They do not understand us, my love. I do not expect that they ever will, nor must they. Let us continue to love one another— where none may find us. You say you know of just such a place? Lead, and I shall follow you anywhere.Tnoutzqep Touenektol, literally translating to "Lover's Cave," is a holy site revered by believers in the Qetqep? faith. Here, a strange pair of lovers used to meet in secret— a Hontualieu? woman by the name of Kolz,? and an eldritch being known as Tgeash.?
Cipou Canyon? without so much as a foothold to climb. Now, after so many repeat pilgrimmages, a ladder has been installed from the cave's mouth, down to the canyon floor. After entering through a snaking corridor, one will find the cave opening up to about the size of an average home. A strange, glowing pink liquid oozes from the pores of a large stone suspended from the center of the ceiling, pooling across the entirety of the cave up to about an inch. Those who come into contact with the liquid have found that it is a powerful aphrodisiac— one that, to their disappointment, evaporates upon leaving the cave. It is believed that this liquid also acts as a hallucinogen— as couples who enter the cave are always alone, no matter how many others may have entered before or after them. Directly below the cascade of liquid, held in the air by no apparent force but its own, is the still beating heart of Kolz. Throughout the cave are smooth protruding rock formations of varied shapes and sizes. Many couples have noted that these formations are warm to the touch— much unlike the surrounding stone. Placed all along the walls at irregular intervals— including the floor and ceiling— are myriad holes, perfectly suited for human arms, legs, and necks, which seem to tighten around those who dare enter them. These, however, just as readily release their captives as soon as they wish to be free.
Where Love Lasts
A night to forgetIt is believed that Kolz fell in love with the cave itself, and that the combination of her soul with its own is what gave the cave its strange properties. Those who make the pilgrimmage to the cave are thought to be granted a chance to commune with the lovers' spirits, thus strengthening their own relationships. Pilgrims to the cave may only enter in pairs of two, otherwise they will find that the snaking entrance leads them back the way they'd come. Similarly, none can enter the cave more than once. Once inside, and alone, the pilgrims are overtaken by unseen forces— and begin to move as if possessed by the long gone lovers. Seldom few details of what goes on inside the cave are often recalled, but couples always leave with a stronger bond and understanding of one another.
One day, Kolz met a strange visitor to her village. The stranger was wrapped in a thick bundle of white cloth, despite the searing heat of the sun bearing down upon them. Yet, not a single drop of sweat fell from their form, nor did any appear to stain the cloth around them— which appeared entirely spotless. She would ask the stranger if they needed help— suggesting that they should be careful not to overheat among their bundle, and guess at what they wished to hide so dearly beneath it. The stranger never spoke, though they bowed in response, and continued on their unknown journey. They would return intermittently, and Kolz would ask them again each time just what it was they risked heatstroke to hide. This went on for months, until Kolz took it upon herself to discover the stranger's secret— by unraveling their bundle herself. She gasped— the stranger had not been covering themselves with the bundle, but rather were the bundle. Along the underside of each layer of cloth she found radiant black eyes, hands, and other limbs she could not recognize. The eyes all widened in surprise at once— as the bundle rewound itself. Before it could stumble away, however, Kolz grabbed the bundle again.
A Forbidden Love
"Wait! I beg you, wait! I know not what you are— but I believe that you may be the most beautiful thing I have ever seen." She loosened her grip on the being, realizing that she may be hurting it. "Please...tell me your name." The stranger finally spoke to her, in a voice without a mouth. "Tgeash. Do you speak the truth?"The pair would begin to speak at length, learning more of one another, as Tgeash made frequent visits to Kolz's abode. It was only a matter of time before they would be seen— Tgeash wrapped firmly around Kolz in a loving embrace. A terrifying sight for the guard sent to investigate the strange utterances heard by the neighbors. Tgeash's presence would no longer be tolerated after the news spread— a monster was among them. And so, the lovers, determined to be together— decided to meet in secret from then on. Kolz would finally see where Tgeash resided, a cave that would typically be inaccessible to her, and most importantly— those who disapproved. The pair would continue to meet like this even as Kolz began to grow old, and she would eventually find herself dying in her lover's arms. But she would not die. Tgeash took her heart, before it could stop, and wrung themselves over it— producing a pink liquid much like that which fills the cave today. Her heart would float in the air, still beating, so long as this liquid remained. Tgeash unraveled themselves completely, covering every inch of the cave around them, and over time would begin to meld with the stone. Forever bleeding life into Kolz, who would eternally bathe in their love.