Quest for Atlantis: Heart of Atlantis (Part Five)

Posted: July 11, 2016 by J.A. Prentice in Serial Stories
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quest for Atlantis Logo


Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five: Heart of Atlantis

Down the steam-cloaked steps we went. The walls were red-hot. All around us, everything hissed like an infernal kettle. A burst of blazing air sped from a pipe, hot enough to burn flesh. I stopped short just in time, my heart in my mouth.

“Wonderful,” Megalos said. “Not only might the world fall to a bunch of Bronze Age warriors, we might be boiled alive on our way to stop their mad Queen.”

“If you have a better route,” Demetrios snapped, “be sure to let us know.”

“Why is she leading?” Megalos asked. “Are we to bow down to the Brit, the mighty Imperialist? Or is that trusting our fate to some girl is really your – ”

Stamatios turned to look at him. “Professor. Shut up.”

Megalos didn’t say another word.

When the spurt of steam had died down, we went on, careful as we could be. Still, I knew every step could be our last. All it would take would be one ill-timed burst of vapor and one of us could be roasted.

As we reached the bottom of the winding stairs, I realized our difficulties were just beginning.

“What’s happening?” Stamatios asked, staring ahead.

“Remember the engine on your boat?” I said. “Machines move.”

Ahead of us, walls slid in and out, rotating rapidly. One moment the passage ahead would be unobstructed; the next it would be blocked by five different panels of glistening bronze. They moved with such frequency that being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time could mean losing an arm or a leg.

Or a head.

“How did the Queen get through that?” Demetrios asked.

“The mechanism’s speeding up,” Megalos replied. “Look.”

It was. It was clear that what had been a slow rotation when the Queen had activated it had now becoming a whirl of red-hot metal and gears. With each passing moment, the passage grew more treacherous.

“We have to go now,” I said. “Before it gets worse.”

“Now?” Stamatios asked. “But – ”

“Now!” I yelled.

My father always taught me that not being afraid wasn’t anything special. It just meant you were stupid.

Being afraid and acting anyway?

That was courage.

I prayed for courage right then as I flung myself into the labyrinth of weaving death and began my dance with the blades.

The others were behind me at first, but the walls were moving all over the place. The passages were constantly changing. We were running a maze that was constantly changing.

I ran, hoping to reach the center. Bronze and glass whistled by in front of me and behind me. A disk swung past me, almost taking off my arm. I weaved to avoid it and was almost killed by a wall coming up from the floor.

I looked behind me for a moment and saw Demetrios and Stamatios rushing towards me. A sharp bronze edge shone, rising rapidly.

“Stop!” I yelled.

The wall slid up with a loud clang. I saw no blood and could only hope they’d stopped in time.

A shaft of metal swung in from the side, catching me in the ribs. The pain was like fire in my bones. I almost fell, but managed to stop myself just in time. Staying still in this place was practically begging for death.

As I struggled to survive, dodging rotating walls, ducking under pendulums, and leaping over sudden gaps in the floor, I couldn’t help but remember a clock my father had owned. The little gears had turned in an absurdly intricate pattern. It had seemed impossible to me that such a complex machine could be devised. Those cogs all mashed together, making sure the hands moved at the perfect speed for telling the time. If they were off by even the slightest fraction of a second, the whole clock would have been useless.

I was in the gears of an even greater mechanism, racing through the turning parts of the largest machine I’d ever seen. I’d never be able to look at a clock in quite the same way.

The floor suddenly vanished, spinning away from me. I leapt just in time, barely landing on the next section. There was no time to rest. A wall came slashing in from the left and I barely jerked my legs back in time.

I prayed that the others were safe somehow. They’d have to have their wits about them if they didn’t want to get ground up or sliced in half.

Suddenly, the wall in front of me rotated away and I saw the Queen.

She was standing in a round chamber, the sphere held high above her head. Before her stood a plinth of bronze and silver, four prongs perfectly shaped to hold the glass-bound flame. A chanted prayer echoed towards me, barely audible over the crashing gears.

Then the wall swung into place again. I was close to the center of the mechanism, but the way ahead was treacherous. Everything was constantly in motion. One false move and I would be dead.

I watched the walls and disks turns. I studied the motions of the floor. I followed the spurts of red-hot steam.

One false move was death.

So I would make no false moves.

I leapt, charging towards the plinth, praying that I hadn’t made a mistake.

The last wall whirled past behind me and I came to a stop, breathing heavily. Steam rose up behind me, hot on the back of my neck. Sweat poured down my brow. I was bruised, battered, and exhausted, but I’d run the gauntlet. I’d survived.

“Celeste.” The Queen turned to look at me. “I take it you have not changed your mind.”

“You could say that,” I replied.

I hoisted my spear high and charged. The Queen leapt to one side, the sphere dropping from her hands. It rolled around on the floor like a common marble.

“Think on what you’re doing,” she said. “We share a dream. I’ve seen it in your eyes. You are a child of empire as I am. You know what is necessary.”

“I do,” I said.

I struck her with the spear and send her crashing to the ground. I didn’t hit hard enough to kill, but she’d be out of the way. It was just the sphere and me.

I reached down and plucked it from the ground. The power flowed out of it. It was like holding all reality in my fingers. There are no words to describe the rush.

“You were right,” I whispered, looking down at the Queen. “The world needs an Empire. But not yours.”

I lowered the sphere towards the plinth, smiling.

“Mine. A British Empire on which the sun will never set.”

To be continued…

  1. mandibelle16 says:

    Very neat. Your description of Celeste making it through this huge machine reminded me of a scene from ‘First Knight,” with Richard Gere plays Sir Lancelot and Sean Connery, King Author. Lancelot ends up having to go though this device, which is supposed to kill him, very much like the insides of the machine you describe. Also, a bit of the feeling of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Pit Pendelum.’ Anyways happy the Queen is dead and interested to read the next post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s