Ben was surprised, the Pit wasn’t as large as he expected it to be. In his mind he pictured a giant hole in the ground, with steeply sloping sides and all manner of man and monsters battling below. The truth was much more mundane. Ahead of him was a hole, about fifteen feet across, and that was it. That was the pit. Oh sure, the bottom of it was down there somewhere, but he couldn’t help feel disappointed. The stories told, by drunks claiming to have been here and travelling storytellers had painted a very different picture. If it weren’t for the warning signs he would have thought he was in the wrong place. Despite the underwhelming nature of the hole he still approached carefully, he had seen holes like this before, with unsupported edges that collapsed as soon as anyone walked too close.
He inched his way closer using the path, feeling a deep seated nervousness. The air coming from the hole was warm and carried with it a faint animalistic stench, meat and pheromones. He stood at the edge, looking down. How many people and things had been thrown from here? Below something roared, he could feel it reverberating through his bones. He took a step back. Whatever was down there knew the drill and was probably expecting a meal. It would be disappointed. Ben had come by himself for no other reason than to see it. See the place where hundreds of prisoners were thrown into every year. There was light down there too, not enough to see properly, but enough to turn the total darkness into mere gloom. A small part of him wanted to just step right into it, to fall and fall and fall until he could finally see what lay at the bottom. The stories of it being filled with monsters were probably as exaggerated as the stories of the pit itself. None the less what was down there would be very interesting. He had heard the stories of the monsters, some dumb beasts but some cunning and calculating, which always led him to one question. Could there be a society of sorts down there? Some of the monsters were known to mimic human speech, was it true mimicry or were they actually talking? That was the kind of thing that interested him.
Ben stood at the ledge again, took a deep breath and yelled, “Hello!?” The sound of his voice echoed off the walls for almost a minute before it finally faded .There was another roar, this one louder, once that died down he could hear something else. He leaned over a bit more, “Who’s up there?” his heart started beating faster, someone, or something, intelligent was down there. “I’m a traveller, I wanted to see the pit. Who are you?” As his voice echoed it scrambled his words, making them hard to understand, but the voice replied all the same, the voice didn’t echo. “There are no words for me anymore. They’ve faded with time. I’ve asked those who visit, those who are thrown down here but none know of me. I’m old, older than any would dare believe. Once I tried to escape but no longer, this is my home now.”
“What are you?”
there was a noise, it reminded Ben of a dog throwing up, after a second he realised it was laughter. “I am life and death.” Ben felt a ripple of goosebumps spread across his flesh.
“Are you still there?”
Ben didn’t answer, the sound of the creatures voice was unnerving, if it was in the pit it was there for a reason. If it was telling the truth it could be something from the time before man. Such things were talked about in whispers, too afraid to say too much lest it turn the creatures gaze upon whoever was speaking of them.
“If you are still there I wonder if you could do a favour for me. I have been down here so long, I know very little of the world above. All I ask for is a book or two if you have them, maybe a story of a town or city. I do not want for much here, there is food and clean water, but there isn’t much intelligent conversation. It grows boring. I ask the same of most people who visit here. Some tell me stories of cities that stretch high into the sky, tales of how much land man has conquered.”
Ben thought for a moment, surely there could be no harm in talking to the creature, once he didn’t get too close to the hole. He thought for a moment and started talking about the Diamond Palace of Mount Seera. A place he had the chance to visit not too long ago. As he spoke he could see the palace clearly in front of him, its great diamond spires twisting upwards, the beautiful rainbows that coated the valley, the beautiful furniture crafted from diamonds and unbelievably comfortable.
“Thank you, I’ve never heard of such a place. It sounds like a wonder. In my time there was something similar, though made from material that no longer exists in this world. It was beautiful and almost impossible to comprehend.”
Ben looked around himself, it was almost dark. He had spent hours chatting to the creature and he was startled to find he couldn’t remember half of what was said. “It is getting dark out, I must go.”
“No, please stay, just a little longer. You could start a fire to stave off the darkness and the night chill.”
Ben opened his mouth to agree, somewhere an owl screeched, causing him to jump. “No. I better go. I have stayed far longer than I intended.”
below he heard the creature sigh, Ben moved back slightly. He hadn’t realised that it was so close to the hole. “I understand. Thank you for speaking to me. It’s been so long since anyone has shown me such kindness.”
Ben stood and stretched, yawning as he did so. “I wonder if you would do me one last favour?”
“What is it?”
“If you have a coin, or something shiny. I have a fascination for such things.”
Ben reached into his pocket and pulled out a small silver coin.
He tossed it into the hole. Below the creature laughed again, “This is wonderful. Thank you.”
Ben left the hole and made camp as far away from it as he could. He set himself up quickly and before long fell into a deep sleep.
Down below in the pit the creature turned the coin around in its hands, watching it glint in the low light. It really was beautiful. It cupped the coin in its hands and started to whisper. Finally, after all these years it had everything it needed to escape this wretched place. It could feel the spells holding it in place weaken, with a triumphant shriek it launched itself upwards and through the hole, flying high into the night sky. It spotted Ben sleeping below, it landed beside him, he didn’t stir. It lay one hand across his forehead and whispered into his ear. It launched itself into the sky, he would have a pleasant life, or as pleasant as one could have in the years to come, as thanks for releasing it. Others wouldn’t be as lucky. It had a long, long time to plan its vengeance on those who imprisoned it. Few of them were still alive, but they had descendants and places that they had loved. It would destroy them all, one by one.