Right then, if you missed the first part of ‘Hunters Of Gods And Demons’ then catch it here. If you’re one of those who’ve read the first part then I thank you very much. If you’ve read it and commented on it or mentioned to me you’ve read it then I thank you even more.
Here’s part 2 alongside my thoughts at the end.
HUNTERS OF GODS AND DEMONS Part2
He was standing on a small pile of rocks as if taking to a stage. He pointed his torch upwards towards the ceiling. The beam of light shone up towards the high stalactites. The sound of water ran through the cave, a small stream just to one side.
“Do you know the difference between stalactites and stalagmites dear boy?” he asked.
I hadn’t found quite enough time to gather my thoughts.
“I’m sorry, what was the question?”
“Stalagmites and stalactites, the difference between?”
I thought for a small moment. This information had probably been put in front of me in school but, after what had just happened, I found myself in no position to recall. Sensing my hesitation Philip pushes forward.
“Tights always go down!”
He chuckled at his own joke for a few seconds. I found myself smiling along with him.
“What just happened?” I asked.
He folded his arms.
“Are you one of those people who gets shown a magic trick and instantly tries to work out how it was done?”
“Yes” he replied “but some take a few moments to enjoy what they’ve just seen instead”.
I turned around to face where we had come from. There was no wind blowing through the entrance we had just come through, no view to the outside world, no sunlight. There was only a wall of dark stone. I held out my hand thinking the rocks would part again. My fingers hit only the cold rock and stopped there.
“How do we get out?” I whimpered.
“Out?” said Philip “I was rather thinking more of going further in, I have something to show you”.
He jumped down off the rocks and walked away. I quickly followed. The lights from our headlamps illuminated the cave just enough to see ahead. We walked alongside the small river, taking small steps and edging our way through the dark. Eventually the high ceiling narrowed down into a tight tunnel, the walls smoothed down. Eventually we both had to stoop in order to continue.
“What did you want to show me?” I asked, still thinking exactly why I was down a narrow tunnel.
“Sometimes people forget” Philip started.
“Beliefs that become outdated and talked of less and less” he said, pressing onwards down the tunnel and never turning to face me.
“What has this got to do with a mountain?”
“When they’re forgotten about, many Gods or demons go into hiding from mankind, only occasionally emerging to rattle a few cages here and there”.
There was a silence as this thought hung in the desperate air for a while.
Philip stopped, turned around and held his hand on my shoulder.
“I think I may have found one”.
For a short while I was glad that Philip seemed to have a plan for this impromptu expedition. Upon thinking more about it I had a sudden need to ask a very important question.
“Is this a God you’ve found or a Demon?”.
“If I asked you to name the God of Mischief who would you say?”
Philip’s face turned downwards, as if almost disappointed by my response.
“Most people would say him but there were more with that title”.
The tunnel opened out once more, easing the atmosphere and making the walk much easier. I turned my head only for my light to settle on a stone figure. It was around six feet tall or thereabouts, muscular and dressed in furs. The figure’s face was covered my a mask which looked at first glance to be made of bone with antler horns positioned at the top. Held aloft above one shoulder was a spear with sharp flint at the tip. I reached out a hand to touch it.
“I wouldn’t if I were you” said Philip “Anything here is property of the Gods, they may not take kindly to a mortal meddling”.
I quickly retracted my arm as Philip continued walking.
“What is it though? Who?” I inquired.
“A guard positioned at the threshold” came the response.
“Threshold of what?”
Philip pointed further down the tunnel towards a light in the distance. We both gathered pace down towards the doorway. Philip walked in first, keeping to the edge of the room. He stood waiting for me to arrive.
“What say you of this?” he said, looking almost proud of what was in front of him.
The tunnel through the mountain had suddenly given way to something that looked almost purpose built. It was a large room with tall walls that supported a high ceiling. All were perfectly smooth, almost marble in appearance. Sunlight shone down from gaps in the upper levels leaving round disks of gold on the floor. In the centre of the room there was a large wooden table with intricate carvings across the surface. On each leg of the table were carvings of the same antlered mask worn by the guard outside.
Philip waited for the initial amazement to pass.
“This isn’t on the map they give to the tourists” he said.
I shook my head “No, it certainly isn’t”.
“There’s talk around this place of a God called Bevran”.
I searched in my head for anything like that name.
“I’ve never heard of anybody…”
Philip cut me off.
“I refer to my previous point”.
He propped his stick on the table and tapped the wooden surface.
“How did you find this place?” I asked.
Philip took a deep breath.
“Local legend mentions Bevran being a figure who used to walk the mountain and the woods here. He would pop up every once in a while to remind the mortals he was still very much here”
“Have you seen him?”
“Not he himself, I’ve only recently discovered this place”.
“But how did you make it here, walking through the rocks?”
His voice went low.
“I went looking”.
“And why show me all this?”
“So that somebody else would believe me”.
The room was peaceful, if I strained my ear enough I could just about hear the birds chirping in the high parts of the mountain. There was a satisfactory stillness to the area.
The sound of a footstep came from down the tunnel, quickly followed by another. For a second Philip and I looked at each other as we both tried to silently think what it could have been. An animal of some kind perhaps? Surely not this deep down? Philip stepped away from the table, never taking his eyes off the doorway.
“I think it’s been noted that we’re here” he called.
Standing in the doorway was the guard. No longer was this figure made from stone but now of flesh and bone. It’s masked head turned towards both of us before raising the spear over it’s shoulder. It jerked forwards as if trying to shake of years of inactivity. Philip, for reasons known only to himself, proceeded to copy this movement with his stick. There was a stand off over the table. Philip turned his eyes towards me.
“Whilst I’ve got him like this I suggest you run” he shouted as the guard brought the spear down, taking a chunk of wood from the table. I turned and ran, only once turning back to see that Philip was not following. I hurtled down the dark tunnel, cowering as best I could through the smaller gaps. It was then I became aware the sound of the footsteps had not gone quiet. Gulping down air I forced myself onwards eventually meeting the stream. The antlers of the guard’s mask scraped across the rocks of the tunnel behind me.
I reached the end of the cavern and had to stop in front of the rock wall. The stones themselves seemed to stand out even in the darkness. I twisted around only to see the outline of the guard running towards me, spear ready. If it had worked before, I thought to myself, then I must work again.
Gathering pace I threw myself headlong towards the wall fully expecting to smash directly into it. Instead the rocks parted and I found myself once again running through the shadowy cloak of the mountain. This time however I did not have Philip’s hand to hold. I could only close my eyes and hope that the guard would not or could not follow. My head was down, a full on charge through chance hoping my luck would hold. My legs could no longer keep up the pace and I collapsed, sucking in every last bit of air I could.
When my eyes opened the sunlight shone down. The early morning sun had risen high in the sky and the grass had lost the dew. The opening of the mountain that had parted for me showed no signs of breaking, the face still steadfast and solid. Philip was nowhere to be seen. I quickly started to dig around in my pockets for the advert I had torn from the newspaper that morning. Once it was back in my hands I unfolded it only to see that it was blank. A scrap and nothing more with no words or numbers upon it. I thought about calling the police to report Philip missing but I had doubts they would ever believe me. A raving lunatic pointing and screaming at a blank piece of paper.
I walked back to my car, staring blankly at the walkers and mountain bikers who were passing in the parking area. I sat in the driver’s seat and took a few deep breaths before turning the ignition and pulling away.
It tails off a bit at the end there doesn’t it? The pay off of finding a dining table after walking through some rocks probably wasn’t the best idea either. The attempt to get across that Philip is also Bevran ain’t exactly done too well either. Also, it’s really obvious I read Neil Gaiman a lot.
For a knock about piece I did when I was waiting on some technology to work it’s not bad. I haven’t written anything like it in a long while.
Feel free to ask questions about it or tear it apart in the comments below. I won’t cry honest. 🙂