White rays of moonlight danced alongside the shifting, orange light of a small fire on the walls of a dark cave. Partly hidden by the cropping of bushes and tucked away at the base of an unforgiving mountain. The opening of the cave looked more like a jagged shadow than a passage into the unknown. A cold wind howled and echoed freely through the barren trees of the surrounding forest, no longer obstructed by the jubilant life of summer. Anyone hearing the sound would feel alone and forgotten in the swirling darkness. Fall had come in its bountiful hues of burnt orange and brilliant yellow. But, as always, fall had given way to the relentless pressure of the cold North and its frigid winter winds. Large flakes of white snow, the first snow of the season in fact, randomly swirled and churned in the turbulent mountain winds. The icy specs flickered orange for a split second as they whistled across the cave opening and then out of sight into the surrounding darkness. At the base of the tangled bushes and corners of the jagged mountain base, the mammoth snowflakes collected together and grew like crispy white moss on anything touched. Early for the season the snow had found its way home for the next several months and the warm brisk summer breezes would surely be missed.
A lone coyote howled in the distance and only the wind howled back, stronger colder and more resolute. From an impenetrable wall of dead barren trees a single man emerged from the center. He walked slowly, tapping a long, wooden staff to the ground with each alternating step. He was an old man, ancient looking to anyone unfortunate to come across him, but still tall and unburdened by the weight of his many years. Long gray hair flowed from under the decorative feathered headdress he wore. He was outfitted in weathered buckskins and fur capote as he moved silently towards the cave entrance. Hanging from the center of an olden iron necklace around his neck, an embedded stone had a soft green glow against his chest. The cold wind bit at the cracked red and faded white war paint that cloaked his face. He didn’t notice this – his mind long ago trained to focus only on collecting the Adder. The desolate cave wasn’t his home, although he spent more time within its warm, damp belly than anywhere else. It was his sanctuary – a safe haven to renew himself and to ensconce the stones he collected over the many years of search.
The man crept towards the entrance to the cave and quickly glanced over his shoulder to make sure he had not been trailed. With the icy howling winds whistling and surrounding him in all directions, it would have been easy for any of the Iroquois tribe members to have followed him without ever being detected.
Nearing the cave opening, he pulled an Adder Stone from a plain leather pouch that hung loosely from his shoulder. It was a round stone, colored a brilliant white and blue near its center, with only a few swirls of color at its outer edges. On its own the stone was not a particularly powerful, but in this case its purpose and power made it invaluable to him.
Holding the stone out with his right arm, the man traced the outline of the cave entrance in the air. Gradually edges of an opening appeared slowly glowing a faint blue line following the movements of the stone over the hard surface of the mountain. The blue light slowly dimmed completely vanishing into a smoky haze. Suddenly, there was a burst of air from within the cave as an invisible opening appeared. The air pressure inside the cave changed to match the outside, sucking the nearest snowflakes into the orange flickering light of the warm fire within.
The man walked into the narrow passage, glowing embers of the fire cast his long black shadow flickering on the wall behind him. His shadow contorted and danced on the rocky walls. The angle of the firelight made him seem elongated and abnormally tall – like a strange giant from another world. Turning back towards the dark entrance snow slowly drifted in. He once again traced the outline at the cave’s open entrance creating the invisible protective shield with the same stone. The rocky edges slowly started to glow blue again as the ancient Indian shrewdly smirked sealing the entrance from the foreign world outside. Immediately the cave felt warmer and he subtly smiled again to himself for a second,
He was in the vault…