Monday, October 18, 2010

The Lost Key - Part III

As the plane screeched to a halt on the runway, I was still lost in thought. Looking back at all that had happened- The dream. The signs. The shootouts. All the time fighting the adrenaline rush. Excited. And scared. It was beginning to get overwhelming now.

"Sid? SID?", said Lily, waving her hand in front of my eyes in an attempt to grab my attention, "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine", I lied.
She wanted to say something, but chose to have her feelings heard by simply giving me the look through the corner of her eyes.

We were interrupted by Chris, who by now had nearly finished unloading the luggage, calling out to us.

As we entered the city, the first thing I noticed was that it was among the best places I'd ever seen. Every aspect of the city reflected their rich culture in one way or the other. The buildings, the streetlamps, and most importantly- the people. Bustling about on the dusty streets, there were people of all occupations, and personalities. Some looked busy. Others cordial. Some dressed in plain white. Others in vibrant splendor. Some laughing. And some sitting quietly in the corner.

Chris managed to spark off a conversation with one of the men, someone who was hooded in black, and glanced suspiciously towards my general direction once in a while. Chris knew roughly where the place was situated, and was inquiring about how to get there. The man recommended that we travel by car, as the roads were pretty rough for a traveler. It was accompanied with a warning to stay away from the place, as legend foretold of grave dangers for those seeking the treasure. Chris then thanked him for the information, and they shook hands as we parted. The hooded figure hurried off into the crowd.

We began our journey towards the Lost Point. As we reached closer, the skies seemed to get murkier, but maybe it was just me.

Upon reaching the place, we were amazed to see the majestic works of art carved on the ornate doors of the structure. I was astounded. And speechless.

I was still gaping at the architectural wonder, when both Lily and Chris indicated that it was time we entered the caverns. As we made our way through the winding maze, it was apparent that numerous attempts had been made to look for the lost treasure. There were marks on the walls and a few of the structural trinkets looked damaged.

As we got deeper into the cave, it became more difficult to breath. We noticed a few arcane symbols and runic figures on the walls in a few places. It seemed like words written in an ancient language in an attempt to convey a message- a warning, perhaps. And suddenly, we reached a dead end.

"This is it", Chris remarked "The place that all adventurers have come to and failed to find any treasure for centuries"
"Let's hope we have better luck than them", I said, breathing deeply.

We started looking around for anything that could hint us towards what to do next. After what seemed like hours of futile effort, Lily stumbled upon something.

"Look at this", she said, pointing towards something drawn on one of the walls.

Among the many symbols that we came across, this one was different- it was exactly the same as the one on the Key. Suddenly, I felt a surge of excitement flow through me. I hurriedly took out the key, and confirmed that the symbols matched.

But we had no idea how to proceed from there. We tried pressing on the symbol, tapping the wall for a secret brick, and even made the Key and the wall coincide exactly, but to no avail. Just as I was about to give up, Lily made another astonishing discovery. Most of the symbols seemed to be facing towards the east, north or south. This was the only one that faced west.

"Brilliant! But what could that signify?", Chris asked.
"I don't know. Maybe we should see what it's looking at", she replied.

And we tried to look for any aberrant feature on the wall directly opposite to it. There was nothing except a few simple shapes etched on it- squares, circles, and the like. We tried to make something happen with the new set of symbols, but it seemed hopeless.

And then, in a spark of genius, Lily said, "The riddle!"

"What about it?", I asked.
"The first line- it translates to- when you need to cross the line"
"Well, haven't we already?"
"No, you silly. The line! The one on the wall. Cross it out. Do it now!"

And we rummaged for a sharp object, and made a cut across the line, crossing it out. In a few seconds, the adjacent wall caved in, revealing a secret passage.

"Lily, you're a genius!", Chris exclaimed.
She looked at me and we just exchanged a brief smile.

And then we proceeded towards the secret passage.

"Very clever, but I'm afraid this is as far as you'll get", a sharp, cutting voice spoke.

We turned around, and were shocked to see who the voice belonged to- Luke. I wondered how he managed to track us down, but my question was answered immediately, as I saw the man in the hood who gave us directions to the place, standing in the background.

"Now be good kids, and hand over the Key to me", he said, coolly.
"No way!", Lily said, eyes bloodshot with anger.
"How sweet, but unfortunately, I get to decide what you can or cannot do", he said, forcefully grabbing the Key from my hands.

We watched helplessly as he approached the massive gates of the chamber, and began unlocking it with the Key. But he couldn't.

"Is this some kind of a joke?", he raged. "This is not the right Key. Tell me where you are hiding the real one"
"Honestly, this is the Key. The one I saw in the Dream", I said, shaken aback.
"Do you think I'm a fool?"
"Well, you definitely look like one", I wanted to say, but didn't. Instead, I gave him a cold stare.

He ripped something from the wall and flung it in disgust. It bounced off the wall, and landed into what seemed like a pail of reddish potion. It then started bubbling, and within seconds, it had dissolved completely.

"That must be the Elixir of Quathemuc", Chris whispered into my ear, "it can dissolve any metal known to man, and has many other magical properties"

"The boy lies. Lock them up until he decides to tell the truth", Luke hollered.

His henchmen tugged at us forcefully, and began dragging us towards the exit. As they reached the end, we saw a group of people clad in black overalls making their way in. Before anyone could react, they opened fire on the thugs, and we crouched for cover. Luke and his men took out their guns as well, and there was an exchange of bullets.

"Go. We'll cover you", said one of the men.

And we dashed towards the exit. I looked back to see what was going on in the melée. I heard a muffled gunshot. And watched as a body gracefully fell towards the floor in slow-motion.

Lily was dead.

to be continued

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