There was a feeling of pressure as I passed through the archway as if the air had grown unnaturally thick around me and I was having to push my way through it.
A light flared a moment later further down the stone tunnel and the odd sensation lifted. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the fast change in light but finally, I glimpsed the Priestess standing next to a recess in the tunnel wall holding a flickering torch which she had clearly retrieved from a metal sconce set into the wall.
“Come along now. It’s not much further and then you can tell me all about your troubles.”
“Thank you.” She smiled at Solen again, and then with a small nod turned and headed off down the tunnel. Solen and I followed her, trying to stay within the pool of light cast by her torch. I wished I could talk to Solen, to ask him if he trusted her if he thought we’d made a grave mistake coming to this strange unsettling place. But then I remembered what he’d said back at the lodge. Otherworldly or not, there was still a good likelihood that when he told the Priestess that he was communicating with my disembodied spirit, she would kick him right back out on his ear for wasting her time.
If I spoke to him then even if he did respond, there was a good chance that she might overhear him and it could give the game away far too soon. Best instead to let Solen work up to telling her my situation in his own way, she may still refuse to listen to him but at least we would have given it our best shot.
I refused to let myself dwell on the possibility that she might refuse to help us. Worrying wouldn’t help anyone or change anything, so instead, I focused on putting one foot in front of the other until at last, we reached a large wooden door at the end of the passage.
The Priestess raised her hand and places it gently on the gnarled wood of the door and a moment later I heard a click. The door swung back on surprisingly silent hinges, revealing a small dwelling with a gently crackling fire pit at its centre.
On one side of the fire pit was a semi-circular wooden bench with a selection of animal skins spread across it and on the opposite side a large metal cauldron bubbled away merrily releasing puffs of fragrant smoke which made my mouth water.
On the far side of the room was a bed and every inch of available floor space was taken up with woven carpets of all shape, size and colour.
All in all, it was a very comfortable looking little dwelling, a far cry from the austere minimalistic quarters that I had envisioned the Priestess occupying. It seemed in direct conflict with the seemingly cool, perfect being that stood before us.
She moved over to stoke the fire, gesturing for Solen to sit down on the bench seat. I assessed her again with a clearer head as she fetched two new logs to add to the dying flames.