Part Two is here
I dunno, should I find a fancier name for this thing than just 'Kieran's Tale'? I'm thinking to meself, but not sure.
The walls of the pit were sticky, and Kieran found himself slowed as he climbed downwards. Not for the first time, it occured to him that this might not have been the best plan he had ever had, but he shook off the sense and continued to climb. What mattered was that he was needed, and he wasn't going to leave Elena to die.
He frowned, pausing at a ledge to catch his breath, and considered for a moment. Five minutes. In another five he was going to have to turn around. On the up side, the light hadn't started to falter, so his theory had been right there. Its pale blue light illuminated the pit itself, a rock wall that seemed mostly natural, but with a strange gray slime coating it; it made climbing both easier and harder. On the one hand, it was easier for Kieran to keep his grip, but it made climbing slow going. He imagined that he would be thankful on the climb back up, at any rate.
Kieran continued his climb, aware that there was now movement just outside the area of his light. Fighting down a shiver of nervousness, he glanced downwards, and smiled. The floor was now visible below him, strewn with rocks and dark moss. With a final step, he stepped down onto the floor of the pit, looking around.
The bottom of the pit was made of the same rough material as the wall, a long tunnel that stretched both ways from where he stood. A strange black orb was stuck to the alcove to the right, like a giant chrysalis, just at the border of his light. Kieran glanced upwards, but was unable to see the top of the pit. He gulped, and risked a call.
"Elena? Are you here? Answer me, please!"
There was a hissing laugh, and Kieran looked towards the globe, taking two steps towards it. His breath caught in his throat as he saw the faint humanoid outline within it, and he gasped. Drawing his sword, he started to run towards the globe, suddenly afraid that he would find someone within.
His rush was stopped suddenly as something wrapped around his leg, pulling him flat on his face. Spitting dirt out of his mouth, Kieran looked backwards, and his eyes widened. One of the black tendrils that he had seen above the pit had advanced to within the range of Kieran's light, and grabbed his leg; it was pulling him in the direction of another alcove. Kieran raised his sword to slash at it, only to have his arm grabbed by another tendril wrapping from behind, squeezing his wrist until the sword fell from his fingers. He gasped, and looked over his shoulder to the lit orb, only to find it shining as brightly as ever.
"You are, perhaps, hoping for salvation?" The hissing laugh came again, and the tendrils waved. Kieran fought down panic as it continued. "A cunning thought, but not cunning enough. The lights do nothing, foolish boy. Now, you will feed us as so many others have before." The tendrils hissed together, as more came to wrap around him. Kieran tried to struggle, but his strength was nothing to the strength of the tendrils. "It is a weak and pale light now, boy. Its power is less even than mere fire. Come, join us. There will be no pain, only emptiness." He found himself pulled into an empty alcove, and screamed in anger as the tendrils coiled around his legs, leaving a thick black muck that began to expand upwards. One tendril reached to the straps holding the glowing orb, letting it roll across the floor. Absently, the small part of Kieran's mind not gibbering in terror noted that the tendrils avoided the orb itself. Light's still good, it's just not enough. I need more. How do I find more light...? Elena's face swam into his mind, and he gritted his teeth as the ooze swam slowly upwards. He would find a way. He couldn't let Elena down. He couldn't let himself down. There had to be something...!
Suddenly, Kieran was bathed in light, and the tendrils' hisses had turned to high-pitched screams. He fell heavily to the ground, but stood quickly, grabbing for his sword once again. Only then did he take stock of his situation.
Bits of black tendril lay strewn across the brightly-lit floor, rapidly steaming into oblivion. At the outside edge of the glorious golden-purple light, tendrils were retreating back into the darkness, hissing in pain and fear. Confused, Kieran looked upwards, only to find the area above him no brighter or darker. It was only as he looked back down at the ground that he realized that the light was coming from him.
Thoughts spun through him, then. He was glowing. Gold. Anathema gold. But the tendrils hated the light. It was pure, like fire but a thousand times stronger. It had dissolved the bindings they had wanted to use to feed from him. Which meant... spinning, he ran towards the other globe he had seen. As he did so, more tendrils erupted into existance, falling from the nooks and crevasses within which they had taken root to die writhing on the ground. Kieran had no thoughts for them; his attention was fixed on the globe.
As he reached it, it began to steam, and shrink. By the time he had reached it, Elena was lying in a quickly-dissolving pool of blackness, coughing faintly. Kieran reached her, kneeling, and cupping her head. "Elena! Are you alright?"
"I'll be... I'll be fine... that bastard..." She blinked, and then gasped. "Kieran! What are you doing here? What happened to your forehead??"
"Huh? Oh. I don't know, exactly. I came to get you." Kieran helped Elena to her feet, and she frowned. "The tendrils aren't actually repelled by the..."
"I know." Elena's face was hard. "Jarik told me before he knocked me over the edge." She shook her head at Kieran's shocked expression. "I should have seen it coming, but he caught me by surprise. But you... you're an Anathema??"
"I don't know... I just started glowing. It was, uh, pretty sudden." Kieran looked down at himself, and then, with suddenly wide eyes, up at Elena. "I don't feel any different. I didn't mean to..."
"Hush, kid." Elena shook her head. "You're you, all right. But you've got the symbol of the Unclean on your forehead." She sighed. "Don't worry, kid. We'll figure this out together. For now, we've got to get out of here."
"Not yet." Half-remembered thoughts filled Kieran's head, and he ignored Elena's confused look as he turned around the pit. "There were only a few of these, once. Hiding, deeper than could be found." He paused, holding his forehead. "They were going to feed off of you. Off of us. That takes time. Days. Maybe weeks. There are others down here." He looked up, his expression suddenly hard. "They came out of their hidey-holes, but it takes time to find new ones. I'm going to deal with them, and see if there's anyone else alive down here. You'd better stay with me; I can keep this light going as long as I need it."
Elena nodded after a moment. "I'll trust you on this one, Kid. Let's get moving."
And so, the two, both uncertain, ventured deeper into the darkness.