This week I have chosen Kim Glennie’s words: Item – axe; Word: radiant
Thanks Kim! Enjoy!
All That Glitters
The jungle was hot and damp. There were bugs everywhere and it seemed like each one of them was out to eat you. The vegetation was oppressive and grew closely together. They had been hacking away at it for hours. The air was full of noises made by unseen animals. Shapes would flash just out of your vision as you turned your head to see where the last loud screech came from. The men were tired, soaked with sweat, and on edge.
“Are you sure this is the right way, Professor?” asked Eddie for what had to be the thousandth time.
“Yes, yes. The manuscript was quite clear. The Temple of Wochlakat of the Jamundi people is in this direction. We follow the river to the source then keep going north and turn towards the sun at noon and it should be along our path,” answered Professor Treelane.
Just then Eddie, who was in the lead, hacked through some branches and as they fell away the temple came into view, sitting in the middle of a large clearing. It was huge and vaguely Aztec in design with odd carvings across its surface. A grand set of steps led to the top of the temple where there appeared to be a small stone hut or shelter of some kind.
“Hah! I knew we were on the right path!” declared Eddie. “Now how do we get in? Or doesn’t your precious manuscript cover that part?”
“According to my research there should be a certain carving near the base of the stairs that we need to find; it will look like a jaguar,” said the Professor, ignoring Eddie’s taunt.
They walked over to the base of the temple steps and began searching for the carving.
“God, these are ugly,” said Eddie. “What are they supposed to be?”
“Various animals, snakes, insects and humans. Possibly even what they thought their gods looked like,” answered Treelane while running his hands over the carvings. “Aren’t they exquisite?”
“Right. Whatever you say, Doc.”
“Ah. Here we are!”
Eddie made his way over to where Professor Treelane was standing in front of a carving of a grotesque looking cat-like creature.
“That’s supposed to be a jaguar?”
“According to the manuscript we need to manipulate it in a certain way and a door will open for us leading into the interior of the temple.”
“That’s all you got? Just “manipulate it in a certain way”? Could you be a little more vague?” asked Eddie.
“If the answers to everything were all written down, someone else would have been here already. Now shut up and let me think.”
They stood staring at the carving for what seemed like hours but in reality must have been only about ten minutes.
“I got it!” said Eddie, and leaning forward, pushed on all four feet of the jaguar.
There was a grinding noise and a portion of the steps slid away revealing a hallway that lead into the depths of the temple.
“How did you manage that?” asked Treelane, dumbfounded.
“Easy. Jaguars run fast, right? We wanted in, right? Both actions use feet, right? So I pushed them,” said Eddie with a wide grin.
“That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. Here, take a flashlight, let’s go.”
They carefully walked down the hallway, shining their flashlights ahead of them on walls, floor and ceiling to be sure they got a good look at everything before they passed by, over or under it. Just as it was on the outside, the walls inside were covered in carvings of odd animals and insects. Finally they came to a door at the end of the hallway which seemed to glow with a light of its own.
“Turn your flashlight off,” said the Professor.
The door was indeed radiant from within with a warm yellow light.
“Wouldya look at that,” exclaimed Eddie.
Professor Treelane took a step forward and studied the door. It was plain stone, no carvings, just lit from within with the yellow light.
“Now what Doc?”
“I do not know. This is not in the manuscript.”
“Great! Just great! We get all the way in here and now we’re bloody stuck because you haven’t done your damn homework!”
As he was ranting, the light in the door had gone from yellow to orange to almost a red color.
“Calm down you fool! Although I find your outburst annoying, this time I believe it was somewhat useful. We have to become calm. As calm as we possibly can.”
“Just sit down and clear your mind of all thought. That should be easy enough for you.”
“Oh ha ha.”
They sat on the floor in front of the door and tried to relax. They took deep breaths, in and out. In and out. The light in the door began to lighten from yellow to white, then to a pale blue. Then it went out. Treelane turned on his flashlight.
“Extraordinary! The door is gone! Look!”
The hallway now simply continued deeper into the temple.
“I don’t get it, but let’s go. After all this there has got to be something good in there!” said Eddie.
As they walked on the hallway was as before, the same kind of carvings covered the walls. After a few minutes it ended in a large room with a dais in the middle. Three steps led up to the top of the dais and there, suspended in the air at the top was a great golden axe.
“Wow!” exclaimed Eddie.
“Wow indeed my friend. But let’s be cautious, shall we?”
They shone their flashlights around the room. The carvings here were more detailed but other than that nothing looked any different than what they had seen before.
“I believe this is where you come in my young friend,” said Treelane.
“Yep, my turn to shine.”
Eddie walked carefully towards the dais, each step careful and measured as he went. When he made it to the bottom of the dais he turned back to the Professor, gave him a thumbs up and started up the steps. Ever so carefully he climbed the three stairs. Nothing happened. He set down his flashlight on the top of the dais and reached up with both hands to grab the golden axe as it hung in the air. Wrapping his hands around the handle he gave a great tug. It disappeared.
“What the hell?”
A roaring noise filled the room and a great wind began to blow. Tendrils of black smoke emerged from the intricate carvings on the walls and started to blend together in the wind. The roaring noise turned into a howling as the wind grew stronger and stronger whipping around the room sucking up all the black smoke until a whirlwind of blackness encased Eddie on the dais, making it difficult for the Professor to see him.
Suddenly there was a noise like a thunderclap and the wind collapsed into the center of the room, the top of the dais where Eddie was, taking all of the blackness there with it. Eddie screamed once and was gone. In his place was a being made of black smoke. It was constantly changing form, from one animal to the next, one insect to the next. The only constant it had about it was its fiery red eyes. It locked those eyes on the Professor and spoke in a deep and gravelly voice.
“You have again fulfilled your part of our bargain, human. We are pleased. You may again take one item from the next room for yourself as a reward. We expect to see you again in twelve lunar cycles.”
It made a gesture and a portion of the wall slid into the ceiling revealing a room filled with golden treasures. Then it dissipated into tendrils of smoke which floated back into the carvings in the walls.
“Of course my dear Wochlakat, of course. Have a nice nap,” said Professor Treelane as he went to pick out something nice for himself.