This continues a story titled: The Deer Riders
“The first time I watched outside myself I put down to a dream, but it was not the last time. Always I saw true, so I think now these are no dreams, but true seeing though it be without eyes.”
The boys looked solumnly attentive, this was an admission of a fact that they knew, that their grandfather was a seer, that he knew things, had seen things that only a seer could have beheld. “What did you do Grandfather?”
“In fact, when I looked down on the wooded vale from the stone knob that morning, I did not see the glitter of water. This reassured me somewhat that I had dreamed, not flown out of my body. Still, there was a hump, a rounded hill, in what appeared to be clear land within the circling wood and though I could not see them, I knew the wood was surrounded by brambles.
I remembered the little stream I’d stumbled into in the dark. Now, if I had known that my dream was true I would have feared to go, but because it seemed a little different my curiosity was fired, not my caution. The stream seemed a likely approach so I decided to see if I could explore the vale and look for food or other material that we could use.
The stream gathered small rivulets as it went and the stream bed sunk into a bit of a gorge. I followed it down the ridge and into and then under the bramble-wood.
The little gorge became a tunnel, roofed over with bramble vines. I was becoming nervous because everything seemed so un-natural. Still, I went on to see what was around the next corner and the next until having waded a broad silty section I rounded a tight turning and found my way barred by something undoubtedly un-natural, a wooden grill-work.
This was no accidental crossing of roots. The grill was of evenly sized and spaced timbers neatly joined, though old and somewhat rotted at the bottom. I edged close enough to peer into the valley. I could see the sky and sunlight and trees in the distance, but nothing of the grill-work’s makers.
The stone work that held the grill was mortared stone, finely worked and solid. I strung my bow. If not before there was no doubt now, this place was crafted, not a place of nature at all having been shaped by someone’s hand. I did not know them, nor them me, so it seemed prudent at that moment to retreat.
As I recrossed the pool of silty water, I noticed a branching off the way I had come. It may have been that I had not seen it at all, but I could easily have thought it was just one of many jointing of small rivulets along the way. As I drew closer and faced, as I was, to see into it, I saw it for what it was, a path up out of the gorge. Some of the work, stair and wall, looked like the mounting that held the grill.
What to do? I confess I stood for a long time in the muddy pool staring at that passage. When I began to shiver I was moved to action. I decided to get out of the stream and see if the passage presented emediate danger. It did not, to me it seemed abandoned, clogged with old leaves.
I was uncomfortably wet, there was no place in the stream to take off and dry or even reason to do it. I followed the stairs or the side path up and out. The path through the wood split, one way going toward the valley, the other to an old campsite. It was clearly long abandoned, with a fallen shelter against a dressed stone hearth. It could have served as a lookout watching the gorge approach from above, but nobody had stayed here for a very long time. The wood pile, for there was one, was rotted. There was a spring flowing from a pool well dressed and very clean. I tasted and then with confidence filled my water skins. All was overgrown giving me confidence that I could rest there and let my things dry.
I slept, and longer than I had intended. It was the dark of night when I woke in pitch blackness beneath the trees. I could feel the hard stone beneath me else I would have feared even more. I was sure my things were dry, but I could not navigate blind. I let sleep claim me once more.
This is the end of the second part of “The Deer Riders”