Solving the RiddleMature

The lead figure laughs and shakes his head at Lopez. "If you say so wolf boy. Now, answer me this:

What is there, yet never present,
What can move, yet does not breathe?

What retreats at height of day,
Yet returns when the sun doth fall?
Never standing by your side
Yet always at your back.
Who is this strange companion
Which no living thing can lack?

Oh gods, thinks Falcon, not a blasted riddle. He'd always hated trick questions, now here was one that didn't make any sense at all - not to him at least. He looks to Drake, hoping the wise old dragon might know the answer, but he too seems stumped by the puzzle. Lopez growls and shifts uncomfortably, his sister chewing her thumbnail worriedly. Life stares off into the distance, eyes misted, as if seeing something only she can see. The lead figure laughs derisively.

"Have I stumped you, oh brave ones?" he says mockingly. "Surely such a simple rhyme wouldn't be a problem for such mighty ones as yourselves?"

"Shut up." snaps Falcon, glaring at him. The impassive face of the mask looks back at him, but Falcon can almost feel the sadistic glee eminating from the hidden face. Falcon snorts and looks away, puzzling over the riddle. He could have sworn he'd heard something similar before, but he can't for the life of him remember the answer. He doesn't dare guess, they only have one chance after all, but the rhyme is so familiar...

He looks down and scuffs the rocks under his feet, muttering to himself. Peg watches him, then gives a squeal of alarm.

"I've got it!" she says, almost jumping up and down on the spot. "I know the answer! It's a shadow!"

Falcon slaps his forehead. Why didn't he think of that? The old woman who looked after him as a child used to tell him such rhymes and ask him to figure them out. He could remember so many days spent lying on his belly in the grass, he and Dane haggling over the possible answers to the old woman's questions.

The black-masked figure sighs and steps aside. "Very well. We will show you the path to the heart of the cave, for you have answered our question correctly. Come, we must make haste, for there are many worse creatures than we that lurk in these deep places, and I doubt your progress has gone unnoticed by many of them."

The group set off again, Peg quaking with glee at her success. Falcon smiles and slaps a hand on her shoulder ingratiatingly, but his smile fades to a grimace when they are lead to yet another hole. Their black masked guide stand at the edge and gestures to it.

"Well then," he says silkily. "Who wants to jump first."

The End

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