A cold gale cut through the damp air, a stern warning against any would be travellers to stay home and leave their troubles alone for a while. Caleb reached out a gruff hand and caught his hat just before it would have been blown across the lake and deposited on the opposite eroding shore. His resolve had not been the least bit shaken by the blustering whispers of the wind. Caleb hated the water, and he had more than a few good reasons to justify this ire. Nasty things lived in the water, be they natural or one of the new experimental creatures that the Cabal was so fond of envisioning these days. Caleb gave a good long stern glare down into the murky depths, looking for any signs of movement. There were none, and Caleb, somewhat satisfied, climbed into the row boat that was so conveniently tied down to a stake embedded in the rocky shoreline nearby. He had to follow that gargoyle, even if he did not like the look of this lake. He picked up the oars and started paddling.
"Life and death..." he mused to himself, remembering the words that the Elder had used to describe that which was rightfully his. Caleb was of course quite familiar with death; the anguished faces of his victims, the power that another death brings, and his very own experiences six-feet under made it a very persistent subject to him. Death was something that Caleb was comfortable with controlling. Life, on the other hand, was an entirely different matter. Caleb had seen zombies be resurrected by the Cabal, old flesh and muscle flexing anew, forced into the motions of the living by wills not their own. Caleb shuddered at the thought in spite of himself; that certainly was not life, at least, not in the traditional sense. All you had there were mindless walking corpses; the closest thing they had to volition was blood lust. It was not at all like bringing back someone you really knew from the dead, someone with a personality, someone you cared about.
Caleb put down the oars and dug into his pocket. He slowly and carefully drew out a small picture and gazed at it sadly in the moonlight, the wind at his back, protectively shielding the image from the storm. On it were depicted the familiar features of Ophelia, somewhat faded by the effects of time and age. Not that her image seemed aged; it still retained the youthful glow of when the picture was first taken so many years ago. Caleb pressed a finger over the picture, almost as if he were trying to straighten the red bangs that fell messily over his beloved's eyes. "Sleep Ophelia" Caleb whispered softly, almost expecting the picture to respond. To his disappointment all that could be heard, besides the howling of the wind, was silence. "If only I could bring you back..." Caleb commented woefully. "Maybe I can bring you back..."
Caleb pocketed the photograph and picked up the oars again. He did not know if he could find the scroll, or even if he could that he would be able to use it if he tried, but if it had even the slightest possibility of bringing her back, Caleb knew that it would be worth a try. A torrent of rain began to fall from the sky again, the wind's bleak warnings turning to premonition. Caleb knew that he would not be able to navigate the lake on his own much longer. He rowed with determination, his eyes set towards the upcoming shore, the wind somehow still blowing him straight and on course. It was almost as if some other worldly force was protecting him, and was set on depositing him on one of the lake's other ancient shores. The rain's violent tumult started subsiding just as soon as the boat began to reach its final destination, pattering out almost as suddenly it had originally began just moments before. Fate was on the old gunslinger's side.
Caleb saw various small wooden platforms ahead, with one or two boats already docked. A path led out to a tunnel carved into a cliff face. Wherever the gargoyle had gone, it must have had something to do with this place. Caleb rowed up quickly and promptly moored his boat against the wharf, intent on completing his task. Upon doing so he felt something whiz past the side of his head, just as he was bending up from tying the boat to the pier. Caleb immediately stopped and looked around, but failed to see anything that could have caused the phenomenon. A flash of light caught his eye, and then he saw, from behind a tree, the figure of a cultist. Before Caleb could properly react, the cultist chucked a recently lit stick of dynamite in Caleb's direction, forcing Caleb to jump back. The explosion tore across the dock, forcing Caleb twirling into the air. His hat was once again sent flying into the sky, and was only stopped by the quick force of his ever unrelenting grip.
After a few seconds, Caleb surveyed the carnage. The explosion had completely destroyed the wharf, boats and all. All that was left was the tiny section which Caleb was now standing on. There was no going back now. Caleb looked around, but there was still no sign of the cultist. "Must have gone to tell his superiors" Caleb muttered through clenched teeth, before jumping over the now gaping hole in the pier and landing onto the hard ground of the nearby shore. He saw the path, illuminated by lanterns, stretch out before him. This must have been where the cultist had gone; there was nothing for it but to follow him. Caleb could hear his footsteps echo through the shadowy tunnel, an apparent warning to whoever or whatever was ahead. "I've got a bad feeling about this" he grumbled, noticing the lanterns becoming farther apart, causing the tunnel to gradually become even darker.
"For the love of!" Caleb exclaimed as he fell over. He waited a few moments to re-orientate himself, and then looked to see what it was that he had tripped on. The grisly face of a corpse stared back at him, a lantern enclosed in its dead fingers. "I guess I am not the only old dead guy down here" Caleb observed calmly, used to seeing all kinds of disturbing and stomach churning sights. He gingerly snatched the lamp from the corpse's cold dead clenched fingers. Before moving forward, he looked down at the face of the corpse one last time. It almost seemed as if it were smiling at him. Why did that make him feel uneasy? Caleb shrugged and continued down the passageway undeterred.
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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.