As the young man passed through the dim torchlight, hearing the flames sizzle and pop, the smoke tinging his nostrils with the smell of tarry pitch in the cool, underground caverns, the Secrets buried deep within the walls began to stir.
They were slow and sluggish, like leviathan waking in dark, watery depths.
Shuffling forward once more, they gathered in dull hope to come just beneath the surface of the wall.
Is this the one?
The oldest Secret, granted due deference, looked out through the stone.
Watching his face like eager toddlers on a sunny day waiting for their parents to wake up, their gazes were heavy on his face.
He is not.
Their brightening translucence dimmed and died as they seeped back into the stones.
Spectral tears and moans, vibrating just out of range of human hearing, deepened the somber atmosphere.
We grow weaker all the time. Soon, we’ll not have the strength to break through.
They will come.
So you always say. But will they come in time?
The oldest Secret had no answer for that, and turned away as the other Secret left him resuming his sentinel post.
They will come.
The echoes of the passing man’s footsteps faded, and only the soft fizz and crackle of the torches remained.
The oldest Secret, the first to inhabit the wall, found his own strength waning, found it harder to keep the others intact.
So far, they hadn’t lost any, but the days continued to pass uneventfully; those who had tenuous holds were beginning to slip. More floors put over them, more layers to the left and right of them, and the memories of the long dead in the crypt saw fewer visitors.
The Secret began to wonder if his own words had become automatic; he still sounded sincere in his own hearing, but he wondered.