Characters Environments 
Author Marian Parisher-Nichols
Poems and short stories, free to read.
"When I write, I shoot from the hip!"
                                                                                                House of Riddles
 
 
Chapter Three>Blackfox & the Chamber

Blake, Shane, and Martin help the elderly Blackfox into the estate.  Although very cold, the day is clear and bright with sunbeams dancing off the crystals from the frozen snow; it is around two o’clock in the afternoon.

The old Indian is able to make his way to the door with only Blake holding his arm, to be certain he will not slip on the ice.  He gratefully sits in the rocker in front of a roaring fire in the Great Room.  Raven drapes a throw across his lap saying, “Hello Grandfather.  Here this will keep you warm.”

“Thank you, my Granddaughter,” he says.

With long white hair braided at the sides of his head and hanging down the front of his clothing, Blackfox looks the image of an aged Indian.  His complexion is very ruddy to the point of being reddish brown, with black lively eyes that do not miss a beat.  He has deep laughter lines about his eyes and mouth, but there are no other wrinkles in his thin skin.  He is dressed in the style of his forbears, but the fabric itself is rather new.  He ties a leather-beaded band around his head with two hawk feathers dangling on his left braid.

“How do you feel now, Grandfather?” asks Blake.

In a low but steady voice, the elderly Indian responds, “Make no fuss, I do fine.”  He holds out a slightly trembling blue veined hand and demands “Show me.”

It is understood immediately what Blackfox means and Raven retrieves the parchment.  Blackfox positions his reading glasses and studies the document.  They all settle back in their chairs in the Great Room, waiting while Blackfox turns the piece over in his hands as he examines it closely.  Fifteen minutes or so pass and no one utters a word, not wanting to break his concentration.  Finally, he looks up, removes his spectacles, and speaks.

“This paper,” he says, waving the piece in their direction, “is Warrior Chief’s prayer to Great Spirit.  He pray for his people.  White Eyes do much harm.  His people taken far away.  They walk ‘Trail of Tears.’  Only kin left is infant son.  He hides son with family of White Eyes.  They agree to raise son in trade for land.  The White Eyes gives son White Eye name.  Chief is Fighting Bear.  Son given white man name by white family.  The prayer is at top of skin.  Chief leaves this for young son.  Son name Little Cub.  Chief wants son to know of his people.  What happen to them?  Where they go?  Chief Fighting Bear leave.  Come back no more.

“These marks point to many secret way into house.  Hidden ways also in house.  House built by Little Cub.  White Eyes die early.  Leave no sons.  Little Cub take this skin.  He make map of house.  Of land around.  He shows paths, trails.  Chief Fighting Bear mark first part long before.  Son hide paper when land taken from him.  New law keep Indian from owning land.  White Eyes kin take over.  They run Little Cub off land.”

“Grandfather, what does the prayer say?” asks Raven.

The elderly Indian replaces his glasses, studies a little longer, and then starts to recite, “‘Great Spirit, evil and wickedness fall on your People, the Cherokee of your great land.  My people force from their ancient hunting grounds.  Force to march for many moons.  Wife of my heart gone with our daughter.  I save son.  I now trust him to you.  A White Eye who say he is man of one God promise to raised my son, Little Cub, as his son.  I give him my land.  My land holy, rich.  They will do well.  I leave.  I search for wife and daughter.  I try to return.  Care for my blood and allow not run onto ground.  Chief Fighting Bear.’

“Chief never go back.  Little Cub, never know father.  He learn of him.  This be why he build this good house.  This, holy place.”

Silence permeates the Great Room; together they try to comprehend the meaning of the prayer and the significance of the symbols.

Shane speaks, “Blackfox, you say there is a way into this house that is hidden?”

“Yes, hidden,” he replies.

“You also say that there are secret passages in the house?”

“Yes, only one mark by Little Cub, also, hidden.  Little Cub, mark plain on map.  Room above.  See, here,” Blackfox traces the way with his forefinger.  Shane walks over to Blackfox, and takes the map and studies it where Blackfox has pointed.  After a few moments, he looks towards the stairwell, as do the others.

“Shane,” said Raven, “He means the purple bedroom, upstairs.”

“Yes, I think so too,” he replies while studying the parchment.

They all head upstairs and halt at the entrance of the purple bedroom.

“Let’s check this out while we still have plenty of daylight,” says Shane.  The others agree.  “The best I can figure … is the secret entrance must be inside the closet.”  Shane walks to the closet door.  “See, this is where Raven found the parchment,” he says indicating the gap.  “It was partially hidden here.

“I don’t see anything that suggests an exit in here,” Shane continues.  “Maybe I watch too many mystery movies, but usually there’s a pressure point or an unlikely item that may open the entrance.”  He pokes and probes all along the back wall, but nothing happens.

“Shane!” gasps Raven.

Shane turns quickly and takes a few steps towards her, wondering why she spoke, “What is it, Raven?”

Raven, who stands at the door with the others looking on, says, “Maybe this will do it.”  She then intentionally applies pressure as she slides her hand down the edge of the door just as she had done before, and with a ‘clank’, half of the floor at the back of the walk-in closet, literally drops down, catching everyone by surprise.  Raven screams as she grabs for Shane saving him from slipping down the shaft.

Although shaken, Shane is unhurt and laughingly remarks, “Well I never saw THAT in the movies before.”

“My gracious, someone could have been hurt,” exclaims Lilly as she moves to stare down the hole.  “What on earth can be down there?”

Shane attempts to look into the darkness down inside the closet.  “It’s pretty dark, Mom.”

Martin has found a flashlight and now aims it into the dark void.  “There a ladder of sorts against the right side of the hole.  I can’t make out anything below, this light is too weak.”

“There’s only one way of finding out …,” declares Shane.

-“Yes, only one,” agrees his father.

“I know what you have in mind, Martin,” warns Lilly, “but you need to make better plans other than just rushing down there out of curiosity.”

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Blackfox finds a new purpose in the mystery of the parchment and shows excitement at the connection with the history of his tribe.  He seems to have an in-depth understanding of exactly what the parchment means.

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Back up in the purple bedroom, Shane, Martin, and Blake are equipped with flashlights.  Shane speaks as he shines his electric torch down the darkened shaft, “This must go very far for I can see no bottom.”

Blackfox stands and peers into the depths, “You find many secrets there.  You must step with light foot.  Feel way with stick.  Not trust ground under feet.”

Blake closely studies his grandfather, “You know he may be right.  We need something to probe with.”

“I’ll be right back, Mom…  Lilly come help me,” says Raven.

Minutes later, they return with a broom, a golf club, and Shane’s metal detector, which Shane takes.  Martin takes the club leaving the broom for Blake, who frowns as he remarks, “Why do I get the broom?  I want a club like you.”

Joyce comforts the pride of her husband as she says, “The broom has a longer reach than the club.  I am sure there will be cobwebs down there and you are going to want something to sweep them out of the way.  Now go ahead with the broom, you are not in front of the tribe you know.  And I promise not to tell.”

Blake looks doubtfully at his wife, but saying not another word, walks over to the shaft and shines his light, “Well in that case I need to go first,” and with that, turns backwards as he locates the first run of the ladder.  It feels strong enough to support his weight, so slowly he descends until the top of his head disappears from sight.

“How are you doing, Blake?” calls Shane.

“Fine, the ladder will hold you, come on down.”

Minutes later, they are in a room, a hidden room, built like an elevator shaft, that descends straight down inside the house’s interior walls.  Its dimensions widen as they go down, from three by six feet, to six by six feet at the bottom.  It has a depth of thirty odd feet, which puts it below the basement.

Blake has torn down the webs with the broom, but it still smells of dust and years of musky wood, then, after the first twenty feet the walls are constructed of stone.  They are unable to tell if it has been carved out of the virgin rock, or if the stone has been brought in and arranged to wall in the chamber.  The floor is also stone, damp, and freezing, but there is no apparent exit except for the ladder leading back up to the bedroom.

“This room must be located in the basement,” remarks Shane.  “There’s nowhere else it could possibly be.  Although it’s small, it still couldn’t be hidden as well as this, on the upper floors.”

“I don’t see anything of worth myself,” says Martin, Shane’s father.

“Well, there has got to be something of note in here.  Grandfather seems to think so,” returns Blake.

Shane shines his light towards Blake, “Well if there is, it’s well hidden.  I’m going back up; it is like an iceberg down here.”

“Well, what did you find?” asks Raven, when they emerge.

“Only an empty chamber, about the size of a grave,” replies Shane.

With that comment, all three women shudder as if the very thought is too dreadful to comprehend.  “Are you going back down?” asks Lilly.

“Not this evening, it is cold as blue blazes down there,” replies Martin.

“Cold as a tomb,” agrees Shane.

“I wish you would quit referring to graves and tombs,” says Lilly.

“No tomb, there,” says Blackfox.  “Indian not put dead underground”

“Well, the next time we check out ‘the tomb,’ I’m putting on extra clothing!” declares Martin.  “That fire downstairs is calling me.  So, if the lot of you will excuse me, I’ll see you around the fireplace!”

Some moments later, back in the Great Room, the men gather in a small group at the fire, to see if the parchment might reveal something more.

Meanwhile, Raven decides to get a roast in the oven that she wants for dinner that night.  Lilly and Joyce sit at the table sipping coffee while watching her, when the silence is rudely disturbed by the shrill ringing of the phone.  Raven jumps and Joyce offers, “Shall I get that for you, Raven?”

Raven straightens up and looks at her mother, “Yes, please.  I’ve no idea who it might be.”

Joyce picks up the cordless phone, “Hello, Hawkins’ residence.”  Joyce listens for a voice on the other end of the line, but there is none.  “Hello.  Is anyone there?”

She removes the phone from her ear, “That’s funny.  The line has gone dead; it must have been a wrong number.”

No sooner has she laid down the phone than it rings again.  Joyce looks at the other two women and answers the phone again, “Yes?  Hello?  Is there anyone there?”  Joyce waits again for a response but nothing.  “Will you please answer me?  I know you are there.  Hello!”  Joyce looks at the phone and then at Raven, “It just went dead.  There’s not even a dial tone.”  She hands the receiver to Raven.

“The battery is probably dead,” Raven says as she presses the ‘on’ button and puts it to her ear.  “I don’t hear anything either, I’ll put it back in the cradle so it can charge,” doing so as she speaks.  Just as soon as she turns from it to go back to her cooking, the phone rings again, causing Raven, Joyce, and Lilly to jump.

Raven looks at her two companions, then calls, “Shane, will you get that, the kitchen phone is dead.”

“Sure honey,” he calls back.  They listen as Shane answers, “Hello.  Hello.  Sorry Raven, this phone just went dead.”  He replaces the receiver back on the hook.

“That’s just how it happened with me,” exclaims Joyce.

“Shane, check the caller ID, and call them back,” suggests Raven.

Shane is doing so before she speaks, “It says ‘out of area.’  Well that helps a lot.  I’ll try ‘call return’ to see if I can get through.”  He holds the receiver to his ear and listens, then, “It tells me, number cannot be reach by this method.  Maybe someone is using a cell phone and is not making a good connection, it happens in these mountains sometimes.  I’ll call a few of the boys from work to see if any of them tried to reach us.”

A little later, Shane reports what he has learned, “None of the guys have tried to contact me.  I left a message for the ones who weren’t at home, but I have no idea who it could have been,” Shane pauses for a brief moment as if collecting his thoughts.  “I’m forgetting about it now, probably nothing out of the ordinary, so no one’s to worry, okay?”

Laying down the phone Shane walks away and instantly with a shrill, it rings again.  Shane picks up the phone, checks ‘caller ID’, “It’s out of area again.  I am not answering it.  Just let it ring, maybe they will give up after a bit.”

But they had forgotten the answering machine.  The machine picks up, “You have reached the home of Raven and Shane Hawkins, we are unable to take your call just now, so please leave your name, number and a brief message and we will get back to you, Thank you and have a good day,” says the machine in Raven’s voice.

The room’s occupants wait with expectancy for a voice on the other end of the line.  There is one, but it is a voice that sounds as though it is in an echo chamber and very distant.  They hear a low- pitched whine and hissing; the words are drawn out and barely audible.

“In darkness I wait.”  The whine continues until it fades, then silence, then static and the line goes dead.

Shane rewinds the recording, “Let’s see if we can understand it better on the machine.”  However, when he plays it back there is only silence, nothing is recorded, only the click when the connection was broken.

Raven wraps her arms about Shane’s waist, “I’m getting rather scared of all of this.  Shane what can it mean?  Are there,” and Raven’s voice breaks as she hesitates to proclaim her thoughts, “ghosts here?”

“Nooo,” says Shane gathering her into his arms, “It’s probably just a prankster.  And, we will find out who it is.  There are no such things as ghosts.  That is just a bunch of nonsense.  So don’t you get your pretty head all ruffled over this.”

Blackfox now speaks, “No, not ghosts.  Spirits.  Writing says they here.  Voice cry from spirit world.  Need good medicine.  Must pray to Great Spirit for sign.  I will do.  I know ancient words.  Must do at new moon when night is blackest.  That not long.  I stay.  I not go back to home.”

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Later, that evening after dinner, they sit at the table deep in conversation.  Joyce declares, “Well it may all be rather normal and I may be inclined to agree with you, but after that last phone call, well I’m not so awful sure.  Things are not as they should be, and Raven, if you don’t mind, I’d rather sleep in one of the other rooms.  What with that big gap in the floor, why it would be just my luck to ramble in there and fall through.”

Raven, not surprised by this request replies, “I know, and we didn’t look for a way to close it, and father what about you?  Are you sleeping in there?”

“Blake can sleep there if he likes, but he’ll do it alone,” says Joyce.

A chuckle rises from Blake, “Not without your mother!  Is grandfather going to stay down here in the other bedroom?”

“Yes, that is my plan; I think he will be more comfortable downstairs.  And you can choose which room you like upstairs; all were made ready for guests.”

“Across the hall will do nicely,” exclaims Joyce, which brings a round of laugher.

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Getting into bed next to Shane, Raven realizes just how exhausted she is.  It isn’t just physical but mental fatigue as well.  The holidays are always taxing, and houseguests, no matter how much you want them there, add an extra burden.  But paranormal events occurring in her home have depleted all of Raven’s reserves, and she feels simply drained.

Their parents have pretty much taken care of themselves, but great-grandfather is too unfamiliar with modern appliances, as well as too advanced in age, to be expected to do everything for himself.  He takes delight in little things that the rest home did not offer, for it had only recently gotten modern toilets, showers, and radio, but not TV, at least not yet.  Blake helps him with preparations for bed, but Raven feels obligated to be nearby should something be needed.  So it is well past eleven when at last it is time to put out the lights.

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A cool gentle breeze tickles her nose as she gazes out upon a green meadow that is teaming with wildflowers, where busy bees and fluttering butterflies, help themselves to the sweet nectar of the delicate flora.  Large pillows of white cottony clouds drift lazily in the white-blue sky, while the chirps of sparrows and the tweets of finches pervade the warm fresh air.  Raven strolls through the knee-high grasses barefoot, while the soft breeze plays with the skirt of her summer frock causing it to swirl gently about her naked legs.  Spring, the season of rebirth and the promise of glorious tomorrows, oh, if it would always be so.

“Raven,” the call is low; barely more than a whisper, she halts and listens, “Raven, come this way.”

In her dream, Raven smiles as the serene scene plays out before her.  Sitting up in bed, she looks around; everything is so green and sweet smelling, the sun is bright, she throws her legs over the edge of the bed and rises.  She wears a pale pink cotton nightgown; it has long sleeves and a scoop neckline and is ankle length.  Stepping softly into her slippers, she moves toward the voice, which is compelling in its intensity for her to locate its origins.

Silently she leaves her bedroom to Shane’s steady snore; he does not notice that she has left their bed.  With no lights on and only the soft glow of nightlights placed strategically about, she makes her way through the Great Room, to the staircase and up the stairs, all the while bathed in the bluish light of darkness.  Steadily she climbs, but her progress does not go unobserved, as Blackfox has seen her move past his open bedroom door.  He thinks nothing of it, turns over, and attempts to sleep in a bed that is far too soft.

Raven reaches the top of the stairs and stops for an instant, “Raven,” the voice calls. She moves toward the sound, a sound only she hears.  At the purple bedroom she pauses, for the door is shut; it now eases open allowing Raven to enter.  Her green eyes are open but they do not see the truth of her location, to her, she is at the glen in the forest that she wandered through on her way to a small hut, and now she stands at its door.  With the door open, she walks into the hut/purple bedroom, and across the floor into the closet and to the entrance of the shaft.  She steps onto the ladder/blue water of a spring outside of the hut; she feels its coolness as she slides into its depths/stands on the cold stone floor of the hidden chamber.  Moving/swimming to the further wall, she does not halt as the stone wall splits down the line of connecting stones, and slides apart giving her free entrance into another chamber, and still she dreams on.

This chamber is not bare, for it holds many treasures of the ancient Cherokee people.  In her dream she hears the voice again, “Raven come to us.  Bond with us.  Become one of us.”  She sees many beautiful Cherokee maidens, they gather at the foot of a Warrior Chief, but she cannot see his face, she looks around and reality forces her to know she is not in the spring nor is she in her bed.  Becoming completely awake, she attempts to clear her mind of the dream but still she sees the vision.  Fear overcomes her, her continuous scream pierces the night, and the vision vanishes.

Wanting to escape back to the safety of her home, Raven heads for what she hopes is an exit from this strange cavern but with the disappearance of the vision, the light also is gone.  She finds herself in total darkness and attempts to feel her way back the way she came.  Suddenly there is a pressure grasping her arm; it guides her back towards the hidden chamber, back to the ladder.  In the darkness she fumbles as she climbs up, and at the top is a pair of strong welcoming hands to pull her into the light.  She is hysterical as she collapses into Shane’s arms.

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The studious Blackfox had been unable to sleep and he soon realized that Raven had not returned to her bed.  With a sense of wisdom gained from a long life, he had suspected that not all was well and so had awakened Shane.  They were in the Great Room when Raven had screamed and had rushed toward the alarming sound.  They were surprised to find the purple bedroom door standing open and wondered aloud why she had gone in there in the middle of the night.  Shane had just turned on the closet light when they saw her hands reaching up from the shaft.

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With his arm wrapped about her shoulders, Shane leads a sobbing Raven from the purple bedroom out into the hall, where they are joined by both set of parents.  They had been awakened by the sound of screams and running feet in the hall.

“Shane, what on earth is going on out here,” demands Martin seeing the distraught Raven.

“Dad, help me get her downstairs, we can talk then.”  Martin helps Shane support Raven while Blake assist his grandfather, Joyce and Lilly clear the way and turn on the lights as they go.

Shane settles a calmer Raven onto the sofa in the Great Room and sits down next to her, the rest of the family follows suit.  “Raven, why were you upstairs in the hidden chamber?”

“I must have walked in my sleep.  I must have been dreaming and when I awoke I was in the second chamber, watching a warrior chief …” here she is interrupted by Blackfox with:

“That Chief Fighting Bear,” says Blackfox from the rocking chair in front of the fire.

“Second chamber?” asks Shane with puzzlement.  “There’s another room down the shaft?”

Joyce sits on the other side of Raven holding her hand and the others stand close by.

“How did you get into the second room?” asks Shane.

“Don’t know, but there is a second chamber…  I remember walking a long ways back after it went black, I could not see …!”

“Raven!” speaks Joyce sharply as she holds up Raven’s arm.  “What is this on your gown’s sleeve?”

Just above the elbow is a dark smudge, Raven looks at her arm and then at them, she pushes up the sleeve to reveal a red imprint of a hand.  “That’s where he touched me as he helped me out of the chambers.  It was so dark.  I couldn’t see a thing.  I tried feeling my way, and then suddenly something was guiding me, holding onto my arm.  When I reached the first chamber and could see light and the ladder, it left.  It helped me out of the darkness, out of the chambers.”

Shane is dumbstruck.  Dare he admit to the possibility of spirits, of ghosts?  Things he believes not to exist.  What is this in their home?  Is it evil?  Could there possibly be both good and evil in this house?  “Raven, you must tell us your dream.  It is obvious that the dream is what lured you from our bed.”

Raven reveals her beautiful dream.  When she gets to the part about the warrior chief and the Cherokee maidens in the second chamber, Shane speaks, “How did you get into that section?”

“I don’t know.  I dreamt that I was swimming in a pool and then the maidens appeared.  I awoke but they were still there.  I never did see the face of the chief.  When I realized I was awake and not dreaming, and I was not in my bed, I panicked and screamed.  When I did, everything vanished.  It all went black.  I mean total darkness.  I knew enough to turn completely around, to back out, I was trying to feel my way, but there wasn’t anything to hold.  I may have gone around in circles; I had no sense of direction.  No left or right, I was pretty sure about up and down, but that is about all.  I then remember being urged in one direction and I felt the pressure on my arm, but oddly it did not frighten me.  It wasn’t until I reached the first chamber and I felt it release my arm, that I was afraid again.”

“Spirit save her,” says Blackfox.  “Mean no harm.  She only way for spirit speak.  Only Raven has second sense in thunder room.  Spirit used her make contact.  Will happen again ‘till message is learned.”

“I had a dream in that room myself,” says Blake.  “But it didn’t influence me as it did Raven.”

“You much too strong.  Spirit not make contact through you.  That why spirit return to girl.  She more open.  She easy to do as spirit wants.  Spirit not evil.  Spirit one with Raven.  Spirit save Raven.  Spirit need Raven help.  That why Spirit do no harm.  It does no hurt.”

“Shane,” says Raven wearily, “all of a sudden I feel so sleepy.  Let’s go back to bed.”

“All right darling, to bed with you,” Shane assists her from the sofa and as he does he gets a glimpse out of the window.  “You know what, it’s snowing again.”  He pushes aside the curtains to get a better look, “Looks like a blizzard.  I didn’t think we were supposed to get more snow this weekend.  Goes to show the weatherman doesn’t always get it right.”

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After the events of the previous night, all of them sleep late; it is a little after eleven when Raven finally opens her eyes.  Shane turns towards her when she moves; he is already awake but lies there thinking.

“Morning, Raven,” he greets her, “How do you feel this morning?”

Snuggling down into his arms, “Oh, I’m fine.  I guess you’ll want to check out the chamber today.”

“Yeah, I want to find how you managed to get into another room, if you really did, and weren’t just dreaming it.”

“This morning, all of it feels like a dream.  Even the part where you and grandfather found me.  But I take it, that it wasn’t, hon?”

“No.  That was not a dream.  But I know what is a dream,” he smiles knowingly at her, while softly kissing her.

``````

Shane and Raven are later than the others at getting up that morning.  Their folks had beaten them and are enjoying coffee and conversation while Joyce and Lilly prepare breakfast.

“Morning sleepy heads,” is the greeting from Lilly as she beams a meaningful smile at them.  “Breakfast is almost ready.”

During breakfast, they go over again what had occurred during the night.  It had snowed rather hard and was still coming down with large snowflakes and a very gusty wind.  A blizzard was the best description.  “We may not be able to get out today, although I don’t need to be back at work for a few days yet,” says Blake.  “Joyce and I had planned to leave right after breakfast, but the roads will not be cleared for a few days, and this drive of yours looks like a winter landscape painting.  Go look.”

“I’ll check it out in a bit,” says Shane sipping his coffee.

Blackfox looks at his great-granddaughter, “Granddaughter,” he begins and Raven gives her full attention to him.

“Yes, Grandfather?”

“You not worry.  You no danger.  You scared I know, but no matter, Spirits means you no harm.”  He smiles at her, revealing his new dentures, of which he is very proud.

Raven stands and leans over her great-grandfather and kisses him lightly on his leathery cheek.  “Grandfather, as long as you are here, I feel as safe as a babe in its mother’s arms.”

“I’m going back into the chamber, maybe I can find out how Raven got into another section of it,” says Shane.  So the men, even Blackfox, leave the table, and head back upstairs.

They go to help Blackfox but he waves them away with the comment, “I climb stairs alone last night.  I not need help.  Just take me longer than you.”

The women begin clearing away the dishes, then go into the Great Room.  When Blake comes back downstairs, the women all ask him the same question at once, “Were you able to get into another part of the chamber?”

Standing in the middle of the room, Blake replies, “No,” and he rubs his hand across his brow, “Just doesn’t look like there’s any other way out of that place; four walls, and the floor, all of stone.  Strangely, you can see Raven’s footprints in the dust and it looks like she walked through the stonewall.

“Which is why Shane sent me for his toolbox, he wants to try to find a crack in the stones.  If one is there, you can’t see it.  I think that’s all there is of it.  I mean why hide a door, in a hidden chamber.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  But grandfather thinks differently, and Shane, I think, believes him.  But I also think Martin has had enough of it too, he just won’t say so right now.  Can you direct me to the storage room?”

“I’ll show you,” says Raven, and she gets up and leads the way to the back of the house.  They go down a short hallway past the kitchen’s side entrance on the right, and on to the storage room on the left.  At the end of the hall is a big heavy glass door that leads to the outside and the patio.  The patio has double-paned glass windows and one door. Raven takes her house keys from her sweater pocket and unlocks the door.  “Shane likes to keep it locked,” she explains.

Together, she and her father enter the small room and Raven pulls on the light, “There it is, there on the second shelf.”  She points as Blake moves to the back wall to retrieve it.

Raven stands at the entrance, waiting so she can turn out the light, shut, and lock the door when they leave.  Suddenly she shivers and utters, “Oh, I’m cold,” and she pulls her sweater closer about her.  She turns to close the door a bit, as a dark shadow passes just outside.  Startled, Raven leans out to see better what made the shadow, but it is gone.  It reminds her of the eerie shadow she had seen in the purple bedroom, and she shivers at the thought.  “What is it Raven?  You see something out there?” asks Blake.

Stepping back around, she shakes her head, “No father.  Just a shadow.  Nothing else.  Are you ready?”

“Yes, I’ll take these tools to him for all the good it will do.  If he wants to get into a room made of stone, he’s going to need a jack hammer,” remarks Blake as they make their way back through the house.

Raven follows her father all the while casting a wary eye behind her, she cannot shake the feeling of not being alone, of someone, or something making every move she makes.  But she says nothing, hoping it is just her imagination.

Blake sees Raven looking behind her and asks, “What are you looking for, Raven?  Did you see anything back there, that I missed?”

Raven takes a deep breath then replies, “I’m not real sure, I thought I saw movement, but there wasn’t anything there when I looked.  I’m sure it is just nerves.  I’m okay, don’t you worry about my foolish fears.”

Raven goes with her father to the chamber; while Blake climbs onto the ladder, she holds the toolbox and lowers it down to the three men.  Blackfox sits in a straight back chair there in the closet, so he will be handy to answer questions should they arise.

“How are they doing, Grandfather?”  Raven asks, more to make conversation than anything else.  After her experiences of the night before, she does not care what may be found there.

“No find other door.  There more than one room, they not know secret to enter.  I say prayer, but no help.  You, Granddaughter are secret.  But Shane no wants you in chamber.  Much danger he says.  I no believe you in danger,” replies Blackfox, with only a glance at Raven.

“Well I’m going back downstairs; tell Shane I’ll be in the kitchen starting dinner.”