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.

April 1, 2010

Losing Control: The Path Not Traveled

I pushed myself back onto my feet, careful to keep my footing on the icy rock of the mountain side. My eyes never left the old woman standing over me. In the light of day, she looked even more familiar than she had in the shadows of the caves from our previous encounters. If I knew her though, I could not locate the memory. She appeared to know me quite well, standing relaxed, comfortable even, as if she knew as fact I would do her no harm.

"I'd ask what you are doing here," I said, listening to the sounds of my team regaining their own footing and moving closer, "but I have a feeling you would say something obvious like you're waiting for me."

The old woman laughed and said, "I was, but now that you are here, I'm no longer waiting for you to arrive." The ground rumbled beneath my feet. I stumbled while standing still and glanced at my team to find the same perplexity running through my head expressed on their faces. "Time is short."

"I thought this volcano was inactive," I said.

Kyra said, "When they don't erupt for a couple thousand years that the usual designation, but it's not always the final word on the subject."

"People are approaching the lost city," The old woman said, "The time of destiny is almost upon us and there is no time left to be wasted. You must be prepared."

I said, "There are so many questions I could ask, but let me start with the obvious; Prepared for what?"

"Your destiny," She said.

"Oh, well that explains everything," Brian said.

"It explains nothing," The woman said, "Everything you need to know is contained inside. Unfortunately, you are here later than I had hoped, but if you hurry there is still time enough."

"You could always just tell us what we need to know," Gina said.

The old woman smiled and said, "If I could recall all the pertinent details to tell, I would not have needed to write them down."

"Are you the author then?" Kyra asked.

The woman nodded and looking at me, said, "I've had a hand in shaping the events leading up to today. Where things go from here is up to you."

"The vent leads inside?" I asked.

She said, "Yes, you should go. My time here is at an end and you'll need all the time that is left."

"Why should I trust you?" I asked.

She smiled and said, "You don't have to, just trust yourself. I've helped you as much as I can. From here on everything you do is for the first time and the choices I made are no longer yours."

The wind came up with a flurry of snow whipping through us. I turned to shield my eyes and brace against the rock. When it passed I turned back to find the old woman was gone and all that remained was the echo of her final words spinning around in my head. I peered carefully over the edge, terrified to find she had been swept off the mountain, but even more terrified to realize she was simply gone like the wind. Brian, Gina, and Kyra were all staring at me as if I should have some explanation.

Gina asked, "Where did she go?"

I shrugged, not wanting to say anything I was thinking. Brian said, "Probably back to wherever she came from."

"Who was she?" Kyra asked.

"I don't know," I said, though it was not entirely true. I gazed upon my shadow, cast tall and large on the side of the mountain and wondered if she was somewhere inside the shades of gray that were me. Her words continued to spin my head around in a way that made me question everything I thought I knew.

I fought the urge to shudder under the scrutiny of Brian's gaze. He said, "What do you suppose she meant?"

"By what?" I asked, turning my back to him and the others. There were answers, but I was more interested in finding the ones promised to exist at the end of the tunnel ahead. I walked toward it, hoping my actions would be enough of a hint to drop the uncomfortable conversation, but Brian was undaunted and said, "She said everything you do from here was for the first time. That sounds like she was saying you have done everything else before, but that doesn't really make a lot of sense does it?"

"What do you expect?" I said, increasing my pace and stepping inside the tunnel in the rock. "She's obviously crazy."

"Yeah," Brian said, increasing his pace to walk beside me, "about as crazy as you."

I glared at him for a moment, but unlike most, he was not afraid of the look in my eyes. I said, "Just drop it okay? What we came for is ahead and if there are any answers beyond the insane suppositions you're making, we'll find them there as well."

"If you say so," Brian said.

We walked on in silence. The tunnel was a steam vent from the active days of the volcano. Those days seemed they might be about to return with the occasional rumble of the rock beneath our feet, but the air remained icy and the rock cold. If an eruption were coming it seemed logical those things would not be such. Then again, I am not an expert on geological events. Rather than contemplating the uncertainties, I hurried along at as quick of a pace as we could safely navigate the downward slope of frozen rock.

It was almost easy to forget everything, losing myself in the beauty and wonder of nature surrounding me. The passage was narrow and tight, tighter in some spots than others, where the ice of the glacier encasing the volcano was thickest. Light from our flashlights was bent through the ice like glass creating a rainbow of colors all around us. I was tempted to stop and allow the magnificence to sink into my soul, but the lure of explanations ahead kept me focused.

"Careful," Kyra said, after nearly two hours of descending into the mountain, "there's a steep drop ahead. The observatory should be on the left just before it."

Steadying myself against the side of the tunnel, I stopped and shined my light ahead. There was no obvious sign of an entrance into the observatory, but I had not really expected to find a marked door waiting for us. Straight ahead there was darkness which did not reflect anything back, undoubtedly a sign of the drop Kyra mentioned. Turning my back to the right side of the tunnel I sidestepped carefully toward the dark abyss, studying the left wall for anything that might indicate a structure.

"I'm not seeing anything," I said. "Are you sure it's here?"

Kyra replied, "No, that's why we were conducting the aerial survey in the first place."

"Right," I said.

"The woman said it was here," Brian said.

I said, "She said a lot of things, that doesn't make them true."

"Maybe," Brian said kneeling down by the left wall, "but we've got no reason to distrust her."

"That she's clearly insane isn't reason enough for you?" Gina asked.

"While the possible seems impossible, the sane will always be insane," Brian said.

The mountain rumbled. My flashlight tumbled from my hand onto the ground as I grabbed the rock to keep from falling. Staring into the darkness beyond us, I saw a flicker of a reflection in the reckless light of my rolling flashlight. The rumbling grew stronger and the flashlight rolled off the edge, illuminating the darkness. Unexpectedly it clattered against something solid. The quake subsided and we all stared at the dome of light where darkness had been only moments before.

Looking down from the edge, I said, "You didn't mention the drop was only about ten feet."

Kyra stepped up next to me and said, "It's ice, solid ice. The satellite imaging would never have picked that up."

"Maybe there is a way in from down there," Brian said and Gina added, "We'll never know until we go down there."

"It's hard to tell how thick that ice is or how stable," Kyra said. "I recommend a little caution."

"I agree," I said, continuing to look down at the sheet of white ice, "With all these quakes, it might be considerably less stable than it was on a few hours ago even. Brian, I think there is some rope in your pack."

Slipping the pack off his back, Brian reach inside and said, "Yeah, I think there's probably enough here to hang ourselves real good."

"Suicide isn't exactly what I had in mind," I said.

"This from the woman who decided it was a good idea to sky dive onto a mountain," Brian said.

Helping Brian unfold the rope, I said, "Maybe I'm remembering things wrong, but didn't you jump first?"

"At your request," He said.

"I'd ask if you'd jump off a cliff if I told you to, but I think it's a given considering you jumped out of a plane," I said.

"I'm not going to win this am I?" Brian asked.

"Nope," I said, laughing with him.

Driving a cam into the rock wall, Brian said, "I'll go first."

"Not this time," I said. "If anything goes wrong, I'll need you up here to pull me back up."

"That ice has been there for hundreds of years," Gina said, "It's not going anywhere."

"It's quite likely in all that time, the heaviest thing to hit it is that flashlight," Kyra said. "One at a time with a safety line is the only intelligent way to proceed."

"This isn't a debate," I said, tying the rope around my waist, "We're doing this my way and at the moment my way is in total agreement with Kyra."

Brian wrapped the other end of the rope around his back and set his legs to support me. I stepped to the edge and turned my back to the open space of the shaft. "Ready?" I asked and Brian nodded. Stepping backward, I walked off the edge, easing my way down the vertical face of rock and ice. It did not take long before I was standing on the floor of ice.

The ice creaked under my weight. I edged away from the wall until I could reach my flashlight and picked it up. In the light, the way ahead was obvious. Directly in front of me, a hole in the ice and rock of the shaft's wall beckoned to be explored. Careful, not to slip on the ice, I made way to it's edge and shined the light through, revealing a downward slope of ice. It was dark beyond the end of the ice, but reflections of light told me there was something more than emptiness on the other side.

"Anything?" Brian asked from above.

"I think so," I said. "There's a tunnel here, but I can't tell for sure if there is anything on the other side. Give me a little more slack and switch on your radio."

"Are you sure it's safe?" Kyra asked.

Pulling out my own two-way radio, I said, "Safe enough at least."

For safety's sake, I placed a cam in the rock above the tunnel. The hole in the rock did not allow much in the way of a cautious approach. Flashlight in my mouth, I grabbed hold of the rock above and swung my legs up and inside the tunnel. Letting go, I slid along the smooth icy surface, unable to slow or even control my descent. It was over almost as soon as it began. I spilled out of the tunnel and landed on solid ground or something like it. Shining my light around the space, I gaped at the reality of the observatory.

The floor sloped at an awkward angle, but with care, it would be traversable. The room was massive with a domed ceiling, making it seem even larger. For a moment I glimpsed the place in its former glory. Sunlight glistening through from above, the carvings and paintings on the walls were fresh and glistening with the texture of gold. The colors were vibrant, almost painful to gaze upon and there were children seated in the center circle of the room with a pair of instructors, one male, one female, each providing insight to the lesson being taught. A little girl smiled at me and pointed to the other side of the room, laughing at my confusion. I followed the direction of her finger with my gaze and stumbled upon a library of scrolls.

"Are you alright?" Kyra said over the radio, shaking me from the trance and transforming the observatory back into ruins.

I fumbled the radio from my belt and said, "Yes, I'm inside."


  1. Ash, this is beautiful, it really rolled, coming to the end was a bit of a shock.
    Great episode.
    Warm hugs,

  2. Ash, another awesome post, the description inside the room was fantastic. thanks for the enjoyable reading
    AL :)