In this excerpt from my Young Adult Fantasy novel, Prince Kynan and his mysterious guide, Grigor, are travelling through a dark tunnel. Grigor shows Kynan a magical solution to their light problem.
Kynan had thought the darkness absolute. But then Grigor reached behind him and shut the door, locking it with a loud and final click, and then he knew the true nature of darkness.
There was nothing but sound—the shuffle of Grigor’s feet on dusty stone, the faraway drip of water, the roar of the blood in his ears—and touch—the brush of the boy passing him to move ahead, the smooth sheen of cool stone against his steadying hand, the whisper of warm, stale air on his face—and smell—the chalky, sooty tang of that air as he breathed it in shallow puffs.
Then he felt Grigor’s hand close on his upper arm in reassurance. “Come with me. A flight of stairs only, and then we may risk a light. Hold on to my shoulder and I’ll lead you safely down.”
His heart thudding in his chest and throbbing in his wound, Kynan grasped his guide’s bony shoulder and they moved together, onward and downward, one shuffling, awkward step at a time. Kynan started counting the steps—fourteen and then a landing, fourteen more and another, then ten curving to the left, then another landing, but then he lost count and focused only on one step, and another, and one more, until the number seemed infinite, and their destination surely the very womb of the earth.
Then finally they came to the bottom and Grigor stopped. Kynan reached out and felt another door ahead, also intact.
“The good news is that with the doors locked, there’s not much chance of any beasts down here.” Grigor chatted as he pulled out his key again and unlocked the door. “The dragon can’t fit down the other end, and I doubt very much she let anything else enter through her tower. She’s very territorial.”
Kynan followed him through, coughing again as the air grew staler. He peered into the dark ahead, not quite certain he shared Grigor’s optimism, while the boy locked the door.
Then unexpectedly, a gentle light gleamed from behind him. He whirled, ridiculously delighted by the fragile glow, and saw Grigor illuminated by an insubstantial globe of soft yellow half-light beaming out from between his fingers. A smirk curled the boy’s lips as he looked at Kynan. “Is that better?”
Kynan shrugged, but he was secretly overjoyed to see the light piercing the darkness around them, if only a little, and he marvelled at the magic that brought it into being. It shone on the dusted surface of once-glossy black stone on the walls, floor, and ceiling, all excavated perfectly square and carved with the same smooth, stylized leafy trees as the exterior of the gatehouse. The light revealed a scant few strides ahead down the tunnel, then surrendered to the pervasive darkness.
“Let’s go.” Grigor’s whisper echoed in rustles down through the black void, and Kynan shivered.
As always, let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.
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