Jeram's efforts to start a fire without his flint, having lost it in the pond, left him exhausted and his hands blistered. What spark he could manage from stone turned only into a pitiful flame that curled meekly around damp tinder. The poorly skinned and gutted carcass of a jackhare hung pierced from a sharpened stick, every so often dripping blood that sizzled in the flame and threatened to extinguish it. Jeram glowered in its wavering light, huddling for warmth as he sat under the cold stars.
The words ran through his mind. He tried to understand the meaning of the plea, the significance of it, but he had left the creature behind and now would never know. If it was a sign, a prophesy, he would never forget her cries for help, but until the future came to pass they would still remain a mystery. Jeram hugged his arms and cursed the spirit girl and those desperate words and desperate eyes. He tried to push his creeping feelings of guilt into superstition and waved aside the regret.
The jackhare's meat was lean and tough and the taste of blood lingered. After sucking all the meat from the tiny bones he went to dispose of what remained so that the wolves would not come and so that the gods would keep peace. After doing his business, Jeram ran back towards the light of his small fire with a bundle of wood to nourish the weak flames.
As he neared his camp the fire suddenly went out. Jeram cursed and picked his way through the trees by the light of the moon. He dropped his bundle near the smoking remains of his pit and took to blowing on the lifeless embers, beating stones and rubbing sticks to create a spark. Finally, after almost giving up to the cold of the night, Jeram smelled a trace of smoke and the smallest flame consumed his pile of dried leaves and licked at the tinder.
He jumped at the sight of the ghost sitting quietly next to him, motionless and without words.
"The Above people dig for heat and light," it said suddenly, hushed and in awe.
Jeram almost let his surprise distract him from the dying flame. He quickly fed it and blew on it to let it grow as the spirit girl watched him, knees pulled to her chest, eyes blinking against the smoke. Jeram swallowed the taste of jackhare in his mouth. "What did you say?" he finally managed to ask.
"You dig for heat and light. I dig for darkness and cold. This. This is strange."
Jeram wondered at the softness of her voice and the way she watched captivated by the fire. "Who are you?"
"The language is the same, but the manner is not. This is strange. Help me and I will tell you," she answered, fixing her milky eyes on Jeram's. He found he could not look away, but only tremble in fear.
"Help you with what?" he asked, recalling the marks the spirit creature had left on his neck and arms from the fight.
"Bit," she answered as she let her milky gaze wander elsewhere. She closed her eyes and buried her head against her knees. "Bit."
"I don't understand," Jeram said, shaking his head. He was suddenly aware of his racing heart. He watched the spirit lift her head and breathed deeply to calm his nerves. He feared what she might answer for he knew he could not refuse a spirit so persistent.
"Help me find my kin."
The fire seemed to die low as he nodded his head, her milky white eyes shining like two silver moons.