Echoing footsteps filled the tiny stone passageway as Caleb walked forward, holding the lantern out stiffly in front of him. The minute sounds of small feet sneaking their way across the floor were also audible, as was the noise produced by the gentle flame that was enclosed by the lantern. "The acoustics in this place are quite remarkable" Caleb noted to himself, adding the sound of slow dripping water somewhere off in the distance to his observed list of noises. Maybe that was what made this place so eerie. He could literally pick up on every single sound produced around him, and yet what was the main thing that he heard? Silence. Cold... Dead... Silence. At least when you were in a firefight you always knew who you were with and what it was that they intended to do with you. Down here, it could be anyone's guess.
"Strangers in the night... exchanging glances..." Caleb sang tentatively to himself, now being guided solely by the light produced by the lantern. He had picked up the habit of singing show tunes and popular songs back in the days when he was a gunfighter. His excuse was that it made him seem more cavalierly threatening. In reality, he sang when he was nervous, although he would never admit that to any other soul, living or dead. Back in the day it drove Gabriel and Ishmael nuts. He had always thought that Ophelia found it cute, but that could have just been his own deranged imagination. Caleb shook himself from his memories and stopped, cocking his head slightly. He had heard a low gentle noise coming from somewhere directly ahead of him in the passageway. It seemed to be a soft, diffuse, crackly type of noise. Caleb knew that he had heard it somewhere before. He looked at his lamp absently, trying to divine what the noise actually was.
"Of course!" Caleb realized finally. "Fire!" The acoustics of the place had made the sounds seem distorted, changed. Sure enough, up ahead Caleb saw the inviting glow of a roaring flame in the distance. He walked forward purposefully but cautiously; after all, who knew what horrors could be awaiting him by the camp fire? Upon finally reaching the place, Caleb peered into the large opening in the wall that housed the fire. A figure sat, his back turned against Caleb, roasting weenies on a stick. "Hello" Caleb whispered, but no reply from the figure was ushered. "Hello?" Caleb repeated, this time louder and more forceful. Silence. Caleb walked up and tapped the man on the shoulder. Its head and torso slumped forward, falling straight into the open flame. Caleb instinctively reached for the body, forcing it to slump onto the bottom of his trench coat, starting a small blaze.
"Curses!" Caleb exclaimed as he stamped out the flames on both his person and the corpse. Once extinguished, Caleb sat down wearily and leaned himself against the cave wall, placing his hat over his eyes. After a contented few moments of peace, he took off his hat again, tossed it to the ground, and moved over to the corpse. It was presently still staring blankly at the roof of the passageway. It had one eye gouged out, with the other bearing a deep red scratch mark. Its mouth hanged open in a look of fear and agony, while its torso was bruised and scratched, one of its arms almost bitten clean off. "Shocking" Caleb muttered to himself. Then he saw it. A sudden flash from the fire finally allowed Caleb to see the shape somewhere in his peripheral vision. Caleb moved his head closer to the dead man's chest. Etched out of flesh and blood was a symbol. On one side was the clenched fist of a man, the other the clawed grasp of a gargoyle.
This symbol had been around for a long time, even during Caleb's own days as a good and honest member of the cult. It was the symbol above it that actually interested Caleb. Two cylinders were carefully placed in an "X" position, with an bloody "K" emblazoned on top. This symbol was new to him. It was probably new to the cult. Caleb pulled his head back and once again leaned against the cave wall. The corpse held in its grasp one last possession, a small glass bottle. Caleb grabbed it and read the label. "Blood Beer" he commented, taking off the lid before nonchalantly taking a swig. He then simply sat there for a little while, contemplating the symbol and swigging from his beer until not one last drop remained. Caleb sighed, pushed himself up, and reached for his hat. "I must say I have had a wonderful time here with you" he commented dryly to his felled friend. "The conversation could have been better though." With that remark, Caleb once again continued on with his long march through the darkness.
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Some might recall that I had previously made mention as part of the Blood Wiki's sixth anniversary that I had plans to once again invest some of my time in an area of Blood fandom that I had formerly been quite involved in. To that end I present Scroll, a story I originally began in the summer of 2008 as a kind of retelling of the story behind Cryptic Passage in an attempt to bring it further in line with the main Blood canon. Designed to be published in multiple parts, I shall endeavour to release a new instalment of Scroll every Sunday from March 9th on until the story is complete.