I was cut off. I didn't know what to do. How much I would have loved to find my way back to them, but now I had no choice: I had to find the feather.
I'd been told that this feather, the multicolored feather of an unknown bird, was a wellspring of untold energy, if you could find a shaman. The shaman were the only men in existence who could tap the untold power of the feather. My problem was, I was in a cave. All around, gray walls of stone reminded me of my isolation, that I was powerless to escape on my own. And where would I possibly find a Shaman here, in these depths? But I had to try.
I don't know how much time passed after that. Time didn't matter, neither did thirst or hunger, it was only the feather, and the shaman. This was my only hope to get back to them.
Then I found it. How beautiful it was, but my mind quickly brought reality back to me - soon this cave would be filled with burning earth, with the flaming lifeblood of the earth, and when that happened, we would all die.
With an intensity borne of total desperation I sought the shaman, the one being who could give me escape and blessed passage from my solitude. In every crack of every corner I looked, shouted, begged, and then to my unending relief, I found him. So strange it was to see him there, sitting placidly on a rock in meditation, a shaman in a loose-fitting brown robe that covered everything but his hands and his gray-brown head of hair. I don't remember what he said, I only remember fumblingly handing him the feather, tears coming out of my eyes. Quickly and effortlessly the shaman took the feather and began transforming it, taking the individual fibers and turning them, taking from the random collection of color and creating order. Every fiber that touched his hand became a colored stone shaft that bound itself instantly to its neighbor. Furiously his hands turned as he chanted, instructing me on how to use the stone in a language of no words until finally, it was finished, a square that fit in my hand.
Without thanking him I bolted to the place that I loathed, the boundary between myself and my family. As I ran I felt the rumbling of the earth beneath my feet, felt the veins of the earth opening, and I prayed I was not too late.
They were there, where I had left them, and my heart nearly stopped at their sight. I raised my hand with the stone held high and spoke, the power of my word shattering the invisible barrier that held me from them. Just as I did so I saw my daughter stumble into the fire, saw it bubble and burst as it adhered to the skin of her face, neck and shoulder. She screamed in innocent, guiltless torment as she clawed at her face. Again I spoke and held the stone high, and the horrible fire flew from her, leaving charred skin. I ran to her and picked her up, cradling her burned body in my arms, but now more of the fire was rushing up. I raised the stone, and violet bolts of power burst from it, suppressing the flame.
"Let us go!!" the fire roared, and probed for a new place in the cave's floor to find release, again I thrust it back. "You cannot win! Let us go!!!" Again and again I felt their coming and thrust them down, each attempt coming more quickly than the last. I felt the uneven dryness of my daughter's burned face against my skin, and I swore that I would never give up. LET US GOOOO!!!!! The flame raged, simultaneously ramming many different places in the cave floor, thirsting to consume our flesh in fiery ecstasy. But I would not. I could not .
Then I heard someone whispering in my ear. "Dan." The whisper spoke clearly. Immediately I thought it was my wife, who had been sick, and that she needed help. My eyes flew open and looked - but I saw not a soul in the bed with me. Then my stomach turned sickeningly, and a chill ran down my spine.
They had won.