Reaching the City
"Make sure you have enough parrots, I'd like one of those
talking Amazon ones." Putting in his bid to Regan. "Aye,
it is best to be totally aware in unfamiliar surroundings,
especially a jungle." Word of advice that came from enough
experience. He too added a chuckle with the face she had made. This
certainly was testing her but she wanted to come. Then to Morgan.
"A giant snake, an overgrown ape, who knows what else lurks in
a jungle as dense as this one. There are probably tribes that have
never seen civilization. Of course I use that word loosely."
Then back to his sister, "Regan, while we hack our way
through, be on the lookout for the markers." That would
keep her from being in the thick of it. He saw a few snakes already.
One he just hacked the head off before it could strike.
right." She would make sure there were extra ones for her
family if they wanted them. "I wonder if they run around naked.
Are you two going to blindfold me?" She teased even though she
knew it could be true! "I'll just stay back here out of the way
so you can swing without worrying about me." She wasn't sure
what the markers would look like but more than likely they'd be
suppose we'll find out." He flashed a grin at Regan. "Or
you'll be covering ours." He watched Faelan kill the snake then
looked at Regan. She was busy looking at the map again. With a lift
of his brow toward his brother and a grin, he started to hack away
at the foliage. Occasionally there would be a curse or two when the
men ran into a snake or spider, or extra thick vines, and a couple
sang to keep rhythm but it was mostly all that was heard was the
sound of insects, birds and occasionally a screech or yowl that
likely came from the monkeys watching them.
think you're old enough to see the anatomy of an ape, you might have
to get real close to see anything.." so he would tease his
sister good. Devil's grin and all. Snake was understandable but the
spiders were as big as one's hand so deserved a curse. He set to
hacking in a rhythm so that it flowed better and not as much strain
on muscles. Sleeping conditions were going to be uncomfortable as it
were so why add excessively aching muscles to it? If anyone heard
stomping every so often, he was leaving splats of black behind.
Spiders were fast and one time it looked like he was doing a
jitterbug with a jump so high but the coming down was hard for a
made a pffffht sound, snickering. "You think I'm going to run?
Can't be that scary." She gave a toss of her head, then settled
to keep the horses calm while the path was hacked out. She hadn't
seen a marker yet.
took hours but before sunset, they had made a path through the
jungle and found an ancient road that had not been completely
covered by the jungle. Ahead was one of the huge stone heads, with
the lake off in the distance. They reached the deserted cabin in
time to camp, using the wood from it for a fire. Watches were taken
on shifts. Dawn the next day had Jedidiah pointing out a ridge where
a gap could be seen. He informed them the city was there. The jungle
had fallen strangely silent. It felt as if a hundred eyes were
also found one of the men dead, bitten by something that had him
swollen up like a bloat fish. Eyes all but popped out. They dragged
him off into the brush being there was nothing more they could do
for him. Bad mojo to even attempt burying him. The jungle had
claimed him. Faelan shook his head as his buddies took anything of
valuable on him, he'd not be needing it anymore. A hand rubbed at
the back of his neck as he sidled up near Morgan. "Best we get
moving as quickly as we can. Got a bad feel about this place,
something to do with that cabin and ones that were here long
had slept in one of the wagons but she had heard the talk and
watched as they dragged the body off. She climbed into the driver's
seat of one of the wagons, placing one of the flintlock rifles
beside her. She gave a little shiver and looked toward the cabin.
After a moment's thought, she slipped back off, laid one of the
ribbons from her hair at the door of the cabin and resumed her seat
on the wagon.
think so. Maybe we should eat as we move on." He didn't want to
stay any longer than necessary either. Grabbing hold of the reins of
the horse, he led it forward while Regan guided. "You feel like
we're being followed?" He murmured the words to Faelan, not
wanting to scare Regan. "Maybe the natives who were
is too quiet for a jungle, that means more than one someone is
around that have the birds and animals scared off. We should have
the men prepared to fight. We can't even be sure that man died of an
allergic reaction to a bug bite. Could have been a poisoned
dart." Better to let the men think it was some bug rather than
the other or they might be long gone and they could not be certain.
"Best we get there as soon as we can. If we need to take a few
breaks, just make them shorter."
couldn't help but know something was up. She kept glancing around,
studying the jungle. She was certain she had seen something moving
in the shadows but said nothing. As long as it remained among the
trees, it didn't seem so dangerous. She swatted at a bug and cursed
softly, then she pointed. "Look. The sun is reflecting on
was following seemed to fade away once they reached the dried up bed
of a small stream. As the wagons crossed, the jungle came to life
again. One of the native pointed out a nest that they could raid on
their way back. As the sun caused a reflection from something
metallic, Morgan grinned. "Maybe gold on a roof?" He was
only partly teasing. Even the horses seemed to pick up the pace as
they went by two stone heads, and then a fallen column.
was leading the horses of the wagon by holding onto the bit of one
the machete in his other hand to hack away at any overgrown flora or
creature if need be. He too saw the glint. "Well, its not a
part of the jungle, that much we know although I would caution
against just running in to see what it is. We should have a runner
or two go ahead of us and see if they can spot it or anything,
anyone, else around."
She perked and stood on the seat, trying to see, but it was still
too far. "I think we can reach it by late afternoon!" She
decided with a grin. "We're making good time."
heard and sent two of the natives ahead. They were the best scouts
of the group, even better than himself. A large butterfly flitted
past once but there was little else of note until they reached the
gap. As they stood at one end, they could see they were going to
head down into a valley. The runners were returning by then, talking
excitedly. "It is ahead." Jedidiah told them. "A
great city, partly covered by the jungle. There are no signs of
warning that they could see but one. And that has the symbol for
beware." They couldn't read but the symbol was known to them.
"Beware of what?" Morgan demanded and was answered with a
shrug. Morgan looked at Faelan and started forward. The road was
rough and broken but still could be traveled downward. They could
see the buildings stretching before them. "How will we know
which to search?" The symbol was pointed out to them, a winged
was right at Morgan's side when Jedidiah came back with the news.
Any questions he had were voiced by his brother so he listened to
the answers. The last had him filling in for the shrug. "..of
the two headed dragon." For that seemed to be the appropriate
answer in such a situation. A hand came to his brother's shoulder in
a clasp, "I'll take one head and you take the other,"
although joking as he tended to do, it made a statement they would
face whatever it was to be beware of. He was surprised Jed and his
men weren't fleeing but they were promised a portion of the bounty.
They deserved that much for risking their lives too.
go for the wings first." Regan put in her two coppers though
she was staring at the city below. "There." She pointed a
pyramid shaped building in the middle of the ruins. It seemed to be
one of the few that wasn't vine covered yet. It also matched the
drawing on the map. "That's what's on the map. We should start
there first." She looked at the map again, wondering if the
writing they couldn't read mentioned the two headed dragon.
couple of the men had deserted the morning of the death, slipping
away at the end of the line, leaving whatever they had carried
unless they had a flintlock. Those they kept. He grinned at both his
siblings and nodded. "Aye, we can do that easily enough."
Jedidiah was talking to the men who remained, his hands moving
quickly. He knew the reward would be great but a few of the men were
about ready to run. Without a word, Morgan started down the road.
Though the horses balked some, they moved forward after a little
coaxing. It wasn't from anything scented in the air but from the
you try running that map under the heat of a flame in case the
writing was done in a way to show only if you did that?" Maybe
only parts were done that way leaving the rest legible so no one
would try? He eyed the pyramid then the area around it to see what
he could see from this distance. He readied two flintlocks before
tucking them into his belt, saber and a long knife ready also. He
paced himself with his brother, he'd have his back as the two took
turns with that manner of fighting when needed.
I did. " She gave an indignant huff. "It didn't make it
any clearer and scorched the paper." She pulled the map out
however, giving a squeak of surprised. As they neared the city, the
words became clearer. "Oh! It says to not disturb the statue of
..... " She gave a shake of her head. "Doesn't say which
statue so it might be wise not to disturb any." That would be
hard if any were made of gold.
pyramid was at the end of a long road and surrounded what might have
been a park or garden at one time. The road was lined with the
remains of buildings that could have been the homes of the rich or
maybe businesses. It would be hard to tell either way, of course.
One of the natives could handle no more and he ran off screaming.
Morg cursed because he'd been startled. Morg had a rifle as well as
his other weapons. He'd only be able to take one out but he'd make
it count. The heat was growing more oppressive, even with the leafy
canopy above. By the time they reached the bottom of the pyramid,
they'd all be sweating.
for the one that looks important. Like one with a big belly."
Wink given Regan. He too stopped and stared at the one running off
then shook his head. Hopefully he didn't know something they didn't.
Anything else he kept quiet on as they started into what was once a
city heading for the pyramid one but he was sure to take glances
over the ones they passed. Who knew if anyone was still around even
if it looked deserted. He wasn't going to become oblivious to
everything else but what looked like the main draw. A swipe of the
back of his hand drew sweat from his brow before he was wrapping a
strip of cotton around it to soak up any more. Words were kept low
as if in a scared place, which might well be where they were.
"I would imagine any door would be towards the middle or top,
except for maybe some trap doors." He eyed the few natives left
but they seemed to be ready to face whatever was before them.
had made her laugh but once they were in the ruins, she fell quiet,
nervously eyeing the ruins around them. Some of the buildings were
little more than shells while others had been left untouched. A few
had webs across the doors though the spinners were hidden at the
moment. Though she had pulled her hair back at the crown of her
neck, she was still very hot. She imitated Fael in order to keep the
sweat from her eyes.
the top." Morgan followed the rise of the steps with his gaze,
squinting slightly. "I think we can reach the top before dark?
Shall we, or shall we camp at the foot. Jed had a very determined
look on his face. He wanted to free his family and this was the
only means. He was not going to leave.
steps are deep enough we can camp as far as we get towards the top.
It might offer us more protection than on the ground." Which
anything could roam in from the jungle but he doubted any animals
were prone to climbing the pyramid. "Just don't roll, toss or
turn when sleeping, buffer the one side with your pack." He
could just see one of them rolling down the steps as they were more
like. There was no time like the present so he started the climb,
taking his time.
shouldered her pack after patting the horses and speaking softly to
them. Two of the remaining men would stay with them while the others
climbed up. She looked up at the steps, groaning. "I need me
land legs." But she started up quickly enough.
even reach one of the levels by then." There were two, one a
third of the way, the second two thirds. The temple at the top was
what had glinted in the sunlight, the roof covered with what seemed
to be gold flake. Morg was more than a little worried about leaving
the horses and wagons, but the men watching were from their own
crew. They wouldn't be running. He wiped at his brow before he was
starting up the steps. The rest of their company followed. Jed was
keeping them moving.
they could sleep in the wagon taking turns with the watch. His legs
were starting to feel it good but he was half way past the first
third and determined to make it to the second so by morning there
would be little left to climb in case they also ended up fighting
mystical beings or such too. The steps were getting smaller and
easier to take.
had been moving quickly but by the time they went passed the first
level, her legs were burning. She looked at her brothers and decided
to not say a word. They'd tease her for days over it if she did. She
did pause briefly to turn and look over the jungle. They were up
looked over his shoulder and grinned when he saw Regan making a
face. Yeah, they were all in pain but they'd manage. With a wink
toward her, he continued upward. Above, something bounced down the
steps. By the time it came to a stop, it turned out to be a skull. A
very old one. Odd it decided to fall now.
view from here and wind." Picked up more of a breeze this
higher up even if still warm. Far better than down on the ground.
The sky became a cast of colors with a lot of reds and purples to
the clouds. Rain. He hadn't thought on that but even a soaking would
be welcome, easy shower after the long haul, not like there were any
conveniences for Regan especially up here. He noted the skull but
kept his thoughts to himself for now, instead he arranged his things
before sitting down, back to the stone of the next step as he pulled
out his flask of whiskey. Most were of water but this one was saved
for such a moment as this. "Beautiful. Too bad I don't have a
woman to share the scene with." Grin shot towards his siblings
before he was slouching back getting comfortable while taking a
drink. He'd have his meal too of what was packed.
much cooler." She grinned as tipped her head back. Rain would
likely be warm and hopefully they'd dry fast. She wrinkled her nose
at Faelan, laughing. "Hey you can share it with me, though I
won't be cuddling with you." She slid back against the higher
wall on the right side of the steps, legs bent, feet flat on the
stone. "It is beautiful." She would enjoy this night, even
if it did rain!
over there, aren't we?" He checked the sky then nodded. They
couldn't see the masts of the ship from where they were. He watched
as the others settled in, then sat beside Faelan. "Hopefully
we'll be heading back with enough treasure to get us out of
trouble." James and Adam would likely be having fits. He leaned
his head back as he ate so he could watch the sky.
Into the Pyramid
As the sky turned from black to gray, the sounds of night faded,
giving way to the sounds of day. Birds began their calls first, some
taking flight before the sun fully rose. A jaguar growled out what
almost seemed to be a protest before settling in for the day,
avoiding the heat that would be rising quickly. A curious macaw,
resplendent in reds and yellows, perched on the step above the
sleeping group, tipping his head in curiosity before letting out an
ear splitting awake call. He took flight with an indignant squawk
when Morgan threw his boot in its direction. "Time to get up,
ye lazy git." He grumbled as he stood and retrieved his boot.
"Quick meal, and then we start moving." He was getting
anxious to get the treasure and be away from this godforsaken heat.
eye opened before the other followed. Dazed still from sleep he
luckily didn't move because one hand dangled over the duffel bag
wedged to the edge so he didn't roll off. A leg hung too over the edge as
he slowly became aware. He cleared his throat and imitated a little
kid, like long ago. "Aw Ma, do we have to? Can't we sleep
another fifteen minutes?" They always asked for the lesser time
for then there was the chance she would let them. "All right Da!"
Grinning devilish as he carefully got up without falling to the step
below. He was up in a stretch, hands sliding behind his neck as he
arched his back before straightening. Hands went down, and
down further as he grabbed up the duffel bag to attach to his back.
yawned then giggled when she watched the boot go sailing and then
heard Faelan. Stretching her arms over her head, she let out a
little eep when she realized the edge of the step was right there.
Sitting up she glared at the native who was staring at her until he
turned away, then stood. After rummaging in her pack, she munched on
a bit of hardtack while she adjusted the pack on her back and looked
up the steps. 'Bluidy hell, that's far."
"It'll be easier to climb today since the heat isn't full blast
yet." He grinned at Regan, not having seen the native watching
her. Starting up the steps, he made a slight face. He was sore from
the climb yesterday but by the time they reached the second level,
the climb was much easier. The rain came then, fast and heavy though
it was warm. The day would be steaming when the storm passed. He
pointed toward a skeleton that had the natives mumbling. "There
is the poor bugger that lost the skull." Glancing at the
natives, he made the sign of the Cross over the remains and that
seemed to calm them.
Faelan had seen the end of the staring, enough to know what was
going on. Once they were all on their way again, he made certain to
come up aside the one with a few words of warning given. "Think
any untoward thoughts, stare at my sister again or anything else
along those lines and I'll feed your guts to the snakes." The
man didn't say anything but gave a slight incline of his head,
Faelan meant the words and would see it through if he bothered his
sister again. "I'll be watching," the last of his warning
as he pressed onward to catch up with his brother and once able, let
him know what had gone on. Next minute he was being soaked as the
rain came and it felt good. He stopped a moment as Morgan did the
skull ritual and tipped his head back drinking the rain. It was
fresh and sweet.
caught Faelan speaking to the native and smiled to herself while
pretending to look elsewhere. By the time the rain began to fall,
she was needing a bit of cooling and imitated Faelan. Glad for the
vest she was wearing, she waited for Morgan to finish. Another
biscuit, even though it would be soaked was eaten as they started up
again. When they got close to the top, she ran the last few steps
and waited there for the rest.
He glanced back to note which one it was but Faelan had dealt with
it well enough. His lunch was jerky and rain water, both of which
were appreciated. Shaking his head, he chuckled as Regan ran up the
steps. "Yae bae daft, lass." He teased as he
continued those last steps. There was a temple like structure at the
top with a wooden door covered with gold flake. There was one place
damaged as if an ax had been used to open it once. At the moment, it
was closed. The rain stopped as suddenly as it had began and he
chuckled. "I think we'll take that as a good omen."
ate as he went, sweet bread and jerky, all washed down by the
mouthfuls of rain. They all might smell a little better after this
too. He laughed as Regan ran ahead but it didn't encourage him
to follow, instead his pace matched Morgan's for they had continued
to talk in light conversation. Once to the top and the rain ending,
he gave up a suggestion. "Let's not rush in but dry off some
and check out the whole area first." It was like a small
courtyard around the temple like structure. The breeze picked up too
which was warm, they would air dry quickly. He was making his way
around the one side and the sight was breathtaking. One could see
the distant mountains but the area between was a lush green jungle
broken up by various mountain ranges and hundreds of waterfalls.
Birds soared through the valley seen from this side of the pyramid.
Faelan's suggestion was a good one, Regan made a face at having to
wait. She followed Faelan and inhaled at the sight. "I think if
I were a priestess, I would be up here most of the time just for the
view." She said softly. There were likely butterflies and
orchids below as well.
nodded at the suggestion though he did go to the door to examine it
briefly. Around the other side he could see the wagons and the
others waiting. There was smoke in the distance likely coming from
the Jesuit settlement. After a moment, he joined his siblings.
"I wonder how long it's been since that map was made. We're
likely the first to see this in years." Their quiet interlude
didn't last as there was a horrendous scream from behind them. One
of the men had become impatient and pulled open the door. He was
impaled against the stone wall with a wicked looking spear. A trap
that he had tripped. Morgan frowned as he studied the spear. There
was nothing to be done for the man. He looked at Faelan.
"Wouldn't you think the first party would have set that
smile turned on his sister as there was something else cast to his
eyes far more serious than he let onto, keeping a lighthearted
facade. There was far more to him and that glint was there. "It
is probably why they built it right here." Turning back for one
last glance before she got to see too much of what he considered the
vulnerable side. He started around to the far side, or backside from
the door side but ended up back pedaling fast, the stench was like a
wall it was so bad. "Something took a dump big as the wagon and
it's attracting all kinds of bugs and flies." He had a hold of
Regan's arm to keep her from exploring that far, who knew, the fumes
might be poisonous! At that moment he heard the scream as he let go
of her arm and ran back around to see what had happened. Morgan's
words registered and wouldn't you know it was the very same native
that had been bothering Regan. "Seems he had a few things on
his mind." He shook his head with the last. "I doubt
anyone has been here since that spear was set, look how it is made,
the intricately worked craftsmanship. It wasn't made by any local
tribe." Certainly one of a higher technology far beyond their
time. "I'm sure that is just the first trap."
her brother had her stopping and not wanting to go any farther so
there was no protest on her part when Faelan stopped her. She was
hot on his heels when the scream sounded and looked away. It wasn't
the first time she had seen death of course, but the thought that it
could have been one of them had her shudder. Saying a soft prayer
for the man, she looked at both brothers. "Something must have
kept them from going further in then. Probably whatever made the
pile back there. How are we going to trip any more traps without
found something? He looked at Regan then Faelan. They could explain
in a moment. "I've heard tales that the original tribes were
pretty far advanced. It's a mystery what happened." He gave
Regan a slight smile. "We'll send Fael in first. He's agile
enough to avoid any traps." He was kidding of course.
"We'll go slowly, testing and hope any treasure isn't deep
had his brows draw up. "Oh, so that is how you really feel, you
just want the Fianna all to yourself." He too was teasing but
he was agile and the others were not willing to go further after
this. "One key is not to go too fast. Stoop down when opening
up a door or off to the side." He was drawing out his sword as
he continued, "use something to sweep ahead in case there is
twine so small you will not see it in the dim light. Like one
walking on unknown ice." He eased the door open wide from off
to the side as he motioned to the others to move away in case there
was another spear to follow and wouldn't you know it, there was.
WHOOSH, but it ended up sliding harmlessly against stone. Went right
off the edge too. "Oh, Morgan, something took a dump on the
other side that had to be huge in what made it. Seemed to have made
that area a privy of sorts to attract all kinds of bugs and flies.
Maybe it feeds on them." He was crouching down and moving more
along the area of door and wall as he entered the top room.
was no one who could compete with her brothers in her mind at this
moment. Regan grinned but quickly became serious. She drew her own
sword, letting out a yelp when the spear flew out and covered her
mouth with a grin. She made a face then followed Faelan in, staying
He growled as he turned and pulled the spear free from the dead man.
It took a few moments and then he too was following. The natives
stayed outside except for Jedidiah. Two of the men from the ship
also followed. The small group made it around the room to the next
entrance, one that revealed a passage that led downward, the floor
smooth. It seemed to be a spiral design. There were markings along
the walls, ones that the young native didn't know though he did
point out one. The winged serpent. "You know, that was on the
door." Morgan used the spear to point ahead. There was a
grinding noise and a single blade fell from overhead, knocking the
spear from his hand. Though it was dented, it didn't break.
"Well, well, well. A warning sign for those who catch on."
They'd still be cautious but now they might, just might, have some
Inside the Pryamid
He was keeping a watch above them but that might be the trick too to
take their focus off what seemed a smooth flooring. Being he was
first he swished his sword before him as he made slow progress, he
didn't wish to end up like the speared native. About to take another
step and it seemed his sword triggered something as a section of the
floor gave way to nothingness, well, nothing they could see. It
wasn't a place he wanted to find out. Probably knives protruding on
the way down to dice and slice and whatever was left landing on
spear heads. "Careful," not too loud or cause some
reaction above too. He jumped over the hole in the floor and kept
towards the wall, giving the others room to avoid the hole too.
let out a squeak of surprise with both traps then covered her mouth
to keep in the nervous giggle. A slight lean had her peeking down
the hole before she was following Faelan closely. She touched his
arm, eyes wide. "Is this how all your adventures are?" She
was scared but at the same time having the adventure of her life!
"Bluidy hell." He grumbled as another trap was tripped
then followed his siblings. One of those accompanying them nearly
fell backward, saved only by Morgan grabbing his vest and pulling
him forward. A piece of the rock floor fell into the hole. There was
no sound as if the bottom were so far down it was nearly impossible
to hear. "Do you want me to go ahead for this section?"
Maybe they should switch off and on?
are worse," giving her a wink as he kept up that light hearted
demeanor. Then seriously, "they are all different, all depends
on what you consider dangerous or worse danger." He was helping
any of the others across as Morgan lent a hand. He picked right up
on the offer, "be my guest!" An offer he wasn't going to
refuse. It played on his nerves being the first under such
circumstances so to get a break was wholly welcome. He would keep an
eye on the others and anything they had not tripped that might
gave a slight nod, peering down the hallway. Squinting slightly, her
brow furrowed. "Shouldn't it be dark in here?" For the
first time she realized the passageway was lighted though she wasn't
sure how. Running her fingers over the wall, she found a glowing
material stuck to them. With a brush against her britches, she wiped
them clean then waited for Morgan to take over.
He flashed his brother a grin then stepped past the two. The spear
was used to poke, prod and generally check each section. There were
no other traps in the passage as they went downward in circles.
Another door appeared ahead with little room for anyone to stand to
the side. "You all go partly back up the passage." He
ordered and waited until they were out of sight. One person could
push against the wall but for some reason, he laid flat on the floor
before pushing the door open. The feeling that caused him to do so
saved his life. Pointed metal rods were ejected from both sides of
the passage, narrowly missing him. With the door fully opened, they
slid back in. He uttered a soft thank you to whomever was watching
over them, then stood. "I think it's safe now." If
his voice sounded a little shaky, he didn't notice.
he was following suit and getting down on his belly to crawl
through, they could jet out again if one went through standing and
he wasn't going to take that chance, he valued his life! Once
through he waited for the others helping to drag any that went down
on their bellies, seemed they all wanted to and not take the chance
especially after seeing the first one speared through. "Can you
see anything Morgan?" About the quality of a whisper.
was not comfortable on the stone floor even if it was the safest
route. She grumbled as she joined Faelan then stayed down on one
knee while she watched the others join them. Faelan's question had
her peering into the room, not that she could see anything. "It
smells funny. Musky." She whispered too!
He waited until Faelan was to him before moving forward some.
"Another passage. This one is shorter though and doesn't go
down." He answered and started forward. "There's a raised
block here. Don't step on it." Called over his shoulder before
he disappeared through the other doorway. "All clear."
They could test the trap after they were all through. "Best
come through one at a time though."
wasn't going to trigger anything knowingly! Let sleeping dogs lie
and it fitted for traps too. For all he knew it could bring the
whole tunnel down on them and they might need a way out.
Hopefully there would be a ground exit so they didn't have to
do the climb from inside. Pyramids were a network of passageways
with most ending nowhere but death. All clear sounded good to him
but he was still skeptical as he eased into the section with
his brother, he thought he felt a vibration in the stone under foot
and around them but it was brief. He helped any that needed
assistance through before closing the door, seemed to be the thing
felt the vibration but didn't say anything, certain both brothers
had felt it too. Staying close to Faelan, she studied the passageway
ahead. "Mor... " He was through before she could say
anything. She started after, then paused to wait for Faelan.
There was a sliding sound and a thump then a cloud of dust. Morgan
was coughing but apparently unharmed. When the others came around a
turn, there would be a large stone nearly blocking the passage. It
could be climbed up and over. Morgan looked as if he had been dusted
in flour but he was grinning. Ahead the corridor opened into a large
room and it was filled with treasure. More than they could carry but
they'd be very rich with what they could. "We found it."
Something didn't feel quite right though. "Too easy, Faelan.
helped Regan up to get over the large stone then followed her. Of
course he would tease his brother, "this is no time to be
testing out your baking skills." He rubbed some of the stuff
between forefinger and thumb, smelled it, which had him sneezing and
decided not to take a taste as it was bad smelling. "Not sure
what this is but you best get it off of you." Wrapping up his
hand in a piece of cloth as he did his best to wipe the stuff
off Morgan. One never knew what kind of chemicals they use to use.
They had all kinds of ceremonies where hallucinate drugs were
look like you did when you spilled cook's flour and had her chasing
you all over the keep." She laughed then was over to help as
well, wrinkling her nose as she did. The cloth she had pulled from
her pack was discarded once they had done all they could. She peered
at the treasure finally and gasped. "That could ransom a dozen
kings and queens."
"Tastes bad too." He wiped at his face and cursed after
sneezing three times. Then he was moving slowly forward into the
treasure room. "This is ... incredible." He gave a slight
shake of his head. "Where did they go and why leave all this
unless they thought they'd be back?" He picked up a mask and
held it up to his face. "Do I look scary?" As his words
faded there was a slithering sound from the far end of the room.
Something large and scaly rose over the pile of gold, eyes of red
glowing as it watched the small party.
busy with the concern over his brother that he had not even noticed
what the room contained yet. He was done too as the piece of cloth
was discarded. "Holy.." eyes went wide as he took in
gold and all kinds of jewels done up in jewelry, masks, pectorals,
statues, chests, coins, you name it. He was about to laugh until he
caught sight of the slithering monster, red eyes and all. "Here
kitty.. slithering slimy," under his breath as his hand gripped
the sword in a death's hold. He wasn't moving at the moment until
the thing showed any more movement.
To Slay a Winged Serpent
Her laughter echoed as she bent down and picked up a handful of
coins, letting them rain through her fingers. When she heard Faelan.
she frowned and looked his way, not completely understanding what he
had said. Slowly she followed his gaze, then just as slowly stood,
her hand falling to the hilt of her sword. "Now we know why the
warning ... " She glanced at the others as her sword was pulled
from its sheath.
"Regan, fall back." Morgan ordered, praying she'd listen
for once. As he watched the winged serpent, it seemed to shimmer
into a thousand colors. He blinked and shook his head, looking at it
again. The colors were gone but it had the head of a woman and spoke
in beguiling tones, calling his name. He took one step forward,
drawing his sword. "It's changing shape." The gold seemed
to melt into puddles, shadows becoming deeper. Jedidiah picked up
the spear that had been dropped, giving Morgan an odd look. The two
sailors moved in front of Regan though they too were frowning.
"He bae bewitched." One whispered. Still they'd hold their
ground and not desert their crew mates. The serpent hissed,
weaving back and forth as its tongue flickered. This was his horde
to guard for the pyramid builders. He wasn't about to let the pale
two-leggers take it.
moved in front of Regan also so she had no choice as the two
crewmen flanked her. The others spread out moving slowly but well
keeping the serpent as their main focus. A hand reached out to
grab Morgan's arm to keep him from moving forward. "It's a
slithering snake like serpent with wings and hasn't changed
shape." He noticed the beast seemed concentrated on his brother
than really worried about any of the others. His voice was low by
his brother's ear. "We have two choices, kill it and take the
gold or get the hell out of here." Considering all the traps
and a mad rush, seems killing the beast was a better option.
let out a soft indignant huff but listened then stepped back further
when Faelan stepped in front of her. Still, she held her sword
ready. She never took her eyes from the monster even as she tried to
hear what her brother was saying. She did glance backward to make
sure the way was clear if they had to escape.
"Kill it." He answered quietly. The face might have been a
woman's, the body was not. "We have a better chance than going
back and maybe tripping traps we didn't the first time
through." He swallowed hard. "I think that dust was more
than dust." He could keep the serpent in sight if he
concentrated but everything else was a blur of color. The serpent
seemed to grow larger until he realized it was moving forward.
"Seems it's made up our minds for us." He braced himself,
not willing to trust the treasure moving and shifting beneath his
feet. It seemed focused on Morgan until it grew close, and then it
went for one of the sailors guarding Regan, grabbing his sword arm
and biting down. While the man screamed in pain, the creature reared
again, leaving the man without sword and arm. Then it was moving for
another of the men.
couldn't agree more as in the next moment they all watched on in
horror, except it didn't keep him stunned for long. As the winged
serpent was tearing off the man's arm and going for the next
one, Faelan charged forward and lodged his sword deep under it's
armpit in the hope of having it go through an unprotected area
unlike most of the body covered in scales. Blood was drawn briefly,
squirting over his face, as the creature's tail swirled around
coiling over his body. In the next moment he was sailing through the
air like from a sling shot and landing in the pile of treasure. The
thrust so hard he was sent buried into the pile of gold in all forms
backpedaled as the serpent came closer then let out a yell as
the creature grabbed first the sailor and then her brother. She
darted forward before any of them could stop her and drove the knife
under a scale. She was back again, dragging the wounded man out of
the way and trying to stop the bleeding. "Faelan!" She
called out, not caring if she caught the monster's attention. She
needed to know her brother was alive!
"Regan!" Morgan hissed as she darted forward, then watched
his brother disappear into one of the molten gold puddles. With a
curse, he charged forward while the man the monster had been going
for dove out of the way. He wasn't sure he was aiming for the right
area with the way the shadows shifted around the beast but when he
struck something hard and the creature roared, he knew he had struck
deep. The tail was lashing about wildly and knocked him into a pile
of the treasure. Without thinking, he picked up the mask he had held
to his face and threw it, distracting the creature again. It turned
to attack him and this time Jedidiah attacked, driving the spear
into its side. His eyes went wide when he realized the spear had
penetrated a scale. Now the winged serpent was furious and
going after the native. He dove behind a chest, covering his head as
it sent coins flying. The others were attacking now, shouting in
order to confuse and distract. Blood showered down over men and gold
as it roared again in pure anger and pain.
manage his way up through the mounds, statues and trinkets alike
skidding down the pile, he had blood splattered all over him besides
being dazed and confused. A cut along his forehead had blood of his
own trickling down, blending in with that of the serpent's. A gold
throwing disk ended up in his hand as he was three quarters out. He
squinted one eye as the other was shut closed for the blood. The
golden throwing disc was smeared with the combo as the serpent's
head came focused in after the ear shattering roar, it was coming
towards him. In his position there was not much he could do with
still being wedged in, easy pickings, except he use to skip rocks
and with the same motion of hand whipped that disk right into one of
those glowing red eyes. The vibration from the roar that followed
had statues toppling as well the room to shake. The creature lunged
forward in what would have been Faelan's death if not for the blow
he dealt it already. A tooth sunk into his shoulder breaking
off before the winged serpent was down, flopping around
like a fish out of water, blood spurting from the eye over anyone
near. Faelan managed to dislodge himself the rest of the way only to
end up toppling down the side of the mounds of gold ending up
sprawled on the floor with various golden jeweled items attached to
arms, legs, head and even clothing.
let out a squeal as a statue fell near her and the now unconscious
man. She saw Faelan go down, the serpent flopping dangerously
near. She charged forward and plunged her sword into the second eye,
sending more blood flying as the creature went into its final death
throes, dead before her attack though she didn't realize it. It
bumped into her, sending her sliding over the top of the treasure.
When she sat up, she had a netlike headpiece of gold and jewels
draped haphazardly over her head. She watched the monster to make
sure it didn't attack again.
With the throw, Morgan lost his balance and fell. He saw the monster
fall but more, his brother. With a wail of despair, he crawled over
the treasure and the body of the serpent to reach Faelan.
"Yae cannae bae dead. We're rich now. Yae hav' tae com' back
an' share in t'e glory." He was in tears as he knelt beside
Faelan. Jedidiah walked over to the winged serpent, his mouth open
in disbelief. The creature was out of their legends, the ones the
Jesuits had told them were false. The others were standing slowly,
shaking their heads, dusting themselves off and staring at Morgan
been knocked out and with so much blood on him, it was easy to think
he was dead as well his breathing there for a while was near
nonexistent. The revival back came fast as he almost thunk heads
with Morgan as he sat up fast, ready to fight. Luckily he didn't hit
his brother with the knife that he managed to slide from his belt
just before he fell. Cuts, bruises, blood flowing and smeared, he
was a sight covered in gold. Seeing the creature dead and his wits
regained by this time. "You always said Morg, that if I ended
up in the worse situation with me luck I'd come out of it covered in
gold." A hand grasping his brother's shoulder as tears stung
his eyes for the release of adrenaline in emotions and the state his
brother was in. "Are you seeing straight yet?" He was
beginning to think Morgan was seeing under the influence.
was with a great deal of relief she saw Faelan stand and covered her
mouth with one hand. Eyes were wet with tears though they didn't
fall. She giggled from pure relief before just flopping backward
onto the pile of gold and jewels. Rich! Beyond their wildest dreams!
Maybe they could buy an army to take back their home!
He let out a yell that could have rivaled the serpent's when Faelan
sat up and crab-crawled backward until he thunked into the body of
the beastie. He stared a full minute before he started to laugh.
"Aye, I'm seeing straight now that you scared ten years off me
life." He put his hand over his brother's. "How much o'
that blood is yours?" He was sure he was bleeding from a dozen
cuts. "We did it, Faelan. We did it." It seemed their luck
had turned for the better. "Now don't be letting Regan know
this, but I think she brought us good luck."
still felt wobbly as he stood, his shoulder aching bringing a
frown. Fingers gingerly felt around the protrusion until a grip was
managed and he pulled it out. "I bae t'inking a bit more."
For it certainly was followed by the flow of blood. "Regan, me
dar'lin sister, dae yea have bandaging handy?" Pressing his
hand over the wound to stop the bleeding at least. "Then I
think we should collect what we can carry and bae on our way. If
this creature made the deposits above and drew flies, I don't want
to be around when whatever it draws being dead comes." Probably
hundreds of vultures. He tucked the serpent's tooth into
his pocket as a memento.
I do." She always kept things on hand for emergencies after
all. Standing, she caught her pack as one of the men tossed it her
way, then hurried over to tend to Faelan. The shoulder wound would
have to be tended better once they got on the ship but she wanted to
be sure it didn't become infected. She used water from a skin to
clean it. "Should have brought some whiskey with us." The
gold headpiece was still in place and like her brothers she was
covered with blood and had gold sticking to her. "I'll tend to
you in a minute, Morg."
"Aye, if I have any cuts. I'm not feeling pain yet." Well,
a few aches but he'd feel it worse come morning. "Scully, see
if you can find another way out but be careful. Don't be bringing
the roof down on us. The rest of you men, start gathering things
up." Morgan went to the other side of the room,
disappearing behind another statue. "Here. I think I found the
way out. " There was an alcove with a lever. He used a gold
covered scepter to push the lever down and let out a whoop when the
clearing with the horses and wagons appeared. After being certain
that door wasn't trapped, he set the men to loading the wagons.
"We should go under one of those waterfalls and clean off this
blood so nothing comes after us."
Away from the Pyramid
Once the wagon was loaded, Morgan ordered the door closed and then
covered so it wouldn't be easily discovered. There was always a
chance they could come back another time and collect the rest. He
grinned at his siblings as he took hold of the bridle of one of the
horses. "The trip back should be a piece of cake." They
had the path cut. It was just a matter of avoiding any spiders or
headhunters. "We ready?" The natives had calmed some,
probably due to the fact that they had pouches of gold.
bags were filled and chests made use of within the pile, Faelan had
disappeared for a short time, then was back. He too carried his
share of wealth even if still wobbly. His shoulder was still
bleeding and had an odd scent to it. The lower door was secured and
blended it with the rest of the thousands of stones. It could only
be opened from the inside he realized. As they started off he made
the comment low to his brother. "I reset some of the traps in
case anyone gets the notion to come back on their own or anyone new.
I also put on that door a voodoo head that will scare any of the
natives anyway along with the dead body," which had been left
up there. What was left of it, the vultures had already gotten to it
and were picking it clean.
was busy setting things to rights in the wagon before settling in
the seat of the other. She was watching both her brothers, worried
on Faelan for the injuries and Morgan because of the drug. She
wasn't sure what it was but he still seemed to be acting a little
too happy. The horses seemed more than happy to be moving away from
the ruins. Once again, everything was normal until they crossed the
small stream, then the jungle became silent again. She glanced
around nervously, catching sight of movement deeper in the trees.
Morgan nodded, flashing his brother a grin. "Good idea. I don't
think too many will be as stubborn as we are." Or as cautious.
He looked over his shoulder at Regan before frowning slightly and
turning back to Faelan. "This part of the jungle gives me the
creeps." The words were no sooner out of his mouth when a spear
thunked into the side of the wagon. Jedidiah grabbed up one of the
flintlock rifles and fired it into the trees. "Grab the mask
and show it! They'll stop."Jedidiah pulled Regan down off the
wagon as another spear flew by. Morgan grabbed a flintlock and fired
into the trees as well, not sure what he was aiming at.
I figure it, they should at least face the dangers we had, not just
waltz in scot free." Sweat was starting to bead over his
forehead. The words were starting to slur and white foaming at the
corners of his lips. Eyes were getting hazed as Morgan's words only
confused him, "get the gold!" Yelling as he jumped down, a
spear just missing him as he started flailing his arms, wild look in
his eyes. "I know you're out there," then a blood curdling
scream escaped his lungs as he arched his head back. Next he was
running this way and that, pulling at leaves and foliage, anything
in his way as the laughing reached hysterical. Whitish foam coated
the bottom half of his face and flung, this way and that with his
quick turning rushes.
let out a yelp of surprise as she was pulled down. She grabbed
another of the rifles and began firing as well until Faelan started
his mad charge into the jungle. The natives that were attacking
suddenly were gone, not another spear or arrow flying. They had
disappeared with the charge of one who was insane from the pyramid,
fearing contamination. "Morgan! Stop him!" Without
thinking, she was after Faelan, trying to stop him.
He was frowning again as he noticed how Faelan was starting to slur
his words and then he dived on the wagon as another spear flew by.
As Faelan went screaming into the jungle, he saw the natives that
had been attacking taking off in a fearful flight. Regan had him
jumping into action, going after Faelan and tackling him to the
ground. It was then he noticed the smell coming from the wound.
"I think the bite was poisoned." He shook his head, trying
to clear it. The colors had never quite faded and this close to
someone, they nearly hurt his eyes. "Faelan! Settle down!"
If necessary, he'd knock his brother out. The others were arriving
had a lot of scratches to add insult to injury, clothing shredded,
blood trickling everywhere and still he was laughing much like a
hyena at this point. It didn't take much for Morgan to tackle him
down once he was reached. Words were no longer recognized. He had
begun imitating jungle noises of anything he heard or even thought
he heard as he became crazed. That was until he hit the ground and
was out like a light. The fever was setting in and being unconscious
at this point was a godsend or go completely mad.
have to get him back to the ship now." Regan looked at Jedidiah.
"Put him into the wagon with me. You can guide it." She
didn't like how Morgan looked either. "Hurry, Morgan." Now
she was scared. After all that, she would not lose either brother if
she had anything to say about it.
hurried to help get Faelan up and into the wagon, barely enough room
with all the gold it held. It was then he handed over a good size
pouch of crushed up leaves. "You press into wound, around neck
and forehead." His English broken but what words he strung
together were understandable. "Add with mud," which he
left for a few minutes to make some up, using rich humus found under
certain flora and mixed with enough water. He was quick about it, as
if something he had done many times, and back onto the wagon to lead
Morgan was pale but still had enough of a hold on reality to act as
he should. He watched Regan and Jed then mounted the other wagon.
The jungle had come back to life as soon as the head hunters left
and while they were moving toward the ship, the natives with them
collected several kinds of young parrots as well as orchids which
were placed into special baskets. At the ship, the crew was quick to
unload while Faelan was carried into the ship. He'd leave Jed and
Regan to take care of him while he supervised.
Faelan was in his cabin, Regan gave the order to draw a bath up for
Morgan. Jed had a solution for that as well and went off to gather
up some fruits. He was back before the gold was unloaded. The
natives had departed with their share after loading the parrots and
orchids. The leaves and mud worked fairly fast, allowing Faelan to
wake enough to take a drink and sleep again. Jed made juice from the
fruits while Regan tended to Faelan.
the gold was loaded and stowed away properly, Morgan gave the order
to cast off. He had sent a basket of gold to the Jesuits but didn't
want them asking any questions. The jungle would cover the path they
made quickly and leave little to no trace of their passing. He
checked on Faelan, didn't argue when Regan insisted he bathe and
even drank the horrible tasting juice. Their first mate would be in
charge for at least twelve hours while Morgan also got some badly
needed rest. He was grinning as he finally settled in to sleep. They
had made it and were very rich men.
to Sea - The Dream
The odd infection was halted and the poultice was now gradually
reversing it. The worse was over as far as being crucial. Except the
dreams. When Faelan had slipped into unconsciousness there was
nothing but blackness, an unawareness. As the poultice started to
work there was a splash of color, near blinding as the rich colors
of the jungle emerged and started to take from. The very green of
lush leaves that seemed to move while he was moving forward as
if walking but he didn't feel like he was walking, more floating.
The clouds in the so-very-blue sky whisked away by rolling over
another as if in some race. When they ceased the ocean was in
sight at a distance, waves cresting one after another. The weather
perfect, not hot like it looked nor cold. Completely comfortable.
Sounds were heard next as parrots of all colors and sizes flew up
and around calling out. Once they disappeared, he noticed a
village where beautiful women emerged, topless no less, and
were heading right for him. He was surprised they could see him for
in a way he felt displaced. Invisible. They were talking in some
other language but the looks and the hands that started smoothing
all over his body was a universal language. Wreaths of bright flora
were put around his neck as lips were touched to his one after
another. He realized his shirt was gone at this point too and now
his belt as they were leading him to this main hut. His body
It was then he was awaken in a haze and instead of food and whatnot
he got some cold water. The water was good as it barely registered
but certainly a disappointment in comparison. He mumbled something
nonsensical as he fell straight back into the deep slumber. The
native women were back but instead of the hut he was brought onto a
black ship. The beautiful faces twisted and turned into black
skeletons with hideous laughter spewing from mouths along with
maggots. He started fighting them but their hold was ten fold like
shackles keeping him in place as he watched this large
black hooded form come forth, another of like to his side with
a black parrot on his shoulder. One that was leaving white splotches
of droppings down the man's shoulder. Two more ships of black
lingered behind the one he was on. Meanwhile in his cabin, he was
starting to sweat profusely. The sheet becoming wrapped around him
as he struggled against the unseen if anyone was around to see. It
was then the hooded man came forth and forced his chin up with long
strong fingers in a grip. That's when he saw Morgan hanging from the
mast. What was left of him. Half his face was burned with an eyeball
hanging out. Blood was everywhere as a forearm was missing on one
side and half his leg on the other. In places they had peeled his
skin away. The black hooded man then jerked his head to
the side to watch as they dragged Regan to a post,
screaming. They gagged her to the point he thought it would
break her jaw. The faceless man in the hood roared
with laughter as he gestured with a quick cupping of his crotch
before starting over towards his sister. By this time he was
yelling at the top of his lungs as in the dream he struggled against
the vice clamping hands, distorted laughter rising in volume until
his stomach revolted as he leaned over the bed half dazed.
knew the fever had broken but she refused to leave Faelan except to
check on Morgan. Then she'd allow another to take over until she
came back. When she returned during his dream, the lad that had been
there was chuckling. Regan chased him out, then gave Faelan a drink
of water, trying not to giggle herself. She settled down into
watching again until he began thrashing about. "Faelan!"
Trying to calm him, she kept his hair back as he lost whatever he
had in his stomach. "It's all right, Faelan. We're back on the
ship, we're safe." She kept speaking softly though she did call
out for the lad in the corridor to bring water. Once Faelan was calm
again, she opened the portholes and then set to cleaning up.
sleep was deep with no fever, no dreams beyond the norm. He woke
feeling groggy and hungry. Hearing Faelan had him near jumping out
of bed but he was tangled in the sheets and ended up falling.
Cursing roundly, he kicked off the sheets, found his pants and
pulled them on. By the time he made it into Faelan's cabin, Regan
was cleaning up. "What happened?" He went straight over to
Faelan's bed, motioning for the cabin boy to help Regan.
wasn't aware at first he had wretched but the cold water on his face
brought him around. At least drinking some took the other awful
taste from his mouth and when he coughed a small puff of black smoke
escaped. Eyes focused in when he saw Regan first and hugged her as
fierce as he could, tears welling up. "You're all right,"
then Morgan on her heels as he struggled up, reaching out to grab
his arm as he staggered in against him with another hug.
"You're not dead," probably sounding a bit incoherent to
them both and don't mind his breath.
black smoke had her blinking but before she could react, Faelan was
hugging her tight enough to nearly take her breath away. "Aye,
I'm fine, Faelan." She leaned back some as he grabbed Morgan.
"And so are you. You were dreaming, I think. Nothing
more." She tried to soothe him, as much worried now as she had
I'm very much alive." He grinned as he answered. "You're
not going to be getting rid of me that easy, little brother."
He looked at him a long moment. Something felt ... different.
"Tell us of your dream, Faelan. What had you screaming like a
banshee was on your heels?"
his head cleared so did his thinking. "It was a dream but it
was unlike any other dream I ever had before. First there was this
tropical island with beautiful women," which had him pausing a
moment as he slid a glance Regan's way. A few thoughts sped as he
wondered if she'd been in the room for he knew how they had affected
him. He cleared his throat deciding he didn't want to know as focus
turned back on his brother. "Then it all changed, three black
ships, two black hooded men. One with a black parrot on his shoulder
that was relieving himself." Why he knew they were all males
didn't even have him questioning it. "They had tortured and
killed you Morgan, they were about to do unthinkable things to Regan
as they had me restrained to watch. It was about that time water hit
me throat and then my stomach turned as I could not stand the sights
I was seeing." He'd been through a lot with his brother
especially on their adventures but he'd not seen anything like
what the dream was showing him before. "Wait," blinking
with another thought that popped into his head. "Where are we
headed?" realizing they were on their ship and on their way.
set herself to fussing over the clean up and sending the lad back
out rather than let her brothers see her turn red. She sat back down
beside Faelan unable to suppress the shudder moving through her. She
looked at Morgan then back to Faelan. "We were going to stop at
one of the islands we passed to resupply, let the men blow off some
thought they deserved some time off and then try to get more fresh
water, just as a precaution. Why?" He was quite serious now,
his eyes intent on his brother's face. "You blew smoke out when
you first saw us. Black smoke. " Whether or not it had anything
to do with the dream didn't matter. It was another bit of oddness to
home, something is wrong. I think the dream was trying to tell me
something," and he visibly shuddered as he felt all energy
drain out of him, having to sit down at this point. "I feel if
we head there which is a tropical island, it will turn into a
disaster. The feeling is strong. I think we have enough to head home
or one of those places on the way there that are not tropical
paradises." Sure the men deserved it after what they had been
through but not if it meant all of their deaths. "Some
legitimate excuse and a promise we will take them after we stop
back." They could easily use their brothers at home as
some emergency. The crew all knew what the two older brothers could
do if they were angered. "Something very dark and twisted
lingers out there in paradise."
could tell them it's me. I'm terribly homesick." She looked
from one to the other. "They're protective of me." She was
their good luck mascot. "Do you think that would work?"
reached out to touch Regan's cheek. They couldn't place her in more
danger than they had and Faelan's dream ... He felt a chill move
through him. "It'll work. We need to turn toward Heathfield,
Regan. We need you to plot us a course. I'll speak to the men."
He looked at Faelan then. "We go on full alert, use the gold as
an excuse. Two extra men on each watch." The Fianna was fast.
He was hopeful they could outrun any demons in black that might be
you think it will, I think so too. Aye, if they thought we could
lose the gold they'd high tail it to Heathfield on their own. They
know they would be safe there and we came by it honestly. I'll go
help you talk to the men." Feeling a lot better now even if he
thought on it all, how strange it was to be so upset by a dream
that he would take real precautions, all precautions to avoid
Whole of this
SL in Vendettas