Challenger and the Queen search for King Arthur's royal ring. Chapter Forty-Four of "Things that go bump in the Night," a Sherlock Holmes Baker Street Adventure is now posted.
"Things that go bump in the Night,"
by John Pirillo
Queen Mary stood at the window overlooking London, watching curls of mist threading the rooftops and roads, swirling like a mystical whorl of spells ready to ensnare the unwary. She rubbed the index finger of her right hand, where the Royal Emerald sat upon its throne of gold and silver. It had been a gift from Merlin to King Arthur and subsequently passed down through the ages until it had come to her. She had found it on a rare expedition with her dear friend, Professor Challenger.
She could still recall those days quite clearly, even though it was more than a decade since she had assumed the throne as a gesture of unity between Scots and the Great Britains in order to preserve the peace, and ultimately to bring law and order to the realms where magic had been spreading like wildfire since the advent of the Druid Sciences released by Einstein and Ferme and others of the secret Rosy Brotherhood.
She felt the eyes of Lady Shareen and Madame Curie upon her and closed her eyes, summoning a moment of peace within herself before she continued the exposition she had begun moments earlier. She had to build her courage, because even she didn't want to admit what the world was now facing again, along with her brave friends and comrades in Fairie.
The vision of the quest for Arthur's ring still rang strong in her thoughts as she threaded from the future of now into the past of when.
"The cave seems a bit small." Mary told Challenger as he hunched over to look into the mossy covered mouth of it.
"No smaller than most for me. Last time I had to crawl forward to reach the interior."
"But what if you had got stuck, or could go no further?" She had asked, truly fascinated by his bravery or stupidity.
"Mary, you know me well enough by now to know that I never give up. I will go to my death bed fighting against my last breath."
Mary shrugged her jungle blouse tighter about her throat. It was nearing dusk and the damp warmth of the jungle was becoming rapidly cooler as the sun dropped below the horizon. While they were a bit high up on the plateau, still the jungle persevered, its tendrils of green and leaf struggling for domination over every inch of the domain it covered.
She peered behind them. Their path was rapidly being swallowed in a swirl of mist and smoke. Smoke from the villages several miles below the peak they stood upon. The air currents here swept the smoke between the two chimney mountain peaks and eventually floated about them, thus giving them the native names of "Smoking Tongues."
"Here." Challenger finally said.
She looked back and he was prying away some vines dangling over the entrance with his machete. And a good thing. For not a second after wards a great sword swung through the space, slicing the machete in two.
Challenger dropped back, almost knocking her on her ass.
"Challenger!" She exclaimed as he brushed against her.
"Sorry, my dear. My mistake."
He helped steady her, then turned back to the problem before them. "Do you still have the twine I gave you?"
"And why would I not?" She demanded, angrily tossing the ball of twine to him. He caught it with a smile, which immediately softened her heart. She did love him so.
"My Mary, always the fire before the storm."
"My dear Challenger, the man whom I shall kick the butt of so hard it will be sticking from his mouth if he doesn't shut up and get on with it. I'm about to turn into ice here." She complained, her tone both threatening and pleading.
He smiled again, then began unwinding the ball. When he had enough for two handfuls, he turned to the entrance, stooped down, grabbed a small rock and tied the end of the twine to it. He hefted the rock, then drew his arm back and tossed it inside.
He looked back at her triumphantly. "At least ten feet of free walkway."
"Providing the floor doesn't cave from underneath us." She replied with a grimace.
"Oh yes. The India Isles. The Case of the Four Headed Kali. How well I remember that. You lost your virginity there as I remember."
She glared at him. "Well you should now, you old pervert!"
He laughed, then struck a flint to the torch he drew from his belt. It smoked at first, but upon the second strike of the flint it burst into flames. He looked back at her. "Stay back at least a yard. No need for both of us to die at the same time."
"Implying that I will die later?"
He laughed again, his eyes sparkling with that boyisheness she loved so much. "We all have to die sometime, my dear."
He turned back and hunched over, scrabbled into the interior of the cave. She followed two beats later, keeping the distance he recommended. She was a smart ass, but not dumb. He knew what he was doing, even if she had to pull his ass out of the fire every now and then.
"Ah." He cried from ahead.
Startled, at first she thought he had been hurt. But he looked back and the flickering torch lit his face. It was twinkling with amusement. "I think we can safely assume there are no more traps."
She stepped even with him and he held up his torch.
Ahead of them for about five yards were sprawled body after body. The firs had a spear driven through its chest. The second an axe in the head. The third was torn in two. The rest were mangled or missing body parts.
"Why would Arthur do such horrible things to those who came after him?"
"Not Arthur, but the evil Morgana's twin son Hexor."
"I forgot about him."
"You would. Not ever having heard of him in the first place."
"Must you be so pedantic?" She complained.
"Must you be so cute?" He replied with a grin.
"I'll teach you cute when we get back to the camp."
"I'm counting on it." He replied with a wink.
She took a swing at him and that probably saved his life, because he stepped back and the series of lances that shot across the chamber, barely missed, closing him and her off from each other. He looked at her through the rusty blades.
"Mmmm. Your temper is getting sharper all the time."
"Funny." She shot back.
"What now?" She demanded, furious at herself and him for them almost being killed. More so for him, for he had been standing in the way of the lances.
He looked ahead of him. "I guess I go on alone, while you figure out how to retract those buggers that almost skewered me like a roast of lamb."
"With any luck I'll have them ready in time to skewer you like the pig you are."
"Thanks. I needed that encouragement." He said with a grin.
"What you need is a swift kick in the..."
He reached through the blades, pulled her face forward and kissed her lips fiercely.