When I was young, I lived in a big mansion with my adoptive parents. Now, I never knew who my real parents were,but that isn't the focus of this tale.
This mansion I lived in was very, very old. How old, I couldn't say. But it was old. Of particular interest was a small stone building near the mansion out in the woods. I discovered it one day while I was out playing. It was just a simple square, and there were strange symbols carved into three of the four sides. On the fourth side was what looked like a man in the wall. He held an old musket with a bayonet on it and he wore the uniform of some kind of soldier. The first time I saw that, I was terrified because I thought it was a real man standing there. But upon closer inspection, I saw that he was made of stone and part of the wall.
My fear melted away and I was overtaken by curiosity. I examined the stone building for hours until it was almost sunset. I tried and tried to understand the symbols, but I couldn't no matter how hard I tried. When I saw that it was going to be dark soon, I hurried back home.
I never told my parents about the stone building.
My bedroom was on the first floor and had a large window overlooking the entire courtyard of the mansion. The rim of the woods was easily visible from where I laid in my bed. Shortly after heading off to bed, I noticed a green light from near the woods. It was dull at first, but it gradually became stronger and larger... closer. It moved slowly, but after some time a silhouette became visible. It looked like a man holding a lantern in one hand and a musket in the other. It stopped moving and just stared towards the mansion. It was still far enough away that it couldn't see through the window, but it terrified me nonetheless. It turned down the green flame in its lantern and looked around.
The entire night, all it did was stand there, and I stayed up all night watching it. I must have fallen asleep sometime while staring at it, because when I looked out the window again, it was morning. The man was gone. I sneaked outside before my parents awakened and made my way back to the woods, where I noticed that there were spots where the grass was flattened down, as if someone or something heavy had walked across it. With a nervous gulp, I moved carefully back to the stone building.
Everything looked the same, or so I thought. When I reached the side that the stone man was on, he was in a different position. The musket he so proudly held to his side the day before was now slung over his shoulder, and he held a lantern in his other hand. Not only that, but his once strong face now wore a tired, agonized expression, and his eyes had turned black. I put my hand up to him and felt the stone ridges. It felt as though he had always been a part of the rock, like he couldn't have possibly ever moved from this position. I didn't understand it. His eyes seemed to glare down at me as I felt him, and I felt queasy the longer I stood there. I backed up and just stared at the stone building. The soldier's eyes still watched me. I could feel it.
The whole time I was moving away from the building, I didn't take my eyes off of him, out of fear that he would come to life again. After I was a few yards away, I figured it would be safe for me to turn around. I walked my way through the woods, but something seemed off. None of the birds sang, no frogs croaked, and I didn't see any of the foxes that were so common around these parts of the woods. The whole atmosphere seemed darker, more malicious. Every now and then, I would turn around to be certain that no one followed me. No one did. The stone man was nowhere to be seen.
After dinner later that night, I was afraid to go back to my room. I argued with my mother and father, begging to sleep with them for the night, but they refused to let me. I was a big boy now, and I could sleep on my own, they said. I didn't feel very big. Sure enough, soon after sunset, the green light appeared in the distance. It moved more quickly this time and came closer. This time it was only a dozen feet away from my bedroom window. I was paralyzed with fear. Just then I heard a man's voice. It was hard to understand at first, but I soon figured out what it was saying.
"Adiuva me... Libera me..." the voice called out. Its voice was like listening to stone cracking into pieces, yet with a slight human tone. I didn't understand what it said, but it seemed to be in pain. Hesitantly, I jumped out of bed and crept outside through my window. Apparently, the man didn't see me at first, because his head snapped quickly to look at me. I froze. The man did nothing, and I did nothing.
"Salvum me fac..." he spoke again. I told him I didn't understand. He suddenly looked as though he was in tremendous pain. He dropped his musket and lantern and collapsed to the ground, making a loud thud sound as he did so. Clenching his stomach, he pointed towards the woods. The woods?
"Tomb..." he choked out the single word. I understood. That stone building must have been a tomb, but I was still uncertain as to what the stone man wanted me to do. He didn't stand back up, but instead lay there on the ground, crippled. Feeling like I was running out of time, I picked up his lantern and sprinted into the woods towards the tomb.
It looked much different during the night. The stone was a bluish color and the symbols carved into glowed a cyan color. I touched my hand to the walls of it. It felt warm now. I walked around to the side that the stone man had been on. There was an imprint where he had been. Still not knowing what to do, I started examining the stone tomb more closely. On three of the sides, I noticed, was a round hole about the size of a quarter. It looked like something belonged in each of the holes, but I had no clue what.
After pondering this for some time, I decided to search the area around the tomb for anything that might fit in the holes. I moved aside fallen leaves and parted the thick grass and moss and discovered a round, red gem on the ground, covered in dirt. I picked it up and held it up next to one of the holes. It was the same size. Surprised at this, I placed the gem in the hole and watched as the symbols on that side of the wall stopped glowing. Two more gems. There was a small pile of dirt nearby, so I decided I'd check that next. Sure enough, after digging through it, I found a green gem.
After placing it in another hole, the lights faded. Only one gem left. I searched and searched and searched, but could find nothing. It seemed like the last gem was forever lost. I wandered farther and farther away from the tomb until I came to a stream. Not knowing what else to do, I shined the lantern into the stream and discovered a translucent blue gem. Hurriedly I snatched it up, brought it back to the tomb, and placed it in the final hole. The symbols on the final side faded. There was a loud scraping sound as the side of the tomb that held the stone man slid down into the ground, revealing a spooky crypt. Inside was an old coffin covered in mold. I was too afraid to enter, and instead stood outside. I heard footsteps from behind me. I turned around and saw the stone man, now smiling.
"Gratias ago vos." he said before entering the tomb and disappearing. I stood there, bewildered, when the stone wall suddenly rose back up and sealed off the tomb. The imprint of the stone man was no longer in the wall, but was replaced by a carving of an eye.
That has to have been the single strangest event of my childhood, and I never truly understood it. However, I did study Latin later in my early adulthood, and I found that that was what the man was speaking. As for the stone soldier's origins, the answer to that still remains unknown.