This chapter is short, as nothing really is supposed to happen in it. Sorry. The next one should be longer. :(

he bear cubs weren't very popular with the adults. I wasn't aware that a group of people, living wild in a cave system, could be so fussy about pets. What's wrong with three innocent little bear cubs?

But no, people could be allergic, and they might scratch our oh-so-precious cave floors. It's not like we look after the floor anyway, and it does nothing for us, so why can't the odd scratch be allowed?

As you can probably guess, I'm not particularly happy with their reactions. I've managed to persuade the 'elders' to let me keep one of the cubs, so long as it stays in my cave all the time. A poor bargain for what I was asking.

So, naturally, I take it everywhere with me. It's gone down a storm with the others, who quite like it. I'm worried it'll grow up spoilt and unable to look after itself, they fuss so much. But, given our circumstances, who can blame them? It's not as if we have much to enjoy, so I allow the pampering.

My 'power' still hasn't shown up. The others tell me not to worry, that it'll come eventually, but I'm not so sure. There's no magic, nothing inside me. I'm an empty, hollow space filled with the ashes of my past.

And a few flickering lights for the future.

I'm excluded from power training sessions, for obvious reasons. Yes, I am doing well in the physical training, but I'm limited. I still haven't recovered from ten years of malnourishment. I spend hours alone, wandering the drafty stone passages that map out our home, talking to the cub. Sometimes it'll get bored, and scamper off, and I'll then relate stories of my own invention under my breath. They give me a world without limits, where I can be everyone and no one. Slowly, they're becoming my reality, and I don't fight it. Who doesn't want to live in a world that they can shape to suit them?

I return to the same place, time and time again - the very core of the mountain, far beyond the main complex where everyone else lives and trains. Far beyond the complex of reality. It feels like that, anyway.

The core of the mountain is at the end of a long, thin slice of corridor that few even know about. There's a medium sized circular chamber, with a tunnel opening at the top, naturally carved by years of water erosion. Water, crystal clear and shimmering, falls from that opening, cascading through the air until it reaches the stone floor, where erosion again has been at work, making a hollow. The water has collected in the hollow, which is much deeper than it looks, creating a pool. The only light comes from the lost sunlight that has accidentally wandered down the tunnel, and now shines through the waterfall, making it sparkle. I can smell the outside world, unlike everywhere else, which smells of layers and layers of rock. Strange since I'm in the core of a mountain.