Sunday, November 15, 2009

DAY 2: The Periapt

1:25 pm
Our destination lay ahead of us, the impetus which kept us moving; the dark shape of the mountain. We battled through the dense foliage, the verdant pavilion above bleeding chiaroscuro patches of sunlight onto the lush vegetation. The umbrageous environment only made trudging through the bush an arduous task as my waterlogged shoes squelched with each step.
We had set off on our journey at midday. I had woken to the vociferous dawn chorus of the island’s indigenous birds, the morning sun shining softly through the grey canvas of the tent.
We occasionally slipped on the damp leaves littered over the forest floor as the frondescence thickened and we trekked deeper into the verdant forest; the undergrowth was abundant with ferns and boscage surrounded us. We brushed past the leaves and shrubbery of the arborous screen, struggling against the dense foliage until we broke away from the fronds.
Kauris towered above us, shafts of light breaking through the dappled canopy. The undergrowth was loose. Before us was a strange formation; large blocks of stone in rows upon rows, like steps, escalating into the umbrageous pavilion.
The stone was cold and damp to my fingers. Moss and ferns covered the structure, vines cascading down the tiers.
“Limestone,” I heard Haylee murmur as she stroked the asperous rock.
“Well, where to next?” Kim asked as Maddi distributed the energy bars round.
“I think we should go up there,” Kieran said, jerking his thumb up to the stone structure behind him.
“And how do you think we’re gonna make it up those steps? Each tier is about one point five metres high,” came Haylee’s dubious reply.
“Dilshen’s tall enough, maybe he can climb up to each tier and pull us up,” Maddi said. She turned to me, followed by the eager faces of my peers.
“Well, I guess that could work, but it’d take forever,” I said, gazing at everyone in turn.
“So? There’s nowhere else to go. C’mon, what’re you guys waiting for?”

1:50 pm
We had broken through the forest canopy and the limestone was hot from the fervid glare of the afternoon sun; perspiration beaded my forehead and my nape was baking as we climbed further up the pyramidal structure.
I mounted onto the next tier and hauled the others up one by one. I slumped back, my arms ached with exertion.
“Can… we just… rest… for a while?” I panted.
“Yup,” Kieran said, sitting down beside me. I took a swig from the canteen, the tepid water coursing down my parched throat. The block behind me shifted as I leant against the stone. Clefts bordered the slab and I prised my fingers into the cracks; gripping the sides of the rock, I inched the loose rock from its recess in the tier.
“Kieran, help me move this block.”
We pushed the slab across the shelf and peered inside the niche.
“What is it?” Maddi asked.
“Dunno… Hold up, pass me the flashlight,” Kieran said. Maddi rummaged through her backpack and took out a small Eveready torch.
“It doesn’t work,” Maddi said, pushing the button with her thumb. Kieran shook the torch and pressed the switch. The torch flickered on.
“I don’t think it likes you,” Kieran said.
“Shut up,” Maddi replied sheepishly. Kieran shone the torch into the recess, the shaft of light perusing the deep shadows. It was a cavern; more tiers lead down into the darkness like steps but the feeble halo of illumination didn’t penetrate any further than a few metres.
“I’m going in.” Kieran crawled through the opening and jumped onto the first tier.
“No Kieran, you’re not going in there, something could happen to you. C’mon, get out,” Kim said, her brow creased in a frown.
“I’ll go with him,” I volunteered and dropped down to the step.
“Yeah,” Kieran said in a resolving manner, “we promise not to go in too deep and we’ve got our whistles, so…” He jumped down to the next step before someone could reply.
I shrugged and gave a reassuring smile before following Kieran into the darkness. The torch was little help, creating an insufficient pool of light with which to see our way but nothing else, as we jumped down the slippery tiers, deeper into the fathomless gloom.
The shadows pervaded by mind, stretching minutes into hours, robbing me of my fortitudinous confidence which had previously been coursing through my veins. After an age, the ground became flat beneath our feet. We were in a passageway; brackets supporting unlit flambeaus lined the damp walls.
Kieran took out a lighter from his pocket and struck it against a slick stump of burnt wood. The flambeau instantly ignited, the orange tongues of the flame splaying a lambent glow over the stone, and he took it from the bracket. Kieran switched off the electronic torch and lit another flambeau, which he handed to me.
“C’mon,” Kieran said, the flame forming an aureole around him as he advanced into the dark passageway.
2:20 pm
We progressed deeper into the mountain, the flickering light of the flambeaus dancing over the mossy walls. The flame devoured the shrouding darkness, licking out a T-shaped intersection and casting its incandescent flare over runic figures and inscriptions on the limestone.
I traced my fingertips over the arabesque engravings, which seemed to glow as my gaze rested upon them. They had seen everything; they knew the mystery of this island. I wondered what recondite secrets were hidden within these walls.
An eye with a hook convoluting into a spiral extending from the caruncula like a tear.
I stared at the symbol without seeing it as déjà vu usurped my mind. The intaglio flared incandescent, emblazoning my vision.
“What are you looking at?” Kieran said, turning to see me stroking the occult figure.
“I dunno what it is, but I just… it’s a symbol of some sort. I had a strange feeling about it… kinda déjà vu. It might come in handy,” I responded hesitatingly. Kieran looked at me strangely, but reached up and took a stub of charcoal from a bracket on the wall. He fuliginously drew the eye sign on his hand.
“Here,” he said and pressed his hand into mine. I looked at the smudged adumbration on my palm.
“I wonder what these symbols mean anyway,” I said.
“Who knows?” Kieran said, turning to the bifurcating intersection. “Which way are we gonna go? I know, I’ll go this way, and you go that way.” He gestured to each side in turn.
“No, we’ll get lost; we don’t know how deep these passages go into the mountain, I think we should stick together.”
“You can either go back to the girls or go that way, but I’m going this way so…”
“Kieran, it isn’t a good idea, what if something happens to one of us? You promised we wouldn’t go too far,” I said, looking cagily into the darkness as if something were lurking in the atramental catacombs.
“Nothing’s gonna happen to us, Dilshen, good luck,” Kieran turned into the passageway. I grabbed his arm but he struggled out of my grip and ran into the darkness, his flambeau illuminating over the walls until the light was lost. I scurried after him, my footsteps echoing around the claustrophobic corridor.
Suddenly, my torch crepitated and burnt out and I was plunged into an obfuscating and total darkness. I felt around in the perpetual gloom, my hands brushing against the damp walls as I knelt down on the cold stone. I reached into my pocket, taking out my flint and steel, and struck the bar of metal. Nothing happened. I tried it again, the acute grate sending shivers up my spine. A spark emitted from the friction and phantasmagoria danced around before my eyes.
Kieran ran through the darkness; he ran until he could no more. His flambeau flickered over the damp walls as he stepped into a large cavern.
I picked up the stub of my flambeau and struck the steel over the dry wood. A second scintillation was shed but the torch did not ignite.
Light from outside bled from cracks on the stone. He stepped back and the ground disappeared beneath his feet.
Feeling for the wall with my left hand, I stood up and retraced my footsteps. I didn’t know where I was going, if I was going the right way or not, I just wanted to get out of the perennial darkness, the claustrophobic passageway. I wondered where Kieran was; I wanted to feel angry with him but my trepidation plagued my hurt emotions.
He fell on brittle bones, which crunched beneath his weight. The ossuary extended for as far as he could see. His fingertips touched something cold; a chain appended to a round object. Kieran pocketed the talisman.
I felt the tips of my fingers become numb as they grazed against the rough stone of the tunnel. Suddenly, the ground beneath me disappeared, I screamed as my palms scuffed the cliff face. My cheek scraped against the rocky precipice, pain searing over my face. I felt the tips of my shoes touch a jutting shelf and I scrambled over the rock for a sturdy position. I clung to the crag, stones crumbling beneath my feet. I could hear the sound of rushing water far below in the abyss. I cagily let go off the cliff face with one hand and blew on the whistle tied to the string around my neck. The shrill note echoed in the gloom, sending dust and stones tumbling into the subterranean river.
As Kieran waded through the pile, the bones gradually deformed. Conical skulls. Three-fingered hands…
“Dilshen? Kieran?” I heard Maddi call over the din of the cataract a few minutes later. I blew the whistle again.
“Maddi, help me! But be careful!” I cried out to her. I could hear her loud footsteps as she ran to the edge of the cliff.
“Grab my hand.” I reached for her outstretched arm and grasped her wrist. My feet clambered over the rock as I scaled up the precipice. In a sudden cloud of dust, the thin cliff face caved in and I tumbled into a subterrane.
He was in a chamber now. A chamber of calefactors and furnaces. In the centre of the cavern was a basket attached to pulleys and ropes.
“Dilshen!” Maddi shouted. I fell on a desiccated and brittle mass; it disintegrated beneath me. I groped around the morsels until my fingers brushed against something hard and cold. I felt the shape, the cavities, the apertures; it was skull.
Disgusted, I pushed myself of the crushed corpse, but something pressed into my hands. Reaching into the dust and rotten entrails, I pulled out the object. In the darkness, I could feel that it was an ellipse with pointed ends; a long convex tipped off with a helicoid extended from a cusp; affixed to the object was a chain. I slipped the amulet into my pocket and stumbled to the hole.
Kieran climbed into the basket and looked up at the shaft above his head. He pulled a lever and the nacelle eased up through the hole.
“Maddi! Help me out of here!” I called up to the darkness.
“Grab my arm.” I held onto her wrist and she hauled me up over the edge of the cliff. I fell to the ground, my heart pounding.
“Thanks,” I murmured.
“It’s alright. You should be more careful. Where’s Kieran?” My cheek stung, making my eyes water in pain.
Sunlight pierced his eyes. He was in a large cavern; before him, the outside flooded in from a wide opening in the wall. A coruscation caught the corner of his eye. Kieran picked up the glinting object. It was an ankh.
“My torch had gone out; I couldn’t see a thing. Kieran –”
“Your cheek is bleeding.” Maddi said, her eyes wide with dismay. I stroked the raw gash; my fingers were sticky with blood. “We should go back; this place gives me the creeps. Maybe Haylee can help you. C’mon. Wait, what is that?” Maddi asked, gazing at the strange symbol depicted on my palm. I looked down at the charcoal drawing and a sudden wave of realisation reminded me of the amulet in my pocket. I took the periapt out; the shape was identical to the figure on my hand.
“I dunno. Some sort of symbol,” I replied.
We traversed the confined passageway by the pool of dim light diffusing from Maddi’s electronic torch. I hesitated as we reached the bifurcation, tracing my fingers over the defined inscriptions.
“C’mon, Dilshen. What are you doing?” Maddi asked impatiently, the torch shining lambently over the damp walls.

“Hang on. I’ll just…” I pressed the amulet into the congruous intaglio.
The ground began to convulse, stones and dust falling onto our heads as we regressed down the passage. The wall trembled and moved forward, until the bifurcation was no more than a dark impasse. I took the amulet from the depression and returned it to my pocket. I turned to Maddi, she had fear in her eyes. We had occluded the two shafts… and Kieran’s only means of escape.
Kieran climbed through the unglazed window onto the top tier of the pyramidal structure and gazed at the swaying treetops below and cerulean lake far in the distance.
3:10 pm
“You fell down a cliff?!” Haylee and Kim exclaimed simultaneously. A cold pain shot through my cheek as Haylee pressed a flannel against my face.
“Um, yeah... I guess.” I mumbled, not wanting to have to explain myself for the fourth time.
“Woah,” Kim said, leaning back against the limestone; her face displayed a spectrum of emotions, ranging from utter horror, to concern, to a distracted cogitation. She looked up, disconcerted. "And Kieran ditched you?"
“Yeah –”
“And now he's trapped in there coz Dilshen pressed the amulet into the wall,” Maddi interrupted from the tier below us. I dropped my head guiltily.
“You already said that, Maddi,” Kim said brusquely, but not unkindly.
“But, I'm sure Kieran's gonna be alright. I mean, this is Kieran we're talking about.” Maddi gave me an alleviating smile but her solace did not comfort me. I hoped Kieran was alright.
“Anyway,” Haylee said, gazing over the verdant ocean of the forest canopy. “This island is pretty strange, alright. I mean, Mr Woody said that Matainui has never been touched by humans before, but what else would explain this pyramidal structure? It certainly isn’t natural.”
“Yeah, and the corpse and amulet Dilshen found,” Kim adverted.
“And also – I don’t remember much coz I was knocked out soon after that – but when we were floating in the plane.”
A whistle suddenly pierced the tranquil atmosphere. “That must be Kieran,” Maddi said, looking over the tiers.
“Kieran!” My voice reverberated around the limestone.
The shrill note came again, then, “Dilshen!” I looked up; the structure mounted high into the clouds, further than I could see. “Hey, you guys!” I saw someone standing on a ledge approximately eight blocks above us, obscured by verdure and fronds, waving their hands about. It was Kieran.
“Kieran!” I shouted again. He clambered down the tiers, pulling up ferns and tossing them aside in his wake.
“Oh my gosh, where were you?” Maddi asked, her eyes coloured with relief.
“Why did you ditch Dilshen? He fell down a cliff, you know – lucky Maddi saved him. And something could have happened to you too!” Kim said.
“Did you?! Sorry. You okay?” Kieran looked at me, concerned.
“Yeah, it doesn’t matter though; how did you come from up there?” I asked, gesturing towards the ascending tiers.
“Well… did you know that this pyramid is actually the mountain we’ve been looking for all along?!”
“We kinda figured,” Maddi rejoined sarcastically.
“Yeah, so on the map there was a spring on the mountain, but if this isn’t a mountain then…”
“That would explain the ravine,” I said.
“Never mind. Tell us what happened to you.”
4:50 pm
“Well, what are we gonna do now?” Haylee asked. The sun was low in the sky and the sounds of the night creatures had soon broken the tranquillity of the atmosphere. “It’s nearly night and we’re going to have to find shelter soon.”
“We can’t go back down – it’d be dark by the time we reach the bottom, and we’ve gone all this way…” Maddi said.
“And we’re definitely not camping out here… or in there.” Kim gestured into the gap in the tier.
“I know where we should go. The chamber at the top of the pyramid, the one with the big window,” Kieran suggested.
“I don’t know…”
“Well, it won’t take us that long to get up there and it provides shelter, so I don’t see what the problem is.”
“I go with Kieran on this one,” I said. Kim looked dubious and I gave her a slight smile.
“Yes! And we wouldn’t have to pitch up our tent,” Maddi said optimistically.
“Okay,” Haylee agreed. We all looked at Kim.
“Majority rules, Kim.” She sighed. I helped Maddi up onto the tier.
Orange clouds scudded across the pink sky. Haylee gazed at the setting sun. “We should get a move on before it gets any darker.”


  1. You know you have to have this done by next week eek! But your story is very good, very good indead! Awesomeness!
    Bubbley xx

  2. AMAZING!!! It's even better reading it now, lyk ages l8r. Keep writing ur good az!!!