Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Way of the Phoenix (Part 3)

The warmth of the fire was a distant memory as I lay on the cold damp ground waiting for daylight to peek through the entrance of the cathedral cavern.  The darkness swallowed up the sounds of the comfort from the dripping water.  

I felt the days pass without a hint of sunlight.  Fear began to consume my thoughts as I became more and more aware that I was no longer alone in the cavern.  I could feel the eyes upon me as I lay on the ground hoping my friend would return.

Although the medicine man seemed a mystery to me, in my thoughts he had become my friend and I had come to realize that he had been present at the beginning to initiate me into the world that was before me. I knew I was not alone but I also knew my only guardian was long gone.

The beasts in the cavern seemed to be closing in on me, encircling me like prey.  I could see no way to defend myself and I was outnumbered.  I felt like a helpless wounded animal awaiting death, with vultures sitting perched in trees above me awaiting my fate.

My mind drifted in and out of lucidity. I could see the darkness moving -- plotting against me.  Any sense of safety I had felt when I first encountered the fire had left my mind and I knew it would not be long before the darkness would overtake me.

I was exhausted. Sleep was not something I needed to enjoy considering the company around me.  I drifted off into a dream of horror.  The creatures came out of the shadows and though the darkness did not allow me to see them at first, they were darker than the cavern and as they came closer I could see their form.

They were not “beasts” at all, but their outline was human-like. Stretched out from their backs I could see ravens’ wings, revealing the shine of their blades.  The weight of their dark forms covered me and all I could do was lay there and allow them to tear me down.  I could hear their cackles and screams echoed through the cathedral like a bone-chilling choir of evil.

I tried to awaken without success.  I was trapped inside the nightmare and no one came to answer my screams.  I drifted into unconsciousness and somehow the pain seemed to lessen. When morning came, I felt numb and I was unable to move my limbs.

I opened my eyes and saw sunlight for the first time through the mouth of the cave.  It revealed massive trees towering above the forest floor.  My eyes traced a path from chest to foot and I saw that although my clothes were shredded and filthy from the cavern floor, I was unharmed and alone once again.

Somehow I had survived the attack from the shadowy bird-men that had surrounded me for days.  As I lay there on the floor, slowly I was able to feel my limbs once again and I struggled to sit up.  I felt weak and worn from the night ritual that I had been through.  I stumbled to the entrance of the cavern and breathed in the dawn.  The song of the night was transformed to birds whistling and leaves rustling in the gentle breeze that kissed my cheek.