Elaine's Expedition:Part Five
A stone door twice her height loomed ahead of her, cracked and weathered from centuries of aging. Elaine gulped, peering up at the symbols carved into its rough surface.
She looked over at Jaycin for reassurance, who she found staring at her already. "Elaine, I can see the worry etched across your face. This will be fine; you're with me, remember?"
Elaine attempted a smile, but it probably looked as fake as it felt. "Alright, alright, let's go," she caved.
"That's the spirit!" Jaycin exclaimed, pulling the stone door outward.
They were met with a deep darkness, a blackness Elaine had never experienced before. She could only see a few steps in front of her because of Jaycin's torchlight.
Jaycin moved forward, leading the way.
The inky atmosphere was like another world; it was strange to have her eyes wide open but see nothing at all. They walked at a slow, careful pace across the uneven floor, forward and forward still. After a few minutes of walking, though, the Tomb lightened, allowing them not to be completely reliant on the torchlight.
They had reached the end of the first hallway. The wall before them was grimy and damp, Elaine glimpsed that they had a decision before them – a turn in the passageway – choosing left or right.
"Your choice, Elaine," Jaycin prompted. "Which way from here?"
Elaine looked left, then gazed right. "Right seems right, right?"
Jaycin laughed. "Nice play on words there. Right we go."
The pair turned down the rightward corridor, and as they walked, the air seemed to get cooler. Elaine shivered, wondering why she had agreed to come in here at all.
Deeper and deeper they continued, taking turns to pick which direction they should go. Most of the time they walked in silence; sometimes Jaycin would attempt to make a joke or two, but Elaine found it difficult to laugh when her nerves were threatening to overcome her.
After what seemed like an eternity of meandering in the darkness, they rounded a corner to find a passageway distinct from the others. Elaine could tell by the elaborate tile-work on the walls and floor of the corridor. Each tile was a brilliant, vibrant color, the hues deepened in the torchlight. It was the most intricately decorated part of the Tomb they had experienced so far, but even still, Elaine didn't want to spend more time admiring it than they had to. "Let's keep moving, yeah?" Elaine suggested. Elaine took a first step onto a ruby-red tile.
And chaos ensued.
A spear sailed across her line of vision. Then she felt another graze her knees. Startled, she rushed forward.
"Elaine!" she heard Jaycin call. She had no time to respond as spear after spear shot past her. Jumping across the tiles, she attempted to step as lightly as possible to avoid the sensors that seemed to be triggering the spears –
– until a flash of pain shot up calf. "Ouch!" she yelled, now ignoring all caution and breaking into a sprint to the end of the tunnel. Clumsily, she skidded to the ground, ducking to avoid any oncoming spears that still might be flying.
When she felt all was safe, Elaine reached for her calf. From what she could tell, she believed the spear had only left a shallow cut, though it was hard to tell from the dim light of Jaycin's torch –
Elaine looked around wildly, until she saw Jaycin still at the beginning of the corridor.
"Elaine!" he called again. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," Elaine yelled back. "But don't come down here, okay?"
"Don't be silly, I'm coming now," Jaycin said sternly.
Elaine clutched her fists, worried, wanting to argue but biting her tongue.
He took his first step, and surprisingly, nothing happened. Nothing at all.
Then he took another wide step, somewhat to the right. Nothing again. Even from her position down the hallway, Elaine caught a smirk of delight sneak up across Jaycin's face.
"How is nothing happening to you?" Elaine called out, relieved but confused.
"I noticed a pattern when you were running," Jaycin explained, picking his way across the tiled room. "That when you stepped on an orange tile, nothing happened."
Awed, Elaine watched as Jaycin placed his footing carefully but confidently on each orange tile, until he finally made his way to her side. "I'm sorry that I couldn't point it out beforehand, but you were quite in a hurry," he joked. "Are you alright?"
"Yes, it's only a scratch," he assured him as he shone his torch along her calf.
"Doesn't look too bad, but I don't want us to be in here for much longer if you're hurt," he said. "Which way now?"
"Let's avoid that direction," Elaine said, pointing over her shoulder at the tiled hallway. "Who knows if they'll trigger if we try to go back across them."
"After you, then," Jaycin said, gesturing forward. Elaine picked a direction and they continued down more gloomy passageways.
After turning what seemed like the twentieth corner, they came upon a giant room, the biggest open area that they had encountered since entering the Tomb.
Jaycin shone his torch around the room, up and down the walls; adorning them were mystical symbols, similar to those etched into the door of the Tomb.
Finally, Jaycin focused the light onto the center of the room – and what Elaine saw shocked her.
A tall, stone pedestal stood in the middle of the chamber. Even from a distance, Elaine again noticed the mysterious symbols, carved into the pedestal. As Jaycin raised the torchlight up from the base of the pedestal to its peak, it was only then that Elaine noticed a wooden massive chest and gasped.
"What is that?" Elaine whispered, wondering to herself why she was whispering.
"No reason why we shouldn't find out," Jaycin whispered back, already walking towards the pedestal.
Elaine followed closely, intrigued. The pedestal sat on a dais, with steps leading up to it. They crept up the stairs, admiring the chest. It was elaborately carved, with a delicate metal latch.
Jaycin turned around to look at Elaine. "Should I open it?"
Elaine nodded. "Be my guest."
Jaycin turned back to the chest, carefully moving the torch next to the latch. After lifting the latch upward, he pushed open the lid and, even from her view of his shadowed features, Elaine could see a look of awe plastered across his face.
"What is it?" she asked, walking up to join him. When she looked inside the crate, she saw a great jewel, a fiery red-orange colored gem. "It's beautiful."
"And it made this adventure worth it," Jaycin said, reaching inside the crate to take the gem.
Just as he grasped the gem, though, Elaine heard a strange hissing noise. "Did-did you hear that?" she asked.
"Yeah…did that come from inside the chest?" Jaycin wondered, shining the torch inside the crate. "I don't see anything…"
As he searched the chest's interior, Elaine looked up. And even through the darkness, she could see them. Two, red, almond-shaped figures, perfectly spaced apart, set mid-air in the dark. Due to the distance and the lack of light, she could not make out what they were, but she knew for a fact that she did not like the look of them. "Jay- Jaycin," she stuttered, whispering again. "Jaycin…"
"What?" he asked, still looking inside the chest. "Still don't know what that hissing was, but I guess it doesn't really matter…"
"Jaycin…" Elaine tried again. The red almond shapes seemed to be getting closer. "Look…" she trailed off.
"What is it, Elaine?" he asked, finally raising the torch upward.
That's when the full figure came into view.
The figure of a giant monster.
In unison, Elaine and Jaycin screamed screams that no one else could hear.
The monster looked like a ghostly Hissi, with a feathered garment perched atop
its head. It hissed madly, eyes glinting towards Jaycin – who still clutched the gem – back to Elaine, who continued to stare into its deep red eyes.
Frozen in place, Elaine's thoughts seemed to race and halt suddenly, as she ran
through all of the options available to her, unable to choose. Run away? Hide? Drop into a fetal position? Play dead?
Luckily, the decision was made for her.
A jolt up her arm – Jaycin had grabbed her hand, pulling her backward out the way they had come. She stumbled as her jerked her towards the exit, willing her feet to work properly and allow her to move at a faster pace. She dared not look back, knowing fully well that one more stumble could mean becoming the monster's dinner.
Finally, Elaine regained the control of her legs. As fast as their feet could carry them, she and Jaycin sprinted through the tunnels of the Tomb, hoping the monster was not right on their heels. Every so often, Elaine could hear a faint "hiss" of the serpent; how far behind them the monster was, she did not want to know.
Down dank passageways and dimly lit corridors, Elaine and Jaycin bolted – anything to put distance between them and the monster. Jaycin's torchlight was fading, so the tunnels were much darker than they had been coming inside. She forced herself to focus on nothing but the torchlight, willed herself to ignore any sounds of hissing from behind, hoped against hope that they would make it out alive…
To be continued…