New to Quest Five?
The stories are best enjoyed when read in order beginning with May 1, 2009.

Welcome To Quest Five
Allison Beaumont is having trouble finding a job after college until one day the wealthy and powerful Joseph Candle offers her a job at his rather unusual corporation, where mistakes can lead to bare bottomed spankings. Adopting the alias of Virginia West, she joins four highly skilled colleagues, racing around the globe in search of mysterious treasures, but wherever she goes, trouble is sure to follow.
Note: Some stories contain scenes of a sexual nature, corporal punishment, non-consensual corporal punishment, and strong language which some reader's may find offensive. If you feel this material might be inappropriate for you please move on to another blog by clicking the next blog link at the top of the page.

September 13, 2009

Breaking Free: Gods And Men

Two days had passed since I had returned from the trestle room. Kyra and Gina were still with me and together we had managed to get through the worst of the aftereffects. We determined the days by the meals, twice a day it seemed. Breakfast consisted of a gruel reminiscent of oatmeal and a bowl of water. Dinner wasn’t all that different except the gruel was what I called rice surprise. The rice we could figure out but mixed in was something crunchy that we were unable to identify in the low light. I resisted eating at first, but hunger and survival instincts won out in the end.

When the door opened I thought time had slipped by at a slightly faster pace for a change. I was expecting dinner when the guard stepped inside, but his hands were not carrying food. He placed three stacks of clothing on the floor and then backed out of the cell, slamming the door closed again.

“Get dressed.” He ordered.

Could you blame us for regarding the garment piles with cautious skepticism? I mean seriously, after everything we’d suffered through the last few days it hardly seemed likely that our captors were providing clothing out of a desire to make us more comfortable.

“Or not, but you will be joining your male companions in fifteen minutes either way.” He said.

The three of us scrambled toward the piles with a little less caution. Someone had done their homework right down to getting our shoe sizes correct and surprising the clothing was simply clothing. No itching powders or odd cuts of material to make the wearer wish they were naked. Standard blue jeans, cotton shirts and even cotton socks to go with athletic shoes. I almost felt normal, but then there was the cringing as I pulled the jeans up over my still welted backside. A quick glance at Kyra and Gina told me I wasn’t alone on that count.

Right on schedule and just barely enough time for us to have finished dressing, the guards came to escort us elsewhere. Like before, we went up the stairs but then we went down a hallway and up another flight of stairs before entering a much larger room than anything we’d seen so far. Dr. Michaels, Tom and Mark were waiting for us.

Dr. Michaels was standing in front of a long folding table, studying a plethora of scrolls. They were no doubt old enough to be considered ancient. Tom and Mark were standing back a short distance away. I think it was boredom so openly displayed on their faces right up until we walked in and then it was clearly happiness and relief. Tom moved toward Kyra and Mark toward me.

“Are you alright?” Tom asked.

The concern on his features was clearly for Kyra although he was careful to throw a quick glance at me after he asked his question. It’s definitely a hunch for another time but I think there was something more than professional concern on Tom’s part. If Kyra noticed she kept her thoughts well concealed.

Mark raised his eyebrows at me as he grabbed my shoulders and pulled me to him. I suppose it was his way of letting me know he was echoing Tom’s question without actually repeating the words. I should have been very happy to see him, but the circumstances left me feeling a touch uneasy. Would Mark play things smart and keep my real name under his hat or had that ship already sailed?

“We’re fine.” I said.

Kyra and Gina nodded quick confirmations and the men noticeably relaxed. Our guards quietly backed out of the room and closed the door as they went. I guess there wasn’t any danger of us escaping.

“V.” Mark said.

There was a hint of a question in his tone as he paused for a moment. I nodded, relieved he had chosen to protect my anonymity.

“Any idea what this is all about?” Mark asked.

“The Heavenly Sovereign.” Dr. Michaels answered. “Unless I’m mistaken, but these scrolls seem to clearly implicate his order in our abduction.”

“They want us to lead them to a crystal of some sort that’s buried deep within an ancient tomb.” I said.

“Huh?” Dr. Michaels said.

“The tomb belonged to someone named Fu Shi or Fu Xi or something funky like that.” I said.

Dr. Michaels smiled like a professor amused with a favorite pupil’s mistake.

“Fu Xi, also known as the Heavenly Sovereign. I haven’t found a reference to a crystal or tomb but I believe the tomb you are referring to is actually a vault. The medallion you found is an entry key although it appears more is required than simply putting the medallion in its place and turning the lock. As for the crystal, I’ve been trying to translate this text but I haven’t been able to decipher this word. It could be shard or crystal though and that might make sense in the context.” Dr. Michaels rattled on.

“It all sounds very fascinating.” I said. “Where’s Jack?”

I looked from face to face in the room and came up empty.

“He’s not here.” Tom said. “He must have evaded these guys and I’ll bet he’s working on a plan to get us out of here as we speak.”

I shook my head. That just didn’t make sense.

“They got him before they got me.” I said.

Tom and Kyra both looked stunned by the news. Dr. Michaels was too absorbed in the scrolls to give much reaction to anything else. It occurred to me as it must be occurring to them; Jack could be dead.

While I confess it was a reasonable possibility, it wasn’t the one weighing heaviest upon me. I remember Jack throwing himself into the elevator full of guards and then when I managed to follow him down toward the lobby all I found was a firefight. He could have somehow defeated the men in the elevator but escaping from the scene I saw in the lobby was impossible. My own way out had involved an insane leap out of third floor window.

No, it seemed rather unlikely that Jack too, made it out away from our captors. Dead was definitely one possibility but it was also possible he was the team’s mole all along and he’d been working for our captors from the start. In that case, he was likely someplace far away, enjoying margaritas on a beach and counting up all the cash he’d no doubt made.

“I don’t think we should be counting on Jack to provide an escape route.” I said.

“Don’t tell me.” Kyra said. “You’ve got a plan.”

“I wish. No, unfortunately all I’ve got is a vague idea about what we’re headed into and that might provide some opportunities. I just don’t want us to pass anything up on account what Jack may or may not be doing.” I said.

“Makes sense. I’ve been trying to keep track of the number of guards and as we’ve been moved around I’ve developed at least a partial map of this place in my head.” Tom said.

“Good. Any idea how many of them we’re up against?” I asked.

“I’ve counted 60 guards on a rotating schedules, looks like 3 shifts. So it’s possible there are no more than 30 people holding us here at anyone time.” Tom replied.

“I’m guessing they’re all close enough that if an alarm was tripped we’d be facing all of them.” I said.

“We figured we must be underground.” Kyra added.

“Yeah, we’ve come up with the same conclusion.” Tom said.

I looked over at Dr. Michaels and the scrolls. He was still completely absorbed in them.

“So what do we have here?” I asked, walking over to stand next to him.

“This stuff is amazing. If I could document its authenticity some of these scrolls might date back to the first written records ever found.” Dr. Michaels said.

“Any reason to doubt their authenticity?” I asked.

“No, no. It’s simply procedure to verify. From what I can tell here, the written language is an interesting combination of pictographs and rudimentary Chinese. I’d have to say we’re looking at the bedrock of Chinese society and culture.” He continued.

“Have you learned anything useful?” I asked.

“That depends. Over here,” He said, lifting a scroll up for my observation. “Is a tale explaining the origin of life. It’s a fascinating text which might be the foundation of several Chinese philosophies like Taoism and Confucianism. The story itself I’ve come across before in modern versions but this one is unique because it does not designate the Sovereigns as Gods or mixed beings. In this text they are powerful because of their understanding of nature. Apparently they learned to mix the four elements; earth, water, fire, and wind in such ways that they were able to create whatever their hearts desired.” Dr. Michaels said.

“Sounds pretty God-like to me.” Kyra said.

“If someone from a thousand years ago watched modern day technicians create diamonds in a lab they’d have called them alchemist. Go back another thousand years and it would be a God given miracle and a thousand years before that, they’d be Gods. Its all a matter of perspective, a sufficiently advanced enough technology will always appear like the divine to a culture that doesn’t even understand the basic principles of the technology involved.” Dr. Michaels said.

“All well and good, Doctor, but how does any of this help us?” I asked.

“I’m not sure how any of this will help us, but I think it’s fairly clear they think you’re some sort of prophet.” He said.

“What?” I asked.

If they treat their prophets as well as they’ve treated me, I can’t imagine how they would treat their enemies.

“Prophet is a poor translation but I’m still working on the specifics here. I could study these scrolls for decades and not have all the answers. Still, this scroll over here tells about a young woman in perfect balance who will defeat the order with their own weapons and then lead her people to find the key. The key is the medallion. The interesting thing about this tale is when it was written the key was not lost, but over here is another scroll that tells about a false God who will seek treasures but only find death. It essentially tells the story of Magellan and how the key or medallion will come to be lost.” Dr. Michaels said.

“Sounds like you found yourself a Chinese Nostradamus.” Tom said.

“Except these predictions are filled with some very specific details. It’d be easier to think that these predictive scrolls are fabrications created after the events had transpired but in the case of our arrival here, I think it unlikely they were able to produce a fake of this quality in that short of time, but anything is possible.” Dr. Michaels said.

“You said something about perfect balance. What does that mean?” I asked.

“You recall I mentioned these scrolls might be the foundation of Taoism and the like?” Dr. Michaels asked.

I nodded.

“Balance is a key principle. According to this, all life is born from a combining of the four base elements.” Dr. Michaels said.

“Fire, water, earth, wind.” Kyra said.

Dr. Michaels nodded.

“Right. The Heavenly Sovereign opened a passage for souls to travel from heaven down into the vessels his spouse, the Earthly Sovereign, created. She was the artist apparently, crafting all manner of life from plants, to animals, to people. The vessels were forged from the four elements. First, she crafted a form with Earth. Then she used water to give the form beauty. Next, the form was hardened in fire. Last, wind would transform the figure into a vessel ready to accept a soul.” Dr. Michaels explained.

“Could you get to the point?” I asked.

“Patience, Miss West. Once a soul was given to these vessels they were alive. This how all life began in this myth. When they speak of balance, they mean finding an inner and outer peace with the world. A person in balance has created a peace with the natural elements both in their body and the world around them.” He said.

“And you think I’m in this kind of balance? I’m sorry but that’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard.” I said.

“Actually, it’s not that hard to see.” Mark said.

He’d remained silent for so long I’d almost forgotten he was there. I gave him a questioning glance and he chuckled in response.

“Look I’m saying you are their prophet or whatever, but you do have a grace about you that could be called balance.” Mark said.

“Whether or not we believe in the fables here is irrelevant. These people do.” Kyra said.

“Exactly right.” Dr. Michaels said. “They will follow the instructions within these scrolls to the letter. While I cannot guarantee anything, I believe our best chance at escape lies in understanding their beliefs.”

“Good point.” I said.

“So what comes next?” I asked.

“They tested you and you passed.”

“The caning.” Gina said.

Dr. Michaels nodded at me and for just a moment I thought I saw sympathy in his eyes. I must have been mistaken.

“Next, they will take us to the vault at the appropriate time.” Dr. Michaels said.

“Appropriate time?” Tom asked.

“They are waiting for a planetary alignment of sorts. Oddly it’s only a matter of hours away.” Dr. Michaels said.

“Why is that odd?” I asked.

“This particular alignment, a perpendicular intersection of the 8 planets, is extremely rare. The coincidence of this alignment being now and you fitting so many of the parameters in this prophecy is almost enough to make one believe in it.” Dr. Michaels said.

“Probably a stupid question, but why does the alignment matter?” Gina asked.

“It’s hard to say if it truly does, but these people believe it matters. The vault can only be entered during an alignment and with the key and the prophet. I have my suspicions on what we are dealing with here, but I’d prefer to keep them to myself for the time being. They are irrelevant for the most part anyway.” Dr. Michaels said.

“What do we know about the vault?” I asked.

The door opened and my fashion queen torturer entered the room, followed by a dozen of his faithful. We all fell silent and turned toward him.

“The vault is shrouded in secrecy, but there will be many tests of our worth. The vault will not reveal its treasures to those who are not ready to received them.” He said.

He came to a stop standing on the opposite side of the table from us. His eyes were locked on Dr. Michaels but I could feel he was watching me as well. Mark stepped closer to me as if he intended to protect me and Tom stepped in front of Kyra.

“What if you’re not ready?” I asked.

“I’ve been preparing for this my entire life. If I’m not ready then my life was wasted long before we will enter the vault.” He replied.

“No arguments here.” I said.

He ignored me.

“Bring him.” He said, pointing at Dr. Michaels.

“Where are you taking him?” I asked.

“That’s none of your concern.” He said.

He turned his back and walked out of the room with his guards escorting Dr. Michaels. The door slammed shut and locked again, leaving us alone again. Everyone looked to me like I was supposed to know something they didn’t. The weight of their expectations grew heavier by the second until finally the silence was broken.

“We should get some rest. It could be our last opportunity for awhile.” I said.


  1. Ashley, now you are teasing, they did this in Saturday cinema as well,it's called a cliff hanger.
    Great writing. :)
    Warm hugs,

  2. Ash, Good story... looking forward too reading more

  3. Jack could be the spy, but I am still leaning towards Colonel Mustard with the wrench in the conservatory.