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.

February 25, 2010

Choosing Corners: Before The Storm

Wind rushed through my hair as I fell. The feeling of utter freedom washed over me as adrenaline pumped through my veins. In another life I would have closed my eyes and waited for the end of everything to splash over me. I was no long that person though, and I faced my future with eyes wide open and no intention of waiting for anything. My hand caught hold of the vine I had spotted from above and grasped it tight enough to slow my descent.

Feeling the rubbery plant begin to burn the skin in my hand I released and kicked against the rocks beside the waterfall, sending me into the branches of a waiting tree and clutching its trunk, dangling far above the ground, but safely alive. Holding tight, I watched my gun tumble and fall to a stop on the ground far below. Looking up, I saw a shocked Olivia looking down at me and shaking her head in disbelief.

"She's alive," Olivia shouted, "Find me another way down there, now!"

I smiled feeling almost impressed with myself. Patting myself on the back would have to wait for another time because as much as I wanted to rest, Olivia was not about to give up. Careful not to fall, I wormed my way down the tree until I was standing on solid ground once more. My gun lay on the other side of the raging river and after a moment's consideration I decided it was important enough to go after. I was already soaked anyway, so what is a little more water?

I looked down the river a little ways and spotted just what I needed; A fallen tree, bridging the two sides. Hurrying along, I tried to recall the map of the region to decide where to head next. Jack had apparently escaped as well, which meant he would be making his own way toward our rendezvous, at least if he was doing as we planned. There was still the slight possibility he would see this SNAFU as a good reason to bail out and head home. He certainly did not believe Brian was an innocent in everything.

Cautiously, I tight walked across the slippery trunk over the raging river enjoying its cool spray against my skin. The humid climate of the jungle was enough to make me daydream of deserts. My clothes were soaked through and through but even before that, they had been stuck to my skin like tack paper. In the distance, I could hear the sound of engines roaring as jeeps raced to find a way down to my location. With any luck, one of them was Jack, but I could not count on it. I grabbed my gun and tucked it back into my waistband after checking the clip and engaging the safety.

Getting my bearings, I realized it was still morning and that meant the sun was to the east. Heading east would bring me back to the road and the road was the only sure way I had of not getting lost. Of course, it was also the easiest way to be found by Olivia and her goons. The river was heading east and fast, but without a boat it was risky to attempt using it. Listening to the engines getting closer, I knew I had to make a decision. The river called to me like a siren as I stared at it, wishing I had a raft, or even a rubber donut.

I needed another option. The river or the jungle was just not much of a choice. Either too slow or too fast and even though I was crazy enough to jump off the edge of a cliff, I was not really into death defying stunts. My eyes turned toward the splash of the waterfall and then I looked up to see there was no longer anyone watching me. Walking on the edge of the river, I approached the sheet of falling water, squinting to see beyond it as I recalled the water inside Fu Xi's vault. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes and stepped through the water.

Not really expecting to find anything but solid rock behind the fall, I was surprised when my head found open space. I opened my eyes and discovered a small cave above four feet above the bottom of the river. Quickly I pulled myself up the ledge and out of the water into the narrow tunnel. There was light coming from inside someplace, flickering like a fire on the walls. The waterfall completely hid it all from the outside world. The light could mean I was not alone, but the cave seemed my best chance to avoid Olivia and she would most likely think I had used the river to head back toward the main road. If I waited long enough, I could catch up with them and they would be looking in all the wrong places for me.

I backed away from the water making sure I was far enough away that some stray glance into the fall would not reveal me hiding. The roar of the waterfall was almost all I could hear at first, but as I became accustomed to the cave's echoes, I could hear the engine sounds once more. They stopped close by and I could hear the trampling of goons, searching the local area for any signs of me or where I had gone. I held my breath, hoping they would make the assumption I needed them to make.

"What have you found," Olivia said, apparently arriving late to the scene.

"Nothing," A man replied.

"There has to be something," Olivia said.

"Maybe she used the river," Another man said.

"Possible, but unlikely," Olivia said. "She only takes risks she can control."

"You're not going to find her," Gina said, a taunting to her tone that made me smile.

"I think she crossed here," A man said.

"Going where?" Olivia asked.

"Back toward where you are," He said.

Olivia said, "To retrieve her weapon. Then where did she go?"

"Into the water," Another man said.

"I don't buy it," Olivia said. "The river's a bad option. Too many variables and not enough control."

"She was scared and running," A man said, "Maybe she thought the risk was her only option."

Gina laughed. "She set you up. She was better than you at camp and she's still better than you now," She said.

"None of you," Olivia said, "You most of all, know what you're involved in."

"Just knowing it vexes you is good enough for me," Gina said.

"Obviously, she had a plan," Olivia said, "And you know at least some of it."

"Yeah, it involved pissing you off," Gina said, "I think she succeeded on that point already, and then rescuing Brian from your evil clutches."

"If you knew the difference between good and evil, you'd be rooting for me to find Virginia before it's too late," Olivia said.

"I don't think Tanya would agree," Gina said.

"That was an unfortunate mistake," Olivia said.

"Because it proved who you are?" Gina said.

"No," Olivia said, "Because it cast doubt on what we are."

A radio squawked and Olivia said, "Stratford here, go ahead."

"We've got Barker," The radio voice said.

"Alive?" Olivia said.

"He unconscious, but he'll live," The radio responded.

"Excellent work," Olivia said. "Head back to camp."

The radio said, "Copy that."

"Everybody pack it up," Olivia ordered.

"What about West?" A man said.

"We're holding all the cards," Olivia said. "She'll come to us."

Moments later the engines roared back to life and then began to fade in the distance as they drove away. I remained huddled in my cave, hugging my knees to my chest. Focusing on breathing, I considered the situation carefully. Jack was either free and waiting for me at the rendezvous, meaning Olivia suspected I was nearby and did her little radio show for my benefit or he had been captured and incapacitated. Heading to the rendezvous point myself was either a waste of time, a trap, or the only way I was going to get any help. The last possibility was good, but the other two were less than exciting.

Olivia was right, I would come to them. I could not easily leave the jungle and get help, a general lack of transportation being the first obstacle and time being the second. She would leave and easy to track trail, but if I did not show quickly, it would lead to nowhere. I closed my eyes trying to force new possibilities to open themselves up to my mind. Every direction seemed like a sure way to lose and this was a battle I could not afford to lose. Maybe my grandmother had been right when she told me to turn back and forget about Brian. It was beginning to look more and more like the trap had been laid very carefully with me in mind and if Brian was not a willing participant he was close enough to it, that it might not matter in the end.

The sound of a pebble falling, echoed within the cave and snapped my eyes back open. I looked back into the depth of the cave and stared once more at the flickering light. Maybe there was another possibility and maybe it was with the light. Pulling out my gun, I began the slow process of crawling down the tunnel toward the light and its unknown source. Every movement I made seemed to echo louder and louder the farther I went, but if someone was paying attention they gave me no sign.

At the end of the tunnel, the cave opened into a larger chamber, not huge, but large enough to stand upright. In the center of the room a small camp fire burning, ventilated by a stone window into the jungle on the other side of the cave. Sitting next to the fire, an old woman sat quietly warming her hands by the fire. Her long white hair draped over her like a dress falling to the floor. I stepped into the opening and she smiled up at me with silver eyes that seemed to reflect the firelight straight into me.

"I didn't mean to startle you," I said, doubting she would even understand me.

"I was beginning to think you would never come inside," She said, her voice raspy as if she had smoked her whole life.

"You speak English," I said.

"As do you," She said with a laugh.

"What are you doing here?" I asked, although a hundred other questions were floating in my head as well.

"I could well ask you the same," She said, gesturing for me to join her by the fire. "It matters little though, our journeys have brought us here and that is sufficient."

I hesitated a moment and then shrugged. She was no stranger than Joseph Candle in her responses and something told me, she was no threat to me. It was even possible she might be able to help. I sat down, cross-legged next to her. The warmth I expected to overwhelm me from the fire was strikingly absent and instead I found myself feeling cooler and more comfortable instead of less.

"You are lost," She said and I raised an eyebrow wondering if I was supposed react in awe at her conclusion. She laughed and said, "Not in the jungle, but inside yourself. You are trapped on the way from the person you were to the person you are supposed to become."

"What do you know of me?" I asked, not certain I truly wished to know.

"You have yet to choose your path," She said.

"My friends are in danger, I should go," I said.

She said, "There are indeed, but more than your friends are at stake. The path you choose will effect all those who came before and all those yet to come."

The words sounded familiar. She looked nothing like my ethereal grandmother, but her words were as cryptic and the subject seemed much the same. Remembering the crystal and its ability to alter her appearance in variations of its light, I wondered if this was another apparition of her, acting as if she were a convenient guide with knowledge to help me, but shrouded in mystery. She saw the thoughts in my eyes and shook her head ever so slightly.

"In the end it is only you who can decide. I am not the one of whom you think, but we have met before and we will again. Time is short though and I cannot risk helping you more," She said and the fire crackled as her finger snapped. The cave and the fire disappeared and we were sitting in the jungle, the sun setting on the horizon and darkness falling around us.

She said, "You must choose a path and do it quickly because not deciding is a choice as well."

"Who are you?" I asked, wondering if I could believe my eyes or ears or if sanity had snapped from my head entirely.

"It's only natural you should stumble on your journey, but if you remain true to yourself, you will find your way," She said and disappeared into the darkness, leaving me alone.


  1. Ash, this is brilliant. :D

    I love the way you are handling this, nothing to far fetched or miraculous. ;)

    Psychic phenomena are part of your modus operandi and as such, acceptable. :)
    I am possessing my soul in patience, waiting for the next episode, with difficulty I might add. :(

    Warm hugs,

  2. Ash,
    Good Story,Glad to see she was able to Allude Olivia,just wonder for how long... the Cave seen was good reminded me of the Game Dungeon Siege...looking forward to the next episode
    Thanks Al