Sunday, August 21, 2011
Running Bear and I woke up early the next morning, neither of us able to sleep well. After a short meal of leftover snake (which by the way, is not wonderful cold...), we headed up towards the temple. I could literally feel time spinning, dragging, warping around us as we walked closer to the entrance. Running Bear seemed oblivious to it, but I felt like I was going to be sick. I always imagined I would feel this way on one of those 'roller-coasters' I've seen pictures of. Humans are not supposed to literally feel time. We notice its passing, but...this was like...being touched...So foreign, so strange...
The twisting stopped as soon as we crossed the threshold. Thank the spirits, I'm not sure how much more of that maddening sensation I could have handled. The interior of the building was covered in ancient calendars and time-keeping devices. Some of the paintings were of the never-ending cycle of the seasons, some marked the solstices and equinoxes, still others were markings of the years passed since the building of this great temple. I found myself wondering how long it has been since the markings were updated...This place could easily be a thousand years old. I asked Running Bear if he could read any of the paintings, but he said he couldn't, and didn't know anyone who could. I did recognize one, vaguely, a strange but recognizable depiction of the seven ages.
Time for business. Running Bear and I made our way to the back corner of the room, where there was a circular hole in the ground with a ladder running down into the darkness. He lit the two torches we brought, then pointed at the ladder.
~You first, I'll follow. Let's make this quick, I feel like we shouldn't be here. I feel sick already.
I agreed. I was beginning to feel unsafe. Not so much that I wanted to flee, more like there was an unspoken boundary that I was crossing.
The ladder felt solid for something that had likely been standing for hundreds of years. I focused all of my energy on climbing, so it was only when I stepped away from the ladder that I noticed the room. I couldn't help myself. I screamed. The room was very small, only about 8x8. The woman was in the center. Blood, everywhere. Oh spirits... She had carved the symbol into her skin several times before she died, on her face, her arms, her legs. The walls were covered in charcoal drawings of the black figure, sometimes with two arms, sometimes with more. There were words, also..SPIRITSTEALER. FACELESS. HE IS HERE. Others that I couldn't make out. There were several pieces of paper near her hands...Steeling myself, I walked over and picked them up. Too much. Have to leave..
Running Bear was in the corner of the room, huddling against a wall, shivering. "Zia...Zia...Can we leave now? My mother....This isn't just about my father is it Zia? Someone was after her, they killed her..." He broke off, crying.
Oh spirits, what is this madness. We have to go. The walls are closing in.
I grabbed Running Bear's hand and put in on the ladder. Climb, come on, let's go, run, get out... We climbed out as fast as we could, and collapsed against the opposite wall of the temple. And this is where we woke up, two days later. Since then, no one has spoken, but Running Bear did gather wood build a fire, if only to stare into the flames. I can't bring myself to think about what I found there, or look at the pages I gathered from the mother's hands...Later. For now, I should try to eat, I suppose. Or at the very least, find some water.