“I’ve been sailing with you for five years – you would think I’d expect active volcanoes.” Kate sprang from the crumbling ancient pillar and scrambled onto the narrow staircase leading out of the caldera. The pillar fell into the rising magma hissing and bubbling like bacon in a skillet. Apparently when the captain removed the chest from the altar it triggered a trap. Go figure. It was just – she’d figured it would be a rolling stone death trap or a collapsing room or a horde of flesh eating beetles. Something that fit the other traps they’d encountered. Not a giant pillar slamming down into the center of the floor with an ominous crunch. She did give the temple builders points for making the volcano more than a convenient hollow cave.
Val laughed in heaving gasps. “That’s your problem, Kate,” he said. He steadied her for a moment, and they both raced to catch up to Felix who’d been thrown farther up the path by his collapsing pillar. “You sail with Felix and expect to know what happens.” He grinned at her and nearly fell as the path under his foot crumbled. Kate grabbed his belt and yanked him back, scowling. Warier of the ground, Val finished, “That’s not our luck.”
Felix reached the lip of the caldera and considered how to most quickly get down the side of the soon to be burning slope. He still carried the small chest from the altar. “I have an idea,” he called back. Kate and Val exchanged brief looks before concentrating on footing. When they arrived within view of the Captain, he’d leveraged a carved idol onto its back and was sitting astride the large stone column with the chest secure in his lap.
“Not again,” Val groaned.
“Faster than running,” Felix commented. He was doing his best to take this seriously, but he’d never escaped from an erupting volcano before and it was all so exciting.
“It’s always faster,” Kate said and clapped Val on the shoulder.
“Says the person who did not fly off onto a coral reef, get smacked by low hanging branches, or stuck under the overturned canoe.” With a great sigh, Val got astride the totem pole sled. Kate hopped on the back and wrapped her arms tight around Val.
Felix whooped and kicked the branch that had held the stone pillar from sliding down the slope. The shrieking grate of stone scraping stone put everyone’s teeth on edge and apparently irritated the volcano, because the first plume of ash and smoke rose from the caldera.
“They’re on their way!” The sailor on watch called out.
“What kind of disaster can we expect?” Mel asked. She fisted her hands on her hips. One of them still held her wooden stirring spoon and she tapped it against her hip.
“Something with fire.”
“Typical,” Mel murmured. She closed her eyes for a moment. “All hands to your several duties, and ready at the windlass. Bring the last of the supplies aboard and stow all securely. It’s going to be a scorcher.”
A few ‘ayes’ wandered back, but Mel didn’t have an title that used sir or ma’am but since she knew what was going on and no one wanted to be incinerated, they hopped to it.
Felix grinned like a kid on a carousel with an ice cream cone as trees crashed, monkeys shrieked, and the totem pole toboggan torpedoed through the underbrush. Val clenched his eyes shut and muttered prayers under his breath. Kate stared at Val’s sooty back and cursed Felix in every language she knew and a few she didn’t. Finally, Kate ran out of curses, Val ran out of breath, and Felix’s grin was hurting his cheeks, the stone pillar crashed into the trunk of an enormous tree and shuddered to a halt. Felix let out a large cry of delight, turned and kissed Val exuberantly. Val stared at his Captain.
“What the hell?” he asked slowly.
“You were behind me, we’re still alive, and if I’d done that to Kate, she would have hit me.” Felix swung off the stone pillar and adjusted his grip on the chest.
“I’m gonna do more that hit you,” Val growled.
“You lost your chance,” Kate commented. “Let’s go. I have no wish to let the monkeys or the lava have another shot.”
They ran through the jungle, jumped over trees, and scurried through the sand to the last jolly boat on the sand and the two sailors who’d lost the draw and had to man the boat.
Since it was Felix, the same Felix who’d avoided traps with élan, nonchalantly picked the proper random button to open a secret door, and walked heedlessly through shattering timbers, the ship managed to escape the island.
Kate and Val each felt entitled to a bath before facing a planning session, but Felix, whose burns only made his clothes look a bit care worn and slightly more dashing, went to open the chest straight away. Kate and Val followed him into the cabin.
Felix lifted the lid of the chest and tilted his head quizzically. He removed the bundle of worn papers from the chest with a happy sigh.
“Well?” Kate asked after Felix had perused them for a moment.
“It’s another map,” Felix said. “I love it when adventures give me more adventures.”
Kate and Val looked at each other. Val laughed. Kate turned on her heel and marched from the room.
Felix looked at Val in adorable confusion. “What?” Val just shook his head and walked out after Kate. “What?” Felix asked again. Then shrugged, took the map to his chart table, and started figuring out where they were headed next.
*sings* Ring around the prose-y, thieves are really nose-y, first line, first line, stolen from me. We’re at it again. Flip, the otter, wrote a fun piece using this first line yesterday. As always, find the ring of thieves here.