This was from a writing prompt that was provided by my writing group. It is very raw but I feel like there will be expansion. Enjoy.

The Candle

The light from the candle illuminated the majority of the room. The details on the wall were hidden in the dim light as the brown ink matched the stone. Four shadows were cast into the corners by the figures who sat around the melting figurine. Hips and legs stood in a pool of reformed wax. A slight scent lemon filled their nostrils and relieved them of the stale air.

     “I feel like we need to head back. It had to have been at least two days that we have been traveling through here.”

     “It’s only been a day and a half at most. No one has come down here to look for us yet and they have a better handle of time.” The temple they had entered did not seem as big as what they had explored. Tess had taken care of the cartography of the halls and rooms as best she could. The distance up was easy to track. The downward paths made little sense as they extended beyond the walls of the structure and then even more. 

     “If we track our distance and how long it has taken us to get here, then add some time for rest, it has been about two days.” Irwa groaned.

     “Look, it doesn’t matter how far or how long we have been here. We find treasure, we get paid. End of story.” Irwa’s low growl accompanied his words. Tessa tossed her notes closer to her pack and focused on the light. The silence engulfed them again. Their patience for each other matched their enthusiasm to continue the search. Tessa and Jonah had learned of the temple in their youth. It had taken 15 years for them to get all they needed to find and explore it. 

     The light dimmed as the candle slowly burned. Jonah had moved closer to a wall to find rest. Tessa shook her head and wondered if it was naivety or stupidity on his part to be the first to sleep. She had a guess but kept it to herself. Irwa turned over. His frustration at the group and lack of goods found emanated from him and seemed to fill the room. 

     Then there was Aja. She was not like anyone Tessa had met before in her travels. She did not speak much and kept to herself. Her motivations were unclear as well. They had met her early on when the group totaled 6 people. Aja had been part of the celebrations that happened after big scores. She would not gamble away her earnings like most or drink and eat it away like the rest. There were times in towns she would disappear, but Aja was always by Tessa’s side before the group set out. 

     This had made Aja an easy choice to pick for this exploration. She had been through scraps as well as figured out some of the harder puzzles with the group. The feet were the last that remained of the wax figure. Tessa laid down, imagining what may be at the end of the tunnel. Sleep took her.

     A dream of mountains of coins was interrupted as a white light flashed in Tessa’s eyes. It woke her and she realized the light was still there as her eyes opened. She backed up from the source. Colors came back to her vision and she caught the figure of Aja surrounded in a radiant glow. Aja floated about the spot the candle was in. It had burned completely down. 

    “Let’s go, now!” Irwa’s large hand grabbed at her collar and dragged her to where they came in. Jonah was already lengths down the hallway. 

     “I told you we shouldn’t have burned that bloody candle.” Tessa remembered finding it in one of the upper rooms of the temple. It was something that was not important enough to be sold but good enough to be used as to not waste a torch. Aja had called it a sacrifice. Tessa started piecing it together as they all slowed their runs. It was not a sacrifice, but a device for an awakening. One that Tessa kicked herself for not putting together sooner.