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nijineko's world

chapter twenty-two: too many secrets.... (or, dead women still tell tales!)

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The following morning saw us heading for the rock outcroppings that form the windbreak that protects the oasis. I found it interesting that none of the shelters have been erected near the cave opening. The inside is cooler than the outside, but as we penetrate deeper into the cavern, the air grows curiously warm. At the second turn, Pik stopped momentarily, and pointed to a hollow in the floor. Later I spoke with him and confirmed my suspicion. According to the lore of my first-kin, that is where I was found. I had to hurry to catch up to the others, as they had not noticed our pause, and had moved deeper into the cave.

It continues to grow hotter as we descend, and I questioned the high-priest about it. Apparently there is a source of great heat somewhere deep in the cave. They have never found it's source, as the heat grows too intense without magical protection. He stops suddenly at an intersection. One of the branches proves to be an alcove, and in the back of the alcove, lay the body of a woman. The body had been mummified by the intense heat and was in almost perfect condition. Everyone stood for moments of silence and wonder. Sabriel and I agreed to defer to the high-priest in seeking out the departed spirit. He besought the favor of his deity in prayer, and a few moments after he finished speaking, the eyes of the corpse opened. There was a glimmer of light in the eyes, as if seen from the end of a long dark tunnel. Then a dry voice rustled in a strange tounge. Curiously, it sounded much like elvish, but if so, it was a dialect I have never heard. I suppressed a shiver, of what I am not sure. Deep feelings were moving in the depths of my heart, unnamed leviathans stirring.

The high-preist said another brief prayer. I hastily read a prepared magic from a scroll enabling me to understand unknown languages. Then he turned to me and bade me to speak. I framed my questions carefully, mindful of Sabriel's coaching on this matter. The answers at first were disappointing. It quickly became apparent that she was not my mother.

However she was the personal servant of the Matriarch of the Clan or Tribe, although the word they used was House. Curious. One must wonder to what degree these magics will correctly infer cultural references and idiom. We discovered that a babe was left near the mouth of the cave. It was hoped that I would be the salvation of this House-Tribe. I was the last born of the Matriarch. I have encoded the names and directions and exact words spoken into the pages of this my journal. It is a hunch, but tinged with the weight of destiny. I feel a foreshadowing laying heavily upon me.

The last information we received shook the high-priest severely. A certain hidden place which he thought known only to his people was sought by my mother as well. And described in fair detail-sufficient to shock the high-preist into revealing that he knows the way to the place that she sought. It is a holy site to this people, as an ancient king who fell in battle is enshrined there. He is greatly disturbed that not only was it known, but specifically sought by my mother. I press the advantage of his unbalance, perhaps foolishly. But I must find out the secrets of my past! I cannot return to my first-kin without the answers I must have.

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