The Fires Of Eden
Amelia waited at the top of the crumbling stairs; crouched, ready for action, using the lengthening shadows as cover. Agent Kelsey, her bodyguard and protector, had taken a few steps into the cave and was gesturing for her to follow him.
“What is..?” Amelia felt two fingers on her lips.
Kelsey whispered to her – she could barely hear him and edged closer, feeling his body against her, his hot breath against her neck. He had removed his gun from its usual spot in his belt. The tail of his shirt was visible under his dark jacket. “Are you ready?”
Amelia could only nod as she followed him down the dusty steps.
The cold struck them both as they entered the open cavern. Amelia tried to pull her windbreaker tighter around her body – Kelsey just shrugged and moved on.
Amelia’s eyes wandered over the walls of the vast caves; torches burned in golden sconces on the sandstone walls – which had been hewn from the very mountain. In the centre, a huge altar had been erected; Amelia recognised the carvings in the backrest. She grabbed Kelsey’s arm and indicated the throne.
“That is not a good sign. Do you know who these people were?”
Kelsey surprised her. “Yes, Amelia, I do.”
Amelia thought about it some more. “So, that means you lied to me about what we are doing here? You lied when you said we were looking for an ancient amulet...”
“No, Amelia,” Kelsey placed his hand on her arm, “I didn’t lie – I told some creative truths. You are here now – do you want to help me recover this artefact or not?”
She took a deep breath and looked Kelsey straight in the eye. “Let’s do it.”
Kelsey began searching through grottos and wall cavities. Amelia had started around the altar; her mind’s eye trying to interpret what she was seeing, trying to make connections to things she had learned. She ran her fingers over the etchings in the throne, sensing the workmanship that had gone into creating such a work of art. She took a step to the side of the structure and, inadvertently, knocked over a mound of smooth stones. Her head shot up and looked for Kelsey. He was off to one side of the room, staring intently at the ground. Amelia wandered over to him.
“Found anything yet, Kel...what is that?”
Amelia found herself staring into a pit – that wasn’t right; a chasm would be a better word, she thought. The sides of the gaping hole were surrounded by large stones and held together with an adhesive that Amelia had never seen before. She couldn’t see the bottom of the abyss. She slowly backed away.
The first burning arrow landed beside her foot. She recoiled immediately, screaming at the same time, stamping at the flames with her boots. She heard Kelsey call her name and his heavy footsteps as he came beside her, grabbing her by the waist and pulling her.
“Where are they?” Kelsey pushed Amelia behind him, as he searched the walls and upper reaches of the cavern. Three more flaming missiles hit the floor around them, setting fire to the dry and rotten timbers that must have been lying there since the creation of the altar.
Amelia backed up some more and found herself at the edge of the precipice – unable to move forward due to the ever-widening fire.
“Kelsey, what do we do now?”
“It doesn’t look like we have too many options, Amelia. We...we have to go that way.” He pointed to the hole in the floor. “That seems to be our only choice.”
Amelia shook her head in defiance, even though she knew he was right. She just wanted it on the record that she had objected.
“Hold my hand, close your eyes and step off...”
Amelia stepped right to the edge and closed her eyes. She could feel the heat beating against her skin – a direct contrast to the cool air she could feel coming up from the shaft.
“On three – one, two...” and Amelia let herself fall...