The Cavewight

The cave was silent.

A droplet of water splashed on the floor breaking the silence.

The earth shuddered.

The cave reverberated. Ripples ran along the walls.

A flake of rock fell to the floor with a sharp click.

A speck of plasm fell with it, soundlessly.

It had no name.

It waited.

A drop of water fell, touching it.

The unnamed thing absorbed it and grew.

A speck of dust alighted on it. It was absorbed.

Bit by bit “Unnamed” added to its bulk.

Its one cell divided into two cells then rested.

It divided again, paused, divided again, faster and faster.

It absorbed every mote and droplet that fell near. It grew larger and larger.

It became aware.

– I am. But what am I? I don’t know. I am hungry. I must find food.

– How can I find food? I must move. Can I Move? No. How can I move?

– Grow hairs, push with them.

“Unnamed” grew hairs. They rippled, it moved.

– Yes! Yes I can move.

“Unnamed” rippled a minute distance across the floor. Found more dust. Absorbed it.

– I am thirsty. I must find water. I must move further.

It moved further, another microscopic distance, found a water droplet. Absorbed it.

– I must grow more.

The small blob of cells absorbed the hairs.

– I must move faster, further.

A thin extension developed on one side, getting longer. Its tip gripped the floor. The extension grew fatter and shorter drawing the bulk of “Unnamed”, further. Faster.

A second extension copied the first.

– I must move faster.

A third and then a fourth extension developed. They lifted “Unnamed’s” body off the ground, it reduced friction, it ran across the floor, faster.

– I need more food. I need more water. I must grow faster.

It absorbed everything it met.

It met another like itself. It didn’t know it was a sibling. They struggled. It won and doubled in size, intelligence and cunning.

– There are others creatures. I must fight. I must win. I am strong.

The two front extensions became arms, the rear, legs. It ran upright.

It rested.

– I sense many others. I detect movement.

It pounced, killed, absorbed.

– I sense other vibrations. Sound? I hear.

“You hear me now. I am your Master. I am the embodiment of evil. I am a Demon. You are a demondim spawn. A cavewight. I name you Groil.”

“Thank you. Master”

– I am Groil. I grow. I am a cavewight, a demondim spawn. I must win. I am strong. I can feel movement. I can hear movement, it is another creature.

It pounced. Devoured. Won.

It grew a featureless head, located its senses in it.

– I sense something else. It is unlike sound. It is chemical. I absorb. It is smell.

– I sense another is near, it is smaller than me.

It gathered it in. It absorbed. There was no struggle. It used less energy. It was learning.

– I am Groil. I am a cavewight. I am bigger, faster, hungrier and thirstier. I am evil. I grow.

Its head grew ears, nostrils, a mouth and movement sensors.

Its mouth grew teeth and fangs for tearing meat.

Its arms grew hands, fingers, talons – they were sharp. It flexed its fingers. They grew longer. It raked them across the floor, gathered in many smaller and younger spawn. It fed. It grew stronger, larger. It cowered against the wall trying to look smaller than it was.

– I musn’t let others or the Master know how big I am. I mustn’t appear to be a threat to others.

“Where are you Groil?”

“I am here Master. What do you want of me?”

“I see you have grown. You are wiser, faster. Grow for me Groil, we shall do great things together.”

“Yes, Master.”

It continued to scavenge, eat all that it killed. It found nothing stronger than itself. It absorbed the knowledge of those it ate. It grew, developed eyes. It was larger now. It was a fully formed demondim. Its black skin gleamed healthily like oiled rubber.

“Master?”

“Yes, Groil. What do you want?”

“What is my purpose? Why do I exist?”

“You will help me perform magic. Demon magic. We will leave this place. We will find another world. A world where there is more intelligence than there is here. We will feed on them, absorb their intelligence. We will absorb all knowledge. We will become mighty. We will become masters of that world. We will move to another world, on and on, until we conquer all. We will become masters of the universe you and I. Groil.”

“I will, listen and learn from you. Help me Master. Help me learn demon magic. I will be a good pupil.”

“I will teach you when you are ready. You must grow strong and cunning to defeat your peers. The struggle will get harder and harder. You must win. I picked you. Win for me Groil”

“Yes. Master.”

On the cave floor, spawn squirmed, hunted, killed and devoured each other in the gloom. A rustling as more and more spawn grew. Skin on skin. Claw against claw. Fighting. Some winning, some losing. Always moving always growing as each absorbed, or fed on the other. Small flashes of light where claws met in battle. Small screams as they died.

Groil cast about in front, keeping its back to the wall. Scouring the floor for food. Always appearing smaller than it really was, so that it competed with creatures smaller, weaker. Always winning. Its smooth ebony skin blemished. Scarred, lined with talon scratches where opponents had marked it forever. But every victory was a triumph, increasing Groil’s knowledge, speed, cunning and skill. Every scar was a lesson in survival.

The cave was large. There were others like Groil. They hadn’t met yet. Each small master dominating part of the cave floor. Each growing and enlarging its domain. Death by petty death. Each trawling their surrounding area as fewer and fewer spawn remained.

The Master was so large they didn’t recognise it as a creature. It sat motionless watching the melee around it. Every now and then it impaled a creature on its talon and consumed it. Contemplating when it would leave this place for greater things. It moved its arms slowly in a circular motion, purring and trilling. A glowing spot appeared in the cave, it grew brighter, larger. The scuffling ceased. The cave went silent. The ball of light grew hotter. Expanding, enlarging. With a flick of its wrist the demon cast the fireball to the floor where it exploded into a thousand flashing sparks. Creatures burned, screamed. The demon laughed a deep howling laugh. Groil cowered close to the wall.

“Master.”

“Yes, Groil.”

“Will you teach me all your demon magic?”

“Yes. I will. Groil.”

“When? Master.”

“When you are ready.”

“When will that be? Master.”

“Soon. Groil, soon.”

The cavewights resumed their struggle for life amidst death.

Seven, picked by the demon, dominated. Growing ever larger. Competing, winning. Seven creatures, the magic number needed to release it through a magical rift in time and space to another world. Groil the largest, the most dominant, the favourite.

This cave was a special cave. It was a gateway cave. The Demon in its quest for dominance had jumped here with another long dead. Unable to move upwards until the spell casting requirements were met. The Demon growled softly to itself in pleasureable anticipation. It now had the means to move on, upwards to its destiny. Soon it would find a new place, a better place, a bigger place.

Gradually the floor of the cave appeared. Larger and larger areas were clear of creatures. The middle of the floor was the first to clear. A symbol engraved on the floor was slowly uncovered. A heptagon with two arms off it. Seven points for the chosen to stand upon to work the magic of the gate. The demon gave an evil grin. Soon, it thought, soon I will move on.

“Groil?”

“Yes, Master.”

“You are not the only cavewight. I need others to be able to pass on to another world. There are others like you chosen to assist me. But you will come with me. I will need you to keep the gate open. You and another six are required to get us through. “

“Yes, Master.”

“I have marked them so that you can recognise them. Each, like you, have a white spot on their chest. Do not fight them, we need them. Gather in the centre of the cave with my chosen ones. The time has come to start learning demon magic.”

Seven Cavewights, Groil included, cautiously left their individual areas and moved each eyeing the other. Gradually they formed a rough semicircle in front of the demon.

“Ah. There you are I see you now.” The Demon caused a light to illuminate the central area of the cave, the cavewights cowered before it. They stood within the heptagon, the demon smiled an evil smile.

“Come my little ones, do not be frightened.” The Demon bent its huge neck down and peered into the faces of the chosen ones. “If you do as you are told and learn fast. Choose. Learn, do as you are told and nothing will harm you. Fail me, or learn slowly, you will know pain.” Its upper lip twitched in a humourless smile of anticipation. “Oh, yes, but I need you, you are all I have. You won’t die. You will survive and know my wrath.”

The cavewights cowered even lower, except Groil. Groil was larger than the other cavewights. Groil moved towards the Demon, “Do we learn magic now, Master? Has the time come?”

The Demon looked on Groil, “Oh yes, now you learn.”

Day by day the seven learnt. First by imitation, then following the lead of the Demon. As they improved so did the speed at which they learnt. Like their growth soon they were proficient in what the Demon needed. They took their places in the heptagon one to each point, on the arms, Groil on the left, another on the right. The Demon stood between them.

“It is time. We are ready. We will open the gate. I will pass through, Groil will hold it open for me and then pass through.”

But Groil wasn’t deceived. The moment the Demon passed through there would be insufficient magical power to maintain the gate. Death would be its reward.

The seven worked hard on the spell and before them a hole in space and time appeared. Within the gate strange creatures grazed on lush grass, others flew in the air, the new world was plentiful.

“It is a good world,” said the Demon.

Groil moved closer to the Demon.

“It is nearly time.”

“Yes. Master,” Groil edged nearer and nearer to the demon.

“Now,” said the Demon and Groil sprang on its back, knowing there was only one chance. Mounted behind its head Groil swiftly bit into its brain and then leapt over its head into the new world.

The gate closed trapping the Demon half in the new world, half in the old. It gave out an excruciating cry of pain as it died, its life-fluid staining the fresh grass and asked, “Why have you betrayed me Groil? I have done so much for you.”

Groil just replied, “I learn fast, Demon, for I am now in your place. I am taking over as the embodiment of evil. You should have feared me. I was your chosen one. I fought. I killed. I learnt. I survived. I won. I am the Master now.”

But Groil was young. He wasn’t as cunning or as wise as the master. He hadn’t absorbed its ancient wisdom and survival senses.

Far above, a winged predator, all muscle and talons, had espied Groil with its incredibly sharp vision. Groil didn’t sense it as it plummeted as fast as feather and bone could fall. Silent to Groil but in a loud rush of wind it dropped. In an instant it hit Groil, talons breaking its backbone and piercing its brain, dying without knowing. A drop of plasm fell to the rock and was absorbed capilliaried into minute cracks to await for millennia, erosion and rebirth.

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