38,181 / 50,000
I love hijinks in the dark.
With precision reserved for people with training, the two Boxers both pulled out their flashlights and turned them on at almost the exact same time. The twin beams cut through the darkness, changing what was once black and bathing it in white. The light still didn't penetrate to the bottom of the stairwell, or find a back wall. They lost strength far too soon. Charlie and Adrienne wondered how deep this basement went. Not to mention where it was. Charlie guaged the distance their flashlights covered, and believed that the stariwell that they could see already extended beneath neighbouring buildings.
The entire way down that they could see was all stone, like a cavern had been carefully carved to resemble brick. These stones were rougher than the rest. The surfaces were far less smoothed down than the ones on the outer wall. Whereas the outer facade could almost be seen as one solid piece, from the craftsmanship, the stone stairway was left unfinished. Whether that was by design, lack of funds, or time, Charlie was uncertain. The contrast between this set of stairs and the ones leading up to the balcony out front were many.
Charlie broke the silence to rib his sister, "And you wanted to wear your heels of doom down into this?"
Adrienne's sole reply was to swing her light right into her brother's eyes. He only just stopped himself from yelling out a curse. Instead, once the beam was again turned away from his face, his eyes shot daggers at his sister.
"Ladies first," Charlie made a familiar gesture to all gentlemen towards his sister and down through the awaiting cellar door.
"Oh, no way. This was your amazingly brilliant idea, you get to lead the charge, Charlie. I only came here as support. No way am I going down there first. After you." Adrienne mimicked her brother's gesture.
Charlie shrugged and made the first, tentative step into the basement stairwell. There was a clear difference in the way the stairs felt in there, compared to the floor in the rest of the church. Charlie likened it to the difference between walking along a paved road, and then stepping onto a dirt road. The terrain was uneven, and his foot didn't settle on anything level. His foot rocked back and forth on the bumpy stone surface. With no railings of any kind, and no lights save for what they carried, Charlie wanted to be certain his foot found solid enough purchase before proceeding. Without knowing how far down he might go, he didn't want him or his sister to fall.
He took another step, and heard his sister follow close behind. Their shoes made more noise on the cellar stairs than outside, as their feet tested and searched for the best spot to stand. They scuffed and shuffled over the bluestone.
Reaching a hand out, he placed it against the stone wall to keep himself steady. The stairs were wide, but with no steady lights, he wanted to be as steady as he could be while they made their descent. As he expected, the walls were cold to the touch, and grew colder as the moved deeper into the earth. It did not become as cold as he may have expected, the stone insulating the cellar adequately, but he could still see his breath streaming out in white puffs.
About ten steps down, Charlie could see a change in the stairs caught in the light they were casting down into the darkness. The stairway soon levelled out to a landing. At first, Charlie thought it was the cellar, but instead the stairs doubled back upon themselves, and continued to descend even further.
The siblings paused upon the landing, and Charlie leaned against the wall. He shone his light along the stairs they had just come down, stopping short of shining it out the open doorway which he could just about see in the distance. The light's strength faded to almost imperceptability most of the way up the stairs, but he still did not want to risk someone catching a faint glimmer of flickering light.
"Do you think we should keep going, Adge?" Charlie raised his voice just above a whisper. He no longer feared waking anyone up, and there didn't seem to be any lights down in the pitch blackness they were going ever further into. He thought it was not probable that anyone was down there in the dark, fumbling around.
Adrienne stood by the wall that seperated the two parallel stairways. The bricks were a little thicker than her head. "It's your call," she replied. "This is already pretty deep for a simple basement. And pretty weird too. For coming here on a couple of hunches, based on dreams and coincidence, this is quite the find. If nothing else, I'm intrigued to see where this goes. It may be unconnected to anything with you, but it is very interesting."
Her brother nodded, and moved his flashlight from the ascending stairway, to the descending one that lay before them. It only went down 10, maybe 15 steps, and he could see another landing, and back wall. Charlie couldn't tell if it turned and went further down still, or exited out into something else entirely.
"Well then, once more unto the breach, dear friends."
Adrienne sighed behind him as Charlie recommenced his progress downward. "You do know the next line of that speech concerns the other option being to fill said breach with their own dead bodies should they fail? I'm not really liking that choice."
Charlie ignored her, more because he too did not want to think about that side of the coin, than being rude. Instead, he made his way down to the next landing. He had stopped holding the wall to keep himself steady, and his feet were more and more sure of themselves with each footfall.
They were surprised to find that it wasn't a landing, nor a room that the stairwell emptied itself into. Instead, stretching perpendicular from the stairwell in either direction was a stone hallway. Charlie shone his light down his left, then right, and back again.
Once more, the darkness swallowed up the light down both passageways. Although unlike the stairs, Charlie could see doorways, or other branches coming off these corridors, and they weren't just straight shots into the darkness and nothing more.
Adrienne's eyes followed Charlie's beam, and her hands went behind her head as she gazed with confusion down each pathway in turn.
"What the hell?" was all she could come up with.
"It's like some sort of catacomb system beneath Kraftsbury. Minus the dead people."
"Let's not be giving anyone any ideas, brother." Adrienne once more looked down each hall. "This is amazing. I never even knew this was here. This is the find of a lifetime, Charlie."
Charlie was less certain of that. His expression was grim. His lips were almost an invisible line on his face, and his eyes were narrowed and focused down the halls. "This isn't a find. The Cerulean Order must have known about it. This wasn't hidden, it was behind a simple locked door."
"They might not have had the key, Charlie," his sister tried to rationalise.
He just shook his head. "It took you all of five seconds to go for the hinges. Someone else would have thought of that in the past who knows how many years. And why keep this hidden? Like you said, this is an important find. This changes the entire history of the town. This needs to be explored, catalogued, but they go and hide it from us? Why?"
Adrienne didn't know, and said as much. "The better question is, what now?"
Once more, Charlie's light blinked down one hall, then the other. "I've definitely got to explore further. This is just too interesting to not check out. I don't know which way to go, though."
Whispers were long gone. They were so far beneath the town, and Charlie didn't think they were under the church anymore, as such. They still spoke just below normal volume, to keep their voices from echoing through the cavernous stone corridors, and alerting someone lurking somewhere they couldn't see.
His sister pointed to the hallway branching off to the left from the stairs. "I say we go north."
"Sounds good to me, I just have two questions; why and how?"
Adrienne walked past her brother a few steps. Once she was in the hallway she had indicated, she leaned over and picked up something from the stone floor. It glinted blue as it spun in the light from Charlie's hand, reflecting beads of azure upon the walls as it spun. She had picked up one of the pendants of the Cerulean Order.
"This is as good an indicator of what direction someone else has gone in as anything else I've seen." She pocketed the pendant. "And as far as I'm concerned, proves you're right. Someone up there knows about the down here. Unless the Order is a lot older than we think."
Charlie considered the possibility of that, but felt they these tunnels being locked and undiscovered for so long was not as credible an idea.
"And how do you know that's north?" he inquired, thrusting his flashlight in the direction of the tunnel his sister stood in.
She turned around a few times, pausing here and there to look each way, back up the stairs, and to think. "The main drag runs east to west, and the door to the church is in the south wall. The stairway down here goes to..."
"Ok, so that's north, got it. You could have just said that you have a good sense of direction, Adge."
"It's not that, it's just..."
"Good sense of direction, gotcha."
Charlie pushed past his sister into the passageway, ignoring her half-hearted pleas.
While the duo may have forgone whispering, they still proceeded with caution, taking a good look before moving too far forward at a time. Their lights only illuminated so far down the path. They did not want to stumble upon anything unexpected, such as a person, a creature, and who knew what sort of booby traps had been constructed into this place.
As Charlie ventured forward with caution, his sister hung back, examining the walls. They remained nondescript rough-hewn stones, but she kept looking, in case something of note caught her attention. Charlie did his own investigations of the stones, but he was looking for any tripwires, or switches, or holes that might launch poison darts.
They were both surprised by how mundane it all was. As they neared the first branch from the passageway, things changed. Charlie didn't notice it at first, as he was looking for dangerous things as he walked. Adrienne caught it right away as she passed a certain point.
The stones changed from the familiar bluestone of the church. No longer were they the same slate coloured rocks with just a hint of blue. When his sister paused to examine them further, Charlie stopped and he saw it too.
The stones were now a very dark grey, and he could follow the paths made by veins of lighter, almost pure white rock. Where once the stones had been from England, these were more native to the local surface of the Earth. The walls here were made of granite. Also, these did appear to be somehow carved right out of the rock, rather than built so far underground. While one side was constructed and planned, this was almost like finding a square cave opening.
The bluestone passageway was new, clear of many signs of aging, but there was moss, mold and mushrooms scattered all over the granite. While the halls from the church still showed signs of age, they were nowhere near as plentiful as this new section.
Or should that be old? Charlie had a good idea how old the bluestones were, based upon the age of the church, and for these caverns to be in such a state, they must be twice as old, or at least not in use for some time.
The smell they had first encountered upon opening the door seemed to be coming from this section of the caves. It was much stronger now that they were standing within the rock halls.
Adrienne ran her hand along the seam between bluestone and granite. Whomever had done the construction had matched it up very close. She was as amazed by how perfectly square the otherwise natural appearing caves were, than she was by how well one passageway became the other.
Their examinations of the new passages was broken when off in the distance they could hear a scuttling noise, like a rat in the walls.