Our small band of intrepid adventurers must get to the sacred mountain to return the stolen orb to the Monks of Montressa. Time is running out. The orb is the only thing keeping the forces of destruction at bay. The signs of apocalypse are already being felt in the far regions of the kingdom. Villages are being attacked by slathering beasts from the shadows of the night. Evil harbingers in the form of hideous flying creatures swoop down from the skies. Ghostly soldiers strike on moonless nights.
The evil must be stopped.
Pursued by a villainous band of mercenaries who are gaining on them hour by hour as our adventurers struggle to support one of their wounded, they reach the entrance to a cave. It’s the fastest way to reach their destination, but, of course, not the safest. Inside, dangers await.
We know this the moment they arrive and take their first tentative steps into the dank gloom. The pace of our story slows down, and tension ramps up.
Nothing beats a cave, tunnel, or secret passage for adding high drama to a story. What makes a cave such a great element of an adventure?
Entering the cave is a defining moment in the story. It represents a choice: shall I enter? Or turn back? There are only two options, but once the choice is made, there’s no going back. The hero must face the obstacles within. We know without doubt that the journey will not be a smooth one, and that our hero will be tested. We hold our breath and scoot closer to the edge of our seat.
We don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s a simple cave and yet the possibilities are unlimited. Almost anything could happen in there, and the stakes are high. Our heroes could end up hopelessly lost, be defeated by whatever lurks inside, be trapped forever, or die.
First, they creep through the cave. It’s quiet, except for the soft sound of dripping water or the rustle of something unseen in the darkness. Then our hearts get a kick-start as our heroes disturb a colony of bats that surround the team, circling and flapping. Something slithers across the foot of one of our adventurers, but it’s only a small snake, a scorpion or a scuttling rat. Though our skin crawls a little, we sigh in relief as our adventurers move on, failing to notice the giant spider that drops from the ceiling behind them.
Suddenly, someone’s foot slips on loose rubble and they slide towards the edge of a crevasse, only just managing to grasp and cling to the rocks jutting out from the edge. They sway precariously as small stones tumble into the abyss.
Sometimes, there is a stream of stinking sewerage that must be waded, and the glimpse of the scaly hide of a crocodile, or the mutated form of an angry creature, flushed long ago.
Then we encounter the dusty, cobweb-strewn skeleton of a former adventurer who failed to make it through.
When we think we can’t take the tension any more, things suddenly swing into action. The real monster is revealed and the desperate fight for survival begins. Or, just as we see the end of the tunnel, the enemies catch up and they launch into battle.
Our heroes fight hard and finally defeat their attackers. Dirty, tired, and wounded, they pick themselves up and stagger towards the exit, clutching the orb, only to discover that their way has been blocked by a barrier of boulders that collapsed when the leader of the mercenaries threw an explosive in his last, vengeful act. Or they must now disable a series of booby traps left by the ancient monks in their attempt to protect the orb.
A tunnel works just as well in a futuristic science-fiction adventure. This one is shiny, sleek and metallic, or brightly lit, with advanced alien technology just as mysterious and unpredictable as the pitfalls of an underground tunnel. Our heroes never know when they might be sliced by thin red lasers, or poisoned by gas leaking from the wall panels. As they creep around corners, their enemy could be alerted to their presence by motion sensors or hidden cameras. Their every move may have already been monitored by a tracking device they didn’t know had been planted on them.
Just when they think they’ve made it to the power source to disable the tractor beam preventing their escape, they are suddenly surrounded by troops in high-tech defence suits with lethal weapons pointed at them.
Our protagonists must go into the cave. The treasure must be sought. The danger must be faced, and the obstacles overcome. We travel every step along with them. We experience every moment of the excitement and exhilaration of their adventure. The cave is the test that transforms ordinary characters into heroes, and fills us with a sense of satisfaction when the credits roll.
Yes, there will be some caves in my stories.