Click. Click. Click. Click
“Annie?” a weathered voice called over.
“Yes sir?” I replied.
“A little patience with the lantern please,” he chided. “It is far older than you can possibly imagine. I haven’t lit it in awhile, but I think it will be quite useful for you. Once it has warmed up to you.”
I quirked my brow. He shook his head and chuckled as he passed me. His own light beaming happily. I clicked it one last time. Nothing. Grumbling I followed.
The path was hazy with dust. The air itself was old. Somehow thick as I breathed in and out. The scholar was talking. Whether to me or himself even he didn’t seem to know. We reached the end of the corridor and entered the ancient treasure room. The room expanded up about twenty feet but as I looked around I could only see the wall along the door we entered. The room was jam packed with artifacts from eons of history.
“What is it were looking for sir?”
“You’ll know it when you see it.”
Helpful. The old man was full of these tid bits. Shrugging I picked a path at random and started down. As I walked I heard him clear dust off of something. He huffed a sigh, settling down to wait. If he’d answer my question it’d speed this process up. But if he wanted to waste his time waiting, I suppose that was his prerogative. Despite that meant he was also wasting mine.
Focusing on the task at hand I looked at the artifacts. Why he thought a high school drop out was the person to help him with this task was beyond me. I couldn’t even begin to grasp the concept of what we needed. All I could understand was he and I needed to collect a weapon for the war. How an old relic could help I didn’t know. What good could a sword do against a phaser? Again, what did I know.
The paths were not orderly but were easy to follow. Often the lines were interrupted by massive objects, like chariots. However, as if it were a river, the path just rounded the obstruction before returning on the other side. Passing shields, daggers, book cases and statues nothing seemed to fit the bill. Deeper and deeper I ventured, wondering if I would ever reach the back wall. To my left I thought I saw something catch my eye. A few feet later there was a short cut connecting the two paths. I took it and doubled back.
When I reached the spot I realized there wasn’t anything of particular of interest. It was just another path. Somehow it sloped downward. And it was darker than the ones I had met so far. Were the lights burned out down that way? Just then my lantern began to kick in. With the extra light I decided to continue on. After a few minutes of twisting and turning, all the time going further and further down, I came to the end. There, all alone, was a chest.
Without hesitation I approached. It had to be old, like everything else in the room. However, there was something odd about it. It seemed timeless unlike the other artifacts that time had forgotten. It stood on four feet and was made of some type of wood with metal accents. I’d never been one for decor. Even I admired the black wood, inlaid was a crisscrossing pattern of silver. The patterned seemed to be some type of language that was hidden by time long ago.
I reached out, unsure if I should touch it. Shaking the silly thought away I gently laid my hand on the chest. It opened smooth and silent. Inside there was a ladder. The ladder lead down a hole. Confused I bent down to examine the floor. Beneath the chest there was no hole. Sitting on its feet the way it was, I could see the chest too, had no hole. Righting myself I saw that the ladder was still there. So either the hallucination was persisting or it was actually there.
I spun and sat with my back against the chest. Logic told me that the ladder wasn’t there. Oddly enough, I realized that thought bothered me. I wanted the ladder to be there. Logic continued, suggesting that perhaps I had fainted. The air was thick, perhaps I was deprived of oxygen. However, if that was the case then this was a dream. If it were a dream there would be no harm in seeing where the ladder led. What if it was real? Well. If it was real, perhaps the weapon I’m looking for was down there. After all, if it is as powerful as it would need to be to end the war, you’d want it hidden. Really hidden. With my mind made up I stood. As I placed my hand on the ladder the lantern grew brighter, as if it approved. With a deep breath I began the descent.
Back at the entrance the scholar still sat, his smile broadening as he whispered to himself. “Yes. Yes, she will do quite nicely.”
Part of Annie’s Artifact
Found via Pinterest.
Prompt: It is far older than you can possibly imagine…
The Sarcastic Muse