Depths – 4

She came to a balcony down where the air was cold and the weight of the world above was intense – wherever she was, it was below the level of the bay outside, down where nothing was expected to live unless it could provide its own illumination or wander happily blind.

She happened to be the former.

She pulled a small torch from her pocket – a tiny gift from the Priestesses that had become one of her favorite things. She twirled its tiny form between her fingers once as she pulled a sketched out map from the other pocket. When one didn’t know when one would be summoned to plumb the Temple basement, it was best to be prepared.

With a click, there was light, steady and cool. In the years before, she’d had to rely on flame for her light – dangerous and cumbersome. Whoever had managed to engineer the tiny flashlight deserved her thanks. Alas, they were probably Seradin and long, long dead.

She traced over the map with her light. The path up until that point had been a straight trail down into darkness. Up ahead was where it turned, leading into other tunnels and other chambers many of which contained stores and supplies from ages past when the Seradin starwalkers had come with their gifts and their knowledge and their strange way of appearing differently to everyone who laid eyes on them. Still other caverns were natural, and not all were safe. Of those, not all had their danger clearly marked.

She flashed her light over the rooms marked to be full of treasure, trying to consider the method before descending into madness. In her previous descents, she’d noted an attempt at a pattern to the storage – similar-looking things were grouped together – but the trouble was that she wasn’t certain what the exact criteria of that catalogue was. There was no index, no map, just the luck that her sharp eyes had spotted the kinship between bizarre gray boxes and tubes and shapes that didn’t have a name. Were they grouped by era? By function? What era or function was hers from? Who knew, anymore? Possibly the future owner. Possibly not.

One thing she was certain of was that what she was looking for was rectangular and it was likely small. It had buttons and switches on it and a screen-like flat place. It was nothing she’d seen before – no chance of saving grace there – but there was a chamber she knew that contained an irritating number of appropriately small things. Of course it was also one of the least neat and tidy storage areas. Someone before her had been rummaging through without a thought that whoever came after would be infuriated with the state they’d left it in. The only saving grace was that they hadn’t signed their handy work. She’d looked. Nothing to identify them anywhere. Lucky.

She snapped off the light to save its battery and looked ahead. The chamber she wanted was on the right hand side, down to where the darkness was deepest.

Once her eyes were adjusted again, she continued on, hand on the railing to her right and footfalls echoing in a steady, solitary rhythm.

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