Reniko rode horseback as far into the forest as was possible and proceeded on foot deeper into the tangled rocky valley. She found a fairly decent trail up to the caves and stood before them, somewhat hesitant to go inside. Memories of the strange dream came back in sudden flashes, and the screams of the people echoed in her mind. She tensed, frozen in place. She looked into the depths of the cave, a blue light glowing from an unknown source inside. It barely created enough light to illuminate the upper part of the cave where it seemed to originate. She took a deep breath and stepped back, fear seizing hold of her. Pebbles trickled down the cliff face awakening Reniko from her uneasy fear and she glanced back realizing she was only one more step away from death. It was only a dream, she thought, trying to reassure herself. Finally shaking away the last memory of the dream, she plunged into the inky blankness that held the spear of blue light.
Rummaging around in her backpack, she found the small torch she had packed and flicked it on. The light bounced off the walls and created eerie shadows that added to the mystery of the cave. She let the light dance across the walls around her as she examined them intensely looking for any loose rock that might cause a problem in her exploration. She noticed that although the cavern had looked small from the outside it was in fact a gigantic room. She shuffled her feet as she turned around to get a full view and heard the echo resound deeper into the cave. It was soon followed by the sound of falling rocks as they were jolted out of place from the slight disturbance. Maybe Dertrik was right, Reniko thought as she waited for the slide to stop. Then again, I could always just be very quiet. Curiosity taking a final hold, she headed deeper into the cave following the beam of blue light.
As she stepped deeper into the cave it became evident that the large cavern narrowed off into a hallway-sized opening which grew smaller with every step. She was about to turn back, leaving the whole thing as a lost cause when she heard another spattering of rocks falling, and the beam of light suddenly gained in intensity. Rocks must have fallen in front of the entrance. Maybe they are loose enough to pull away. She stumbled forward trying hard not to make too much noise and finally came face to face with the cave-in. The rocks that barred her path were no bigger than the size of a melon, so Reniko, confident that she could handle the task before her, set to work removing them.
She had been clearing rocks for nearly an hour when she heard the echoing sounds of something moving back at the entrance to the cavern. The sudden sound startled her and she pushed her hand into the heart of the rock wall, only to gasp as it gave way under the pressure and sent a spray of sand and rocks tumbling in her direction. With a scream of surprise she jumped, doing a handspring to avoid the avalanche that cascaded down over the place she had occupied only seconds before. Rolling to a standing position, she flattened herself against the nearby wall and turned her face away from the dust as it billowed past her. She waited in tense anticipation until the final rock had settled in place and began brushing the dust from her eyes.
“Reniko?” She heard a voice echo in the cavern. This caused another sprinkling of dust to fall from the ceiling. Sounds like Dertrik. What is he doing here?
“I’m back here. Back here.” She said, hearing the echo following her words.
“Stay where you are,” she heard, the urgent plea sounding closer now. She would have complied, however, the avalanche had cleared the entranceway, and the entire cavern was now bathed in the soft blue light. She was so close and she wouldn’t let Dertrik stop her now. He would understand. He had to. She moved forward, climbing over the debris and into the depths of the light encased cavern. Once her feet were firmly on the ground she was faced with a very long drop. From the bottom of it was the source of the light.
“Reniko? Where are you?” Dertrik called out once again. His voice was demanding and nervous.
She had been peering over the ledge trying to get a better look at what was below, but the light was so bright that she found it hard to see.
“I found the source of the light. I’m going down to get a closer look,” she said. She was no longer thinking of the danger that this presented, instead all she could think about was finding out what was happening in this cave.
“No Renny, stay where you are,” Dertrik said. He no longer sounded simply nervous. Instead, his voice was full of panic. He couldn’t believe the foolishness that his student harboured. The echoes rebounded in the circular cavern that Reniko was in and the roof shook more dust onto her head.
“Stop shouting, the roof will cave in,” she called back to Dertrik who was now scrambling with urgency over the rock debris. Reniko was busy pulling the rope from her backpack, though she was having trouble, since it seemed to be caught on something. Giving an annoyed sigh she pulled the pack from her back and laid it on the ground. Dertrik grabbed her shoulder, gasping for breath.
“What were you thinking, Reniko? Are you insane? It’s far too dangerous here, you could be killed.” Reniko looked into his eyes and saw anger reflected there.
“Can’t you see the light? Aren’t you the least bit interested in its source?” She couldn’t understand Dertrik’s lack of curiosity, he had been the one that had always encouraged hers, and now he was trying to make her forget one of the most exciting things that had happened in her life.
“Of course I am, but going alone? Are you trying to get yourself killed?” Dertrik grabbed Reniko’s arm and forced her up from her crouch. She grabbed her pack with her free hand.
“Well now that you’re here, you can help me down. I want to get a closer look.”
“Renny, the cave is too unstable. Let’s get out of here before the roof caves in.” This was too much. She couldn’t abandon her pursuit, not when she was this close.
“Dare, let go of me!” Reniko said as Dertrik began dragging her back to the only exit. Her voice echoed loudly in the round cavern and a rumble of rocks could be heard as a few began tumbling down the sides of the cavern and into the source of the blue light. She grew angry when she realized that Dertrik had no intention of letting go. She planted her feet firmly on the ground while she leaned backwards with all her weight to try and free herself from her old friend’s grasp.
“What’s the matter with you?” she yelled just as Dertrik’s grasp on her slipped and she tumbled off balance. She reached out to a nearby ledge only to find out that it was too far away. She inhaled sharply, eyes wide, as she realized she was tumbling backwards directly into the light below.
“Dare,” she whispered as she fell back from the ledge. She watched panic stricken as everything slowed. Dertrik turned, his eyes as wide as hers, and tried in vain to grasp some part of Reniko. He managed to grab her necklace, but it snapped off her neck. She felt weightlessness overtake her as her feet left solid ground and she tumbled down into the source of the blue light.“NO!” she heard Dertrik scream before her own terrified voice filled the air and there was nothing but blackness.