It’s called the cave of swords, and for good reason. Yet, like everything about the Cave, that reason remains unknown until you see it for yourself. Today was Jian’s first time to the cave. After working as a fishmonger for the past three years he’d been given an invitation. The first week on the job he was given precise instructions: keep your head down, your mouth shut, and sell the fish we give you. He’d done as told for three years.
Each morning Jian rowed his boat to the docks where hundreds of merchants gathered to trade goods and stories before setting off for the day’s business. Jian would then meet his contact, a man whose name he was never given. The contact brought fish for Jian to sell along with his previous day’s pay. Sometimes there would be a little extra.
Save for one time, Jian never asked questions. Never pried, never tried to look into things he wasn’t supposed to. The only time Jian asked a question was the first time he’d been given a bonus. He said, “I think this is too much.” Which, technically speaking, wasn’t a question but a statement.
Jian’s contact shook his head. “Never a mistake. Your pay will always be correct.”
“Okay.” Jian pocketed the money and from that day onward, for three years, never said anything about it.
Yesterday he’d gotten the invitation along with his pay. There were only four words: Tomorrow, follow your contact. When Jian read it he looked up at the man he’d seen five days a week for three years and knew almost nothing about met his eyes and gave a single nod.
The next day Jian’s contact led him along a route past the city’s edge, into the sea, among the countless small islands. As they neared one of the larger islands a thick fog settled in around them. Jian stayed close to his contact, and ten minutes later they pulled into The Cave of Swords.
Jian recognized many of the merchants. They bowed their heads, welcoming him. He’d passed their test. As he marveled at the Cave, he wondered what would come next. What had the test been for?