The following is an excerpt from my current work in progress. I hope you enjoy.
Tristan struck a match and lit one of the torches placed on the wall of the cave. It cast a surprising amount of light. He turned and beckoned for Cara to follow.
“Levi said it will take us a day just to hike down and locate the door.”
“Do you have any idea where exactly we should be looking?” asked Cara.
“No, but he said I would know where to go without even knowing I knew it.”
“Levi said that?”
“Well, pretty much, yeah. The point is all we have to do is hike into the cave and trust that I’m picking the right path.”
Cara had no reason to doubt it was true. “We better get going then, hopefully we can find a place to build a fire tonight.”
“How will we know its night? We’re in a cave.” Tristan smiled to himself. He enjoyed spending time with Cara. She was the only one who understood his jokes. She cuffed him in the back of the head. “That’s how.”
The damp footing demanded concentration which left little time for conversation. A feeling like butterflies began to develop in Tristan’s stomach as they continued to trek deeper into the dank cave. Tristan took the lead stopping periodically to offer assistance to Cara. She didn’t need the help but wasn’t about to pass up a chance to hold his hand. They continued on for several hours before stopping to rest.
“Are you feeling anything?” asked Cara. Tristan gave her a coy smile. “I mean about the book. Do you know if we’re getting closer?”
“No, but we are definitely headed in the right direction. We should drink some water, then continue on. Unless you need to stop for a while.”
Cara took a few sips from her canteen then put her pack back on, signaling her readiness. They continued on in silence with Tristan in the lead once more. About an hour later they stopped again.
“What is it?”
“All of a sudden this doesn’t feel right.” Tristan spun around in a circle surveying the narrow confines of the cave. “I think we should head back a little bit and see if we missed a turn off or passage.”
Cara pressed against the wall so Tristan could pass in front of her and screamed as several skeletal arms shot from the rock and grabbed her arms and legs. Before Tristan could react a similar pair ensnared him causing him to drop the torch.
“Cara!” Tristan screamed as the torch fizzled. He struggled against the arms as another pair grabbed his legs.
“I’m here. I can’t move. I don’t think they are trying to kill us.”
“I don’t think so either. Stop fighting and see what happens.” Tristan took his own advice. The hands continued to grasp him firmly, but they didn’t squeeze as tight.
“I think this is part of the process of getting the book.” Said Cara.
“Levi said it would take us a whole day just to find the door to the room that holds the book. He didn’t say anything about protection spells.”
“What if something is wrong? The hands don’t have to hurt us to kill us. If we can’t get free, then eventually we’ll starve to death.”
“But I’m the guardian of the stupid book. Protection spells and traps shouldn’t even affect me.”
“How do you know you’re the guardian?”
“I mean, how do you know? Your mother was guardian before you, which puts you in line to become the next guardian after she dies right?”
“She is dead, remember. She was killed right in front of me. My father and I buried her before heading out to Laredo.”
“I know that. What I mean is, you know you are guardian because your mother told you about it. Our parents never had to fight to protect the books, so their training took place over a long period of time. Who knows what ceremonies and spells they went through? You and I never had the luxury of all their knowledge. We’re playing it by ear.”
“I’m not following you.”
“Well, I follow you, Tristan Waters, Son of Catherine Waters, guardian of the Book of Seven.”
The disembodied arms released them and retreated back into the rock. Tristan bent to where he last saw the torch, fished in his pocket for another match and re-lit the torch. He looked up at Cara. The orange torch light made her skin glow as she beamed down at him.
“Cara Brayborn, guardian of the Book of Eight, you are a genius.” He stood and before he knew what he was doing kissed her on the cheek. Even in the dim light of the cave he could tell she was blushing. “I’ve picked up the trail again. It’s this way.”
Cara followed behind Tristan; a little more closely than before. There were so many things she would have liked to talk about, but for the life of her she couldn’t bring herself to speak.
“Here’s the door.” There was no hint of question. It was an emphatic statement. “Don’t look like much of a door, but I suppose that’s part of the test.”
“If Levi’s estimation is anywhere close to correct, and knowing him it’s dead on, we’ve been walking for the better part of the day. Perhaps we should get some sleep.”
“I agree.” Tristan found a small notch in the wall next to the door. It looked like it was there to hold the torch so he tested his theory. The torch slid in easily and the door opened. “Well, hell. So much for sleep. I don’t trust this door to stay open for long, we better use it while we can.” He reached out, took her hand and together they stepped through.