Plucking them right out of the air, a colossal flock of swallows chased a swarm of grasshoppers across the savannah into the stony, shadowed foothills. The sun was low and the air beginning to cool when they cornered an unlucky flank of bugs in a great stone alcove.
The swallows feasted until twilight filled the whole chamber and the last of the grasshoppers had wedged into crevices and gloomy shelves. Contented, the flock gathered itself into a graceful black murmuration and wound along the low cliff sides in search of a roost.
Elephant, attracted to the ruckus from a great distance, arrived at last in the alcove. It was now so full of moonlight, it glowed. A damp carpet of bird droppings and a few scattered insect parts covered the floor. The surviving grasshoppers had resurfaced and were scurrying across the luminous walls. Silently, they traced over weather-worn ridges on the brightest side. In a moment, Elephant realized the ridges were ordered, suggesting a pattern of rings or a coil. It was huge, twice as high as he.
Worn as it was, it was mostly intact, except for one small, but deep, blemish near the center. He approached the wall, alarming the grasshoppers, and carefully probed the ridges. Long ago, a circle had been carved at the center, and outer rings to surround it.
No. To lead to it, he discovered.
It was like a map or a path. And though the ridges seemed to form a snaking maze, there were no false turns. If he touched his trunk to the outer opening and followed the path, it would take him only to the little chinked circle in the middle.
It was very late now and the moon had sunk below the edge of the alcove walls. In the dark, Elephant fed on a few low, thorny shrubs by the entrance and then wandered back in. He stroked the ridges of the carving and sought the tiny dent near its heart until he was too tired to lift his trunk, and fell asleep.