Oatey stepped on to the stairway that followed the curve of the hearth descending into the dark. She glanced back, and seeing that Lugh followed, continued down into the ground beneath the level of the hearth. The great disk of the stone base of the hearth rose above them on their left.
Oatey stopped on a landing about 20 feet below the surface level and reached into a niche set into the wall of the stairway. “The first time we opened this cavern,” she said, “we had no light. Father was so excited to find the secret of this place that he forgot that we’d need torches to get beyond opening the door to tomb of the ungiant. We ended up making some torches from dead fall in the woods around, not very effective, but we fixed that the next time we came.” Oatey struck flint to stone and a torch burst into light.
Oatey lit another torch afire and handed it to Lugh who used it to get a look downward, in the direction of the stair the way opened into abyssal darkness. Oatey shoved her torch butt first into a hole in the wall and taking the long stone in hand she walked off and around the stairway and up to the verticle rock face of the bottom of the pivoting hearth. “Stay there, I’ll only be a moment.” Oatey said and pressed her hands against the rock face making it pivot out and up.
Oatey continued to press and the whole mass of stone rose at her pressure. Lugh noticed that there were steps cut into the curving rock that was cut away to allow the whole circle of stone to pivot. He also saw that the top edge was descending, blocking more and more of the sunlight as it moved back into its resting position, and Lugh was glad for his torch. Oatey continued up the ever steepening stair until with a faint boom, the door was closed. Oatey pressed the stone pin against the wall holding her other hand against the stone roof of the hearth until she could press the pin into a holding niche cut for that reason.
Lugh pulled the torch from the wall and had it ready in hand when Oatey climbed back onto the landing. “What now?” He asked.
“Onward and downward,” said Oatey and lead Lugh past the niche where there rested still more torches. To their left was an empty cavern falling away into darkness, but Oatey turned right and began to descend a long narrow stair cut into the rock.
Lugh held his torch high and tried to get a sense of what was beyond the broken stone around the ragged breech in the wall and floor of the pivotting stone hearth’s pit. He caught no reflection, saw nothing at all but dark that seemed to go on forever.
With a shiver, Lugh turned to follow Oatey down the narrow stair.