Into the Jungle of Ghosts
The sun finally began to rise over the jungle once more. The rest of the night had been uneventful. Everyone was made to sleep next to the fire in the middle of the ruins so they could all keep an eye on each other.
“Everybody up! Rise and shine men of Her Majesties Quazistani Rifles! Time to earn your pay my good gentlemen.” The Sergeant bellowed. He walked past the sleeping soldiers kicking the bottom of the slower to awakens feet.
“Right! I want all the men assembled and ready to go in five minutes. We’re going to go back down into the Necropolis and find those bodies. Mr. Cooper claims to have shot two last night. I want to know what we’re dealing with here so we can get to the bottom of this.” Captain Harris said. His courage had returned now that the shock had worn off. It was also morning and it’s hard to be afraid of a ghost when under the tropical heat and sunshine of the jungle.
“Mr. Cooper I want you to stay here with the women until we reconnoiter the crypts. Once I’m sure the area is clear then and only then should they be allowed to come down.” Harris said.
He was expecting Jack to give him an argument but instead Jack agreed.
“I think you’re right about this one Captain. There’s something funny going on down there and it seems to have something to do with Miss Downe. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure they stay put.” Jack said smiling.
Jack didn’t have much love for the Captain but Harris was right about this call. After the close call last night he was right to insist on checking the area first.
The troops were assembled and ready to go in short order. Captain Harris led the men back down the hill and into the Necropolis. From up on the hill Jack, Tera, and Vanessa all watched apprehensively at the unit’s progress.
“Thanks for not making a fuss about not being able to go down there with them ladies. It’ll only make their job harder if we went down with them.” Jack said still watching the soldiers.
“Not a bit of it Jack. Captain Harris is right. If it weren’t for my strange reaction to this place none of this would have happened. I’m deeply ashamed.” Vanessa said somberly. She was truly embarrassed about causing so many problems. Her intent on this mission was to aid in discovery of what had happened to the village and to document any ruins they came across for further study not to be such a burden on the others.
“No Vanessa, it was the ghosts that made you do what you did. It is not your fault. You are a part of this land. It is in your blood as mine.” Tera said correcting her.
“You shouldn’t talk that way around the soldiers or officers Tera, they’ll think you’re a heathen. They just don’t understand our ways nor do they wish to.” Vanessa said.
“Look down below, the Captain is signaling for us to come down.” Jack said interrupting.
Jack, Vanessa, and Tera all made their way down the hill and into the Necropolis. Jack was eager to see just who it was he shot the night before.
“Mr. Cooper, is this where you said you shot the two cloaked figures?” Captain Harris asked. He and several of his soldiers were standing where Jack said they fell.
“Yeah. Who were they?” Jack asked.
“Apparently they were ghosts as Miss Chase said. There doesn’t seem to be any bodies or blood are you quiet sure you hit them?” the Captain asked.
“You’re dang right I hit them. Point blank shots not six feet away.” Jack said.
“What about the one I got?” Tera asked.
“You shot one?” the Captain asked incredulously.
Tera pointed towards the tomb where she saved Vanessa.
“Yes there by the tomb. The body fell down the stairway. Vanessa saw it too.” Tera replied adamantly.
“Yes Captain, Tera most likely saved my life.” Vanessa said.
“Well what say we have a look Miss Downe.” The Captain said.
The party all went to the tomb and stood at the doorway. The soldiers remained alert and watchful of the area.
Captain Harris took the lead and peered inside. There was a stairway that led down into the darkness but no body was found. He looked at Tera still doubtful of her story.
“Down the steps. The body fell down there.” She said pointing into the crypt.
“Right, Lieutenant send two men down with the generator lamps to check it out.” The Captain said to the Lieutenant.
“Sergeant, you and Caruthers take the lamps and see if you can find Miss Chase’s victim.” Bisby ordered.
“Sir.” The Sergeant said saluting. He took one of the generator lamps and gave the other to Corporal Caruthers. The generator lamps were a new devise that gave off a bright light as long as the operator was sure to crank the handle to charge the batteries before he used it.
The two men carefully made their way down the steps into the depths of the crypt.
The Captain watched the two lamps get smaller and smaller as the men descended.
“Do you see anything Sergeant?” the Captain asked calling down into the darkness.
“It seems to open into a large cavern sir, I can’t quiet make out how far back it goes sir.” The Sergeant called back.
“Hold your position Sergeant we will come down to investigate.” Captain Harris called.
Harris assembled the men and had them work in groups of four with each group having a generator lamp between them. Everyone descended into the crypt and gathered at the entrance to the cavern.
“I’ll lead the way Bisby. I want you and your squad to bring up the rear with the civilians in the middle.” Captain Harris said explaining his plan.
They all continued carefully through the cavern slowly. They saw footprints on the muddy ground as they went.
“These must be ghost footprints eh Lieutenant?” Captain Harris remarked poking fun at Tera’s insistence that the area was haunted.
The explorers kept going until they reached the shore of an underground lake. They skipped a few stones out across the water in an effort to see how large it was but none of the stones hit the other side.
They followed the shore around until to their surprise they found two large boats tied to a stone pier. They were unlike any boat any of them had seen. Each one was twenty feet long and made from a single log. They were hand carved and covered with designs and symbols that none of them could understand. They seemed to be a mishmash of Egyptian, Chinese, with a smattering of several other writing styles as well.
“What do you make of these Captain?” Jack asked.
“The individual I fought last night was as real as you or me but it was not human. I suspect there is a subterranean race that lives down here. They must be ancient but primitive due to the fact they had no firearms.” The Captain replied.
“No Captain, they are not primitive. They are the ancients. They are the first born of all humanity. The elders tell tales of how they live deep within the earth and only come out to steal babies for their dark magic. We must leave this place at once.” Tera said frightened.
“Nonsense woman. Ancients indeed!” Harris said sneering.
“Well sir what are your orders?” Bisby asked.
“We’ll take the boats and press on of course. We have a mission to finish and besides if it was these under dwellers that burned the village they may have kidnapped the others and brought them down here. Therefore it is our duty to rescue them.” Harris said loud enough for everyone to hear him.
“Well I ain’t to happy about it but the Captain’s right. Some of those villagers might be down here so we gotta find out if they are.” Jack said.
Everyone nodded their heads in agreement. The idea of rowing these boats into the inky blackness of this underground lake was unnerving to say the least but they had to find the villagers.
The Captain took Vanessa and Jack with him as well as the first squad in his boat. Bisby and Tera Chase took the second squad in the remaining boat. Both parties shoved off and ventured out onto the lake. They paddled quietly in the darkness with only the dim lights of the generator lamps to show the way.
Eventually they happened upon a large stalagmite jutting out of the middle of the lake. It was at least fifty feet across at the base where it stuck out of the water.
“We’ll go around this side Bisby and you investigate the other side and we’ll meet once we both circle around at the back.” Captain Harris said.
“Yes sir.” Lieutenant Bisby replied. And ushered his men to paddle around the far side.
Captain Harris’s boat kept paddling along as well. The stalagmite was larger than either thought. It had been five minutes and they had not reached the other side yet.
“Captain, I think we’re in a tunnel. Looks like the darkness fooled us into thinking this was just a big rock.” Jack said.
Before the Captain could respond they all heard a rumbling in the distance.
Jack and the Captain locked eyes instantly.
“Waterfall!” they both said simultaneously.
“Paddle harder men!” the Captain yelled as he pushed the rudder hard to the right.
The men all began to paddle frantically. There was no way to tell at first in the darkness if they were making any difference. The rumbling continued to get louder and louder.
“Harder men harder.” Harris yelled urging them on.
Jack saw Vanessa’s face illuminated by one of generator lamps. She was frightened. There was no way to tell how far of a fall there would be once they went over the edge. Jack tied a length of rope to the seat in the boat.
“Stay with the boat as long as you can.” Jack said taking her arm and wrapping the other end of the rope around her arm.
“What about you Jack?” she asked looking up at him.
Jack smiled back at her.
“I’ll be fine.” He said.
There was the sound of the hull scrapping on the rocks and then the boat tipped up high violently. Men creamed in terror as the boat went over the edge and tumbled down into the dark abyss.
Everything was chaos. The roar of the waterfall soon drowned the screams of the men out. Jack was thrown clear of the boat tumbling end over end until he hit the water at the bottom of the falls. Luckily the water had been churned up by the deluge cascading down so he avoided hitting the water too hard. He fought his way back to the surface and treaded water as he was being swept farther down river. He heard other men call out in the darkness and confusion for their comrades. Jack turned to see they were entering a second smaller cave entrance. Inside it appeared to be dimly lit by a bluish white glow from above. He swam to the closest shore and helped some of the remaining soldiers out of the water.
Jack called out desperately for Vanessa but there was no answer. Then he saw the upturned hull of the boat in the distance drifting by. Without hesitation he dove into the water and swam as fast as he could to it. He reached inside hoping beyond all hope to find the rope he had tied to the boat earlier. It was still there so he felt along its length and grabbed Vanessa’s arm.
Jack quickly pulled her from the cold water and swam back to the shore dragging her lifeless body behind him.
He laid Vanessa on her back and sat on top of her straddling her.
Jack grabbed her sides and pushed hard upwards to force the water out of her lungs. He continued this action several times until she sputtered. He quickly climbed off her and held her nose shut and blew air into her lungs several times.
Vanessa’s eyes fluttered open and she began breathing on her own. Jack laughed out loud with joy at the sight of Vanessa breathing on her own.
Vanessa coughed and choked a few more times and sat up.
“What happened?” she asked.
One of the soldiers knelt down next to her and smiled.
“It was Mr. Cooper here ma’am. He plucked you out of the water he did. He blew the life right back inside you, ee’s an ‘ero ee is.” The soldier said slapping Jack on the back.
“Aw it wasn’t any big deal. I just did what needed to be done.” Jack said looking at Vanessa.
“Miss Downe thank God you’re alive, I feared the worse.” Captain Harris said as he made his way to her side.
“Thank God and Mr. Cooper. Apparently it was him that pulled me from the water and resuscitated me.” Vanessa said gratefully.
“Excellent work Cooper, well done.” Harris said grudgingly. He knew it was his decision to cross the lake in the dark that put them in this position. He looked around the cavern at his men.
“Corporal Higgins, have we lost any of the men?” Harris asked.
“Two sir, Edwards and Jones. There hasn’t been any sign of them yet. I don’t think they made it sir.” The Corporal replied.
“Did any of the equipment survive?” Harris asked.
“We have eight rifles and two of the generator lamps. It looks like ten of the men survived as well sir.” The Corporal responded.
“Right! We’ll have to give up the search for the villagers I’m afraid we’ll have to focus on our own survival for the time being.” He said to the assembled men.
Suddenly there was the sound of running feet coming from the darkness towards them. Out of the darkness appeared about two dozen armed men dressed in glossy black armor. Each carried a long staff tipped with a glowing shard of crystal similar to the crystals that were growing out of the cavern walls and emanating light.
The armored men were soon discovered to have bone white skin and long white hair seen from under their helmets.
The scene before them took the Captain and the rest of the party aback.
“Seize the interlopers!” shouted one of the armored men. His armor was more ornamented with gold and silver accents than the rest giving him the appearance of their leader.
One of the British soldiers stepped foreword and fired his rifle at the decoratively armored leader. The bullet struck the man knocking him to the ground. He quickly stood up drawing his sword and pointed it at the soldier who had fired the shot. His armor must be able to absorb the bullet’s energy also explaining the reason why they didn’t find any of the cloaked figures that had been shot the night before in the Necropolis.
A brilliant white arc of energy leapt out from the blade and struck the soldier square in the chest causing him to scream in agony and fall backwards on the ground dead.
“Drop your weapons!” the ornately armored officer demanded.
The British soldiers automatically fell back into a defensive semi circle with their backs to the cold dark lake. Captain Harris gestured to Jack to move Vanessa behind the men to keep her safe.
“Orders Captain?” the Corporal asked unsure what would happen next.
“Captain Harris we may be out matched here.” Jack commented quietly.
“At this point Mr. Cooper I may be open to suggestions.” Harris replied seeing their situation as tenuous at best.
Vanessa raised her hands as she stood up.
“Please stop, we mean you no harm. We are simply looking for the missing villagers from the burned ruins above. If you can help us we would be grateful.” She shouted.
The dark officer walked towards the British soldiers fearlessly and pointed his sword at her.
“You…woman…step forward and be seen.” He said.
Jack tried to hold Vanessa back but she gently removed his hand from her arm.
“Jack…it’ll be fine. Besides like you said we are most defiantly out matched here.” Vanessa said smiling reassuringly.
Vanessa walked forward and stood confidently before the dark officer.
“My name is Vanessa Downe. My friends and I have come here looking for the missing villagers. Can you help us?” she said speaking slowly.
“You will all come with us. You must be taken to the Queen for judgment.” The dark officer replied.
“I think we should go with them Captain. They have us out gunned and we don’t know how to get out of here.” Corporal Higgins said.
“Might be best to see how this plays out Captain.” Jack added.
Captain Harris looked around at his men. They were wet and cold and exhausted from their ordeal.
“Very well, we’ll come with you but I want your assurance we will be treated fairly.” Captain Harris said addressing the dark officer.
“You will not be harmed if you cooperate and do as you are told.” The dark officer replied.
Harris ordered his men to drop their weapons and do as the warriors said. They were lined up and marched away from the lake and further down into the tunnels.
The bluish crystals dotted the walls and ceiling randomly giving off just enough light for them to see. After walking for about a half an hour they entered a large hallway carved from solid rock. It was massive being forty feet wide and eighty feet high. Large glowing crystals had been inlaid into the walls and ceiling to provide light enough to see. As they continued they went down many more of the same type of halls and occasionally coming across what they perceived to be civilian under dwellers by their lack of armor and surprise at seeing the British soldiers being led by the warriors. They would duck back into doorways and the spaces between the structures of these massive catacombs.
Eventually they climbed a large stairway also carved in stone that rose two hundred feet above them. Once at the top they were ushered through a large set of doors and into a grand hall.
Nothing could have prepared them for the sight that laid before them. Huge piles of gold and gems were piled in alcoves that lined both sides of the hall. The hall itself was one hundred feet long and fifty yards wide. Giant black marble columns lined the room supporting the intricately carved ceiling. As they continued along the length of the room they could see pictographs over each alcove.
“Each alcove is marked by the symbols of an ancient kingdom!” she whispered too Jack.
“Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Greece…the treasures must have come from those lands.” Vanessa said astonished.
“Looks like little Tera was right. They are the ancients. They are the first born of all humanity.” Jack said looking around amazed.
“No more talking!” the dark officer chided.
Vanessa and Jack, along with the rest of the party eventually made it to the other end of the hall and were made to kneel at the base of a large podium that sat at the top of a wide stairway.
“Kneel in the presence of the Queen! All hail the Queen, the Queen of Atlantis!” the dark officer said in a loud booming voice.
The soldiers, along with Jack and Vanessa all looked at each other in disbelief. How could this be possible? Atlantis was a myth.
A gong sounded above them and they saw several slave girls scantily clad carrying a carved ivory palanquin with a figure dressed all in silver lined black silk. Her face was covered, as was the greater part of her body. The palanquin was lowered to the floor slowly and the figure was escorted to a large onyx thrown that was inlaid with what seemed to be diamonds and gold. As she prepared to sit down the veils were removed by the slaves to reveal a beautiful white haired woman. Her skin was white as well as was all of the inhabitants of this underworld realm. She looked to be in her mid twenties and wore only a harness of silver chains and ornate fitted engraved plates that covered her breasts and other areas.
The queen picked up a scepter that lay on one of the arm rests of the thrown and held it upright in her right hand. The scepter was tipped with a brilliant purple crystal that began to glow dimly as she touched the scepter.
The Queen nodded in the direction of the dark officer signaling him to step forward. He knelt facing the Queen and placed his fist over his chest.
“My Queen, I have captured these interlopers in the cavern by the great lake of Carnasus. They are from the British controlled area above and they say they have come in search of the villagers that were taken from village that was raided two weeks ago. They made their way into the Great Necropolis and found the secret entrance to our world below.” The dark officer said completing his report.
“You say you have come here in search of the missing villagers but I sense there is something else to your story.” The Queen said looking the group over intently.
“You there, girl. Step forward so I may see you better.” The Queen ordered.
Vanessa realized the Queen was talking to her. As if compelled she stepped forward and stood at the bottom of the steps.
“What is your name girl?” the Queen asked.
“My name is Vanessa Downe your majesty.” Vanessa replied nervously.
“No, no! Your Quazistani name!” the Queen said agitated.
“My Quazistani name Ma’am?” Vanessa asked confused.
“Yes, your mothers full name.” The Queen said pressing Vanessa to answer quickly.
“Her name was Uway, Uway Balinka.” Vanessa replied.
“She was a shaman was she not? She seduced your father and gave you life from that union is this not so?” the Queen asked.
“My mother was Quazistani and my father is English that much is true but I don’t know if she was a shaman.” Vanessa replied.
“You have the spirits of your ancestors all around you. You are under their protection. It would not bode well for us to harm you girl. You shall remain with us as a guest but you can never leave this place.” The Queen said as she motioned for the guards to take her away.
“I’ll stay but you must release my friends, they’ve done nothing wrong.” Vanessa pleaded.
The Queen leaned forward and grinned evilly at Vanessa.
“But they have my dear. They have learned of our existence and as all over worlders that find their way into our realm they must pay the price for their intrusion. They will be taken to the arena and made to fight for our pleasure until none are left to tell what they have seen.” The Queen said.
“No!” Vanessa cried loudly.
The soldiers and Jack were soon over powered and dragged off down a set of stairs to the right of where they stood.
Vanessa fell on the stairs crying. It was here idea to surrender. She knew it had been her curiosity that caused her to make the Captain surrender. Now all of her friends were going to die horribly and she was to be imprisoned in the cold dark catacombs bellow never to return.
If you have enjoyed these stories please check out my first all original book series at Amazon.com. The title is Beyond the Crystal Heaven.
Once again thank you for your support.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 10 September 2013 01:38)