Part 1: The Sahara Desert
1: The Spark of Adventure Alights
One day in a desert town, the old retired archaeologist Joe Henson was sitting in a large comfortable armchair with his 18-year-old daughter Elizabeth, telling her stories of the days when he was an archaeologist, young and strong, and all the treasures he had brought up from the earth. Elizabeth felt that she had listened to hundreds of these, although she had listened to nowhere near as many. She'd actually listened to a little less than half that amount, and some of them had been told twice or more.
However, no matter how many she had heard, something awoke in her this day. To be exact, it was the longest day of the year, but that does not matter. Anyway, at the end of the tale this day, something that had been long hidden lit up inside her, and she had a very sudden urge to be an archaeologist too. And to this day, neither Elizabeth nor her father nor her mother knows what happened inside her, but it just happened. What happened happened, and they could not change it.
Elizabeth went to ask people in the town if they would like to come with her on an archaeological troop. A few agreed. She asked them their names; a very nice set of titles emerged. There was Ankod, a man in his 30's, whose eyesight was a bit wrong and wore glasses. He seemed to be cold a lot, so he wore a black suit to attract the sun. There was Tex, an old truck driver. When he heard about the archaeologist trip he modified his truck so it would be very good rolling around in the desert. There was Terson, an old archaeologist who had lost one of his hands to a scorpion. And finally, there was Tut, an old man who had crossed the desert once or twice, and knew quite a thing about discovering a buried pyramid or things like that. As Elizabeth put it in her mind, she could not have wanted a better group.
Elizabeth would have wildly started off then, but Terson reminded her that they needed supplies and tools. Elizabeth nodded at the good sense, and went to a nice store. She bought a nice brown sombrero for Tex, to match his favorite color. She bought a black top hat for Ankod, and normal archaeologist hats for the rest of them. After protecting their heads from sunburn (hopefully), she started getting supplies and tools.
She got two magnifying glasses, a sextant, two crates, a pair of binoculars, a pitcher full of nice clear water (the pitcher being very big, to hold several gallons worth), a cup for each of them, a case for specimens and treasure, three pistols and a rifle to keep them safe, a nice large backpack and several sticks of dynamite for blowing up old doors on rusted hinges, a pickaxe, a smaller axe and a shovel, a good supply of bread, pancake mix and ingredients for cake, a frying pan, a cooking pot, an easy-to-build fold-up tent and a snap-it-together cooking fire, and of course, Tex's truck (but they didn't have to buy that).
At last came the day. Elizabeth bid her family farewell, and walked off to join the rest of the troop. Then, of course, they noticed they had made a mistake. Tex had to modify his truck yet a bit more so they could all fit in it. Off they then went, into the beating sun, across the desert sands. Suddenly they saw something swirling up ahead. "What's that?" asked Elizabeth.
Tut cried, "It's a sandstorm! Quick, cover the car with the tent cloth, and hold on!" They were inside the truck under the tent flaps for what seemed hours to Elizabeth. Finally, the truck was uncanopied, and they noticed that their truck had its wheels buried in the sand. Tex, Tut and Terson set to work with the two axes and the shovel, at freeing the truck. When the truck was unburied, they drove on.
2: Surviving the Desert
Elizabeth yawned as the truck trundled along the sand. It had been a long hot day. If not for Terson and Tut, all their water would have been gone. Instead, Terson and Tut showed them how to ration their water, though it was quite hard in the blazing sun. Ankod was the only one who didn't seem to mind the sun, no, he quite enjoyed it. Elizabeth marveled at how well he was keeping up. Slowly the sun sank and the moon rose to take its place. It was a half moon, and it was very nice to Tex, Tut, Terson and Elizabeth, but Ankod was tortured by the cold. They found one of the tent flaps, heated it on the engine, and spread it over him temporarily while they searched for the blanket he had brought along.
Several days passed by. Their water was running low, it was hard to ration it, though now they were doing so much more than ever. It was the day when they had only one cupful of water left, when Tex, driving in front, said "Oasis ho!" pointing ahead. And sure enough, there was an oasis. Tex practically threw his weight on the gas pedal, while the others tried not to take even a drop of water, because distances are hard to tell in a desert. Finally the oasis seemed so close, when it vanished. When Elizabeth looked oddly at Ankod, he explained, "The heat of the desert had made our eyes play tricks on us. Not exactly a mirage, but more an illusion, that our minds and our eyes are making us see that isn't there."
Elizabeth picked up the binoculars and scanned the desert around them. There was a faint speck of blue and green in the distance to their side. As she pointed it out to Tex, who took the hint, but under his breath cursed himself for forgetting his compass. However, Elizabeth heard him and handed him the sextant. Then Tex noticed they had also forgotten a book of tables. Ankod cursed under his breath that they had not thought about needing to know the time. But luckily they seemed to be going straight, although of course if the blue and green was just an illusion or mirage, they could be turning. Elizabeth and Tex tried not to think about it, but tried to keep a very straight course.
They drove through the night towards that distant speck, although it was growing closer. By the next day, there were only a few drops of water left when Elizabeth took up the binoculars again and looked at the blue and green. She could then make out details. To her joy and surprise, there was a small settlement by the oasis. When she told this to Tex, he must have thrown at least three-quarters of his body weight on the gas pedal, and Elizabeth felt as if her hair was flying off of her head (or as she put it, "I feel like I'm going but I'm leaving my hair behind."). Slowly Tex braked to a halt, to find themselves right next to the oasis.
Elizabeth threw her clothes into the truck and jumped straight into the water. Tex was being very sensible and refilling the pitcher, but occasionally he got splashed by Elizabeth. When everyone had drunk their fill and rid themselves completely of the desert sand, they went to the settlement to see if they could find the things they'd forgot. They found a general store, and at a very good price got a book of tables, a compass and a quite-accurate clock. However, they were running out of gold. So they would have to find some treasure soon, if they wanted to have any money at all.
Soon they set off again. And they could tell they were going west without the compass, for they were driving into the sunset.
3: The Temple of the Scorpiona
They spent many days trundling through the desert, with hardly a speck that showed that humans ever were there. If, as Elizabeth said, they ever were there. Finally one day, Elizabeth took the binoculars to eye, and noticed a faint brown speck in the distance. She called to Tex to steer that direction. He halted the car, took the binoculars, looked, nodded, and started the car up. They went over many sand dunes, that did not agree with Elizabeth's stomach. You could tell from the way she held her stomach so softly.
They came to another oasis, refilled their water, and had a swim. All except Ankod, who preferred the sun. He took the sextant and scouted for the time. Suddenly he cried, "Look! Look up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane!"
Elizabeth looked up and said, "It's a hot-air balloon." Everyone looked up, nodded, and went back to what they were doing. Suddenly they all realized what they had seen, and did a quick double-take.
"Hot-air ballooning? Around here?"; puzzled Tut. But by now there was no more sign of the mysterious flyer. After that, more monotonous days of nothing unusual followed, although all the time they were driving towards the distant brown speck.
One day they had reached it. It apeared to be a large temple, dusty and ruined with age. Above what appeared to be the main door was a statue of a scorpion, and statues of snakes slithering around it. Tex shivered as he looked at it. Elizabeth turned her face away, for she had seen that there was another statue of a scorpion with a genuine head on it, that wasn't a statue. Tut pointed inside the temple and asked, "Do you think we should go in?"
Elizabeth took the lamp from the tent, smiled, nodded, and walked slowly in, the rest of the group behind her. Ankod walked over to a corner where he had thought he had seen a treasure chest. It also looked like a treasure chest from close up, although the handle appeared to look like a scorpion's tail. He called the others over in a quiet voice and pointed.
Elizabeth said, "It may look weird, but why not open it?"
"OK," said Ankod, "but I'll sue you for that if it kills me." He bent down and the "treasure chest" started to wriggle. Tut and Terson held their breath as they watched. What appeared to have been a treasure chest unfolded into four scorpions.
"Eeek!" cried Elizabeth. She jumped back, tripped over some uneveness in the floor, and fell onto the ground. Immediately part of the ceiling opened up, and black and red snakes came falling down. Soon the temple was turmoil, and scorpions and snakes were chasing the group around.
Soon they were all huddled against a red wall, with scorpions creeping closer. Meanwhile the snakes were trying to blend into the floor. Suddenly the red wall behind the adventurers squirmed and unfolded into about seventy red snakes. Tut took a running leap away from the snakes, over the scorpions, and straight into a pit in the floor.
"I'll never forgive you for finding that 'treasure chest', Ankod," Elizabeth growled, as she tried to make the creatures think she was harmless. Finally Elizabeth, Ankod, Terson and Tex had gotten safely out of the temple, but they had no idea what had happened to Tut. It had looked like to them that he had vanished into the floor.
Suddenly the ground beneath them began to shake, the four were knocked over, and Tut's head emerged from the dirt. Tex wondered if it was attached to the rest of him. Slowly the rest of Tut came out, all attached in the correct way to the head.
"What happened?" asked Terson.
Tut explained that he had fallen into an underground chamber, and had managed to dig his way out. He produced a shovel from his hand, and smiled. "It's lucky I thought we might need this."
Elizabeth sighed from relief, and sat down, fanning her brow with her hand. Suddenly a black rock behind her collapsed into scorpions and black snakes. "I'm getting tired of this!" said Elizabeth as she grabbed the pickaxe. She swung the pickaxe down, but it hit the ground. But when she lifted it, snakes were slithering along it to bite her hand. Tut quickly shoveled them off.
"Let's get out of here!" said Terson.
"Good idea!" said Tex. He quickly turned around to get to the truck, but there was a large black rock in its place. "Where's the truck?" he asked.
"I think I know." said Elizabeth, who grabbed the pickaxe and swung it down on the "rock." The "rock" fell apart into a mass of wriggling snakes and scorpions who were climbing all over the truck. The group started whacking and shoveling scorpions off of the truck as fast as they could. After a while it seemed they had finally rid the truck of scorpions and snakes, so they jumped in the truck and zoomed off as fast as they could.
But suddenly the engine went "fut! fut!" and stopped. Tex went over to look at the engine, and saw some snakes climbing out of it, very scorched. He picked them up by the non-burning side and threw them into some sand dunes. And then the car went driving off again
4: "What's Better Than Binoculars?"
The truck trundled along over a sand dune. Elizabeth halted Tex, and scanned in all directions with the binoculars. She for a moment looked up, and noticed a speck traveling along the sky. She looked again and said, "I think that's another hot air balloon. Or the same." Soon everybody was trying to look up. But by the time Tex finally got the binoculars, the hot air balloon had disappeared. The truck started up again, and they trundled on for more days.
Suddenly a temple arose out of the ground in front of them. Tex couldn't stop; the car went driving through the door. When he finally managed to stop, they seemed to have fallen into a pit. Elizabeth took the lamp and started walking down a tunnel in the pit wall. The others followed her. Suddenly the tunnel caved in behind them. There was a wall of dirt between them and the truck with their digging tools. Ankod slapped himself on the head, and said, "Why didn't I think of leaving at least one of us behind?" The others seemed to be thinking the same thing.
They explored the place they were stuck in. The walls, ceiling and floor seemed as solid as iron. Suddenly part of the roof caved in, and they could see light. Tut sighed, and said, "Even if it's a trap, I suppose it must be better than being down here with hardly any air. They climbed out of the hole to see someone with a bomber jacket and flight goggles, with a pike and shovel, and a hot air balloon behind him.
"Who are you?" asked Terson, blinking his eyes.
"I am Mr. Tor N. Ado."
"Well Mr. Tornado," said Tut, catching onto the joke, "your name certainly fits into your occupation."
Tor didn't say anything, but shoveled away a path to their truck, and flew off in his hot air balloon.
"What do you make of that?" asked Ankod, up to his ears in puzzlement.
"No idea," said Elizabeth.
Tex suggested sensibly, "I think we should go and get my truck before the roof caves in again." Everyone agreed with his good sense, and went to look for the truck.
The tunnel to the truck was dark and spooky. Picture yourself walking through this passage, jumping at every creak or footstep, bat squeak or other noises. The path seemed to go on for miles. They at last reached the truck. A surprise greeted them, if "greeted" is the word.
"My engine's covered in dirt!" cried Tex in surprise.
"And the license plate has snakes crawling all over it!" cried Elizabeth in equal surprise, her face the very picture of humiliation.
"Ugh! There's something on my feet!" said Ankod. When he looked down, he saw snakes writhing around on them.
Terson noticed the most important thing: scorpions were eating their supplies, and had spilled all the water. A few snakes had gotten drenched by this.
Elizabeth started choking on the air, it was so filled with dust. "Quick!" cried Tut, "Get Elizabeth some fresh air while we try to salvage the truck as well as possible. Ankod brought Elizabeth outside, his face covered in disgust. Tut went to grab the pickaxe, but grabbed a snake instead. The snake bit Tut's arm. Terson actually managed to grab the pickaxe. He whacked a snake that was curious about what the engine was and was trying to investigate. Tex grabbed one of the pistols just in case. At one point he had to fire, but the only problem was, he fired a burnt snake. Tut noticed two scorpions making off with his rifle. He first whacked one scorpion and then the other. Even though it was just a shovel he whacked them with, the scorpions seemed pretty dazed.
When they finally got rid of the snakes and scorpions, they did all they could to pull the truck out through the hole. It wasn't enough -- they fell; the truck rolled back down. Tex, Tut and Terson went up to Elizabeth and Ankod to get their help. They found Ankod sunbathing while Elizabeth was looking at something.
"What are you looking at?" asked Terson.
"Something's coming towards us," said Elizabeth with a puzzled face, "seems tall."
Then all the Adventurers went down to pull the truck. Even with Elizabeth and Ankod, they still suffered defeat. They went outside to catch their breath. Elizabeth then suggested something practical: "Why don't we drive the truck out?"
"I thought of that," said Tex mournfully, "but the scorpions and snakes broke the gas pedal."
Elizabeth glanced over her shoulder nonchalantly. "Hey, guess what?" she said, "It seems as if Mr. Tor thought we needed help again."
"If you ask me, said Ankod grumpily, "we do need it, and it's high time."
The hot-air balloon landed beside them. "What seems to be the problem?" asked Tor with a mischievous expression on his face, as if he already knew.
"We can't get my truck out!" said Tex, "the gas pedal's broken. If there's any other damage, we couldn't see it down there."
"Well," said Tor, "tie this rope on your truck." and he handed Elizabeth a rope.
When Elizabeth returned, she saluted smartly and said, "Made fast!" Tor got into his hot-air balloon, waved, and launched himself. That was when Terson noticed that the other end of the rope was on the hot-air balloon. As the balloon rose, the truck was pulled out. Finally, when the truck was out, Tor snapped the rope on his end, and the rope came falling down to them.
"I guess this could be handy," said Tut, putting it in his backpack.
"I guess he saw us all the way from up there," said Tex musingly. "I wonder if it's better than binoculars."
"What's better than binoculars?" laughed Elizabeth, as she took the binoculars to eye. "You know, I think I see something."
5: The Traps of the Treasure Trove
"What do you see?" asked Ankod, suddenly curious.
"Something in the distance ... either that, or it's closer than I think, and smaller than I think."
"Let me see," said Tex. He took the binoculars and studied the landscape. "Yes, there's certainly something there," he mused, putting the binoculars down. "But how we're going to get to it beats me -- the gas pedal's still broken, after all."
Terson slapped himself on the head. "The gas pedal! I knew I'd forgotten something!"
"And on top of it all," muttered Tut, "our supplies are ruined."
"I know it's true," said Elizabeth, "but if we're lucky, we can manage to get to a town or at least an oasis."
"If we're lucky, yes," said Tex, "but I'm not sure if that brown spot is an oasis or a town, and even if it is, I'm not sure we'll be able to get to it."
"Give me the binoculars," said Ankod. "I think I see something moving. Towards us, I believe." No sooner had he looked, than Ankod jumped into the air. "Praise be!" he called, "It's a caravan!"
"Hopefully we can get supplies from it," said Tex under his breath. "but anyway ... let me look!" Ankod handed him the binoculars, and Tex looked in the direction that Ankod had looked. "Yes, it's a caravan," he said, "with food and water too. But they seem to be riding with heavy hearts, and despair is written on their faces."
"Really?" Elizabeth said, "Let me look too." Soon the whole company had looked, and every one had found the truth of the other ones words.
"Well, maybe we do not know the reason of their gloom," said Ankod, "but still, let us wait for them."
"Terson, do you have any emergency rations in that backpack?" asked Tut, with a worried expression on his face.
Terson also looked worried. "Just an apple, two pints of water, and a few biscuits."
"Do you think we're on a pirate ship?" asked Tut, "Sounds like ocean rations!"
"It's what I packed," said Terson. "The caravan's coming closer."
"It's been coming closer," said Elizabeth, "you can almost make it out without binoculars."
"I'm hungry," said Ankod.
"Try to think of something else," said Tex. Tex was trying to fix the gas pedal. "There's not too much wrong with this gas pedal," he called, "it's just that the top has fallen off."
"Well maybe you can drive the truck by putting your foot on the pole," said Elizabeth, her eyes still on the caravan.
"That may be," cried Tex, "but even so, it would be rough going, and we might have unwanted stops."
"Unwanted stops? Why?" asked Tut, seeming to wake out of a dream.
"Because my foot will have to reach farther than normal, and it will be easy to slip off what's left of the pedal."
"Um, do you notice the ground under the truck is moving?" asked Elizabeth.
Tex immediately jumped into the seat, and pushed away on what was left of the gas pedal. The truck rolled away downhill just before the ground sunk into a pit of spikes.
"The caravan's here!" Elizabeth called to Tex, whose truck was rolling down a steady slant.
"Help!" called Tex, as the truck began rolling even faster.
"Use the brake!!!" Elizabeth called as loudly as she could.
"I can't! It's gone!" came the distant voice of Tex.
"Shift the truck, or try the parking brake!"
"The truck doesn't have a shift, and the parking brake's also gone!" came the faint voice. By this time the rest of the adventurers were running after the truck. SMASH! A crash could be heard from below. The chasing adventurers doubled their speed. When they finally reached the truck, it had finally come to a halt, after driving through two buildings and a town.
"What a mess ..." groaned Tut, and Terson nodded, as he went to find Tex. They found Tex in some rubble -- he had been thrown out of the truck when the first building was smashed into.
"Did anyone get the license plate of that garbage truck?" Tex mumbled, as they pulled him out of the wreckage of a refrigerator.
"It wasn't a garbage truck," said Elizabeth, but if you want to know the license number of the truck that did it, it was HC 514 -- your truck."
"Where is my truck?" asked Tex, still dazed.
"Inside a market," said Elizabeth, "and we don't have enough money to pay for all the damage."
After using the last of their money, and telling the citizens that they'd give them money from their bank accounts and car insurance so they could fix their houses, the adventurers still faced the problem of using the truck. "Especially since it's more broken than ever," muttered Terson when they were discussing this fact.
"Quite true, quite true," replied Tut, "but at least we've bought supplies."
"Yes, and if we don't find treasure soon, we'll have no money," growled Tex, kicking a rock in the air. Ankod winced as the rock landed on his toe.
"Well, I guess we'll have to walk," said Elizabeth, "there are no auto mechanics here."
Terson growled. "Very funny," he said, "do we take the truck along?"
"I don't think we can," said Tex, "as Elizabeth said, I guess we'll have to walk." Then they set out for the brown speck, knowing in their hearts that they were not much closer.
"Are we still going the same direction?" Terson asked Elizabeth after a while, for Elizabeth had the compass.
"Just a little more west than before," replied Elizabeth.
After two days march they reached the brown speck. "So here it is," sighed Elizabeth, "it's not even an Oasis. It's another temple."
"About the third or fourth temple," muttered Tex, "and the ones before haven't been my idea of a daisy chain."
"Nor mine," said Elizabeth, "let's enter. This sun is getting very hot."
No sooner had they entered than a voice boomed out: "WHO DARES TO ENTER THE TEMPLE?!?!"
There was a chorus of "We do!"s from the adventurers.
"THEN YOU ARE FOOLISH!!!" boomed out the voice, and this time it seemed to come from every part of the room. "FOR NONE HAVE EVER SURVIVED AFTER ENTERING THE TEMPLE!!!"
"I can't plug my ears much longer," whispered Elizabeth, "so let's stop talking to him, so he'll stop booming out his voice."
"Sounds good to me," whispered back Tut, "let's go and see what that sign in the center says."
They went over, and Ankod read, "The left passage of the great chamber leads to the city of Arahkarah, but the right passage no man dares enter, except fools, for it leads to the gold of wealth, and no man has been able to get to the treasure and back without dying. The designer of the path met this fate too."
"Well maybe we're fools," whispered Elizabeth, "but maybe we're just daring, but we need money, and this seems like a good way to get it, although seemingly hard -- if the sign is correct."
"Well then, let's enter the right passage," said Ankod. This they did, and soon they came to a place where the tunnel went straight upwards. "I don't like this place," said Ankod, "it's dark ... and creepy, and the only way up seems to be that frail rope."
"I'll go first," said Tex, and hand over hand he started hauling himself up the rope. Halfway up the rope, a bone that seemed to be lying at the top suddenly reached out, and the rope fell to the bottom. Tex fell down and landed *bump* on his bottom.
"I wish we'd brought a first-aid kit," said Tut, "however, it doesn't seem to be too serious."
"No," said Elizabeth, "it looks more like he has a purple ball inside him."
"It's not that big," said Terson, "Just a sec ... I'm going to try and hook our rope up there." Terson hurled the rope, which he had just noticed, had a grappling hook on one side. At just that moment, a skeleton at the top of the tunnel stood up. The skeleton was about to throw something at the adventurers when the grappling hook hit the skeleton on the head. The poor skeleton broke to pieces.
"Good arm you've got there," remarked Elizabeth, after the second throw the grappling hook latched on.
"Yes," replied Terson, "pity the skeleton got in the way the first time."
"Oh I don't know," said Elizabeth, "I think the skeleton was the culprit with that incident of the other rope.
Terson had started to climb. "You really think so?" he remarked, as if they were having a pleasant conversation. "That's a very good possibility."
After two more minutes the adventurers had all assembled at the roof of the upwards part. "Don't forget the rope," cautioned Tex, "we might need it again."
"Good idea," said Terson, and went to bring back the rope.
"Look out!!!" called Elizabeth. A heavy block was about to fall from the ceiling. All the group dived for cover, and landed in a heap to the side of the falling block.
Luckily for himself, Terson had not unhooked the grappling hook just yet. He looked up, surprised by the commotion, lost his balance, and went falling back down. In the nick of time, Terson grabbed the rope, and panting, started hauling himself back up. "What happened?" Terson asked when he reached the top.
"See for yourself," replied Elizabeth, pointing at the fallen block. "That near squashed us!" The adventurers marched along through the tunnel after retrieving the rope. Elizabeth, walking in front, stepped upon a strange patch on the floor that was blue and white. The blue part opened and Elizabeth fell through. The group halted with surprise, and Tut and Tex in back felt hands starting to whack them. From the suddeness of the stop, and the pushing and punching from behind, the group toppled and slid into the hole.
"Now I see what that great booming voice meant," said Tex nonchalantly to Ankod, as they went hurtling down the shute. Suddenly the whole group landed on a heap of straw at the bottom.
"Are you here, Elizabeth?" Tut called, looking around.
"Yes," came the voice of Elizabeth, "but you almost squashed me falling like that."
"Where are you?" said Tex.
"You're feeling me, in fact your hand is on my nose, and it doesn't smell much better than the place we're in.
"I'm sorry," said Tex. Slowly the pile began to dissolve, and in the end there were the adventurers, standing around, trying to get used to the dark.
"Is the food OK?" asked Elizabeth.
"Check!" said Ankod, checking the supplies, "All that's wrong is that a plum got squashed."
"Well I've noticed something," said Terson, "there's no way out of this tube. I hope the rope is long enough to get us out of this place." Terson got the rope out after much struggling with the backpack, and threw it as far and high as he could. Finally they heard a faint clink, and the rope did not fall back down. "Well, let's see where this rope will take us to," said Terson, "I'll go first."
Quite a bit later they heard Terson's voice calling, "I've found a kind of tunnel. There's an intersection of different paths at the end, and I can see some light from one of them." Soon the entire group was taking turns climbing up. When Tut started climbing up, last, a spear embedded itself in the straw where he had been a moment before. And after a long struggle, they were all in the tunnel at the top, looking at the lighted passage and the two dark passages, when they suddenly saw armored skeletons pouring out of the two darker tunnels, their choice was made: they dashed into the lighter one. When they emerged from the tunnel, they found themselves in a banquet hall, where some person, dressed in full armor -- so much that they could not see a bit of him except for his armor and clothes -- was eating and drinking meat and wine while skeletons waited on him. Against a far wall there was a row of sarcophaguses.
"Let's get out of here," whispered Ankod, "I don't want to stick around." They followed another passage leading to the room, and at last came out to another path. In one direction of the path they saw the trap door they had fallen through, and in the other direction, the parts of the tunnel they had not explored.
Along went the adventurers, going very careful by now, for they expected a booby trap every step they took. That was the moment when the floor beneath them started to slide into the walls. As the group ran across the sliding floor as fast as they could before it completely gave way into the walls, Ankod cried, "I'm getting tired of this!"
"Do you think I'm not?" panted Elizabeth, as she finally made it to firm ground.
"I wasn't really thinking about that," called Tex. And soon the floor had completely gone away, and the adventurers stood breathless on the other side.
"Well we've gone this far," said Tut, "I guess we have to go the rest of the way. In for a penny, in for a diamond." They walked along, but they noticed the tunnel kept getting narrower, until they had to walk in single file. It was at this point that spears started sliding out of the walls and back in again, alternating sides, it seemed.
"I don't like this," said Terson, "not one bit."
"I'm going to try to make it," said Elizabeth, and grabbed the top spear in front of them, and crawled along on the top spears as fast as she could, so she could reach new spears by the time the spears that used to be behind her had gone back into the wall. By the time she arrived at the other side of the spears, she was breathless, but she managed to call to the rest: "C'mon, it's not easy, but it seems to be the only way across." And at last the adventurers had gotten to the other side, no mishaps but Terson's clothes being ripped.
Then they had a roll count. "Elizabeth?" "Here!" "Ankod?" "Here!" "Tut?" "Here!" "Terson?" "Here!" "Tex?" "Here!"
"Good!" said Tex, "Let's press on." And they did. Finally they reached a place where the tunnel ended. They started looking around at the end, and suddenly the floor beneath them opened, and they all fell through.
"This is the third time I've fallen!" complained Terson as he zipped down a tunnel, "And I think the joke is getting poor." Luckily they landed in straw again. They looked around them, and saw that the room around them was glistening. It took them a little while to figure out why it was glistening: it was full of treasure!
"Well at least we made it," groaned Tex, as he looked about him in amazement. "These jewels are beautiful!" he said, changing the subject in the same sentence.
Soon they were all picking up as much treasure as they could safely carry.
6: Adventurous Adventures for the Adventurous Adventurers
"Well," said Elizabeth when they were done picking up treasure, "how do we get out of here?"
"Has it been suggested to you," asked Ankod, "that we should use the door over there?"
"No," said Elizabeth, "for I didn't see the door."
"Well that explains things," said Ankod, and started pushing on the door.
"How do you know it's not a pull-door?" asked Elizabeth.
"I hope it's not, because there's no handle," said Ankod.
After examining the door for a while, Tut said, "I think it's locked."
"How perceptive of you to notice," grunted Ankod.
"Did anybody see a key in the treasure?" asked Tex. This resulted in a time of searching.
Elizabeth replied, "Not I." This was soon echoed by the rest of the Adventurers.
"Well," said Terson, "seems to be only one way out."
"The way we came?!?!!?" asked Elizabeth.
Terson said, "Well, two ways then."
"What's the second way then?" asked Ankod.
"We use the dynamite," answered Terson. Everyone quickly stood back from the door. Terson threw the dynamite onto the door, and he backed up so far that they fell back-first into the straw they had landed on.
After the bright flash, even the glittering of the treasure seemed dark to them. They cautiously made their way around the still-sparking places, and headed down the tunnel where the door had been. After a time it got so thin that they had to walk single-file. Finally they saw two bright lights on opposite ends of the wall. Elizabeth (who was in front) went forward to investigate, and jumped back as two jets of flame shot out and a snake fell from the ceiling. After a bit of rummaging in the supplies, Elizabeth found the first sharp thing that came at hand: the point of the grappling hook. Oh well, she thought, any point in a tunnel will do.
"What do we do now?" asked Terson.
"Crawl?" suggested Tex.
Elizabeth tried it and emerged on the other side with a burnt hat. The others followed suit, and after much treading through the tunnel, finally they arrived outside the temple. "Right," said Elizabeth, "we've got supplies, equipment, treasure, and nothing but legs to bring us along."
"It could be worse," said Tex, "we could not have any legs."
Ellizabeth scanned the horizon. "I see green!" she cried. "And black! And yellow."
"What's green and black and yellow all over?" asked Ankod.
"We won't know until we get there," said Elizabeth, and off they trudged.
After a time they reached a hall with a roof that would give shade. Exhausted, they fell into the hall and laid there a minute before they got up. When they did get up, they saw what the black was that Elizabeth saw -- two rows of black sarcophaguses held up the hall. Out of curiosity Ankod opened one, and jumped back as a skeleton walked out. Behind the skeleton came a red snake and a black snake. Elizabeth grabbed a pistol, and Terson the pickaxe. Elizabeth fired at the snakes, as Terson whacked at the skeleton.
After that was over, they resolved not to open any more sarcophaguses. But that did not matter much, because as they walked down the hall, the sarcophaguses decided to open themselves. Out of the sarcophaguses came more skeletons and snakes, with scorpions to keep them company. The pickaxe began to get chipped from overuse. And so as not to use up all the bullets, they had to do something else to get rid of the snakes. After a while they gave up and just started running down the hall. And just as the last of them got out of the hall, a wall fell down, blocking the inside of the hall from them.
"Well, that takes care of those skeletons that were after us," panted Elizabeth.
"Yes," said Terson, "look what's in front of us now." They took a step up to a platform with a sarcophagus front on it. Next to the sarcophagus front were two hieroglyphic pillars with yellow bird statues above them.
Elizabeth went up and tapped on the front. Ankod warned her that that might not be a good idea, but nothing happened. She looked around the platform and finally found some hinges on one side. She examined the hinges and the sarcophagus front, but could not think what they were for. She went to the side of the platform opposite the hinges and examined it. Suddenly the platform raised up, and Elizabeth slid off the platform and started falling towards a fire pit.
"Elizabeth!" cried Terson. He took a running leap for her, but even though he caught her, the momentum of his leap sent them flying into a room that had been behind the sarcophagus front.
Far above, the single occupant of a hot-air balloon thought to himself, "they may be needing me again quite soon."
"Where arrrrre weeeee????" moaned the dazed Elizabeth.
"On the other side of the sarcophagus front," grunted Terson as he got up.
"Where are the others?" she asked.
Terson turned around and only saw the front of the sarcophagus case. They were shut off from the rest. "We're in a fine fix," he said. "No supplies, no equipment, and seemingly no way to get back to the rest."
Elizabeth looked around the room, and there also seemed to be no way out.
* * *
What do YOU think should happen next? Send in your ideas to me at email@example.com. The best idea shall be used in the story.
* * * To be continued when the best idea is selected * * *
Copyright © 1997-1998 Samuel Dashiell Shemitz
Last updated 12/5/98
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