A late entry, yet again. I could offer excuses for my tardiness, but I’m sure you don’t really care. You just want the conclusion, right? Well, then I’m afraid I have some disappointing news. You see, as I was writing, an unexpected character rocked up, and refused to disappear. He wanted some screen time, and as a result, this is NOT the final part of the story. Yes, I have one more part to come. So please, enjoy this story, and I hope to return with the thrilling conclusion soon!
For the first part of the story, click here.
Also, this story was inspired by the Inspiration Prompt follow the colours. But, in a sense, it also fits into this week’s list of Be Kind ReWrite’s prompts: No one remembers but me.
Quick reminder: The story began with Sleet, a sixteen year old member of the Colori Tribe, undergoing his Cave Trial, where the Gods fight to gain his destiny. Five Gods and Goddesses took up the challenge and appeared as brilliant threads of colour to guide him out of the Cave. One by one, they began to disappear. “…And then there were two.”
Colours in the Cave
The twin threads began to race through the tunnels. Sleet hurried to keep up, grazing his elbows against the narrowing walls, which glowed eerily in spiralling patterns of orange and white, like sunset and moonlight intertwined. It came down to these final deities; as Sleet followed faithfully behind their brilliant coloured cords, he sent a final prayer.
Please, Caccia, please. Let it be you.
The warm, orange glow of the Goddess of the Hunt burst teasingly ahead of the white thread, but soon after rejoined it in its wild path.
Sleet was capable in the art of hunting. He knew how to make spears and arrows; he was a natural with a bow. If her fiery thread guided him out, Sleet would take up the vows as one of Caccia’s hunters with honour, and serve his Tribe with perseverance. He would strive to be one of the greatest hunters of the Colori people, if only Caccia saw fit to override her component.
The other possibility drove a dagger through his heart.
Twisting and turning beside Caccia’s burnt thread was the mark of Fidukko, the God of Faith. A champion of Fidukko has not emerged from the Cave in quite some time; now, as Sleet chased after the endless battle of orange of white, his mind was consumed by the worrying thought that it was past time that the God introduced his next worshipper—a man who would become the next Priest of the Colori Tribe.
Their current Priest, Pakrai, rarely left the safety of his temple; his back was arched in an ancient curve, and his face was a scarred map of age lines. Sleet knew that if Fidukko claimed his destiny, he would be expected to begin his training immediately, under Pakrai’s white, unseeing eyes.
Priests were revered in the Tribe. They received fresh meat, clean water, the Gods’ guidance. But for this, they must make a sacrifice—all Priests must be abstinent, and live a solitary life of purity.
If Sleet was consumed by Fidukko’s hot white thread, Shaana would no longer fit into his life.
The colours of the cords began to dim; far up ahead, Sleet could see the pinpoint light of an exit. Yet still the deities before him intertwined in their fitful dance, arguing for the right to Sleet’s soul.
The two threads seemed to merge, for a moment, forming a colour too bright to be defined. Sleet clenched his eyes shut, fumbling to remain upright as the stones beneath his feet formed a steady incline. When the light beyond his eyelids dimmed, he took a breath and dared to look upon his victor.
It took all his strength to remain upright when he was faced with the bold, white snake of Fidukko.
The Faith thread reached the exit. Where it hovered made the sunlight look dull in comparison to its radiance, but Sleet no longer saw beauty. In a fit of anger, he flung his arm out to claw at the white light, feeling a sense of satisfaction when it dissolved into oblivion, leaving the Cave much darker than it had been.
Sleet crawled out through the ragged exit, glanced up to where the sun burned bright to gather his bearings, and swiftly headed for home. But in truth, these actions were instinctive and done without thought, for his mind was too greatly burdened by his new path of manhood.
He barely noticed the watchmen who greeted him upon his return. He didn’t blink when his brothers approached with eager smiles, or his parents with their pride. He vaguely acknowledged that the Chief had emerged from his dwelling and was preparing to induct him as a man of Colori, for the only person who really stood out, as bright and as beautiful as the orb within the Cave, was Shaana.
She smiled at him when she noticed his stoic figure, lowered the basket she had been weaving and rose to her feet, as graceful as a wolf. Before she could say a word, Sleet pulled her close and clung to her, revelling in the warmth of her arms and the tickle of her hair as if they were the only things keeping him pinned to the earth.
In a sense, they were.
He felt her stiffen slightly, and she pulled away with a respectful nod. “My Chief.”
Sleet kept a hand on Shaana’s elbow, needing her touch, but he also lowered his gaze as he turned to find the Chief standing behind him.
“Sleet,” the Chief said, with a soft smile at his lips. “We thank the Gods that you have returned to us. Before all of the Colori people, please tell us which deity offered you salvation, and for whom you shall live out your life in service of.”
They were familiar words, the same that were spoken to every returning youth, and yet Sleet now found himself unprepared. He had pictured many different scenarios of his return, but one thing had always remained consistent—regardless of the God who would make him into a man, Sleet had intended to ask Shaana’s father for her hand in marriage. After her own Cave trial, they would be wed by the Chief, have children, grow old, side by side for all of eternity…
It was this image in his head, and the feeling of his beloved by his side that led him to his answer.
“Caccia. The Goddess Caccia led me to safety.”
There was a cheer throughout the Tribe, particularly from the other hunters, who raised their weapons in delight.
Shaana pressed closed to him and kissed his cheek. “I knew you’d come back to me.”
Sleet could only nod; all his words seemed stuck in his throat as he passed through numerous hands, family members and friends and hunters, all wishing to congratulate him on his saviour.
It was only when he turned and saw Pakrai, a statue in the shadowed entrance of the temple, that Sleet realised the gravity of what he had done.
He had betrayed a God and lied to his Tribe. And looking into the Priest’s cold, milky eyes, Sleet was sure that he wasn’t the only one who knew.
End of Part Two. Final Part coming soon.
- Love The Bad Guy