Truman looked deep into the cave. His mind, buttered with delirium, yet his focus on the black void in front of him could not be broken. There was a scent in the air; the kind of smell that invaded the head with heat. It was dense as if its salty musk had pushed out all the light around him and left only its weight. Truman was caught in its hold. His fear became him. He had to go in, it was his duty. But the cave was dark and had no end; just a point of vast emptiness that dissolved his vision the closer he got.
He was alone in the desert, far from the security of rescue if the worst were to come for him. The moon was high and the night was cold. The cave provided sanctuary, but Truman knew it was a false haven, for the thing that lurked within was prefaced by his master. “What lies in wait in the solitary cave is a being of strength you could not comprehend,” he warned. “It is not a beast: blessed with power but lacks prowess, no. This is a diety. A god in flesh and bone. One of the last remaining relics of the world before,” Truman listened intently. “If you enter the cave, it will know you are there. And it will come find you,” the master stopped. He leaned in to Truman with a stare of severity and said, “And if it finds you, the cave will crumble upon you. It feeds off your light but does not kill you. Trapped in the cave, unable to age, you will become a piece of its grand collection; fed on until your light runs out and you are no longer you.”
His master’s words were sincere. The young scholar gave his master a reassuring pat on the shoulder and said, “you have given me the blessing of foreknowledge, and with this gift I will return with a bounty most fair.” The wise man just looked at the boy with fear in his brows, “If you are to be so reckless, I must remind you the path you set is layed with solitude.” Truman gave a chuckle. “This is not a warning boy!” The master raised, “It is required to reach the cave. Only in solitude will one find its hidden visage, as so the legend tells.” Truman stood up from the table. “If that is the way, than so be it,” he exclaimed, “I dare not begin to question the hands of fate, for those are the same hands that have set me on this quest.” He grabbed a small, eagle-shaped, pendant on the necklace he wore under his tunic and said, “It was the duty of my father and his father and his father before him to ensure the secrets of our ancestors be brought back to the light. Their contributions to antiquity and history have provided great power to the people of today. And now my time has come to prove my worth. Thus so, it is decided. I must do as none of my predecessors could do before me and retrieve our missing secrets in the cave. May it be so that whatever ancient power lay dormant may once again touch the strength of man.”
His master slowly made his way up from his chair. “I understand your intentions,” the old man groaned, “It brings me joy to see you with such bravery, but you must realize the path you dare to tread is said to end in turmoil.” The master walked to his drawer and pulled out a folded, old piece of parchment. He blew a thin layer of dust off the top and handed it to Truman. “But I know you and of your folly. If your intentions are true, then the least I can provide is a safe pasage.” He sighed in great release. He looked onto his student with pity in his eyes. “The journey ahead is perilous. The end is not the only thing you should fear. May this map provide you with nothing more than a clear route to the cave. And may you set your gaze upon its visage alone; stopped by your fear of its greatness. And may you return safe and with wisdom and humility, having not taken the trip into the cave like so many unfortunate souls before you.”
Truman blessed his master. He gave him a kiss goodbye. He left the house with excitement and a fleeting pride.