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Zeitgeist Blue

Jungle Memories: Walking the Daydream

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17:13:56

October 19, 2018

Somewhere in the Amazon

 

The ceiling falls.

 

Huge slabs of rock brake from the ceiling, clouds of dust and debris exploding as they rain down on those below. People run across the ground, trying to escape the deathtrap they had found themselves in. Screams and shouts of alarm ring across the temple, echoing across the stone walls to mix with the sound of crashing stones. Shallow cracks web across the floor, the intricate artwork extolling gods and storied legends tearing itself apart.

 

"Get out of the way!"

 

A father leading three young children by the hand shoves past Cassie, causing her to stumble. When she looks up, the family of four is already moving among the panicking crowd. They rush for the nearest exit where the day outside streams through like a solid pillar of light. You move to follow but hear someone calling your name.

 

"Cassie! Cassie!"

 

A tall man wades through the crowd behind you, concern filling his eyes. His head is shaved and a beard, curly and orange, marks him like a target at a firing range.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Snakebite

 

Collapsing ceilings were not the best way to start the day! 

 

Through the dust and confusion she spied the bearded man. And what, she thought somewhat oddly, a magnificent beard it was! Like a viking warrior! Like a Rus trader!

 

She could only assume he was without malign intent. After all, he seemed to be at ground level. If anyone was with violence machination right now, presumably they would have not have placed themselves under a collapsing ceiling. 

 

What was it anyway? A bomb? Bad architecture? Someone moving a really heavy piano?

 

Well she, hand't seen a piano, so presumably it wasn't that. 

 

"Over here!" she called out. 

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"Cassie!"

 

Within a few seconds, he reaches you and you take a whiff of his scent, a mix of fruity perfumes and sweat, earthy as if he were a common laborer. His brows furrow and he leans in, intimately so as if he were a lifelong partner, and you feel his breath on your ear. Hot, familiar, even as questions tumble from his mouth. "Are you hurt? Where are the your parents? Katherine? Ernst? Camille?"

 

He rattles off the names of your coworkers but a rumble makes everyone, including you, stumble. The quake is a reminder and the people only seem to move faster for the exits. You see the one on the east, on the other side of where you are in the temple, collapse into rubble before anyone could leave that way. A few people nearest it begin to claw at the tumbled stonework but most turn and move to the other exits.

 

Then the orange-bearded man grabs your wrist and pulls you toward the nearest exit, shouting at you over his shoulder, "We have to get out of here!"

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Snakebite

 

"Everyone has to get out of here" said Cassie, refining the philosophy. She pulled back her wrist - not that she didn't agree with the man's sentiment in trying to get her out - but rather, she needed to act independently. And she was a lot stronger than she looked. 

 

The east side looked collapsed beyond hope; it would most probably take too long to shift, even with concerted effort. 

 

There really was no way to pick another exit other than, as the man said, the nearest one. 

 

"Lets get going. And pick up any stragglers!" she concluded, making the way to the exit, but mindful to try and pull up anyone who was knocked down...

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The man snaps his head back to you in surprise and you see him open his mouth to say something but then changes his mind, and quickly turns away from you.

 

You begin to move with quickening steps and you find yourself being carried by the crowd as you move closer to your destination. The crowd becomes denser, everyone shoving at each other and bodies mingling sweat and skin to fill your nostrils with the smell of unwashed bodies. Someone shoves an elbow into your ribs, sending a painful jolt up your body, and you don't have the time to reel before you're pushed from behind.

 

"Hey! Get out of the way!" "Move it! Move it!" "This is not what the gods want!" "Save yourselves!"

 

They shout over each other, caring nothing for jewelry they wore - be it animal bone earrings of a commoner or the jade necklace worn around a wealthy aristocrat. They shove yet you see the orange-bearded man a little further ahead, still a head taller than everyone else but thinner now, more gaunt, darker skinned than you first made him out to be.

 

He lifts up a small girl from the ground and glances back towards you, an ornately carved bone piercing his nose. The robe he wears are like a parrot's feathers and painted with mud, though it does little to mar its resplendence.

 

The girl, meanwhile, bears red-rimmed eyes from crying. Her hair is matted and untamed with dirt. She wears what could have been nice clothes but were now ripped and torn. Her doe-ish brown eyes follow the man's gaze to you and she sniffles.

 

It seems he did heed your words.

 

"Kayara, come!" He is clearly speaking to you and he reaches out for your wrist but another quake hits, the strongest one in the day yet, and he stumbles once again, the child still carried in his arms. You hear gasps around you, people fleeing on all sides as onlookers watch in horror.

 

Above you the ceiling has broken in earnest and a car-sized chunk of stone falls straight down for you!

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GM

 

That's bad!

 

The thought was fleeting, but pressing. She had never been subject to being crushed by a slab of masonry before, and, whilst always open to new experiences in principle, it really wasn't on her things to do list today. Or any day. 

 

With snakeblood reflexes, she dived out of the way, towards the mystery bearded man. Whom, she noted, was either showing humanity by rescuing the girl, or following her commands. Or, she added to herself, doing both!

 

"Lets get out of here before we get crushed!" she said, giving a little cough from masonry dust. 

 

And now, it really was time to run!

 

Save skin first, ask questions later!

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You leap forward and catch the man before he can fall, grabbing him by the hand so you can pull both him and the girl away. And just in the nick of time!

 

The stone crashes to the ground and small debris pelts off your arms, painful enough to bruise but at least you are alive. The man is shielding the little girl with his back and he looks at you, brows raised in surprise. Then without another he turns his eyes away from you and to the exit, gestures to it with his chin and begins to jog, the girl carried in his arms, as if spurred to action.

 

The three of you exit in no time at all, three among a crowd near a hundred. Outside is a clearing, a grassy field free of trees and structures, and while the quakes do not subside, there is nothing to threaten you with its collapse. The sky is bright with the sun's rays, cloudless, almost a complete opposite of the dust and rocks of the temple you had just left.

 

You move a safe distance away, people still streaming out after you, and the richly robed man puts down the girl, who yet clings to the sides of his robes even as he speaks to you. His eyes are dark, somber, and filled with sorrow as he watches his life turn to ruin.

 

"Kayara... why would the gods do this? They're house in these lands..." It is the most you hear him speak today and you notice he doesn't move any closer to you.

 

Both of you watch the temple finish its collapse in silence.

 

Your vision blurs with tears, and you see the world turn hazy as if looking through muddied waters until you cannot even distinguish anything beyond the tears. They recede and day has turned into night and you are above the ruins of the temple, in front of a circular hole that seemed to have been hewn from the stone by design.

 

The same dark-skinned man is beside you but he is older, grayer of hair, wearing shabbier robes. The night is full of clouds, shrouding the world in a blanket of darkness save for where you stand. A ray of moonlight falls upon the two of you and deep into the temple's ruined inside.

 

He kneels and closes his eyes, muttering something under his breath. A prayer you assume but of what you do not know. Then he reaches for a pouch wrapped around his waist and takes out a ring. It catches the moonlight and it shines a brilliant red like blood bejeweled. The metal is dark, iron, an expensive metal and engraved with figures and icons. Humans in praise, feathered gods watching above, and whole structures melding into ruins and monsters.

 

It is a dance of people and gods, depicting the anger that mortals had incurred in their hubris. It is an uroboros of the rise and fall. And it pulses, growing brighter. In the backdrop of its brilliance you see the sun dip into the ground, the moon rise after, you see the exchange of nigt and day continue for a thousand times a thousand cycles. A milennia passes you vision in a dizzying span of seconds and your head feels as if it were going to break from the strain.

 

The ring all the while burns like a steaming coal pressed against your skin.

 

You open your eyes and you are bathed in sweat.

 

It is night, the sky expansive with stars that fill your vision from horizon to horizon, and the first thing you hear is the chirping of the jungle creatures, comforting to someone as well traveled as you. You lie in a bed cot and looking around you see the familiar sight of the ruined temple around you. The ruins of an ancient Amazonian civilization surround you, stone so covered in moss and weeds that it first seemed to be all natural.

 

But a soft red light glows on them and you see a dark shape near you, crouching over what seems to be a fire. You hear the occasional crackle as he tends to it. He doesn't seem to have yet noticed you waking up.

 

On the ring finger of your right hand a ring burns like a steaming coal.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Snakebite

 

Now that was faaar back!

 

It was unusual to have such post cognitive visions asleep or unbidden, but they did happen every so often, when trauma or terror permeated through space and time. When she voluntarily tried to force her mind back, it got chaotic at the best of times, and vast time-distances created more and more disintegration of the vision. 

 

But for now, she was getting back awake, and finding that burning ring painful. Which, in a sense, was a helpful focus to bring her back to the here - and - now. 

 

In an attempt to cool it off she reached for her water and sloshed it over her hand, trying to cool it. And then...study it?

 

Was it hers? Or had it come with the dream?

 

 

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The ring begins to cool down even before you pour water over it and though it does not completely disappear, the burning on your finger becomes cooler, more manageable. A soft heat that reminds you that the ring is still on your finger.

 

The figure stirs with your movements and turns in his seat to regard you. You see an orange-beard and a shaved head backlit by the fireplace's glow and then the memories of the past few days come rushing back to you.

 

Neil, the man's name is Neil Scottson, and you remember how you met him at Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon and the gateway to the jungle lodges and tribal villages that inhabit the Northern Amazon. There you were recovering from an co-expedition into Inca ruins which yielded both the British Museum and the National Museum of Peru quite a number of choice artifacts and insights into the ancient people. Neil was there, waiting for the archaeologists with a find he had found deep inside the Amazon that he would like to enter post-haste.

 

His story held against you and your colleagues' scrutiny, helped by pieces of old stonework that could not have been from anywhere else. But whereas your colleagues needed time for rest, preparation, and approval before they could undertake the expedition you, on the otherhand, was used to travelling light and jumping on the call of adventure no matter the time or place.

 

What you could infer from your interrogations of Neil and your own knowledge reveals a people native to the Amazon who had discovered masonry and worshiped a mixture of animism and pre-Inca gods. The natives whom Neil had found the information from had called the temple ruins Raymilla, dedicated to the Moon, and the temple-builders, the Cuespac. Jungle creatures were said to avoid the ruins but there is little to be said as of why and such stories seemed to be steeped in truth as you had yet to see another creature within the temple walls.

 

You remember entering the temple with Neil, exploring it, but then the memories get blurry, blank spaces within your mind.

 

Neil tips your canteen towards you, "You should drink. You've been out for almost the whole day, wasn't sure what was happening. How are you feeling?"

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Snakebite

 

"A little wan" replied Cassie, honestly. She was drinking as much as she could; she well knew the dangers of dehydration, especially in this climate. 

 

She was feeling more than a little wan, truth be known. But...positive mental attitude!

 

"For starters, my memory seems shot" she said. "I remember going in to the temple, Raymilla, the Cuespac who built it, and the moon to whom it was dedicated. After that...well...its a mixture of grey and black" she admitted. 

 

She omitted mentioning the ring. For now. 

 

"Mind filling in some of the blanks whilst I drink my own bodyweight?" she asked, politely, still chugging away. 

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Neil watches you gulp down your water with a blank expression and when you've finished your canteen, he offers his own.

 

"Nothing at all?" He asks, brows furrowed. "You don't remember falling or whatever happened after?"

 

He points to a place in the sky behind him and for a moment you are not sure what he is pointing at, but you blink and what was the sky and the top of the temple becomes a cavern within the ruins. Ancient masonry still jut out at angles, jagged edges turned towards the clearing where the two of you are, but the sky and stars have become a dark and dank ceiling, vines snaking through the artwork carved into stone and rainwater dripping down to the floor. The drips echo across the chamber. It is almost claustrophobic compared to where you thought you were before.

 

You follow Neil's hand again to what used to be a hole in the ceiling, now clogged with debris, leading to a short drop to a pool of rainwater.

 

"The floor collapsed on you, I don't know why, and you must have fell all the way from the rooms above down here. I had to find another way down and when I did you were sprawled over the altar." And sure enough there was an altar just a few meters away. A raised pedestal, a large rectangular table inlaid with rusted iron and rotted wood, a broken circular stone, what remained of its face depicting the face of a woman, smaller images carved on the edges. Etches of moonlight, dust filtering into the beams, shone softly through small cracks in the ceiling that opened to the sky.

 

Then he pointed at the ring you were. "An, uh, you had that with you. Never seen that before and it looks to be made in a similar style as the other sample handicrafts we found. I tried taking it off but maybe your finger's swollen because I couldn't."

 

"In any case, we're here now for the night. I've looked around a bit while you were dozing off and I found a few things that might interest you and anyone else." He waved his hand around the place. "Aside from the map coordinates to this temple." Then he moved to a large rucksack and produced a rolled leather case, unfurled it and moves to the side to give you a better look. His face beamed in the low light. "Religious tools. Attunements and ritual fetishes. This was how they pleased their gods."

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Snakebite

 

"If we are here for the night, I guess I can put my boots up..." replied Snakebite, putting her boots up and glad for a chance for a breather. She felt the sweat from her dream, cold on her skin. 

 

The ring was a problem. But not one, it seemed, she could solve right now. 

 

"I guess we go look at that temple again. Or what's left of it. Once its light" she said, having no wish to rummage around in the dark, irrespective of her own visual acuity at night (Which was excellent), other people stumbling around was not her idea of fun. 

 

"Whats our provisions and supplies looking like?" she asked. Water always first on her mind, but food was important too. And besides, this kind of expedition might need pickaxes, ropes, flashlights, and all sorts of caving equipment. Not to mention the normal tools of the archeologist. 

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Neil nodded once then stood up, wiping his hands on the pants of his heavy-duty trousers.

 

"Last I checked, which was while you were asleep, we've got supplies to last us the trek back to the nearest tribal village and then some."

 

"We'll be seeing electricity within the week," he says confidently then begins to unfurl his own bedroll. He looked up to Snakebite, glanced at her ring for a moment before meeting her eyes.

 

"You staying up a little while still? Sorry, but it's been a long day for me while you were sleeping the whole time." He smiled to show he was just teasing.

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Snakebite

 

"Thats good, but...I don't think we should head back to electricity and McFries just yet" answered Snakebite. "Something happened here, and I need to know what it was"

 

Besides which, she had a ring apparently welded to her finger. She could hardly ignore that. She pulled at it almost absent-mindedly, with the vague hope it might somehow fall off. 

 

"Lets wait till daybreak and then explore the temple more. See what we can dig out. That is..if you are up to it?" she asked, a slight llight hearted jibe to propel Neil into action. 

Edited by Supercape

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Neil snorted at the jab, playfully dancing back before he stepped inside with a hook of his own. "But we have quite the haul here," and he patted his rucksack. "Even presenting just the samples we have, the Brazilians and the Peruvians would be jumping headfirst at the chance to approve a full excavation. And maybe the British could take a piece of the pie as well. The sooner, the better as the cliche goes."

 

It is bait, the same as yours, helped along as he nods his head in his own approval. He has a rucksack with some loot from the altar nearby, some of them resemble the style at your ring but you doubt they hold... whatever the ring has or is.

 

"And isn't it obvious?" He gestured at the ruins. "An earthquake happened. The temple collapsed, the ceiling and walls. The ground is full of small valleys that could have been faultlines and rubble is everywhere! It's frankly a miracle we found anything of value," he finished with a bit of an exaggeration. While the temple was in a horrible shape, you do think most of the temple is structurally sound, enough to even be considered a structure with multiple pockets of rooms and levels after hundreds of years.

 

Alas, the light pulling fails to even budge the ring from your finger, though the skin under the ring starts to itch. Mundane but annoying since you can't even reach to scratch at the source of the irritation.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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GM

 

"An earthquake" replied Cassie, neutrally. "....that is bad timing. Too bad timing for me to casually put it down to coincidence. It might be just bad luck, but..."

 

"I dreamed of the past, of calamity and ruin and earthquakes. Maybe just a dream, but...but I think there is more to this" she said, firmly. Perhaps Neil would put it just down to superstition, perhaps not. Irrespective, she wanted another look at the temple. If possible. 

 

"Its a good haul, I know. But I can't walk away. Not quite yet" she said. 

 

If nothing else, I want to see if my dreams of the past match up with the present!

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"You dreamed of... the past? About what happened here? I mean, lots of old stories attribute natural disasters to the wrath of the gods..." He trailed off, credulity in his tone and indeed he stared at you oddly, his head bent at an angle.

 

"Maybe you hit your head too--" Then he caught himself, raising his hands in apology. He sighed, closing his eyes for a moment, and continued, "Well, okay. You are the expert here and if your gut says to keep on looking around then I'll follow your gut up and down and around, Miss Cassie."

 

Satisfied that the olive branch was given successfully, Neil lies down on his cot and times an alarm. Then he lies down flat on his back, staring up at the ruined ceiling as he speaks. "You might think me greedy, given that I seem to want nothing more than to sell my find but this isn't my field. I just stumbled my way to it and need a new start at life as soon as I'm able." He glances at you before looking away just as quickly. "What I'm trying to say is thank you. I wouldn't have found this without your help and I don't know if more institutional partners would have just shuffled me aside."

 

He pauses then shifts, facing away from you and the fire.

 

"Good night, Crow."

 

***

 

Whether you try lay down again on your own cot soon after or stay up for a little while, you do sleep eventually into the night, the dying crackle of the fire the only sound you hear as you shut your eyes. Absent are the chirping of insects at night, the scurry of small mammals across the undergrowth and the nooks and crannies of the ruins. There are no nocturnal owls to watch over your sleeping forms. Only the fire remains and soon not even that. It is the silence of a mass grave, looming and enveloping you in your sleep.

 

"Trespassers..."

 

"Despoilers..."

 

"Murderers..."

 

"Thieves."

 

***

 

The first rays of dawn shine on your face, bright even as you close your eyes, and you waken. You remember the whispered words as you wake.

 

Neil is still asleep, the alarm set to go off though you still have a bit off time, so for now you might as well be the only soul in the world.

 

Your supplies lay untouched beside you. Maybe you would want to break fast or perhaps ready your tools of your trade for the day at hand.

 

The salvaged artifacts and finds nearby on Neil's side of the campfire, long cold. Though nothing like the ring, perhaps they could tell a tale all on their own under your expert eyes, especially if using your postcognition.

 

Neil's journal filled with the notes of the nearby native's tales lies beside him. You remember he has given you permission to read through it as you like, and you have quickly on the way but maybe another look would shed additional light now that you have experienced the temple and its ring firsthand.

 

Around you, the ruins is as silent as ever, the landscape glaring at you through stone-carved eyes and the gaping, moss-filled alcoves still shrouded in shadows. The altar stands in the middle of it all, tall and proud in the middle of this cavern of worship, even as half of it lies on the floor broken and its surface is covered in weeds and plants. The sun does not touch it for some reason and it sits in the cool shade as if waiting.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Snakebite

 

'Twas not a refreshing sleep, but it was sleep nonetheless. The voices...hallucinations? magic? ghosts?

 

Whatever it was, something was so very very spooky!

 

Taking advantage of the hours of dawn, with Neil asleep, Cassie decided on three things. 

 

Tea. 

 

Looking at the artifacts.

 

Reading Neils Journal. 

 

Not necessarily in that order, of course, and yet she decided that tea was the first order of business. For with tea, the terrible seemed less terrible and the miserable less miserable. It was a fine start to the day on any day, and she needed all the fine she could right now. Especially with that darned ring on her finger. Beyonce was not, she thought, singing about this type of ring. 

 

So armed with beverage, she set to work reading and examining....

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You get to work, pairing Neil's finds with that of his notes from the present-day natives and what scant memories you have of your dreams. It turns out that most of what Neil had taken were implements used to carry out religious duties. Probably found at the altar and around it while you were out cold, your postcognition sense firing wildly far into the past.

 

Some of the tools were carried over to the present and though some of their uses and significance have evolved, you can surmise a picture of what the religious practices were like milennia ago.

 

While they merely practice animal sacrifice, usually a portion of their livestock, and physical mortification such as fasting or flagellation (practices, you presume, were adopted from the surrounding Christian populations) in times past the natives had partaken of human sacrifice. The Cuespac were similar to many civilizations during that time period, reasoning that with only great sacrifice would they earn great boons from the gods and nature.

 

It was common practice to spill the blood of the sacrificed, the victim having ingested a concoction of drugs that induced hallucinations and lethargy. You hold in your hands what looks like a herbalist's set and the containers of some of the ingredients. The natives now use it to ease the pain of the ill and the dying but you realized that it had once held sacred status.

 

As you read you have the feeling of being watched, something that you could not shake off no matter how much you concentrate on your studies.

 

You are on your way to read about the religious structures of today's tribes when you are interrupted by Neil's alarm going off. The man wakes up groggily, hand going to his watch to shut the alarm off.

 

"Huh. What?" His eyes roam around the cavern, turning a full arc to rest on you. "Ehh. Awake already?"

 

***

 

Neil places a white sheet of paper, creases a testament to how many times it had been folded and unfolded, on the floor between the two of you. It is a map of what the temple would have looked like, drawn by a black ink pen. Words are neatly written in the margins and the spaces of the map.

 

"Well, as you know we're in the main worshipping room right now," he helpfully summarized for you. "There're the catacombs at underground though we don't know yet how to get there. The main entrance is just nearby. Up on the second floor-- the living quarters, where the temple caretakers lived and did their day-to-day things. And above that, was the observatory. Watching and being watched by the Moon and all that. The religious function rooms seem to be spread around the whole temple but I know there used to be something like a record-keeping room, storage of relics, that sort of thing."

 

He looked up at you then. Now would be a good time to ask any questions you have. "So Crow, where to first?"

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Snakebite

 

Human Sacrifice...lets hope that dosen't mean us! having studied history and religious practice around the world (and especially South America) she was familiar enough with the pattern of religion and how it splintered and transformed with shifting cultures. Themes emerged as she went through the artifacts. She was rather interested (professionally) in the concoction of drugs used - again, a common enough theme for ritualistic (and often voluntary) human sacrifice. She wondered exactly what was in that concoction - some plants had a touch of eldritch about them, for certain. 

 

"Earthquakes make for a sorry bedfellow" replied Cassie, studying the map. "And the further down we are, the more dangerous they become" she reasoned (perhaps incorrectly!). "Let us start at the top and work down. The observatory first!"

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You pack up and move out of the main worship area through the way Neil had found. It looked to have been a side entrance, tucked away as it is behind two pillars (one of which has crumbled so that only its base remains). Immediately you begin to climb steps hewn out of the stone walls itself, making for a sturdy climb. Neil's path the previous day is still present and you retrace his steps, him leading the way, using the chopped underbrush and plowed through grass.

 

Sunlight begins to shine in earnest on the two of you through the torn spaces in the walls as you enter the living areas. Day has broken in full.

 

Yet just a few minutes of wading to the bush and searching for a way up, the ring begins to warm and you see a shade at the corner of your vision. You look and it disappears through a room. It would be easy to dismiss but another shade appears down the corridor, seemingly walking away from you. Before you could react or chase it, two more exit a doorway and begin to approach you. More shades form and with them, the light murmur of conversation.

 

The shades pass by you as if you are not even there, muttering amongst themselves. At first, you don't understand the ancient words spoken but slowly they become more comprehensible.

 

"Have you heard that Samin has--" "--goods that I need in ord--" "--your afternoon going, Tish--"

 

They are the words of a community going about their everyday lives you realize. Then a voice drowns all others, as if it were speaking to you. "Now Kayara, come along and help me collect the feathers the seamstresses have been nagging at me to get for them for almost a month now." The voice is motherly, soft-spoken, as if being addressed to a child. And you turn to see a shade looking down at your torso where a small child would have been. If you squint, you could see that it is feminine.

 

It reaches out a hand and walks to a nearby room, holding nothing in its hand though it continues to speak as if guiding a child. "Good girl," the voice says. "I know that you don't like the mean birds but the seamstresses will reward you with a nice headdress and you will look so pretty all the boys will turn to look."

 

There is a pause then the shade laughs as if hearing something you cannot and enters the room. "Hush now. You are pretty and kissed by Moonlight and any boy would be lucky to have you matched as partners, but that is years from now and you don't need to stress yourself over it."

 

Another pause. "Yes, yes, I know."

 

Then the shades fade and with them the voices.

 

You notice Neil staring back at you. "Crow? Are you alright? You look like you've seen a ghost."

 

An apt statement.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Snakebite

 

"A good choice of words" replied Cassie, rather white herself. She had been around long enough to know that there was magic and occult forces pumping through the ether of the world. But ghosts was something new. 

 

"I think I just have..."

 

She let the words sink in. For both herself and Neil. 

 

Must be the ring. 

 

However, the Ghosts seemed harmless. Not that seeming harmless and being harmless were one and the same. But as far as she can tell, she was seeing echoes of the past. 

 

"Shades, ghosts, spirits. Its like I am catching glimpses of the past" she explained, although in truth it was a mystery still. 

 

"Lets see if we can get to the observatory. If we need too, we will climb!" she said, boldly. 

 

"Which only makes me more interested in this temple. I think it is more than rocks and stones" she said, determined. 

 

 

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"Ghosts? Spirits?" Neil says slowly. "And do you know what exactly these glimpses of the past are showing you?"

 

He waves you forward and begins to walk again, leaning one ear towards you, listening, as he stalks through the corridors. It is only a few more minutes when you emerge into the sunlight. It s as you remember in your dream, but the sun beats harshly on you and the jungle has reclaimed the space around the temple, trees and vines reaching out to drape themselves over the temple's lip. You are surrounded by all sides by the Amazon, only stone walls to hold it back.

 

The roof itself is tilted at a noticeable angle and you find yourself slightly leaning the opposite way to keep upright. Certain areas had collapsed on itself or stoop depressed as if waiting for someone to step into one of them and break them. The whole roof is rectangular and in the middle, just above and to your left, sits a square building, small and squat, but made of the same rock as the rest of the temple.

 

"That must be the observatory." Neil points towards the building. "Or what passes for it. It seems to have weathered time well."

 

You trek up as if the roof were a mountain trail and enter through one of its doorways, easily pushing past the thick wooden door.

 

The first thing you see is a raised platform, images carved under its lip, going around it. The walls of the room are also decorated with carvings, most faded and ground into indistinct lumps. On the roof is a man-made slit, opened to the sky, that runs from one end of the room to the other. The whole floor is covered in dust and dead leaves, likely from the opening.

 

"Here's the observatory then," Neil says, looking around. "What're you hoping to find here?"

 

Neil steps inside. There is a sharp crunch, then Neil lets out a yelp and he jumps back in surprise. Looking down, you see a ribcage underneath the leaves and soil, its ribs broken where Neil had stepped through.

 

"Bones?" Neil says, recovering quickly. He steps closer, shifting the nearby leaves with his boot, and in under a minute uncovers the rest of the body, mostly skeleton now, but with strips of old clothing hanging on to its bones. The eye holes stare up at you even as Neil bends down to examine it closer. "These bones are recent, obviously. But how long? A few years? A decade? Maybe more?"

 

"And would these be connected to your dreams somehow?" He asks you.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Snakebite

 

Wordlessly, Cassie knelt down to examine the bones. First thing, she thought, was to work out if they were human. They might be animal. They might be...

 

Well, the Lemurian empire, ancient as it was, walked these lands countless years ago. And whilst it had collapsed, the Lemurian's were forgotten but not gone. 

 

"They might well be. Human sacrifice, perhaps?" she mused, looking up at the apetrure in the roof. She wished now she had come here at night - one could only imagine the moonlight streaming through in the temple of the moon. Where would the moonlight shine? And what times of the month?

 

Perhaps...a little glimpse of the past might be helpful? 

 

Her eyes glazed over as her mind streamed back through time...

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As you watch the room becomes dimmer. You hear thunder and the patter of rain on stone and showers down through the middle of the room.

 

The present still exists, Neil still crouches beside you over the old skeleton but you see the past as if it was as solid as the present. Each layer over the other and as you open your past eyes both present and past exist simultaneously, as real as the other.

 

A man strides in, passing through a clueless Neil. The man looks to be a native, dark-skinned and wearing an old shirt and shorts, barefoot. His clothes are soaked with rain and sweat. On his hand is a heavy duty flashlight, matte black steel, but he wields it like a club. A machete hangs from a scabbard on his belt.

 

But when the torch's light shines on his hands, you see a ring on his finger. Red, like blood enjeweled, wrought in iron. It is the same ring you wear now.

 

He stumbles inside past the wooden door, his eyes wide with desperation and fear, and muttering in Spanish inflected with his native tongue. He rounds on nothing, a pointed finger accusing. <Not-- not like this! You were supposed to be a protector, not this! What have they done to you?>

 

He strides to the platform, an altar you now realize, and strikes it with his torch. <Damn this. Your blood did nothing!> Once again, he smashes the torch on the altar and sparks fly, the light flickering violently. Then he grasps the torch with two hands but before he could strike at it again, he jumps as if startled and snaps his head towards the swinging door.

 

If you thought he looked scared before, he only becomes paler. He draws his machete and begins to swing it wildly, yet still you do not see the source of his fear.

 

<Come on! We'll end this here, you and me! And I'll-- ghkk." The torch and machete clatter to the ground as his hands twitch open to instead reach for his throat, grasping for something that isn't there.

 

He drops to his knees, struggling. You watch for a minute as he loses, as his body turns limp and the struggling slows to a stop.

 

Then when all seems over, his body is dragged away from the altar. You hear a sickening crack and his neck snaps at an awkward angle.

 

His body lays there as the rainwater pours in, turning the ground a morass of leaves, slush and mud. The moonlight filters through, shining upon the altar.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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