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The Sword of Power

by  Sue Murray

Posted: Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Word Count: 446

Chapter One

The still form of a young woman lay in a crumpled heap on the dusty floor of the torch lit cavern.

The cave was roughly circular in shape, about forty feet in diameter, and rose to a height of thirty feet in the centre. The floor was smooth and covered with millions of small dust filled hairline cracks, the walls and roof remained natural rough jagged rock. The roof was hidden in deep shadows, but huge, even darker patches, showed evidence of a past rock fall.

Flaking rust encrusted iron brackets were scattered around the walls, holding blazing torches in place. Their yellow, wildly, dancing flames cast grotesque black images around the cave, and the thick grey smoke given off from the burning material hung in a heavy pallor in the still air.

In the depths of the cave pools of water lay hidden, continuously being fed by the mechanical, steady, drip of water that seeped through from the rock above.

The woman in the centre of the cave was not alone; four small men were desperately trying to remove a bracelet from around the unconscious womanís wrist. As they worked, they kept furtively glancing into the shadows where a fifth man was stood. He was dressed in flowing robes, richly adorned with jewels, and quietly watched their progress.

A delicate, blue crystal hung from the gold chain of the womanís bracelet, and at every touch of the crystal on the menís exposed flesh, thin tendrils of smoke would rise into the air as the skin blistered and burned, causing them to cry out in pain and nurse their injured hands.

An aura of authority and power surrounded the richly dressed man; he was used to having his orders obeyed immediately and without question. His dark hair was touched with silver at the temples, showing him to be older than his appearance suggested, but underneath his ornate robes his body remained vigorous and at its prime.

With an audible crack, two of the links of the gold chain suddenly snapped apart and the bracelet fell free, the men leaped away in an instant defensive reaction.

The bracelet hovered uncertainly in the air, not falling to the ground as would be normal. It then moved slowly through the air towards the fifth man, his eyes alight with greed, satisfaction and even a little fear. It finally came to rest in an elaborately carved rose wood box held open in his shaking hands.

Immediately the bracelet was safely in the box all five men left the cave using a tunnel hidden in the darkness at the rear.

The woman was left for dead on the floor.