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.

March 1, 2010

Taking Control: Shades Of Truth

There was absolute silence, painful and pressured, like being underwater. Illuminated by moonlight, Olivia stood naked on the edge of a cliff. Her arms spread beside her, open, empty palms facing me. She smiled, sympathetically nodding at me and the unwavering gun gripped in my cold hand, pointing at her. A few feet away, Dr. Gene Michaels watched us, seemingly more interested in a long folded scroll in his hands. Behind me, Joseph Candle stood close enough for me to feel the ice of his breath on my ear.

"Trust me," Olivia said and Dr. Michaels nodded.

In my ear, Joseph Candle whispered, "Kill her," and my finger twitched on the trigger.

"Things are not what they seem," She said and the world shifted.

I was naked and Olivia wore my clothes. The gun remained in my hand, pointed at Olivia. Joseph Candle stood beside me, sour disappointment adorning his face. Behind me the cliff ended and below was nothing except darkness. Dr. Michaels held a portion of the scroll up for me to see a single name written on the pages, over and over; Allison. Olivia shrugged.

"It's a trick," Joseph Candle said.

Olivia said, "The choice is yours."

Out of thin air and darkness, the child-like form of my grandmother appeared beside me, opposite Joseph Candle. She surveyed the situation, looking exceptionally long over the edge of the cliff and shaking her head at me. A carefree smile on her face attempted to hide the lines of concern and fear threatening to overwhelm. She looked from Joseph Candle to Dr. Michaels to Olivia before her eyes settled once more on me.

"I still don't know what you are going to do," She said.

"She'll make the wrong choice," Olivia said. "She always does."

"You know what you have to do," Joseph Candle said.

"You don't have to do anything," Dr. Michaels said.

"Nothing is a choice too," My grandmother said.

Olivia smiled. The world spun around in a vicious circle. I closed my eye against the dizziness, but nothing changed.

"She'll kill us all," Joseph Candle said and Olivia pointed a gun at him. "Trust me," She said.

My finger closed around the trigger. Silence returned as the bullet flew through the air, but instead of Olivia, it impacted against my own chest. I stumbled backward, off the edge of the cliff and fell. Swallowed by darkness, I felt nothing, not even the rush of air. I tumbled in a free fall, up and down as confused as right and wrong.

"We're here," Brian said, his strong hand ripping me from the darkness of my nightmares.

Shielding my eyes from the warm light of the morning sun, I glanced around from the backseat of the jeep. A few feet away Jack and Gina pretended to be interested in the landscape giving Brian and me the semblance of privacy. Brian offered support via a sympathetic smile, but written in his eyes was a lack of understanding. Given the circumstances and everything leading us to where we were, I understood his confusion more than I understood what I was feeling inside. Olivia had left me with few choices and with all she had done I had no cause to be plagued with regret for my own actions, but with or without, I could not escape the hollow pit within me nor the tiny voice in buried deep in my thoughts. What if I was wrong?

"Are you alright?" Brian asked, helping me climb out of the jeep.

Straightening my clothes, as if the act would actually help their sorry state, I nodded my head and said, "Fine. The codex is here?"

Brian nodded and said, "And my SAT phone."

"Then what are we waiting for?" I said.

"You," Jack said walking over to join us with Gina following him a few steps behind. "Everything alright?"

Ignoring Jack, I kept my attention on Brian and said, "Let's go."

Brian adjusted the weight of his backpack and turned to the jungle beyond us. Jack grabbed my arm and turned me to him, forcing me to look him in the eye. Any thoughts I might have entertained about our troubles being forgotten were quickly silenced at the sight of the storm brewing in his dark pupils. I could feel his frustration pulsing in the grip of his hand and simultaneously I could feel my patience slipping away.

"What?" I said.

He glared at my boldness a moment longer before he said, "Nothing. Forget it."

Shaking my head, I jerked my arm from Jack's hold and followed Brian into the thickness of the jungle. The path sloped down at a steep angle and we weaved back and forth to avoid tumbling down. Brian kept the pace quick and we all followed with the only sounds being the trampling of our movements and the unseen animals sensing our intrusion into their domain. I focused on the journey to keep my thoughts from straying into the dark abyss of guilt and conscience.

The base of the valley was home to a dry riverbed. Surrounded by the dense overgrowth of humid jungle, it looked strangely out of place. Following the riverbed for a short distance, Brian led us to an opening in wet, mossy rocks, obviously carved by the receded waters of the riverbed. Pulling a flashlight from his pack, Brian squeezed through the opening and then turned to give me a hand getting through.

On hands and knees we crawled through a short tunnel into a large open cavern. Brian helped Gina and I out of the tunnel. Naturally, Jack declined any assistance. Brian lit a single torch against the wall and the cavern flickered into eerie life. A black pool of water with a perfectly calm surface sat in the middle of the cavern. An odor reminiscent of clay burning in a kiln tickled my nostrils as I breathed in the stale air. I shuddered at the dream-like familiarity of the scene.

"It's just over here," Brian said walking to a pile of rocks beside the water.

We all followed him to the waterside. My eyes drifted toward the water. Our reflections peered back at me through the calm black and then a flutter of white behind us spun me around to seek out the source. Jack whirled around at the same time, pulling out his gun and aiming it into the shadows just beyond the light of the flickering torch. The sound of rock and dirt being pushed aside emanated from the shadows and an old woman's laugh echoed around the chamber.

"Put that thing away, Jack," The woman said, revealing herself in the torch light. "We both know you won't use it."

I recognized her instantly even though I had decided she had been nothing more than a hallucination. Her reappearance was less of a surprise to me than the fact everyone else could see her. Jack lowered his gun after appraising her for a moment. Other than the white stick held in her hand like a walking stick, she was unarmed and nonthreatening. The way she looked at Jack told me she knew him and well, but the suspicion on Jack's face suggested he was looking at a stranger.

"You two know each other?" I asked, glancing between them.

"No," Jack said.

"In a manner of speaking, I know all of you," The old woman said, her eyes landing on me and boring through me. "Of course I know you most of all."

"Who are you? What do you want?" I asked.

She said, "It's enough to know that I have walked your path and you have a chance to make a difference. All I want is for you to have that chance."

"I don't think we should be waiting around here," Gina said, stepping forward turning our attention back to Brian and the pile of rocks.

"She's right," The old woman said, looking back toward the tunnel we had entered from. "You are still being pursued and time is short. The codex will lead you where you need to go, but know now the answers you seek may not be the ones you wish to find."

"If you know something, why not just tell me?" I said.

"Because you won't believe the truth until you learn it for yourself," She said.

A rock tumbled into the water behind me making a splash and whipping my head around to stare at Brian. He shrugged and held up an intricately carved box. The carvings caught my attention and kept it as I studied what appeared to be a woman marked with a "V". Brian caught my gaze and nodded his head.

He said, "I guess you can see why I thought of you."

A noise behind me emanating from the tunnel leading into the chamber, spun me around. The old woman turned toward the tunnel and started walking toward it glancing back at me and the others as she approached it.

"There is another way out," She said. "Follow the far wall around behind the water and you'll find the path. I will hold them as long as I can, but you must hurry."

"Better if you just come with us," Jack said. "You can't last long enough to matter."

Gunshots erupted into the chamber for the tunnel and two men rolled out of it into the open. The old woman swung her stick knocking both the men off their feet even as Jack raised his gun. She rammed the stick into the forehead of the first man, leaving him out cold where he had landed on the ground. The second got off a wild shot, but a moment later her stick sent his gun flying straight up in the air. She bashed him into unconsciousness, dropped her stick and caught the gun out of the air before I could even blink. Jack looked just as stunned as I felt, his gun aimed at the already disabled men.

"Go now. I can't hold them forever," She said.

Brian and Gina were already scrambling along the back wall along the edge of the water. Jack and I exchanged a look which told me he did not like the situation anymore than I did. He turned to head out and I tuned to follow, but something made me look back one more time as Brian and Gina disappeared in the escape tunnel the old woman had directed us toward. Blood seeped through the old woman's white rags. The wild shot had not been wild enough.

"Come with us," I said, pleading for her to choose life over death as if it were my own soul at risk.

She fired off three shots into the tunnel and said, "I chose my path a long time ago. You can save me, but not here, not now."

"I don't understand," I said.

"You will," She said ducking for cover as a hail of gunfire erupted from the tunnel. "The codex will show you the path. Follow it until it's time to make your own. Now go!"

I hesitated a moment longer, but as another barrage of gunfire erupted into the cavern and the ceiling began to crumble, I realized there was nothing I could do. My feet ran for the exit even as my mind searched for an argument to stay. The tunnel's entrance collapsed just after I entered, shaking me out of a melancholy I could not explain. I ran to catch up with the others and barely made it to them before they reached the exit back into the jungle.

We climbed out into the sunlight only a few feet from the jeep. It was unguarded, probably because like us, they had assumed there was only way in or out of the cave and we were supposedly trapped inside. Jack jumped behind the wheel and Gina scrambled into the front seat next to him while Brian and I climbed into the back. Brian laid the box containing the codex into my hands and Jack sped us away from our pursuers and into an uncertain future.


  1. Ash,

    Good story...hope V can come to terms with the Nightmares... the old women fighting was cool she swung that stick very well..looking forward to the next episode
    thanks Al

  2. Ash, love the dream sequence and the old lady, is a puzzle turning into a quandary.
    If she is an hallucination, she's remarkably solid, and the way she uses that stick would imply some martial art training.
    Interesting. :D
    Warm hugs,