Concave walls, towering impossibly into the miraculous light above. Their very peaks lurched over, acquainting each other in the middle.
Below this natural dome, darkness ruled. The light above served as a beautiful monument of nature, and increasingly frequently, a delicacy. But when it came to lighting their way, the people had to consider other methods.
Using a lightly sewn wicker-style jar, the glow worms were transported around the village until their light died out, at which point they were swiftly thrown into the nearest stew.
Getting the glow worms in the first place was an achievement to behold. A member of the village would, over time, carve a ladder into the walls straight to the top. The higher the rungs climbed, the more hooked the carvings became, allowing a person to grab and hang from the acutely angled tops with relative ease.
Of course, anyone who has ever tried such rock climbing would know it to be easier said than done. Those permitted to climb for glow worms were trained and tested, ritualised and awarded the rite to the right to the harvest.
Money and trade were not significant characteristics of this secret underworld civilisation; all commodities were considered to be in abundance, and so all could take whatever they wished – if they had the know-how.
As centuries passed, knowledge spread exponentially. There were once rules to prevent this progression in a desperate attempt for hierarchy, but in a world of plenty, hierarchy is the black sheep.
Needless to say, it wasn’t long before every wishful thinker was clambering up the rungs, higher and higher until they either fell to their deaths, exhaustively climbed back down or achieved their goal of a handful of worms.
But worms could only breed so quickly. They rapidly became scarce, the pseudo stars above started to fall into darkness.
Below, hues of dark blue penetrated the central setting from an unknown source. This led to the village’s natural inclination to a higher power, and they had thus constructed a majestic temple directly in this navy glimmer.
The walls of the temple opposed the cave. Slightly convex, they could be slotted perfectly into the segment of cave wall they were facing. This slightly eggshell design was built to withstand forces believed to be pressed upon the people by a vengeful God – the same God that had forced them to retreat into the cave in the first place and now struggle eternally with ventures into the outside world in case He had some free time to slaughter the slightest sinners.
The villagers hadn’t a name for Him, but they had a name for their protector, Alaff who, to be honest, didn’t do a great deal. Any day that went by without incident was generally assigned to Alaff and the village pretty much settled with that.
Exceptionally, praise for the plethora of food and abundance of water in such a drab, dark location was given to the people, the workers, the architects. Those who sat down and furrowed their brows until something sustainable came to mind. Needless to say, Glow worms were also praised for their inevitable involvement.
Alaff looked down on the villagers from some disused upper rung, idly ‘keeping watch’, protecting them all from whatever they pleased. They didn’t really expect much of Alaff, so it never did any harm to take a break here and there.
Alaff knew the other guy was weak. The very thought of entering The Cave spelled certain doom, because Alaff was bigger and more suited to the darkness. Should He threaten The Cave and cause the lights to go out, Alaff will assure a final breath from Him.
Alaff knew he was an effective bluff. And that was more than enough.
To be continued…