You decide to head left, toward the tombs. The air grows thicker and fetid as you walk down the long and winding path to your destination. The space between the torches grows greater, making the walkway dimmer and dimmer. There are markings on the ground: several series of five long, thin lines, often side-by-side, and the imprints of bare feet moving with them. Though you know nothing about tracking, your first impression is that it looks like someone was being dragged here against their will. Further down the hall, there is a brownish-red splotch on the wall. The lines in the dirt stop.

The long hallway comes to an end, stopping at a large spiral stairway that clings to the side of a tall vertical shaft. It goes down so far you can’t even see the bottom. It is made from the same large stones that build the rest of the structure you find yourself in, and each step looks worn, as if trod upon by thousands of feet.

A pile of unused torches sits near the top of the steps. You grab one and set it alight using one already set into the wall. The scent of decay is even stronger here. You fight back the urge to gag and press onward. It is getting cold.

As you head down the stairs, the sound of a child sobbing echoes around you. A moment later, you hear a man wail. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, you continue on your way. The steps appear to be getting somewhat damp, now, and the walls show spots of moss. Small fungi sprout from the cracks between the large stones that make the tunnel. You look back up, to see how far you have come, and can no longer see the top of the stairs. You wonder if you will ever see them again.

You try to keep track of time as you spiral downward, but it proves impossible. You count steps, or seconds, or the number of mushrooms you see growing out of the wall, but your thoughts are constantly interrupted by sounds for which you can find no source. Sometimes the child sobs. Sometimes the man wails. Sometimes they laugh. Sometimes, a woman cries out in the middle of a fit of laughter.

The walls are all covered in moss now, and the stairs grow narrower, forcing you to hug the wall as you make your way down. Your torch is beginning to dim, and you can’t see more than a few feet in either direction. You hear what sounds like a stream nearby. Are you finally close to the bottom?

You hear a gasp. A strong gust of wind blows the torch from your hand, leaving you in darkness.

 

CONTINUE