The carriage bounced up and down, and wobbled side to side, as the rickety wheels rolled over rocks and debris, and dipped in and out of divots and pot holes.
This road was poorly maintained, and the longer the carriage followed this path, the worse the jostling became. There was a snort from the horse ahead, and a low rumble came from the sky somewhere outside of the moving box. The smell of pine, sweaty leather, and road dust, accented by the crispness of midnight darkness forced its way through the slits in the loosely fitting carriage doors.
The pace of the carriage slowed, and the driver cleared his throat, before spitting harshly into the darkness.
The passenger knew that his driver was scanning for a marker on this path. The driver had been given instructions, sufficient to get him to a particular spot on this road. The driver would stop when he saw the spot, and as the wheels slowed even more, and the jostling slowed, the passenger knew the location had been spotted.
He yanked on the latch when the carriage stopped, and palmed the door outward. The drivers head was bowed, consistent with the instructions, his arm stretched to the side, a lantern in his hand.
“Drive on for a mile, take rest, then return to this spot within the hour.”
The drivers head bobbed.
The passenger turned from the coach, heading toward the trees.
He counted his paces meticulously as he walked. The lanterns glow guided his footfalls away from tripping roots, ankle-twisting holes, and toe-stubbing rocks.
When he approached them, he kept as straight of a line as possible through the trees. Though there was no distinct path, but he didn’t have to push through excessive brush or force his way through bramble.
At two thousand paces, he heard the sound of the small waterfall, as he had expected, and he leaned towards the rushing sound.
Another two hundred paces, and flickers of gold began to appear in the air. Droplets of mist reflected the light of the lantern, and artificial fireflies winked into existence. The cool scent of minerals, wet earth, and moldering leaves filled his nostrils.
The squared rock, a stark contrast to the others that surrounded the shallow pool the tiny waterfall emptied into, marked his turn to the right.
Twenty-two more paces, and he found the cairn, or, what once was a rock structure he had erected.
The stones of his marker had been strewn about a six-foot wide area.
He placed his lantern on a flat spot of earth nearby, faintly illuminating the scattered rocks, and began to dig.
He picked a random section among the stones, and began to scrape. Having scooped about one foot worth of dirt, and uncovering nothing, he became concerned that he would need to canvas, and even unearth, the entire area.
Yet despite the displacement of his marker, the next spot he luckily chose to dig, his hands found the planed, oaken, edges of a box.
He pried it from the hole, and brushed the black earth from its wooden surface.
He pressed it close to his chest, and waited.
The sound of the waterfall nearby whooshed pleasantly. The intense smell of pine filled his nostrils. A cool breeze soothed the skin on his cheeks.
A faint pulse came from inside the box.
The same, slow pulse, repeated.
Once again, he waited.
After a long time, the box languidly shifted, the pulse repeating again in a similar manner.
Eron drew the box away from his chest, and placed it back in the hole.
“You don’t beat like you used to,” he said aloud.
He covered the box with dirt, filled the hole, then leveled the earth by stamping lightly with the sole of his boot.
He carefully stacked the scattered stones atop the resting place of the box, the, retrieved the lantern from its nearby location.
He then retraced his steps, away from the waterfall, through the trees, back to the old carriage, and worn out road.