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 19, 2009

Breaking Free: Walking The Walk

The guards escorted us out into the middle of the night. Climbing the final steps out into the open it was clear we'd all be right about being underground. The entrance to the compound was hidden from the sky by an overgrowth of trees and from the ground it was hidden behind rocks to the point that you would never find it if you didn't know it was there.

Through the branches I gazed at the stars and the moon. Their dim and distant light felt warm and comforting in the cool night air. If it weren't for the armed men surrounding us, I might have enjoyed myself. Still, I couldn't help the tingle of excitement running through my veins at the thought of what awaited us.

I had expected we would be loaded onto jeeps, trucks or even vans for the trip to the vault, but there was none of that. Instead, a half dozen of the guards walked ahead, swinging machetes to clear a walking path through the dense, jungle-like forest. I groaned as it became clear our cultist captors expected us to walk. My chest continued to burn and feel constricted from the injuries to my ribs and a protracted walk through uneven terrain was the last thing I wanted to be doing. A quarter mile in and I was already wheezing from the effort to breathe.

"Are you alright?" Mark asked.

His hand gently grabbed my elbow and he pulled me in closer to him so we could speak in a semblance of privacy. I nodded at him that I was fine but my eyes gave way to the truth and he saw it as clearly as if I'd said the truth aloud.

"You're in pain." Mark said.

"I'll be fine." I said.

There wasn't any point in wallowing in self pity, however justified it might be.

"You should probably be in a hospital." Mark said.

"Let me know if you see one nearby." I said.

I noticed Tom was watching us very carefully from a short distance away where he was walking with Gina. She was paying closer attention to walking on the path and not tripping over her own feet than she was to anyone around her. Tom's eyes were on Mark though. For whatever reason it seemed he didn't trust Mark which made me wonder if I should. It's not that I have blind faith in Tom, but more that I have my own doubts about Mark and seeing them in someone else gave them a prominence they otherwise lacked.

"Seriously, you should take it easy. If you push yourself too hard, you'll just pass out and one of us will end up carrying you." Mark said.

"If that's a crack about my weight, you're on dangerous ground." I said.

"V." He said.

His tone said he was serious and annoyed with me not taking him seriously.

"Relax. I'm not going to fall over anytime soon and if I feel a sudden fainting spell coming on, I promise I'll sit down first. Okay?" I said.

"This isn't a joke." Mark said.

"And this isn't the time or place for you to be fussing over me." I replied.

"Fine. Forget I said anything." He said.

Mark didn't give me a chance to respond. He just walked away and left me alone in the forest. If it weren't for all the other people around I would have been alone at least. It felt that way because for all their menacing appearance the cultist guards and their leader were nothing more than distractions on the landscape. They carved a path for us and led the way to our destination but they were avoiding any other contact with us and that was just fine with me.

Being annoyed with Mark gave my brain something more to do than focusing on the pain in my chest. I walked faster until I was right behind the men cutting our path and even then I stayed right on their heals. The burning in my chest faded in significance and I found a rhythm for breathing that didn't leave me gasping for air.

We walked on through the forest like that for at least two hours before the forest gave way to a clearing. I stepped out of the trees into the open grassland and stopped in my tracks. The sight before me was exactly what the little girl had shown me in my head. Rising up out of the flat land was a stepped pyramid blending grass and stone into a perfect pillar reaching up into the sky.

"Remarkable isn't it?" The cultist leader said.

I hadn't noticed him come to stand next to me. In the moonlight amongst the trees and green foliage surrounding us, he suddenly didn't seem so menacing. Make no mistake, I wasn't about to become his friend or start trusting him, but where before I thought he was nothing but evil incarnate, I started to consider there might be something more to him. I allowed myself a gentle smile, hoping it would disarm him as his new nature was threatening to disarm me and then returned my gaze to the stepped pyramid rising out of the forest before us. He was right, it was breathtaking.

"Pictures don't do these things justice." I said.

"Just as the prophecies fail to reveal all that you truly are." He said.

It was flattery, pure and simple. I was doing what he wanted so I couldn't fathom why he bothered unless it was to try to win me over to his way of thinking. He couldn't know it, but there was nothing he could say or do that would ever make me sympathetic to him or his cause. Allowing myself to enjoy the beauty surrounding us was just a way of coping with the inevitable. Like it or not we were going into that pyramid and whether he was evil or something else, I wasn't going to hesitate when the time came to choose between freedom and him and his men's lives.

"Do you really believe in them?" I asked.

From the corner of my I caught a touch of surprise shimmer across his face. I had asked out of a genuine curiosity though, not to shock him. The idea that any person in the modern age could place their faith in tales written generations ago about things in a future they would never know, seemed ludicrous to me.

"You think I'm a fool to believe in such things." He said.

Were my thoughts so transparent as to be read easily from the expressions on my face or was he empathic enough to have caught a glimpse of himself through my eyes? I paused in my walk toward the pyramid and studied him for a moment where he too stopped walking and gazed upon me.

"They are not as you perceive them. Prophecies are about things that will come to be, they do not tell the future." He said.

"I'm not sure I understand the difference." I said.

With his hand he gestured at the sky as if it were an answer to the question. I looked up to see if there was something there I had missed, but it was just a starry sky with a bright moon shining down upon us.

"In studying the skies of the past one can come to know what the sky of tomorrow will look like. When you look at your calendar and see the phases of the moon scheduled out for the month, do you consider it to be telling you the future?" He said.

"No, of course not. It's a matter of science." I replied.

"As are prophecies. They don't tell the future they only tell about things which will come to pass because they must by the laws of the universe. It is a science and no less of one simply for your lack of understanding it." He said.

"So it didn't have to be me. It could have been someone else in my place." I said.

"It was always you. You can no more change who you are than you can change the cycles of the moon." He said.

"That would mean I don't have any choices and I don't believe that."

"Of course you have choices. It is simply that because of who you are, your choices are predictable."

I smiled at the thought of him expecting me to behave in a predictable fashion. If he thought he knew what I would do and when I would do it, I could surprise him by altering my tactics. Sometimes being predictable can be an advantage when it comes to unpredictability.

We had stopped long enough that all the others had left us behind. The entrance to the stepped pyramid was only a few feet further away but it seemed like a mile lay between us and the rest. If I had wanted to run I think I could have escaped him, but we both knew that I was as interested in exploring the pyramid as he was. Besides, leaving my companions behind was not something I was prepared to do.

I started walking again toward the others and the entrance which was now visible at the base. The night sky was fading into dawn and soon the sun would rise over the pyramid. From what I'd learned about the planetary alignment that was supposedly necessary, the sun's light would mark the appropriate moment to enter the vault.

Without rushing we rejoined the others. Tom came to walk beside me, his face showing obvious signs of concern. He wasn't hard to read when it came to emotions, they were written without obscurity on his face. I was gratified to see he actually cared, but a quick glance at Mark revealed that it could be a problem. Not for me or Tom, but Mark seemed jealous which was also nice to see in its own way, but I hoped it wouldn't get out of hand.

"What did he want?" Tom asked.

"Nothing. I think he's still hoping to win me over to his way of thinking." I said.

"Just so long as he's not succeeding." Tom said.

"You worry too much, Tom. Have a little faith." I said.

"My faith is stretched to the breaking point on hoping you read those plans right for an escape from this place." Tom said.

"We'll find out soon enough." I said.

The entrance to the vault was on the east side positioned so that it was mostly shaded from the early morning sun. Dr. Michaels took the lead when we approached it and he began searching around for the mechanism to unlock it. The morning sun was rising in the distance over the sea and its shimmering light gave the morning a dreamlike quality well beyond the pyramid's surrealistic appearance.

Everything came together all at once. The leader of the cultists came to stand next to me again and my mysterious little girl appeared on the other side of me. She wrapped her hand inside of mine and I shuddered at the cool, electric rush it sent through my arm. A ray of sunlight shown through the trees and illuminated a recessed circle in the stone beside the door.

"It's time." She said.

"Listen to your guide." He said.

He glanced at her and she at him and for the first time since I'd met her, I knew I was not crazy. She was real in some twisted way that I could probably never understand. A thousand questions cluttered my mind, but I pushed them all aside. Time was short and if we did not open the door, we never would.

"The medallion." I said, stepping forward and holding my hand out.

He laid it into my hand and I walked to the illuminated stone. Dr. Michaels crowded into me as we studied the recessed circle for a clue as to how the the medallion was to be inserted. I almost just pushed it in without regard for direction but then my eye caught a light engraving inside the recession. With my fingers I brushed away the dust and dirt.

"Do you see this?" I asked.

"Yes." Dr. Michaels replied. "It's difficult to make out. Give me a moment."

He pushed his way in front of me and approached the recession so closely, I thought he was going to put his head inside of it instead of the medallion. The sunlight was starting to drift away and I realized we had only a few more minutes before the illumination would be gone. Something told me that if the light left the recession, the vault would remain sealed for another few thousand years. Of course if the cultist leader was correct, that would never happen because it was time to open the vault and it therefore had to happen. I was tempted to wait just to see if something would happen to force the vault to open now or if I could, by inaction, prove his prophecies false.

"You have to hurry." The little girl said.

I regarded her with new suspicion as she seemed agitated by the delay. Perhaps she was more related to our cultist captors than I had thought or maybe she was honest when she said what was inside was necessary for her own escape to be orchestrated. Either way I was liking less and less the realization that I was not in control of anything, not even myself. Fortunately for her and for him, my curiosity was stronger than my desire to throw a wrench in their plans.

"I think I've got it." Dr. Michaels said.

He stepped back from the recession and looked at me. I could read the thought in his eyes that had been rolling around in my own head. The question of the day was whether we would be better off inside the vault or never having opened it at all. I suspected the latter but there was no way to know for certain and if this was indeed the one chance to open this door in thousands of years, how could I walk away? No, we had to open it. We had to move forward.

I handed Dr. Michaels the medallion. He seemed surprised that I would entrust it to him, but it was probably safer in his hands than in mine. At least he had an idea of what to do with it. All I had was the possibility that I was meant to be here and enter this place at this time. If destiny is a method, it is not mine.

"The light." The little girl said.

It was slipping away from the recession. Another minute and we would have waited too long.

"Do it." I said.

Dr. Michaels turned the medallion carefully in his hands. The positioning was a precise as he could make it without tools for measuring and then he slapped it into the stone. The sunlight caught the jewel in the medallion's center and scatter a rainbow of light all around the door. It lasted only for a second and then the pyramid began to rumble. The stone door began to shake and dust floated in the light breeze from every crack and crevice surrounding the entrance.

The ground shook like dynamite had been detonated beneath our feet. Dr. Michaels reached out and turned the medallion ninety degrees to the right and then the stone door dropped straight down into the earth until what had once been sealed against the top of the entrance frame was only a stepping stone on a path leading inside.

A gust of cold, stale air blew into our faces as we peered into the vault's inner darkness. It wasn't hard to believe that it had been thousands of years since the door had been opened. Still, there was a sense of immeasurable excitement that we were about to enter a place that hadn't been seen since practically the beginning of man's time on Earth.

"We're going to need some light." I said.

I looked back at the girl and the cultist leader. They were smiling equally, each pleased with the open doorway and the prospect of where it would lead. The leader tossed a flashlight toward me, but as I turned around, I discovered the once dark passage was illuminated with the flickering light of torches burning on the walls. I looked to Dr. Michaels who merely shrugged.

"Don't look at me. They lit on their own." Dr. Michaels said.

I kept the flashlight in my hand just in case and without further hesitation, I stepped inside. There would be dangers ahead and being the first to encounter them did not please me, but I was more comfortable leading than following. Besides, it was just possible I might be able to avoid some of those dangers just because I'm the one who is supposed to.


  1. Ashley, this is edge of my seat writing, Tuesday seems a long way a way.
    Warm hugs,

  2. Ash,

    Good story, also like the new picture/book cover....Good job now have faces to go along with the words which is always good

  3. If the leader can see the girl, then she could have been the one who decided the women should be caned. She hasn't shown much concern for the lives of V's friends either. There really is no reason to trust her.