Red wax seals my fate

Subject: Red wax seals my fate
Date: Sat, 07 Feb 1998 21:33
From: Pwl
CC: [list@darkpoets]

<<Hallooooo Pwl!!! ::peering down Deep, Dark Pit:: Y'all right down there, mate?>>

Oh, CrowFriend! Hello-Caw! Yes I'm fine... Deep Dark Pits are a sorta second-home to me. (:>)

...And I've been quietly keeping a lookout for signs of our dearest little Beastly: she seems to have disappeared for far too long. But look at this; scrabbling-marks on the least-steep side of this pit. And just behind where you are perched, there are ropeburn marks in the first fork of the tree. A sign of crude, non-expert ropemanship. Not made by cavers or miners. Inefficient and bad for the rope, see. But the sorta marks I would expect from a party of strong humans in a hurry. Puzzling though... the rope marks are gouged heavier than I would expect to see from hauling out one co-operative child. Also, look at the direction the bark fibres are torn; something heavy has been lowered DOWN. Possibly a rescuer... if Beastly had been at the bottom all night, she could have been too cold and weak to tie the knots required.

Hmmm, you scribed that bit. Does this look like the right pit? There are several others I've looked at. Now this is even more intriguing. Not just a dead-end pit... there is a large tunnel running back underneath where you roost. Lots of footprints in the entrance, and up to the zone of total darkness; too confused to make out individuals. But into the darkzone, a small set of prints, close together, with weight taken back on the rearmost heel of each step: like the explorer was feeling the way carefully over an unseen and possibly absent-at-any-moment floor. There is a larger set of prints too, overlapping the smaller in places. Both sets leading inwards, but not returning. After a few hundred paces, the small-footed person sat nonchalantly on a rock, and lit a red candle with one match. The match was also probably held up to give a brighter illumination for the few seconds while it burned down to almost nothing, then dropped into a well. It is still floating there, but only just, on the water-surface twenty feet down. I'm not sure how long it takes a matchstick to become waterlogged and sink though. No more than a few months, I'd guess.

Oh, and in this unfenced, unguarded well, there is also the broken-necked and decomposing corpse of a leery-looking ruffian, still clutching a big stick with nails and blades set crudely into the business end.

After this point, it would appear that our unknown, lone explorer set off jauntily, with confident steps, deeper under the hill. At each major junction of passageways, someone has placed one large and one small rock in a line, with the smaller rock pointing back to the known entrance. There are occasional splashes of red wax at these junctions too, like the bearer hesitated and cast around for the best-looking route. A red candle though. Hmmm, would not be my first choice for main illumination underground. Not the sorta candle one buys intentionally, in dozen-boxes for cheap and reliable emergency-lighting. More like the type one finds as decorative grave-goods.

I'd like to follow this up further, but I only have a little keyring flashlight, a cigarette-lighter, and the short stub of an altar-candle about my person at the moment. Got anything better with you, or shall we go back and get fully-kitted first? CAW-HRARRK?

Love, Pwl-Raven.

I am a child: who but I
Peeps from the unhewn dolmen arch?
~*Song of Amergin* trans: Robert Graves (The White Goddess)