In my current Work In Progress Keagan and Bran (aka Shadowsprite and Lightfoot) follow a trail that leads the two deep beneath the surface. Bran confronts Keagan about his fear of being underground and a memory is triggered. I purposefully move from third person past tense to first person present tense as Keagan experiences the flashback and the moment from his past comes alive. Another note to avoid confusion: Keagan is a shape shifter and is able to morph from aelf to fox form.
“The darkness was complete. Like it is here. Or so I thought after they yanked the rope I had been lowered on from my grasp and back through the trap door. It slammed shut, blocking out all light and muting the sounds of mirth that grated on my ears. My father’s laughter mingled with Shadespawn’s and Kord’s, and … I guess … the guards as well. I don’t know. They all blended together.
“Anger, not fear, filled me then. I screamed curses up at the ceiling. At my father, at Shadespawn, and at that snake Kord. Demanded they pull me back up.
“Soon, my eyes had adjusted to the dark. Looking up I spotted the outline of the trap door. Several minutes later the laughter evaporated taking the light with it. But, by then, I had seen where torches were stored in a barrel far to my left. Having glimpsed a tall cabinet behind me, I suspected flint and tinder would be found in one of the drawers. I was alone, my father and the others gone. My blood seethed with the fury I could no longer vent at my father. I capped it, knowing if I wanted to survive, it served no purpose but to waste energy.”
“Why did your father do it?”
A bitter laugh erupted. “Why? A bet. The week before our visit, Kord had escaped the labyrinth in three days’ time. A record, Shadowspawn bragged as he and Father descended into a state of drunken revelry. So, of course, my father, refusing to be outdone, bet I could do it in less.”
Keagan’s vision blurred, caught between the past memory and the present. “Even at that age, I had heard the tales of unearthly beings that lived in the maze; but my hatred of Father held a stronger power over me.
“And yet, the desire to please Father still bound me like some foolish, trapped animal.
“In that inky blackness, fueled by the need to prove myself to him, I felt my way to my left until I knocked into the barrel of torches. It took another long while for me to find flint and tinder in one of the drawers of the cabinet.”
The memory came alive in Keagan’s mind, transporting him back to the maze of tunnels beneath Shadespawn’s city.
The thought of shifting to fox form slips into my thoughts, but I dismiss it. Losing the light of the torch that I grasp with the iron fist of need is not an option. I scan the small room. No weapons. No water. Glancing up at the trap door, I growl. Hatred and respect for my father wage war in my mind. I am abandoned … like before. When she left me. I shake my head. That is a battle for another day. Focus! Survive!
A crumpled mess of empty sacks sits on the floor in one corner of the room. I wedge my torch in a wall bracket. Grabbing the largest of the dust covered bags, I fill the ratty sack with as many spare torches as it can hold. A quick search of the cabinet leaves me sneezing as dust motes dance in meager light, but I find a rusty knife which I stuff into one of the inner pockets of my jacket.
Though perspiration had coated my skin while wearing the thigh-length leather coat in Shadespawn’s great room, I am now glad for its protective warmth over my thin tunic. I pocket three tiny bottles. I am not certain why I take them, but instinct tells me they might come in handy.
After final glance around, I retrieve the lit torch and move out into the dark tunnel. My feet scrape on the grit covering the flagstone floor while my hand slips along the rough rock wall.
It is not long before I face my first choice. Another tunnel bisects the one I am following. Lowering the torch, I examine the floor of the intersection, hoping to see some sign of Kord’s passing. Nothing. I take a chance and continue straight.
Another choice soon confronts me. This time to continue straight or turn on a sharp angle to my left. A sigh escapes my lips when I see the slight shift of tiny gravel. Left. Kord went left.
A thought whispers in my mind, but what if he was wrong? I shove the idea aside. Kord made it out in record time. He must have chosen well more often than not. And, even if he didn’t, following his track will still bring me to the end.
The next few decisions require little thought as I continue to find evidence of Kord’s passing. My stomach grumbles and I regret not eating more at Shadespawn’s feast. Though hunger plagues me, my biggest enemy will be thirst. If the passage takes more than three days and I do not find water, I will die. I listen for sounds of dripping or splashing as I proceed.
End Part I
I hope you enjoyed this first part of Keagan’s flashback. Stay tuned for Part II