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An Unexpected Find

“Why doncha just admit we’re lost?” said Kaylee as she strained to see ahead through the darkness.
“We are not lost.” said Malus, holding his lantern at an angle to maximize the dispersal of light. “We haven’t taken any unusual turns so getting out should be just a matter of turning back the way we came.”
“So let’s turn ‘round then.” Kaylee said shaking her head. “I agreed to climb down to get Emerson’s cavorite, not get lost in some dumb underground catacombs.”

“We’re not lost.” Malus repeated with a touch of petulance. “But… you may be right about turning around.” he conceded. “I see no sign of that child we saw from the pit.” After peering ahead for a moment longer he turned and the two started back in the direction from which they had come.

They continued on in silence for several minutes, concentrating on the path ahead. It was Kaylee who finally broke the silence. “So what was it like bein’ a king?” she asked, referring to Malus’s recent southern adventure.

“Natural.” replied Malus, narrowing his eyes in an attempt  to see just beyond the margins of his lantern. The passage through which they wandered appeared to split about twenty yards ahead.

“I don’t remember the path forking.” said Kaylee furrowing her brow.

“That is because when we came from the other direction we came through one of those passages and didn’t notice the second tunnel.” Malus replied.

“So which one do we go back through.” Kaylee turned to look at him.

Malus hesitated, biting his lip as he narrowed his eyes.

“Did you just bite your lip?” asked Kaylee suspiciously.

“What?” replied Malus, ending the nervous bite at once.

“You did.” she accused. “You have no idea where we are, do you?”

“I do.” Malus replied haughtily. “Just let me think a second.” He started to tap his foot.

“Is it getting darker in here?” asked Kaylee, looking around.

“It’s the lantern. It is starting to run out of oil.” said Malus turning up the wick ever so slightly. “I suggest…” A sudden shrieking howl, made by some unknown creature of obviously horrid design, pierced the darkness from the fork on the right.

“Left passage.” said Kaylee.

“Most definitely!” agreed Malus as the two hastened to the passage on the left. The ground began a gradual slope upward, spiraling to the left. They continued ascending for several minutes, eventually pausing to catch their breath.

“We must have come up well over a hundred feet.” said Kaylee between breaths.

Malus nodded, wiping a sheen of perspiration from his brow. He reached back and pulled the pony from his hair, combing his fingers through his shaggy mane to shake it out. Kaylee started to laugh.

“What?” said Malus, shrugging his shoulders and making a face.

“How long does it take you to do your hair in the morning?” she teased.

“I put no time into it.” Malus gave her a sullen brooding look.

“Get out!” Kaylee scoffed. “I’ll bet you put hours into giving it that casual unkempt look.”

Malus leaned back against the wall of the tunnel cocking up his knee and said with a touch of nonchalance, “So you think my hair looks good?”

“Pffft!” said Kaylee, waving her hand, not wanting to encourage him. If Malus were about to respond, he was held in check by the sound of a howl rising up from below. The two exchanged glances then carried on up the tunnel. They continued on for several minutes more before Kaylee put her hand on Malus’s arm to check his progress. “I think it’s getting lighter in here.” she said.

“It appears there is some sort of phosphorescence emanating from the walls.” noted Malus glancing at the sides of the tunnel. After another few minutes he was able to extinguish the lantern, thus saving what little oil they had left. The phosphorescence cast and eerie green/blue glow but was sufficiently bright that they had little difficulty discerning the way.

“Look.” Malus pointed. “It appears to open up just ahead.”

The tunnel did indeed open up into an enormous cavern, at least two hundred feet in breadth and near one hundred feet in height. What was most striking, however, was not the grandeur of the chamber but what sat at the very centre. Stretching from floor to almost ceiling was a tall cylindrical vessel, its polished copper plating gleaming in the cool phosphorescence of the chamber.

Kaylee’s jaw dropped. “That’s a ship.” she said. “For traveling through the aether.”

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One Comment

  1. Mr Tenk Mr Tenk September 4, 2012

    under clockhaven? oh the noes, not clockhaven! my poor poor city…. what will happen when it launches?


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