Darling Karolus –
I know not if this letter will get to you, or when it will get to you. Even more doubtful than the Hawk is tonight’s chosen delivery method – a message in a bottle, along a river that runs we know not where. But there is no other way we can see to get news out, and so, it is what we are trying.
You know I hate the major arcana showing up in small readings. I hate it even more when they are literal. The night of the Hawk, we all settled down for hopefully a good night’s rest (while still keeping watches), expecting to spend the next day moving rocks. Emilja woke us during her watch, when the moon reached its zenith.
The rocks were gone. Not moved, gone. The cave mouth was open. The Hawks, were circling the stone needle, as if caught in a whirlwind. There was no sound other than the wind caused by their flight. Dymek and I looked at each other. He cast no runes. I did not reach for my cards. The portents were obvious. We had to take the hawk statue into the cave.
We all gathered around the mouth. Wojciech lit a couple torches and handed one to Emilja. The two of them went in a few steps to try and get a feel for the layout of the cave. But it was not a cave, or at least, not the kind of cave we pictured. It was not a space in the base of the spire. It was an entrance to a passage way.
We quickly gathered our things together, afraid to lose the moonlight. But Aleksy and Aleksa refused to enter, no matter how much Nadzia tried to tempt or cajole them in. Emilja’s ankle was mostly healed, though, and we did not have that many provisions left that we could not all carry them ourselves, especially if the mule’s hay was left with them.
On some level, the feeling that our time was short was an advantage. Nadzia did not have time to truly fret about the decision. We had seen no predators for days – nothing besides the Hawks. There was hay. There was fresh water and some forage. It was a better situation to leave them in than I had feared at the beginning of the journey. Nadzia said her goodbyes.
I hung the pouch containing the hawk statue around my neck. We loaded up bedrolls, food, water, and torches, and entered.
While some moonlight spilled in near the opening of the cave, it took very little time for our torches to be the only light. There were no sounds other than our footfalls and breathing. I do not remember feeling afraid to speak, just not having anything to say. But even Wojciech and Nadzia were quiet. In fact, I noticed her staying a little closer to him than the rest of us, though that might be because he had one of the torches.
I do not know how long we walked. In absence of light, sound, or landmarks with which to mark our passage, it all just blurred. And we were tired. This had come in the middle of a night, after days of travel. I stumbled over nothing. Dymek caught my arm to steady me.
It seemed as if we were about to stop and rest, though still no words had been spoken, when we heard something. It was hard to tell what it was at first, but as if with one thought, we all picked up our pace and began moving toward the sound.
Soon we recognized it – running water. We kept moving towards it, and soon the passageway became a cavern, filled with stalagmites which we had to avoid, and fallen stalactites, which we also avoided and hoped no more would be coming down. And on many of the rock surfaces was a moss.
We found the water, a small stream running clean and clear. We stopped to rest. We decided to watch in pairs. I was not on the first watch and closed my eyes, not expecting to sleep, but I was wrong. It seemed barely minutes before Dymek was waking me for my turn.
The first thing I noticed was that the cavern seemed brighter. I wondered if it got sunlight from somewhere, but soon realized the moss was glowing. It glowed softly all along the path we had taken from the opening of the cavern to our campsite, where the light was much stronger. I can only guess that it absorbed light from our torches and then reflected it back on us.
The moss allowed us to cut down our use to one torch at a time, which has made us feel slightly more comfortable about traveling down here. It seemed, for quite some time, that the cavern had no end.
We have been following the creek toward its source. Again, I have no idea for how long we have been walking, or how far. But we have rested three times since that first.
It took us a little while to realized that the light from the moss was growing stronger. But it was. And now, we have spotted what appears to be a village, some ways away from us. We are taking this moment to write before we move forward and see if anyone actually lives here under the moss light.
Know always that I love you, and you are in my heart.