It had been a close call but last night’s gambit had won another day and who could say what turn that victory might take. From the margins of the camp he had hidden, as unseen as any predator of the night. But he had to draw them off which required using himself as bait, leading them on a chase through the jungle.
He knew that no matter how good a liar Emerson Lighthouse might be, he would eventually slip-up under Malus’s relentless and penetrating questioning. His well-timed howl had done the trick, drawing Malus and his men off.
Remaining undetected, however, had been taxing endeavour. Not only did he need to remain hidden but he had to ensure that no evidence of his clandestine mission came to light. The element of surprise was as sharp as any sword.
By sun rise, Lapis had long since abandoned his shirt, ripping it from his body and carefully burying it beneath the thick jungle brush. The irritation from the digestive acids secreted by the orchid had aggravated his skin. Lapis fought the urge to scratch as a rash began to appear across his chest. His trousers, while remaining in place for the moment, were in tatters.
Keeping low, he stealthily pursued the caravan through the jungle, tracking them from a safe distance, as silent as a shadow.
As the sun reached its midday height, he paused by a stream, dipping his hand and sipping thirstily. Turning his head at the sound of a snapping twig he noticed a panther. The black cat regarded him with curiosity. Lapis snarled until the intimidated creature backed away and disappeared into the brush.
He was about to carry on when he noticed a stone with an odd set of hieroglyphics carved into the surface. He regarded the stone for several minutes, feeling the familiar rush of blood to his head as the puzzle absorbed his attention. Before long a wry grin spread across his face.
When the great god from the north…
‘That boy’s hubris was always going to be his downfall.’ Lapis thought.
Checking his satchel to make sure he still had everything he needed he carried on, once more tracking the party until they entered into a magnificent lost city, with majestic temples and soaring pyramids, rising from the edge of the river.