Halfway, I'm almost there! She told herself encouragingly. But her heart still beat fast. Her hands were sweaty and hot over the gifts clutched tightly in them and her eyes were straining against the dark to see what lay in it's murky veil. Suddenly her left hand began to feel very hot, unnaturally hot and she cried out, as the blue stone began to burn fiercely. Using her coat as a glove, she held in the folds, shaking out her burnt hand and cursing quietly. What stupid sort of a trick was this? To give her a stone that would randomly burn her at will.
Suddenly the air temperature dropped. A chill wind swept against Hjay, sending odd shivers up her spine and making the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. She glanced around her, feeling deep inside her that she was being watched, but she saw nothing but blackness. The feeling however, strengthened and beginning to feel nervous, she dropped the stone into her pocket and began fumbling with her leather pouch. Maybe, she thought, the stone hadn't burnt her at random at all, maybe it had been warning her about something.
The chilling wind increased as she knelt down on the pavement. She tipped out the contents of her bag and the darkness immediately became complete. Hjay could see nothing. It was as if someone had shut the last light out in the world, extinguished every other living thing. She fumbled around in front of her in a panic, desperately trying to find the flint. Where had she put it?
The wind increased, blowing harder in her face and chilling Hjay to the marrow. Her hands became numb and stiff with cold. They scrabbled on the cold pavement until, at last, her fingers found the flint and candles, right in front of her.
'Drooooooppppp theeeem,' an eerie voice hissed at her. It blew to her on the wind and swirled around her whining with the wind. It grew louder and louder, until it was screaming inside Hjay's head. Her hands instinctively reached up to cover her ears but, at the same moment, she remembered the old man, leaning on his stick and saying, ''If you ever meet him, light one of those candles.''
Trying to shut out the screaming of the wind and unearthly voice, Hjay reached down and picked up the flint stones. She held them over the candle wick and struck them harshly against each other. A small shower of sparks erupted, but as soon as they hit the almost solid darkness, they disappeared. Frustration and desperation welling in Hjay, she struck them again – the same thing happened. Light! I need light! She cried inside her head. She struck them harder and a larger shower of sparks exploded. But still the candle did not light.
'Leaaaaveee themmmm, yoooou fooooolish girl!' the voice screamed again. The darkness began closing in around her and Hjay knew that, whatever, whoever it was, had moved very close to her – too close.
No, no! Hjay told herself. She was shaking hard now, from fear and cold, and almost dropped one of the flint stones. The voice around her screamed louder, deafening her. 'Light!' Hjay yelled back, striking the stones against each other again. This time the sparks flew. They fell on the candle wick which, incredibly, burst into flames. Immediately, a large halo of light was thrown through the darkness and, as Hjay looked up, she caught a terrifying glimpse of a shadowy figure standing over her, it's mouth wide and it's eyes fixed on the flame before her. Then it was swallowed up by the darkness beyond and vanished. The chilling wind died to whisper and the lights of the curtained windows around her flickered back into existence.
It's gone. Thought Hjay breathing a sigh of relief. She glanced up and down the dark street wildly but saw nothing. It's gone! Shaking with adrenaline she gathered up her belongings, the spare candle and the flint, and packed them in the leather bag. Then she drew the blue stone out of her pocket, it was cool and pleasant to touch. I must be safe for the time being, thought Hjay, otherwise it would tell me. She searched the street again with her eyes, but nothing moved. Relief still making her limbs shaky, she began to run. Not caring, now, how loud her footfalls were, she did not stop running until she was only a few metres from her front door – and then she skidded to a halt with a gasp of horror. There was not only one, but two black silhouettes standing beside the front door. They stood as still as statues, but Hjay could tell that they were watching her. She reached into her pocket and felt her stone, but it was cold. Who were they?
'We have been waiting for you,' said the taller of the two quietly.
Hjay made no move, but her mind was racing. She thought she recognised the man's voice but could not place it. Should she run? Were these silhouettes more of the ''enemy''?
'Come girl,' said the woman beckoning with a familiar gesture.
Hjay frowned in surprise and took a tentative step forwards. 'What are you doing here?'
'Waiting to see whether you could make it back by yourself,' the old man said shortly, stamping his stick impatiently on the ground.
Hjay stared at them in confusion. 'Why did you wait...? I mean, why are you so interested in me? I met this horrible creep on my way here – what was it?'
The old man held up a hand as if to ward off my questions, but the woman pushed his arm down.
'It was a test Hjay of your strength,' she said, her blue eyes blazing through the darkness like beams of light, 'We know now, that you are very powerful. No mere mortal could have lit that candle under such opposing energies. We have waited for you so that you can help us with our battle against the enemy. You must remember however, that this is only the beginning.