She was breathing hard, her leg hurt from the gash in it, and the blood was dripping down her ankle. She just wanted to lay down for a moment, but the ledge she had scrambled onto had nowhere near enough room for that, and she could not afford to fall.
The shadows slipped and slid below, ready for that fall. Waiting for it.
She turned and gazed above, up the rock face. Deep breath. Eyes closed. She blinked out of existence, reappearing again a dozen yards higher. Immediately she lurched, slipping on the loose gravel as it rolled beneath her. Her arms shot out, she leapt, and she fell, hard, on the wider granite expanse before her. She turned over, groaned, and struggled to sit up without upsetting the ground and falling to her doom. The gravel fell as she brushed it off the edge, tiny impacts echoing off the cave walls into rumbles. Her stomach echoed a rumble of its own, and she looked into her satchel.
Calling it a satchel was a stretch: it was the tattered remnants of a pennant she had found three days ago, tied into a bag shape and holding within it the meager rations she had managed to acquire: a few bits of dry tack and a single remaining strip of snake meat she’d smoked herself. She ate half the jerky and one of the biscuits, then peered below. She was unsure if the motion in the darkness was her imagination or was actually the lion. She was unsure if the lion was just her imagination or actually a lion.
She inspected her father’s sword. The runes she had memorized so long ago were caked in blood– that certainly didn’t seem to be her imagination. She had often wondered why she had kept the sword, having only used it the one time, but in these past few days it had been the only thing that had kept her alive. And for those three days she had instead wondered why it was the only thing that had appeared for her in the darkness. Had she found it and escaped, or had the Whisper provided it to her? Was this the start of a new debt to the Whisper, or the end of the old one?
She did not know. For now, she did not care. Between the lion and her quickly disappearing supplies, she cared only for escape. She looked up the rock face. Deep breath. Eyes closed. She blinked out of existence…