This is from a short WIP I just started a few weeks ago, when I was battling laryngitis. I think it could use a little work, but I find that the nature of the magic here is similar to the nature of the magic I use in many of my stories. I hope you enjoy, and let me know if you have any comments! Oh, and check out the other bloggers. :)
Can one say Bon Apetit for others who are about to read? Because I'm going to, right now!
If you live in the Cave of Miracles, it really doesn’t matter that you can’t see the sky. The Cave is made up of more rooms and caverns than you can fathom, and in one of the caverns, it’s always bright as day, and the stone shines in blues and grays. An illusion of the sun rotates around the ceiling, and clouds drift along the ground. Another cavern mirrors the darkness of night. Tiny, floating pinpricks of light form the constellations. If you can catch them, you can draw them closer, spin them around, examine them. When you let go, they flick back into place, as if they’d never gone.
There are other caverns, too. Rooms full of ice and snow, of colored lights, of healing ponds and waters of youth, of golden treasure, silver treasure, heirlooms so valuable and guarded that they have been forgotten even by myths.
The different rooms sometimes shift around, but even when they don’t, they form a maze that no man or woman could maneuver. Except for her. She was born there, in one of the caverns, somewhere near the center, amidst an array of purple, gold and red pillows. She had woken, conscious, clothed, and alone.
She grew up there, over many years’ time—more time, in fact, than made up the lifetime of some men. And she was on the cusp of leaving this childhood when the first one came. She didn’t see him arrive, but she heard him, every one of his steps echoing across the stone.
She found him standing in the fork of a long tunnel that she had never been in. He was not a part of her world; he smelled of sweat and metal. His body was covered in animal hides and golden plates, and he held a spear, which he thrust point-out toward her as she approached. When she stood fully in front of him, in the stony hall, he lowered his weapon, and chuckled.
“But you are a girl.” He spoke in the common language. “The stories tell of someone older.”
She raised her chin, annoyed, but responded in his familiar tongue. “Welcome here, sir, but do not tarry. What do you seek?” The words came smoothly and felt right.
He seemed all too at ease. “I seek great power, to rule my kingdom.”
When he said power, she understood exactly what he meant—his thoughts could not be contained in his own self, and the taste of gory battle, of utter violence pushed into her mind. She didn’t like the look of him. She thought of the many artifacts that could grant him what he longed for. They were as real in her world as they were in the world beyond the stone walls—much like the stars, and the tiny sun. But even if they were her own to give, she could not, to this man who smelled of war.
She felt a pushing, though, and she realized that she had to leave him with something. He had not happened upon her without reason.
“Come,” she said, and she pulled him through twists and turns she knew he would not remember.
She took him into the room that unfolded like a map of the world. It showed her everything and everyone she needed to see. She traced his path. “There is a tree near the high mountains of this land, which blooms in jewels. Half the tree blooms red in garnets and rubies. Half the tree blooms white, with diamonds and pearls. A two-day journey will get you there.” She could see the hunger growing in his eyes. “And guarding the tree is a dragon that never sleeps.” The dragon’s image formed and floated beneath her finger. “The dragon guards the tree as its treasure, and so it is protective. But one talon from its hand will make a fearsome weapon.”
This was not what power meant to her, but she could still feel his thoughts as he stared at the spot she showed him. They will never see me coming.
“The treasure is not for you,” she continued. “You must not touch the treasure.” Growing so close to the natural heat of the dragon, touching any of the gems would surely burn him alive.
He stared some more, than turned his gaze to her. “You must grant me a boon,” he said. “So I may slay the dragon.”
She did not like this idea. The dragon would certainly give a claw in exchange for something other than its life. Its claws would grow back. “You need not kill the dragon; just cut it from his hand.”
His thoughts were overpowering. “A boon.”
She took him back to where she found him. “Wait here.” There was an herb that would allow him to withstand fire for one minute, if he put it under his tongue; she brought it back to him. “Chew this, if it begins to flame. It will help for but a minute.”
He smiled, and nodded.
If I slay the dragon, I can take all of the claws. I will be invincible. And the jewels will be mine, too…
He wouldn’t listen. She sighed, and watched as his figure receded. She hadn’t liked him, and she hadn’t liked helping him. But somehow, she felt it was her role. There were reasons for everything, and her reason was her purpose here. To guide.
Still, she worried about the dragon. Though creatures like that had a way of returning themselves, even after death. In any case, she checked the room that mapped the world, every day, for ten days. In the end, the dragon was there, alive. She did not see any sign of the man, though she realized she did not know his name.
Nor did she care.
He was her first.