Quest for Atlantis: Fire of Atlantis (Part Seven)

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Prologue

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four 

Part Fire 

Part Six

Part Seven

Fire of Atlantis

Imagine for a moment you were me:

Music came from the flame, the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. It was a noise to make the stars cry.

Time stood still.

You hovered in midair, looking at the wall behind you: solid bronze. At the speed you were going, there’s no way you survive. Your brain would become soup inside a shattered skull.

This was the end: the second before your death stretching out forever.

Yet you knew this wasn’t just how death felt. This was the flame, the living thing made of time and energy floating in the center of the chamber. Looking at it was like staring into the eyes of the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen and seeing the whole universe reflected there, made even more bright and beautiful, and as you peer closer, you can see each planet whirling around the sun, and yet you can still see the whole universe. You could see atoms and galaxies, all bound together in those wonderful eyes.

The flame looked at you and smiled. How can a flame smile? I don’t know, but this one certainly did.

You looked across the room and saw the others, also flying back. The Queen was in no danger. She would hit the floor and walk away with a broken rib or two at most.

Megalos was in much great peril. Behind him, the door gaped, leading to the whirling labyrinth. A razor-sharp was coming closer, ready to cut him apart, even as a jagged disk was rising from the floor. Steam and lightning shot through the hole, mixing in an unholy storm of death.

Megalos would die. His only hope would be that it was quick.

Your death would certainly be quick. An impact, a moment of pain, and then nothing more. Or everything more.

You closed your eyes and braced yourself. Death was coming and you would meet it with dignity.

But then you felt something like a wind or the touch of a friendly hand…

And time resumed.

***

Megalos shot back. The steam engulfed him as the lightning flashed. Spinning away, the door hid from view.

I could, however, still hear him. The screams echoed through the chamber.

The Queen hit the ground, landing on all fours, struggling to pull herself to her feet.

Somehow, I wasn’t dead. I looked down and saw little spurts of flame surrounding me, arresting my journey towards the wall. The flame within the sphere had saved me.

“Celeste Kavanaugh,” it boomed. “You saved me. I save you. My debt is repaid.”

The flames slowly dissipated and I was lowered to the ground, a little wobbly on my feet but no worse for wear.

The fire turned its attention to the Queen. The flames grew redder, full of fury and wrath.

“You,” it said, “bound me here in your metal engine. You sought to pervert my power. You separated me from my master. Each second of time that passed beyond the storm… I felt it. I felt it all. Like a bird in a cage watching her sisters fly.”

The Queen stuck out her chin. Even in the face of this almighty force, she showed no fear.

“I am Queen of Atlantis,” she said. “I have served my people. What happened to you was… irrelevant.”

The fire surged in intensity and I shielded my eyes. The rage was too much for me to bear.

“Feel the time stolen from me,” the flame hissed. “Feel it all.”

Lightning struck the Queen and she cried out. I opened my eyes and could not close them again. I stood transfixed, as if staring into the blast of an atom bomb.

Her hair became grey, then white, then fell in faded clumps. Time struck her comely features like the waves striking a cliff. Her skin drooped and wrinkled and dried until it looked like nothing more than dried leather bound to her bones. Her opal eyes were drained of their colour, then rotted to nothing at all.

The Queen’s bones became dust before they hit the floor, swept away on a fell breeze. All her beauty and majesty had been for nothing in the end.

I looked at the fire, struck by awe and dread. It was terrible as death and beautiful as the first flower in the spring.

“My friends,” I said. “Help them. Help us escape.”

There was none of the softness I’d heard earlier now. The fire was lost in rage, the suppressed anger of thousands of years coming of it in waves of heat.

“I saved you,” it roared. “The rest is your own affair.”

With that, the flame rocketed from the chamber, tearing through the roof in a blaze of bright light. It was like watching a bullet tear through cloth. Metal and stone were reduced to smoking dust, falling to the ground in the flame’s wake.

It was gone and I was alone at the heart of Atlantis, surrounded by the whirring of the deadly mechanism. I glanced up, wondering if I could ascend through the hole the flame had left, but the walls of the chamber were too smooth and too hot. I’d have nothing even resembling a foothold even if I managed to avoid melting the skin from my bones.

The only path remaining to me was through the winding walls and blades.

A rumbling sound came from all around me. I could feel it in my bones: a deep shaking, even stronger than the mechanism. Distant shouting echoed down from above, then roars like gunshots and falling bombs. Lightning flashed down through the hole, blazing blasts that had gone astray.

The storm was consuming Atlantis. If I didn’t move fast, I’d be consumed with it.

The beach, I decided. And the boat. We’ll have to chance the storm.

The wall ahead of me shuddered, then stopped. The door was blocked by another wall, the gap far too narrow for even a child to sliver through. Groaning filled the chamber, reverberating in every bolt.

It was the groan of metal pulled to the breaking point. Fire, lightning, and earthquakes had damaged the intricate supernatural clockwork of the mechanism.

The machine had just become an explosive.

To be continued…

5 thoughts on “Quest for Atlantis: Fire of Atlantis (Part Seven)

Add yours

  1. Wow tension really building and excitement raising. Like the Queen disintegrating, vivid detail but reminded me of The first Indiana Jones at the end, when the one guy chooses the wrong holy grail.

    Liked by 1 person

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