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June 17, 2024

Good Morning? 92

By Lydia Manx

The roaring grew closer and the tunnel no longer appeared to be the one that I'd been in with Marcus and Sapphire just moments ago. I edged closer to the wall and saw a niche just out of the corner of my eye. I headed for the rocky opening I'd noticed and I barely was able to slide through when something swiped at me from the other side. I knew instinctively that the creature wasn't exactly going to hold an in depth conversation with me about pretty gems and my quality silver sword -- which at that stray thought I drew from the sheath between my shoulder blades. Then quickly spinning around, I saw I was in a smaller cave than the one I'd just left, where Marcus had been that had also held treasures. There wasn't a light, but rather an opening high above where it seemed there were remnants of a rope ladder. Nothing I was going to venture up if I could help it. The rope had become frayed along the way with time and whatever climate this alternate world had, and I doubted it would even support my weight if I decided to climb up the twenty or so feet to reach the top.

Then the oddest thing happened. I felt a whisper of an alien voice in my thoughts saying, "Esmeralda Meredith, you've finally come. The relic treasure you seek -- you truly need-- it is in this room."

What was freaking me out was that I didn't actually allow the soft sibilant voice inside, but rather it oozed into my mind with an oily feeling of otherness and darkness. I wasn't sure it was being honest in the least, but despite that feeling, there was definitely a tug in my chest towards the center of the room. I felt short of breath and I wondered if I should pull out my small hand-held respirator from my backpack. I always brought it with me in my bag in case the air wasn't good when I was journeying into the unknown, but this atmosphere felt humid and sticky damp rather than toxic and poisonous. So I didn't pull out the respirator but instead kept both my hands on my sword. My eyes adjusted to the dusty gloom and I saw that there were tons of piles of gold and other assorted pirate junk. Out of the corners of my eyes I could see there were large claws being scrabbled around the edge of the rock passage I'd used to get inside this cave. I sucked in a deep gulp of the wet air and shook my head at the sight.

Given how many dragons I had seen in the past few hours, I knew the claws were attached to a large dragon that didn't seem in the least happy I'd escaped it in the corridor. Somehow I knew all of this hadn't been the dragon's loot who was outside in the tunnel, but instead it was my cursed misfortune to chance upon the angry dragon on the same day I broken into the long forgotten room. It could smell the gold.

I truly wanted to pop out to somewhere safe and not here, but at the same time I was pretty sure that in the heaps of treasures that littered the scenery, there was possibly a relic that I needed to get in order to keep alive -- at least it seemed that was what the oily voice had intended. I hated that I was even thinking about it, but the pull from my center let me know that a piece of treasure was definitely calling to me. That alone presented more than a bit of a dilemma because if I fled right now, I knew perfectly well that the next time I came through I would in fact be in the dragon's lair and up for grabs literally. I really hated these sorts of decisions but I wasn't going to give up just yet. There had to be something I could offer the dragon in exchange for a slice of time to delve into a few more spots before it broke through the wall.

Another roar let me know that the dragon was getting a tad frustrated by the rocks keeping it from me. I let my tummy pull me to the middle of the small cave and found myself next to a huge pile of treasures. Normally I'd be happy to dip into the mix, but with the dragon literally clawing at the gate I put my sword back into its sheath and started digging. I flung treasures right and left allowing my center to be the guide. There wasn't anything that rang out as 'relic' but just gold, silver and fine bits of art and culture that usually I'd be salivating over and deciding what was worth carrying home. I wasn't even sure how I'd get home but I kept digging.

I felt rather than heard the dragon tear off a strip of rock and was halfway inside the room already. I didn't bother to turn and watch but instead I threw the bits and pieces aside while feeling a pull from lower in the stash. The alien voice was quiet and I noticed that I had no connection to Uncle Harry. That made my tummy flutter yet again and not in a good way. Then the dragon broke into the room roaring but not spitting fire. With a gulp I popped into the cave I'd been in a long time ago. The second I landed inside the old cave I knew I'd made a mistake. It wasn't the same.

Exhaling in a puff of resignation, I looked slowly around the space.

Dirt -- check

Small rodent droppings -- check

Shards of old pottery -- check

Dirt walls -- check, oh wait, sorta check. After all adobe was dirt and straw mixed with water and sun baked. Not exactly dirt walls but close enough. So -- check.

Damn I'd screwed up. I was in the spot I'd been thinking about but it looked like time was not my friend. Things had changed. I saw new bits and pieces that looked to me like I was possibly trapped.

The exit that used to be a few feet from where I'd popped into was gone. In its place was a brick wall. It reminded me of 'The Cask of Amontillado' by Edgar Allen Poe. And since I was inside the cave it rang true. I looked around and saw that there was another new addition since I'd last been here. One of those magic sort of lights that illuminated around me. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, I would wager there was a bell chiming, letting something know that I'd popped into the cave.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2014-06-30
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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