Found the entrance into the ruins. That old man’s words weren't entirely false after all, though the site is far older than I expected. Nature has hidden all but a crescent shaped hole which, when I inserted my hand into, unlocked numerous mechanisms and a great door opened.
Suffice to say, the men nearly pissed themselves.
Regardless, this grand welcome indicates the intricate nature of this place and the fact that it is still functioning is...astounding. These “ancients” were truly a people of wonderment. Why so few records of them remain confuses me. I have, however, been able to decode much of their language -- the only portion of their legacy which remains with the local populace here today.
I do not know how deep this place goes but if the stories are true and my research is right we'll find something greater than any treasure.
Sleeping is difficult. Every sound, every breath echoes and it weighs on me, on all of us. Even now, I hear rushing water. A river, maybe, though strange for these arid lands.
Some of the men are convinced it'll break through the ceiling.
I remind them of their debt.
They keep quiet.
We found the remains of a child by the looks of it. Maybe ten, eleven? I am not well-versed in such things but this one seems well-preserved. Not mummification in essence. Embalming?
It was a single body enclosed by ritual markings, runes cut into stone. Crude, in truth. Not as detailed as the others we have found. It might be sacrificial though the culture is not known for it (by what little is known, at least) and the chamber we discovered the corpse in was more difficult to enter than the others. It took three of our strongest men to undo the latch and a bit of trickery on my part to undo the gauges which held the door shut.
The most disturbing part of it was... She was clutching a raggedy doll in her arms. And she had long hair. Like Lily's. Untouched by the ages, somehow.
Felt human but not. Animal?
Food is growing scarce. I told half the men to turn back and return with supplies and more hands. Now, only five of us remain.
They all whimper like children but --
Oh, the child. The child. We should have left her be.
I could not sit still for another moment. The men I sent back have not returned and we have resorted to eating cave fungus. The promise of riches is what keeps those who have stayed alive but I can see it waning in their eyes.
They may turn back.
But I have to go on.
I must know what the ancients feared so dearly that they destroyed their own civilization and buried the remains shut within this temple. And I am finding more and more evidence of ritual suicide. Mostly children.
But I must know. I must. What was this “Ancient Deity”?
Mister Briggs killed himself. Slit his throat as the rest of us slept. I cannot find the knife he used.
My hand shakes. I mustn’t waste any more ink.
Silver Hair. Shadows speak.
The runes read: It is alive. It is dead. It is god.
I’m sorry Anna. I’m sorry.
I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t save any of them.
I cannot remember the taste of food.
Her flesh came back. Stood up. Smiled at me. Killed the others. Walked away.
Looked like Lily?
Bare, naked, small feet. Things burnt into her skin. Secrets, se cre ts, s e c rets
She keeps bringing me food.
I found it. I found what I was searching for but I can't go home now.
The god still breathes.
Oh, Lily. What have you done?