“This is most unlike it of him”, they mused aloud, “Perhaps we missed a spot.”
The small party resumed its search. At times others followed along, mostly out of curiosity. Some of the more perplexed stood to the side, scratching their chins in an exaggerated show of thought as the party sifted through the dense shrubbery.
“Sir, I think I’ve found something!” comes the skittish cry of the party’s youngest member.
Suddenly the party comes to a halt. Their leader, a tall man of commanding form and graying hair, steps forward, jaw almost comically agape in awe. He places his hand against the rough of the bark, trailing his wizened fingers along its many rivets and turns. His hand stops before his fingers pass over the recently-disturbed bark. The tree, as if bleeding from a mortal wound, lets loose rivulets of sap that trace out the gashes etched into the tree’s hard surface.
He adjusts his spectacles, misted with the light rain, and reads out the clean inscriptions, voice thin with feverish excitement.
“Those more determined will find the light”. He pauses to allow his scribe a moment to jot down the essentials of the situation. “Hidden away, the secret shall stay / Cast away ’til another day / Make haste, lest it take flight”.
The leader steps back, rubs his hands together, and says aloud, “Strange. Let us continue onwards!”
The party continues its tiresome trudge through the thick undergrowth, ponderous steps fading into the dark. A curious bystander steps up to the tree and stares at the inscription, brow furrowed in deep concentration, eyes picking apart every detail. He blows at the finely etched writing and a sliver of bark falls away, revealing a message.