The Steampunk Empire

The Crossroads of the Aether

We Discover The Temple! The 13th of November, continued...

    It has been ten months since my last journal entry. As I sit here in the study of my London home, surrounded by things of comfort and familiarity, pipe in hand and brandy at the ready (as it were) I find it difficult to pick up my tale from where I left off. So many things have transpired in the preceding months that now in the quite and solitude of my chambers I wrestle with the memories of that most fantastic adventure. So dream-like do some of my recollections now seem to me that I find I doubt my own thoughts!

 

    Oh nonsense! I clearly recall our hurried decent from that ramshackle airship "The Freedom of Africa" into the humid, hot jungle below on that 13th of November. With our packs of supplies and firearms we frantically searched to find the passageway to the underground river and, we hoped, defeat the wicked Prof. Amelia Clasius. Our search proved fruitful if laborious and we (Winslow, Greenfield and myself) found the ancient portal overgrown with tree roots, vines and bracken.

 

    With no little effort we chopped our way through the fauna that sought to block us from our goal and began our climb down the rough, mossy stone steps. For over an hour we hurriedly descended the narrow stairwell spiraling ever downward. The oppressive heat of the jungle above gave way to the cool subterranean darkness and help to energize and sharpen our senses. We could discern the sound of rushing water below us and feel its cool moistness in the air.

"That sound Johannes, it must be the river!" said Winslow.

"Yes," said Greenfield "I hear it too!" said Greenfield.

"We must be close to the end of these stairs. Gentlemen, be ready in case our adversary has beaten us!" I replied.

However my fears were unfounded for as we came to the end of the stairs and emerged out into a large cavern Prof. Claisus was not to be seen.

What could be seen by the dim light of our gas lanterns was most remarkable. Before us rushed the subterranean river, it's dark, cold waters angrily churning and foaming. Its width across, some 30 yards at least, violently splashed in great torrents against the far, rough stone wall. To our right led a stone walkway, smoothly hewen from the caves natural floor, it led for some yards and disappeared into the darkness. To our left, the same.

"Which way shall we go Johannes?" asked Winslow.

"To the right Bernard, for the good Professor will be coming from that direction." I said. We proceeded right on the stone walk only to find that it came to an unremarkable abrupt end not but some 200 yards from stairs entry.

"Perhaps we should go back Johannes and search for the temple." said Winslow.

"Our best strategy is to stop her before she even gets close to the temple." I said. "Bernard, would you be willing to stay here and watch for the Professor? Surely she will have to come this way. You can spot her boat and warn us of her approach."

"Brilliant Johannes! I will do just that!" replied Winslow sitting down upon a rocky perch. "Just let that wicked woman try to slip past me!"

 

    Greenfield and I proceeded back up the walkway. Upon reaching the stairwell and out of earshot of old Winslow, Greenfield said in a hushed voice "I hope the old fellow is up to the task Johannes."

"I have a great deal of faith in old Bernard, Thomas. We have been on many adventures together. He will not let us down." I said with much loyalty. The stone walkway continued to the left of the stair entry for some yards. In the low glow of our lanterns faint, shadowy shapes of an unnatural nature were discernible both directly before us and to our right.

"What is that?" asked Greenfield.

"Before us, the temple perhaps... I can not say what is to our right." As we approached the mysterious shapes, our lanterns illuminated us as to their nature. To our right on the edge on the walkway stood a life-sized statue of the god Anubis and stretching out behind it across the river reached a great stone bridge!

"That is most remarkable!" said Greenfield "It must lead to the Temple of  Anubis."

"Let us not be hasty Thomas." I said looking ahead of us. The stone walkway widened for some distance and then ended its path. Two great statues towered upwards into the darkness of the caverns heights. So high were these massive effigies that I could not make out their nature. Were they statues of Anubis guarding the entrance of a temple? I could not say. Between them stood a dark arched doorway leading into a dark inner chamber.

"What we need Thomas is more light." I said and walking back to the great stone bridge I crossed to it's central point and from the cuff of my jacket sleeve, I pulled a small dart made of highly flammable flash paper. I set the dart sailing high into the air and with a snap of my fingers and a few words of power ignited the dart in a great flash of light and smoke. By spell and will I held the flash aloft for a period of ten seconds, enough to see what the caves vast darkness had hidden for centuries. And what I beheld was amazing... for there were two temples!

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