Woman of the Cave of Three Shadows
Written by castor :: [Monday, 12 January 2015 20:55] Last updated by :: [Tuesday, 05 May 2015 09:50]
Woman of the Cave of Three Shadows
A Tale by
Long ago in China lived an old man named Lou Rock. He was a farmer of some standing in his village. His neighbors would be humbled by his fields, his barns – but really he lived as precarious as they did, as year to year was the whims of the harvest. His apparent success a subject of constant worry, much like themselves.
His wife had died several years back, and he had but one son. Lou Cho, a handsome but sturdy man of about 20. He was always very respectful to his father and gave him all do manner – he would always work hard applying all of his energy and thought to his tasks, his deeds. He was a good son, and if he was all he had Lou Rock would be pleased by him and his efforts to keep the family name in good repute.
One of the symbols of Lou success was a heard of 30 Sheep, that produced beautiful wool. The Year before a merchant had come to offer him Silver for them – and Lou wished he had taken it. Because silver requires no food, no water, worries about no ticks or poxes. It is wealth that never grows, but it also never dies. A sheep is wealth that lives day to day.
Because that year there was a drought – not a huge drought. Though people in the village suffered, few perished or lost there farms. But Lou Watched his grass grow brown and his Sheep hungry.
Near his village was a place Called Shaelona – it was on the backside of a mountain, a valley that was to cold to grow rice, but full of green grass even in the driest years.
So one day he brought forth his child. “My son, Cho, I task you to take my heard and go through the pass to the fields of Shaelona over the mountain. There I want you to graze the heard for a month and a day so that they may grow fat on the grass that lie there”
Cho bowed his head, and prepared – for the next day he did start out on his journey, gathering a small satchel of food and clothing to head out on his journey.
The journey to the Land of Shaelona would take several days, and around the 4th hour of the first day, he had to cross a river – more of a large stream then anything. The sheep had little problems with it, happy to drink there fill. However Cho as he did so noticed an old man on one side.
“I don’t want to get wet” said the man “ I may catch cold and die – my bones are so old, my body so frail”
Cho nodded “Then let me help you”
Cho being a good person took the old man on his back and walked him across the river – it took him less then 10 minutes to do, and he felt okay for it.
As Cho was on the other side he stopped to fill his jug. “I am to take my fathers sheep To the fields of Shaelona on the other side of the mountain to graze”
“Shaelona” said the man “Then you will have to pass through Gate-fold Pass”
Cho nodded “so I have heard”
“Have you heard that a monster lives inside the pass – a horrible creature which roars. I have heard tale that sometimes those who enter the pass do not return – a victim to the creatures monstrosity
Cho listened to the word “That sounds terrible – what does it look like?”
“None know for sure – stories rumors but it is wrong to pass them – for all those who see it surely die … don’t join there ranks my friend”
However Cho had his fathers words, and though he consider returning home he knew his sheep had to be grazed before winter. So after another days journey, he did take them up the side of the mount ion, and after camping the night in front of it, then decided to pass through.
The pass was dark, and Eire – a small void of a space at places less then 5 Bu wide in front of massive rock faces. He past with his heard quietly fighting the urge to sing to make some measure of space. Cho had spent his life in the village and the farm – and those these could be open spaces where he was along for miles – he had never quite felt alone before gin his life.
Yet after several hours he past through. No monsters no roars. Beyond it on the other side of the mountain was the fields of Shelona, a vast grassy meadow and well watered from mountain rivers. His sheep where glad to see it and baaed in delight.
And So for a month he stayed there. Eating his meager rations, supplemented by some small berries and fruits he could find. It was equally lonely – though the occasional merchant made his way to the pass it would be days and at point weeks at a time before he saw another soul.
But on the last day of the month, there was a large rainfall. After it was over there was still clouds in the sky. A merchant came through. He came to Cho.
“Burr – good tidings man. But I must warn you the pass just got a big burst of snow up in the hills do to altitude – no doubt the next big rain will seal it up completely for the winter – and then you are a few weeks at most before all the grass dies in the fields, and you are trapped for good”
So Cho thinking his mission was best finished and looking at the clouds in the sky gathered his herd and once again went into the pass.
There was snow on the ground – about a foot of it. It was rough going and the sheep where unhappy – and slow. What had taken him hours before he realized was taking him much longer – he was only half way through when he realized that it was close to darkness.
When he heard a roar.
It was not the roar of a lion, or a dragon, or anything one could hear. It was loud and fearsome – but beyond that It sounded like the earth itself was making a noise, that mighty body of the earth god was piercing out in anger … at something he did. Something that he would do … it felt like an earthquake made noise.
Cho saw a cave entrance – a large dark affair … and he decided to hide from there from the monster. He lead his flock in.
He may have regretted it – for the cave like many are was long and dark, a twisting affair … though he made sure not to go to deep to keep the entrance out of site, he walked in … and waited.
But as the night fell … it grew that the light from the entrance proved no sol – lice – but he heard the noise …
As he looked he saw that snow was falling.
Cursing his fate but having no way to leave and continue – not even fuel for a fire he moved with his flock as far in as he felt safe and waited
The night was long and dark and he was cold and shivering.
But around the 2nd hour of nightfall. He tried to sleep … when something came to him.
He had no light to see what it was, so when he opened his eyes he had no opinion of semidarkness was near silent so had no ears to hear it.
But he could feel it. It was warm if nothing else. He thought it may have been one of his sheep – but it nuzzled into him holding him. And he could feel it. It felt and moved the shape of a woman. A woman legs, a woman stomach, a woman chest. He spoke no words to it, and it spoke none, but that was what it felt … a woman lying next to him on the cold floor.
And I mentioned she was warm. And he was cold … and he half thought it was a dream. He was so cold in fact that he didn’t dark scream in case she leave him to his freeze.
So Cho held her
Being a man of high morals he didn’t take her as a man does a woman. He simply held her. To him and she to him … and such they where both warm together as he fell asleep.
But when he awoke. He was alone. The figure had since vanished in the night.
However he awoke to a gruesome sight.
His entire herd had frozen to death at night … and there where 30 dead sheep dying from obvious exposure to the cold. Some closest the entrance where literal icicles.
He screamed in horror.
And saw that the entrance to the cave was now covered in a giant ball of snow covered up to the roof with frost.
And he screamed again.
Cho ran into the cavern, ran into darkness and wetness of the cave as far as he could.
It proved a mistake.
For now he was alone in the dark.
He stumbled and fell on the wet cave floor and cried. Cried as he had never been this scared alone, his fate more perilous – but after awhile he found that crying wouldn’t help with his situation so he indevered to do something useful
He found some water on the ground in a puddle and drinking it endeavored to figure out his situation. He was trapped in a cave. He could possibly dig his way out of the snow, but first he would have to get back to it.
It had been several hours by now … as he made his way through the seeming maze of the cave – left became right and right became left – but eventually, eventually he made his way to what had been the entrance.
Only to see a strange site.
The dead lambs, had been staked into neat piles as one might see at a market. Now this may seem gruesome and terrifying – but it was … organized.
A fire had been made of sticks and collection, with a spit on top of it with a young lamb cooking on it like a meal.
But no one was present. No one.
This was as you can imagine rather strange – not by its nature specifically hostile … but strange
Still he had no idea of his host if any. He started to remember the dream from last night … if it had been and. He wondered.
He sat by the fire. He had no idea if it was intended as a meal for him or had he scared off his host – realizing that he was very hungry and having no food, either answer would at some level have to sate him.
So after weighting an hour for his host to arrive and the lamb to cook, he took a piece from the spit and ate it. It was warm and hot, and if no seasoning, prepared like a Mongolia might – it was among the best meals he ever ate, eating a good deal.
Afterward he waited by the fire, waited and waited …
But no one came.
Eventually the fire went out and he was tired again … and so he went to sleep.
And in the night the same figure appeared again the silent woman came to his bed spot. He did not dare move – for her warmth and her presence filled him with a mixture of dread, fear and longing. He felt her stroke his cheek and nuzzle into his neck to rest. They held each other together again with him quiet so not to scare off the stranger. Her gentleness got to him – as a hard life of a farmer he never knew it.
And in the morning – or was it morning. The rest of the lamb was gone and the fire was gone. Only with small embers to show it had ever been there .
This was his third day in the cave .he went to the entrance to the cave and started to dig.
He realized at the top of the cave was the best spot, but simply getting there proved a challenge. He dug small steps however they would fall under his weight. He put some small stones towards it … and when he started to dig snow would fall into the cave near him – for it was very cold snow but not ice He realized he would need things like braces and struts – but had no ways to get these things – it was most of the day he spent by himself thinking of what to use.
All of the time he was aware that he was most likely being watched – that he wasn’t alone. It wasn’t that he could here breath or feel warmth – but he did have the subtle knowledge of what was going on. He thought about his either captor or companion. He wasn’t sure if it was flesh or spirit, some kind of monster or human – could it be human? He remembered the old mans words – no one had seen the monster had lived so it was speculation to guess what it looked like.
He hit upon using parts of the sheep bones as struts it worked – he managed to dig about 6 feet of tunnel by the end, and felt like had made progress –
however when he got out of the cave there was an other fire in the cave. He noted that the rest of the carcass from last night was on the spit. Why be wasteful.?
He sat by himself in front of it … and decided to talk
“Who are you that I may thank you”
“if I may ask, and may not be rude – but are you with the monster who lives in the pass”
“If you are you are being very kind”
Was there a noise – maybe it was his imagination.
“I do thank you for your kindness”
The night before he had left the fire going … but after his meal he doused it gathering and cleaning up as much as he could before hand to keep his host from doing it.
And then he went to sleep.
It didn’t take long for his stranger to show up again … and her form to envelope him. He pulled her to lay on top of him and he felt her like a blanket over her bis body. He thought of taking her like a husband … she was so soft and gentle – her quiet movements seemed almost to encourage it – but he refrained from his lusts content to hold her close to him. He felt her kiss his neck
and nestle there to sleep – for he felt her go to sleep much sooner then he did.
And he felt grateful for it.
The next day however he woke up, and she was gone again. He shook his head.
So he went back to work at his tunnel – and did so for about an hour … when he heard a noise.
He heard it again – was it faint weeping?
He walked towards in the back of the cave every few minutes it came – finding a side cave he hadn’t went in before.
In it towards the end of the aisle … was a large chamber – and he could tell it was a chamber as there where several small incense chambers that gave of faint but quite distinct light.
And in the center of the room where a group of large but very thing boulders – they looked like they had been hewed by rough but strong hands from the earth itself. Long pointing weights. They had been placed in a large circle such that there was maybe six inches between them leaving a space in the center – a domed space.
And in that chamber … was a woman.
She was beautiful. With long black hair that made her perhaps look like a ghost – but she was flesh. Ghosts are always depicted flat white – and she while she was pale she had no makeup no foundation – just the natural pale skin of her woman to her beautiful green almond eyes She wore a long dress that looked old – but on her form the simple straight lines of her body from her shapely chest to her small behind – looked quite fetching.
And she was crying on the ground
“Maiden” he asked as he came in “Maiden … how are you … are you alright
She got up stooped and looked at him surprised for a second before speaking.
“Sir, Sir what is your name”said the woman
“I am Lou Cho”
“Are you trapped here?” sad the woman “Trapped like I am”
The woman sighed.
“Then you are victim of the monster as much as I am” she continued referencing her cage “Are you as strong as 20 oxen?”
Lou Cho shook his head.
“These rocks keep me here. They each weigh 20 tons. They are put so I can’t escape. Sometimes it comes and it moves them, to walk in – and lifts them up with one hand as you would a bucket – to it nothing. “
“What is it? How did you?” asked Lou Cho
“I was being transported with my father several months ago at least I think so. – we stooped for the night – and it grabbed me. Put me here. It said my father barely missed me the next morning but I don’t believe it … its a terrible creature, a monster”
“It keeps me here” continued the maiden “locks me in here. It brings me food water – I look like a mess Imagine – keeps me here … until I agree to marry it. Be its bride.”
She sighed lowering her head
“how ghastly” asked Lou Cho.
“Very. Very. And the monster … it comes to me sometimes. Tells me about itself … I am not sure you can believe anything it says – but well … it says it was a normal person once. Lived in a village – however it had strange powers. Strength incredible strength was the main one. Nothing was that it could not lift, not move. It could run fast as the raven flies, move like lightening … and its roar – have you heard it? But these magics was to much for its neighbors – they pushed it away, drove it from the village as right men should do. It ended up here. Alone and scared – now it wants me to be its bride … and …
“What does it look like” asked Lou.
The beautiful woman looked down “it must be the most ugly creature in all of creation. No Buddhist hell could imagine a more wretched creature, less loved and most feared”
Lou looked at her … and extended a hand to her through the stones.
“Have faith” said lou “ I will free you. Find away”
she moved and touched it holding it for a second.
“I don’t believe you. To me hope is a luxury … more precious then Jade. If I have to much of it, I will only loose it and my despair will be that much greater.”
Lou nodded. “Well then don’t hope then … but …
he walked away.
The woman sighed and went down again … but at least she wasn’t crying.
He wondered about the strange world he had been. This creature had imprisoned her and it looked imprisoned him. Why did he let him live – what did it want from him? If he had some purpose for him, he could have easily placed him in a more confining prison – and why hide its face? And why was the woman coming to him each night to lie was him – was she connected to the monster – its maid perhaps – and what deformity must she have also if it didn’t marry her instead.?
He needed to get her in in his confidence the lady at night was the key.
Lou looked around to head towards his work … but as he entered the next chamber dark in the dim light from the chamber he noticed something behind the woman there looked to be several small boxes – as if that was where there monster stored thing. This wasn’t much – a few clay jars for what looked to be water, some salt in a case where several of the incense burners unlit. He leaned down and took one and an old clay pot then headed back to his work, hiding it in his sleeve.
Back at his work site he continued to work at his tunnel – it was hard hard work but he continued as far as he could.
And as the day before when his work was finished he turned to see now a pot had been pressed in the center and in it was a pot of noodles as well as a plate. This was different at least. No more lamb.
He ate the noodles – they where warm and hot and made from good wheat. It was delicious and filling – and after he was done. He paused.
“Thank you, who ever is cooking.”
He soon went to bed, dousing the flame again …
Except for a small twig … he lay down. He lay downed that his body was covering the incense burner was underneath the clay pot but covering it – and lit the burner – but no light could be seen by it.
He waited a few minutes—and he heard a faint rustle.
“Why do you work for him?” said Lou “What purpose does it have for you
“Why are you here?”
“What do you want from me?”
And he felt a kiss. A sweet kiss on his lips. A warm kiss of infinite longing … and perhaps as much regret. It was a sad kiss, but a deep one … Lou had never known the touch of a woman, not really and felt it.
He held her for a second, held her close. But then he moved.
Lou had never laid with a woman before as man does … but he moved her underneath him. He moved his robes, and pulled aside her dress, and she offered no resistance … but instead stroked him help him touched his manhood stroking it till it grew stiff.
And he took her, felt her around him felt inside of her until they where one. And heard her cry softly … cry softly in joy.
So close to him, so very very …
He lifted the jar, and instant they where in light.
The sudden shift to light blinded him for a second … but her less. He saw it only for a second before there was a scream a mighty scream like he had heard the first night, a scream like none other … but now closer to it was deafening.
He was pushed back by something so he was on the ground, the light went out to the power of the voice … in an instant, and heard a scuffle as she ran away …
however he turned … to see that the entrance to the cave was now free – the power of the scream had pushed aside the snow like a blast, made a giant hold in the ice such that the night sky was now visible in it now like a giant concave egg space 20 feet wide
And Cho after a second ran. Fear, panic terror. He ran from the cave. Ran into the night up the snow and away from the horrible cave. Ran up the snow, and ran as far as he can.
The snow was now 20 feet up … and not very strong … his feet caught in it … but the night was at least clear and he made progress going nearly a mile. He thought. He would get villagers. Come to the cage. With them they could destroy the monster … free the maiden.
Then he paused and realized why bother?
He turned and walked back reaching the cave entrance nearly at morning thinking about what he had saw for a split second …
“Monster, maiden, beast, creature … Woman … .I thought you where three separate things, three separate people … but your merely one. There was only one person inside the cave was there?”
“It was always you. You where the one … The person scaring people in the canyon with your roar … who trapped yourself in the stones pretending to kidnapped from your father … It was you who prepared me meals and hid – it was you who warmed my bed … who kissed me …”
“You saved my life. Without your warmth I would have died from cold as surely as the sheep. You where the one who kept me alive in that cave, kept me alive for all that time. And for that I thank you. I don’t know if you can hear my words, but I thank you. It was truly a great service, a great debt. What ever magics and powers you have you where a gracious and kind host, a beautiful soul at the very least. You have the heart as gentle as any I can encounter – for your actions in the end. I owe you my life”
he paused and turned to walk away
“And I know you said the beast always lies – but there is one truth to it. You are the most beautiful Woman I ever saw in my life.”
And he walked away from the beings cave without turning back.
The pass was full of snow, but over the next day he made it through to the edge. Beyond it was more snow down the mountain but through this perilous terrain he travel until at last he had found the normal ground … and by and by he made his way back home to his father Lou Rock.
Rock was distressed to hear that he had lost his heard – but glad to hear that his son was alright – he had heard of the early snow fall and worried that he had lost him forever. When he heard his sons tale he was shocked but believed him – believing his lies that that he had dug his way out of the monsters cave and never saw it at all.
Without his sheep Lou rock was less wealthy – but at least he did not have that burden any more to keep them. He would reflect in years future that they where more trouble then they where worth and he was happier for it.
His son however, was very sad for the ordeal. He told very few people of anything of it keeping it to himself, wanting to keep the Woman’s Secret – who he realized he never asked her name. He sat through winter doing his chores and duties – but often sitting by himself in a room pausing or sleeping, as if to get back to a strange dream.
However he went out in early spring to do the planting for the new year. He looked out over his fathers fields, the fields that would one day be his … so different from a cave, the enclosed space – but somehow equally lonely.
When heard a voice.
“Sir, sir” said a woman.
He looked and saw her. The woman in the cave. Her hair had been cut to a more a more respectable length and places up as a woman should. There was makeup on her face if lightly, and a more respectable dress and sandals.
But it was her.
“I was traveling with my father, but he was killed by bandits On the trail down … I am a poor woman with no prospects and no dowry. .I must ask then your leave if I may stay the night at your house”
“Several months ago, I was in a similar circumstance – I was forced to take refuge in another home when I had nothing – not even the heat of night – I stayed four nights in that place … and the least I can offer you is four.”
The woman nodded. “Thank you, you are very generous sir. I shall not forget it”
Lou nodded “Come to my home madam – do you have anything …?”
“I have come into the possession of 30 lamb skins my father was carrying in order to sell. The bandits left them. How I managed to move them … They are in the forest …”
Lou shook his head as he lead the woman to his house “No worries about that. No Worries at all with such things … there is one thing I left out of my story”
“The figure in the cave … the woman in the cave … I have come to realize. I loved her. And some day, I shall return to …”
And the woman of the cave started to cry.