There is a cave, east of Eden, where all things are probably not as they should be. The cave overlooks a long, lazy river, but the air as you enter is dry and cool. The walls are jagged and sharp, carved out by some sheer, unrelenting force—water or anger. And though from deep within the cave you can hear some rustling, as if of a wintry reptilian dream, there are no shed skins in mummified homage to the great ancient world.
Descent into the cave brings cooler air that stings at the cheeks and ears. It is just after you notice that though the light from the mouth of the cave should be gone—but that you can still see—that you notice the bones.
The bones are, at first, heaped piles of small animal bones. They have been picked clean, and when you move to examine a skull, the entire heap collapses into fine dust. You think that perhaps some carnivore lives here, some large, sleeping beast, but you can see no trace of activity or life in this cave other than the heaps of bones.
Continuing into the cave you know it should grow darker—you have yet to strike a light of your own—but there is light enough to still notice the craggy walls, the uneven ground, the piles of bones. And you notice, somehow unsurprised, when the piles of animal bones are replaced by the bones of men.
These bones are, at first, in heaps as well. They are piled high, some of the jumbled skeletons tumbling into dust at your mere touch, others simply rolling forward off the peak of the heap.
There is a sharp descent in the midst of these piles of bones, and the air grows colder still. A scent wafts through the cold, dry air, and at first you are afraid it will be the scent of carrion and rotting corpses. But the smell is of cinnamon.
There is a final heaped pile before you reach the skeletons. Each skeleton is intact or nearly intact, you notice, and laid out in the same fashion. Each one lies against the wall, one arm at its side and the other across its chest. Those with skulls still attached lay there, heads against the wall, and others lie with their skulls placed gently over their ribs. The bones are ivory-yellow with age, but the skulls are darker, gray, like they have been often held. Some have soft streaks of rosy pink, and others have thin, long scratches like the idle caress of claws would make.
Walking through these long rows of skeletons, you wonder why they are not mummified. In this dry air, skin and clothes would rot slowly, stretched perhaps forever across bone as long as the cave stayed dry. But there is no shred of skin or cloth. The skeletons were picked perfectly clean and laid out carefully. No predator—no animal did this—but some man, some thinking thing.
Farther into the cave, the carefully laid skeletons turn once again into heaps of jumbled bones, but the walk through these piles is short before arriving at more skeletons. It should be pitch black down here, but you can still see, as if some sheer inner force lights the walls.
You think at first, arriving upon the chamber, that you have finally reached the end of the cave. This final chamber is rounded and seems like it could be the den of this thing. But you notice, somewhat puzzled but still entirely unsurprised, that at the back of the chamber is a cloth curtain. It is stitched together and you think that perhaps this is where the clothes of those men disappeared to. The flesh was eaten, but the cloth recycled.
Warily you push aside the curtain, but it falls to dust and your entrance is announced. And now, you realize, you have reached the final chamber. The room is filled with furniture, and at first you think it is all made of bone—but everything here is made of stone, carved not from the cave but from some smooth, faraway stone. There are chests in here, too heavy for ten men to move; a throne of sorts, with great spines arching out of it sides; and there is a long stone slab, carved delicately with motifs of leaves and snakes.
You chance a curious glance into one of the chests and find piles of clothes. There are clothes from eras you recognize, and each strata of cloth takes you back decades, centuries. At the bottom are fur pelts so hard with age they are almost rock themselves. A glance into another of the chests reveals women's clothing, soft and luxurious. You look around the room, seeing another curtain-covered doorway, when you hear the footsteps behind you.
They are soft, curious footsteps, rustling almost like a snake against its shed, dry skin. You hear a cooing sound from outside the room and shudder, envisioning some horrid thing murmuring assurances to the skeletons, stroking the skulls lovingly. You will never know it, but you are not far from wrong.
You face the entrance of the chamber, wishing for all the world that the curtain had not disintegrated, that you would have one more second of blissful ignorance before meeting the monster.
The doorway is filled, and you register the form of a beautiful young woman before you see the horns, the fangs, the great, bat-like wings. You scream as she comes closer, and before your sanity leaves you, you notice she is smiling.
There is a cave, east of Eden.
There you meet Lilith, and there you die.