"If this is to be my tomb" said the elder to the younger, "I should like for you to make prayers for my passing and cover me with your coat, as I find it disgraceful to lie limp and exposed and be left here only to rot with no proper burial."
Having said this, the older one was stricken by an upsurge within the cavity of his chest and drew his last breath and slumped back dead. The younger miner drew the coat over the corpse and proceeded to pray in the way he knew best.
More hours passed and he became so very cold beneath his skin. He looked at the coat and presumed it reasonable that he might borrow it back for a time. As he pulled back the coat he saw in the half-light that the form of his companion miner was no longer it what was but rather had become covered all in fur and was alike to a huge cat curled on the floor. Startled in terror, he drew back against the rock wall with no place further to exit to.
Waves of unconsciousness took him up and away, and he slept a fevered slumber until he was roused by the noise of clinking nearby and a calling to him. He glanced over to his companion and threw the coat back over the fur-covered hide. Beams of daylight had broken through the crumbled mass of outer wall, and he much relieved, strode through to embrace his saviors.
To his surprise there awaiting were a tribe of very large panthers, who in tension sat poised upon the outer boulders and steep incline. "Where is our brother?" inquired one with soft tones.
He beckoned that they might find him within, and so doing fled through the company, running as fast as he might, so startled was he by this vision.
Once home he was comforted by his wife and joyful children. "Wife, there is something I must confide in, for I am much troubled by the events of today." And he began to relate his tale in much detail as he had been witness to.
"Let me make easy your mind" said the wife who bethought her dear husband to be excessively strained - and she set about to cheer him in the only way she knew.
Her husband had been fossicking in one way or another for all the years she had known him, but generally speaking his archaeology was work which was all above ground and rarely was he called to take pick to a recess, let alone an enclosed cavern.
"It is my opinion" she sighed, "that you as usual have been working far too hard. This Egyptian expedition has imposed much too much on you and so far offered back nothing. Perhaps all of the sites are unfilled?"
And so saying she withdrew his shirt and found there beneath, engraved in the skin, lines which ran from neck down back, bloodied and deep as if from one great paw scratch. She took to cleansing and covering the wound, whilst he tried to make account for this assault, but could not.
Until it came to him: for too long had he delved into spirited realms which were by the old order and still remonstrate of those dark times. Perhaps this was a warning and something of a finding, that a tomb is a tomb and is best left concealed as such, not to be invaded or picked over in the name of curiosity or for historical record.
Seldom do we know what exactly for what purpose we seek at the outset. Those who do venture into the dark places of the past will find many an apparition which need not relate to times present. There are mysteries within deep traditions that do belong rightfully to the past and belong not in the future. For were that those forms laid to rest, unearthed and accounted for, we should surely come to much confusion in an effort of interpretation. The past may truly scar us, as deeply and as ingrained as that great paw scratch. Obsessions which drive a man to be so transfixed on his long ago past are but a quest made backwards.