:28:49 PM
A good story. It needs, however, to be proofed through a text editor.

StarPoet   StarPoet wrote
on 2/24/2009 12:17:39 AM
Very good telling of this. I liked the surprise of the girl turning into a dragon. Interesting read. I also have to agree with Dreamingontitanic about those joined at the hip words.

Thewissen   Thewissen wrote
on 2/16/2009 6:25:16 PM
Actually, Doren's character isn't supposed to be eakily surprised. I f he was, he would have been surprised when he encounter the creatures too, and that could have proven to be lethal. Also, his "ain't that strange" reaction reinforces his ironic and sarcastic personality, no?

Thewissen
Short Story
Fantasy
writing Thewissen
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