The sound came again. Like a distant whistling, it echoed through the cave. There were three distinct pitches: first a middle tone, resolving high, and a low tone, resolving to the middle. The beam from my flashlight searched across the carved walls, looking for the source. Perhaps it was a breeze, pushed through an inlet somewhere. Or else…
No, that sort of thinking would not help me. I couldn’t let myself get distracted; not this close to the end. Calm people live, nervous people die. I would not make this cave my tomb.
That’s not to say I feared death. I took comfort in death; it was all I had waiting for me now. I would follow this quest to my grave, but I didn’t expect this cave to be the end of my journey. After continuing work on one project for so long, you tend to lose sight of what it is you’re accomplishing at all.
You can get caught in your own head, lost in the process and in fear of the product. Sometimes, I had to remind myself that what I was doing mattered, that I was on the right path, that I was real. Some days this was harder to convince myself of than others.
In front of me stood a massive chasm, spanned by a single wooden bridge. Guess I didn’t have much of a choice. The cave, which started as big as a football field at the valley, had narrowed towards the back. By the time I got off the bridge, the room was barely bigger than the plane that had taken me here.
There was a small indent in the flat wall in front of me. I shot the beam of light into it, but it revealed nothing. I knew the room in front of me must go pretty far back, even though it looked just tall enough to stand in. Good thing I didn’t have claustrophobia.
I switched to my headlamp, put my flashlight back in my bag, and went into the darkness.
I started to walk the corridor. The walls were carved here too, but this time the designs seemed to be telling a story. Almost like hieroglyphics. Except, they were devoid of people. There were some animals I recognized, tigers, snakes, etc, and a few other not native to this land, like what looked to be horses and mammoths.
It showed basic rock formations, landscapes. Then the rocks broke down smaller and smaller. There were blobs, maybe clouds, following the rocks. The animals came in, smaller at first. It showed more blobs and what appeared to be a sword. After the sword, more tools, and finally a carving of a great masked god, like the ones outside near the chasm.
I kept walking. What else was there to do? Either I’d find it, or I wouldn’t. I had started to feel more optimistic after seeing the carvings. The sword was a great sign, though there was no way of telling if it was my sword.
Hyperion, the sword of the gods. The shatterer of bones. The piercer of the sky. The Moon devourer.
My headlamp glinted off something in the distance, and I picked up the pace. Pointed straight at me in the path was the blade of the sword. The light from the top of my head glanced off the shiny metal and carved into the stone. I stood in awe. The blade had deep carvings of a geometric pattern along the edge.
The reflected light seemed more brilliant than the light from the source. Somehow, it had avoided all rust and looked as if it had been polished mere hours ago. I wondered if that meant it was still sharp.
I reached my hand out, and placed my palm on the flat blade. The geometries glowed a fierce yellow, and shot light further down the corridor I had yet to visit. They outlined a sharp silhouette, like a thousand swords all melted together. Lights recessed in the ceiling came up.
Glowing an unnatural yellow, a ship faded in from the darkness. It looked like a fighter jet made from the bodies of ten thousand blades, all sharp edges and dark mirrors.
My journey would go no farther. That was the day the conquest began.