Good day to you all. Upon taking a look back through my blog I realised two things. Firstly I realised it has been slim pickings in terms of updates here and secondly it’s been a month since I last posted a short story. It is therefore a great pleasure for to be able to rectify both of these things.
The Chalice of Destiny.
It was almost within Vernon’s grasp, all he had to do was work out how to turn off the flame jets before him. The chalice itself was hidden inside a vault of some sort, the door was closed of course, but he knew it was in there; no-one had set foot in these caves for over two thousand years. The flame jets however were proving quite the bother, he had come here with a group of seven other adventure seekers and all barring one of them had perished in the fire; the last of them had given up their quest and left. But Vernon would not be so easily defeated, all he had to do was work out how to turn them off and open the doors, then it was simply a matter of reaching out and taking the chalice.
‘Hmm,’ he said idly. ‘Perhaps it is some sort of puzzle.’
He started to look around at the tunnel in which he stood, the walls bathed in the orange glow of the flames fiercely gushing from the holes in the walls. He had heard tell of some of these most ancient cave systems being littered with traps to keep the treasures within them safe, indeed that would make sense by the assortment of centuries old bones they had encountered, victims of an assortment of now sprung traps. There were all sorts of carvings and engravings on the walls and floor, telling some sort of tale and he suspected, giving clues to the way into the vault.
‘What a bother,’ he muttered.
He leaned up against the wall and as he did so the stone slab beneath his foot seemed to shift, at first, he paid it no heed assuming the passing of years had taken its toll. However, he moved across to the other wall and as he stepped on the next slab, it also shifted, causing him to examine them more closely. Looking down at them he noticed the faint outline of a tree on each one, after a moment of looking at them he noticed that they were not the same, but were in various states of bloom.
‘Of course,’ he said realising the puzzle. ‘It must be a combination lock, in the order of the seasons.’
Putting his foot on the tree he believed to signify spring, he pushed down as hard as he could and was rewarded with a satisfying click as something dropped into place. Next, he placed his foot on the stone for summer, with the same result, before doing the same with autumn and then winter. As he placed his foot on the last stone he heard a loud grinding sound like two stones rubbing together, followed by a loud thump and then a metallic sounding click. He stood there half expecting to be decapitated by a fiendish trap of some variety, when suddenly the flames flickered and died, followed by the door to the vault grinding open.
‘Finally,’ he said stepping forward into the smoke rising from the now well-cooked corpses of his former companions.
He entered the vault and through the haze of the dust he could see a plinth, around four feet in height and a foot wide. He started to get excited as he approached, knowing full well that the Chalice of Destiny was now in reach. Then the smoke cleared and he was faced with an empty plinth, confused for a moment he thought it must have been another puzzle. But as he looked around he saw carved into the walls laughing faces and slowly came to realise that not only was the Chalice of Destiny not here; it wasn’t anywhere. It wasn’t even a myth and he had been the victim it seemed, of a very deadly two millennia old practical joke.