3 July, 2018 by katelaity
‘Is it another lantern?’ I whispered, instinctively keeping my voice low though I knew not from what I was endeavouring to conceal our presence.
‘What else could it be?’ Tansy asked in equally hushed tones. ‘Perhaps there is another entrance to this passage—even a network of caves?’
‘It could just be explorers like us,’ Chambers said, all affable reasonableness in his voice.
‘But a tributary of Lethe—’ The abbess shook her head. ‘We would do well to stay on our guard.’ She crossed herself with care.
‘Let’s move on—with care,’ Tansy said, though I was certain her eagerness would abrogate care in a flash if her curiosity were pricked. I really ought to be leading the way. It was the gentlemanly thing to do. Yet I knew how my friend would bristle at the suggestion—for in truth though she at present well I knew she might soon be he.
‘Perhaps I ought to, err…’
‘Don’t be silly,’ Tansy said without turning her head. ‘You know I am just as capable as you to lead the way.’
‘But we are unarmed. Suppose they were coastal pirates like the ones in Cornwall. They might be quite fierce.’ Though what I might do about that remained unclear. If I had remembered pistols we could be safer. Of course I had assumed we were only sightseeing when we set off for the abbey.
‘You are unarmed as well.’ Tansy laughed. ‘And I have been trained in the arts of svarakshākalā since childhood. I can take care of any intruder we come upon.’
‘What if they have guns?’
In this small space, a gun will not much help. Not only would the sound be deafening, but the difficulty of maneuvering in such a small amount of space would mean the heightened possibility of shooting one’s self or one’s men.’
It was impossible to argue with such logic, so I let my friend lead the way, a lantern thrust into the darkness as we stepped along the dark tunnel. On the positive side of things, the dark passage expanded as we went along so it was not necessary to walk with a crouch. The echoing voice of the subterranean river offered an eerie ambiance. If there had been voices from people ahead of us I fear that we would not have been able to hear them anyway.
However, they would doubtless be equally unable to hear us, a thought which cheered me immensely. With care, we might have the drop on them for we expected danger and they might not.
The golden yellow glow brightened as we drew near. We must be nearly upon the others. Our steps slowed and Tansy reached up to close her lantern’s light for we could see clearly now the way ahead. Even from around the bend the light was sufficient to give ample opportunity to make our way carefully along. Indeed it was growing quite bright. It seemed a wonder that we did not hear anything above the river’s murmur. Perhaps there was only one of them, which would give us an advantage.
Tansy crouched low at the bend, motioning to us that we ought to stay back a moment. With great care she leaned forward to take a cautious look at what lay ahead. For what seemed like an interminable moment, all was still. I could only wonder what horrors she saw there.
All at once Tansy bolted around the corner. I started but she called back to us, ‘Come!’
We stepped out into the chamber blinking. The light was extraordinary, especially for this subterranean realm—a lemony yellow gold that filled my heart with gladness. I ran forward with Tansy to the source, a wall of crystalline beauty that glowed like a sister to the sun.
‘Gold!’ I crowed.