Terra Vonnel and the Skulls of Aries – Chapter 9
The full moon hung high in the night sky like a shining beacon, guiding her through the vast sea to the shoreline of Mount Aries.
In no time Terra and five of her crewmen made their way to shore in a small wooden boat as the Aspen lay anchored in the distance. Terra was the first to step ashore, her black boots sinking deep into the soft sand as she made her way out of the boat and up the beach toward the cavern.
The cave entrance was narrow and damp, and the smell of natural sediments lingered in the warm air. Jagged cavern walls glimmered like onyx as they made their way over and around the sharp stalactites that hung from the ceiling.
“Vixen, we need light,” Coven whispered.
Terra stopped and looked back at the men that trailed behind her. Hunkered down, scared, and with only the whites of their eyes visible, she knew Coven was right. It was too dark and treacherous to continue like this. Each man carried a sword and a pack of supplies. She knew this would be the most dangerous part of the journey, so they had prepared for the worst.
Terra reached for the Vanquisher and unsheathed it. Its blue flame ignited, casting a warm glow throughout the cold, dark cavern, and for the first time, Terra felt her skin crawl.
The cave walls shimmered like diamonds. Emerald-colored water lay stagnant in small pools at their feet, filled by the slow, continuous drip of water from the stalactites above.
Terra lifted the Vanquisher high into the air, so she could survey the area more closely. Now visible were hundreds of human bones that littered the ground, scattered into the far corners of the cave and down the passageway they would need to travel.
It was just fear, she told herself, fear of the unknown, fear as she had faced many times before. It was the devastation surrounding her that gave her good reason to fear the unknown. Whatever was protecting the gate was deadly, perhaps so deadly they might not escape.
Terra made her way up the rock face and back down into the passageway with her men close behind. Coven was closest to her, followed by Rip, Quinn, Marcus, and Vallenbore. Her men could take care of themselves, and she knew that. They were all capable seamen and notorious pirates in their own right. Terra also knew if they were going to survive they would need to stay together and alert. This was going to be dangerous, possibly more dangerous than any of them could conceive. She knew something was here lurking, waiting for an opportunity to strike, but she told herself that was not going to happen.
As Terra made her way deeper into the passageway, she thought she heard a faint whisper. She stopped, turned, and signaled for her men to stop.
“What is it, Vixen?” whispered Coven.
Terra’s wide eyes scanned the passageway as if she were searching for something she could not see. “I… I thought I heard something,” she whispered back.
They stood in silence. Only the echoing of heavy breathing from the men could be heard now.
“Maybe it was nothing, maybe the wind,” Coven said.
“Maybe…” she replied.
Terra turned and started down the passageway once more when the voice whispered again.
“W-w-w-why do you come with six souls?”
The voice was coming from behind them. Terra turned, raising and pointing the Vanquisher back down the narrow passageway as the men shifted and turned to get a better look. The pale blue flame illuminated the passageway, but there was nothing to be seen but darkness.
“Vixen, we need to leave. It is the devil!” Quinn said, terrified.
“We are not leaving. Stand your ground, Quinn,” she snapped back. “And arm yourselves, because whatever is here wants us dead. I will not let anything stop me from reaching that gate!”
Terra turned around and hastened down the passageway. All four crewmen drew their swords; Coven drew both of his revolvers and scurried behind her. The passageway grew higher and wider as they moved forward. Suddenly a piercing cry rang out behind them, and the clank of a sword hitting the ground echoed through the dark passageway.
Terra turned, shining the Vanquisher behind her, to find only four of her men remaining. Vallenbore had vanished.
“Quickly,” she said. “Follow me and do not look back!”
The men did not argue. Their eyes shifted from side to side in panic, a shroud of fear covering their faces as they moved quickly through the passageway, hoping to survive.
**I will post one Chapter each week, so this may take a while. If you just can’t wait, you can the complete book at Amazon for FREE.
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