The Crimes of Jack Daw, Part 1, is now live on Fierce Firelight.
Tombstones poking from bundles of purple grass. Testaments arising from the deep, the thoughts of the dead. Little citadels of buried knowledge. The dead crown themselves in time. These things snake forth with messages, the chitin of the earth. Each is a conduit to a realm long deceased, if you could follow it through the soil. An essence pushing its way to the surface from a realm too swollen on its own miasma, yet if you were to pierce the wall there would be no poison in its essence, merely a concentration of things gone by in the realm, an echo of its memories preserved in a kind of life. Essential things, distilled. People, places, styles.
Did they exist underground or is that simply a reasonable place to store the dead? Are they sapient now? These places are too remote for people to be concentrated around them. Too remote for study, for generalization. Encounters with them are happenstance, and rarely come about from chasing an actual tomb-spire’s course through the earth. Normally they are found from below, by other means. Rarely are these paths re-traced.
The butterflies hang upside down from branches and watch. Black, silver, with spots of livid yellow that spark up on their back as you traverse their angles. They drop and come to rest like sheets of paper. Iridescent eyes witness the peace and gravity of the place. Perhaps they monitor the messages of the tombstones, but not all things can be so read-into.