The Height of Absurdity: Hilda’s Abbey 11.10

26 June, 2018 by katelaity

The Height of Absurdity 1

‘Of course the underworld,’ my friend said with a laugh. ‘A tributary of Lethe?! How can we not pursue such a thing?’

‘But surely this is a dangerous thing to contemplate!’

Tansy laughed carelessly and I marveled again at my friend’s foolhardy nature. ‘We have had adventure before and it has always turned out well.’

‘Turned out well!’ I thought of the horror of the black castle and the terror of the underground chambers and the frightening wendigo—all right, we had not actually experienced the wendigo but it was rather terrifying to hear about it.

‘It is a rare chance,’ Chambers said with a wistful look.

‘And what happens when we get along the water and find we have no memory left? I admit I do not remember much about the Greek mythology we learned, but I do recall that important bit because I fervently wished to have forgotten that lesson because it was a lovely day and I would have rather been playing cricket.’

It is odd what we do and don’t record on the old brain blotter from our school days.

I was rather pleased to see that this did give Tansy pause, as it was a rather considerable stumbling block. My resourceful friend didn’t stop for long, however. In a flash she brought out her memorandum book and jotted down a few facts. ‘The date, the location, our purpose and path. There. That should sort us out if we should forget.’

‘Perhaps. But we still have the practical matter to attend to,’ I reminded her, for her smug look of triumph nettled me rather.

‘Practical matter?’

‘Unless we reduce ourselves to the size of Mên-en-Tol men we cannot possibly go along that little canal.’ I pointed to where the canal disappeared into the wall. Indeed there was not a foot of clearance for one to pass through. Even if we crawled—and I was far from agreeing to such a thing!—we should not be able to fit.

‘Ah, but that is the wrong end,’ Tansy said with a wicked sort of grin. ‘See the direction of the water’s flow? That is the heading to the sea. Are we not facing East here, abbess?’

‘Indeed we are.’

‘So,’ Tansy said, turning inexorably to point in the opposite direction, ‘we need to go upstream to find where this tributary left the main river.’

I was crestfallen to see that the other end of the canal was large enough to allow us to pass by slightly stooping. ‘But won’t your shoes get wet?’ I asked with a resigned air.

Tansy laughed and took my arm and at once we were wading through the water. The abbess took to the exercise like a duck, and it was only Chambers who elicited some fastidious hesitation, obviously wishing he had retained his wellies for this endeavour.

Tansy led the way of course, her lantern thrust before her like a talisman against the darkness. On the positive side of things, the cavern grew larger as we went deeper into the earth. I rather wondered at the sensation of going downward while the water seemed to flow upward. Perhaps it was only an illusion.

We really ought to have brought some provisions. Here we were on another adventure without food to sustain us. And the darkness made me yearn for some brandy to take off the chill—though truth to be told, I could swear the water was getting warmer. It was, however, no less wet.

Wisely I kept these thoughts to myself.

Tansy, untroubled by doubt, forged on ahead and we splashed along in her wake until suddenly she stopped. ‘What is it?’ I asked, fearing some fresh new terrible disaster. Fairies, beasties, rodents of extraordinary size?

‘What do you see there?’ Tansy said in a low voice pointing beyond her lantern’s light.

You could have hit me with a stone and knocked me over. It was a glow of yellow light. We were not alone!

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