Beniah clung to the column of stalagmites, lining the edges of the trial trail. He wiped the beads of sweat forming on his brow with his sleeve, and sighed heavily. Rubbing his tired eyes, he suddenly realised that he had lost track of how many hours or perhaps days he had even been travelling to Gardona.
As he concentrated on a small glimmer of light flickering somewhere beyond the darkness, a gust of wind made the young warrior almost topple. Something that sounded like a motorbike skimmed past him, the rider’s sinister cackle echoing around the grotto. Dodging out of the way just in time, Beniah’s foot slipped, and stuck in something jagged. Fear forced him to utter a word which had lain dormant in his vocabulary for some time now.
His shriek resonated into the nothingness that surrounded him.. Much too far away to turn back, he now felt like a useless fool, with his foot caught in this hole. Beniah held back the tears which threatened to fall, as he remembered the last conversation he had held with his best friend, Egan.
“I just don’t see why!” Egan had eventually blurted out, after he had spent about an hour trying to gently convince Beniah not to go. “Can’t you just settle yourself here, with your own folk? Those Gardons are not like us, you know. We’ve been told to remain separate from them..”
“Yes. I agree. They partake in evil which causes terrible suffering.” Beniah had mused. “Which is why I need to go. We have a duty to rescue these people from this. Our Microchips tell us that we who have the truth, are responsible for revealing it to others. Some of these Gardons don’t even realise that they can choose a better way of life.” He had searched his friend’s face, and saw that he was wincing awkwardly.
“Listen to me.” Egan had answered. “Few Gardons have ever changed their mind, and ventured over to this side. But plenty of our folk have gone to Gardona and have never returned. Don’t you know what happened to them? They changed with every day they spent in that evil place. Their microchips became dull through lack of use. The shift was so subtle, that they didn’t realise they were gradually evolving into the very creatures they had gone to save.”
“Say what you wish, Egan” Beniah had tutted. “I’m not one of those people who gets tossed around by the wind. I won’t be swayed, and I have a task to achieve.” With that, he had walked off towards the portal.
Beniah cringed at the last words he had imparted, his foot slipping deeper beneath the rocks. Smoke was now filling the air, making his eyes sting. Pride finally gave way to tears, which streamed down his cheeks.
“Help!” he cried again, coughing as the smoke grew more dense. Why hadn’t he listened to Egan and the gang? They were probably chilling out, sipping Ivadorberry juice at ‘The Comfort Zone’ right now. It was no use. Beniah felt sure that he would die in this very position, as he struggled for a breath.
The smoke was so overwhelming, that he barely heard the flapping wings of a flying robot overhead, or felt its feet as they perched on his shoulder.
“You called for help.” The bird spoke from its large metallic beak.
“Who are you?” Beniah managed to splutter, as he lost his grip on the stalagmite. All of a sudden he realised that his foot was free again.
“I‘m Spirit.” She answered gently. “You really should head towards the light.”
“I can’t even see it now!”
“Smoke rises you know.” she calmly explained. “So if you want to see the light, you’re going to have to get on your knees.”
Beniah dropped straight away. Sure enough, a small flicker of light was now gleaming through the smoke. As he crawled along the straight parts of the path, ripples of sunshine gradually dispersed the smoke.
“How may I repay you?” He panted, as he neared the mouth of the cave.
“Just set about the journey and the task ahead, ” Spirit advised, knowing that Beniah rarely accepted anything freely. “- And don’t look back..” With that, she soared higher, circling the mountains above.
Beniah gazed up in gratitude, as he trudged across the deep snow. He focused on the path ahead, and quickened his pace. One thing was for certain now - He would not look back..
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