24 July, 2018 by katelaity
‘Toward,’ Tansy said with decision. ‘We shall move toward the sound.’
‘The height of foolhardiness,’ I suggested, but immediately she overruled me.
‘It may be no more than the wind moving through fissures of rock.’ Her head tilted to the side as if that might help clarify the sound. ‘Does it not sound like that to you?’
Chambers nodded, listening just as intently and probably with an ear of hopefulness that we may encounter more of the sidhe. ‘I hear nothing sinister in this soughing.’
‘I am ready to protect our souls,’ the abbess said with quiet courage.
Souls are all very well, but I would not like to have anything happen to my mortal limbs for then I should not be able to enjoy quince blanc-mange and a glass of Sauternes. ‘Does it not sound like a soul in torment? One that should be let alone to get on with its singular purgatory?’
My suggestion was ignored by the others—by the abbess no doubt because she wished to ameliorate the sufferings of any potential soul in torment, by Chambers because he probably hoped it would be some kind of ban-sidhe, and Tansy because—well, because Tansy was always Tansy, whether he or she.
We crept down the path away from the golden glow of the phosphorous and the increasingly unpleasant associations it contained (for me at least). I was reminded unpleasantly of the time Stuffy’s cook and valet had been at odds which resulted in too much salt in the soup and too much garlic in the gravy, and a greengage jelly that remained legendary in the club for its rank inedibility.
I shudder even now to think of it.
Once more we were thrust into darkness with only Tansy’s flickering torch to guide us. The sound grew louder. Rather than a wail it could be best described as more of a moan. It came intermittently but definitely louder as we progressed along the cavern trail.
‘Does it not feel colder?’ Chambers muttered quietly.
‘Odd, since we have left the water behind,’ Tansy said.
‘What?’ I looked down. Our path was dry. ‘I thought we meant to follow the river to Hades or Lethe or whatnot.’
‘This may be detour, but I suspect it may reveal something important about these realms and their connection to the underworld. After all, we are going downward.’
This was true. Colder, deeper, darker—these were not encouraging thoughts to me but I kept them to myself and tried not to jump each time when the odd moaning sound started up unexpectedly.
‘Do we have some kind of plan?’ I asked, trying to keep the note of peevishness out of my voice. ‘We ought to have some kind of idea for how we shall deal with the…apparition. After all, it would be absurd to cry ‘Get them!’ and simply dash at the spirit.’
‘What can we do?’ Chambers said, stopping at once to consider this conundrum.
Tansy looked over her shoulder only briefly. ‘If it really is a ghost, then there is very little we can do. It’s not corporeal!’
‘We’ll see about that,’ I murmured, thinking she would not hear me.
‘We may see nothing at all,’ Tansy said with a trace of smugness. Turning back to her path, however, she stopped dead.
There was the ghost.