American Professor of Ancient History, Calvin Winchester spent several years abroad in Tibet studying with a group of Buddhist monks at the Yumbulagang Monastery. It was believed to be the first building to exist in Tibet, constructed for Nyatri Tsenpo, the first king of Tibet.
Professor Winchester believed the fables of an ancient realm far beneath the Earth’s crust truly existed, and this was where he believed his answers would be found. The monks allowed the professor to study scrolls which had been passed down through generations. They spoke of a series of caves and tunnels near the Earth’s core that were populated by powerful gods and ferocious beasts. According to legend, the location of this ancient civilization was directly below Tibet. This place of wonder was known as, Agartha.
Using a combination of historic texts along with modern technology, the professor believed that he could locate the entrance to this mythological world. One item that turned up in one of the Tibetan scrolls, was mention of a gem. It was simply called, the firestone. According to one of the elder monks, the firestone was a powerful jewel that could harness energy. It was said that it was approximately two feet in height, and around eighteen inches in diameter. It was supposed to be guarded by a massive creature that was born within the fire of the Earth’s core.
Determined to find truth within these fables, the professor called on a team of researchers and explorers to join him on his quest. The first of which was an eager young student of his, Gary Pollard. Gary was more than excited when he heard of the professor’s quest. He too believed that every story within mythology was based on true events or people.
Second to join the crew, was an experienced explorer. His knowledge of the geographic structure of the Earth was unmatched. Whether by sea, by air, or by ground, Jason Hardy would always find his way in all kinds of weather.
The third member of the professor’s team was a middle-aged man by the name of Harrison Paulson. With degrees in seismology, geology, and speleology, he would prove invaluable.
The last member of the team was a woman in her twenties by the name of Jenna Winchester, the professor’s daughter. Despite her father’s objections, she insisted on coming along. Jenna had a gift with technology and was able to use that talent to obtain infrared photos from one of the satellites that hovered 1,200 miles above the Earth’s surface. These images showed fissures and hotspots beneath the surface. Also, by using sonographic imaging, she was able to locate what seemed to be a tunnel that began near the base of the Himalayan Mountains.
The five explorers set off on their quest to the location of the possible tunnel entrance. They scanned a fifty-foot area at the base of Lhotse, the fourth highest peak in the Himalayan Mountain range. It was there that they found a symbol carved into the hard granite wall of the mountain. It depicted what the professor knew as, “The Treasure Vase,” an ancient symbol representing great wealth and functioned as offerings to the gods. The professor decided that this was the place to start looking.
Each of the team set out in search of a hidden lever or button that would open the secret passage. After hours of battling the elements, they decided to take a break. Gary lit a fire and they all huddled around it for warmth. Jenna sat down on a small boulder next to her father, and as she did, a rumbling noise began. Looking behind them, they witnessed the wall of the mountain open into a dark portal into the unknown.
Excited for the discovery, they all stood up, and to their dismay, the wall once again began to close. Disappointed, they sat down once again, and again, the wall opened. It was then that they realized that one of them had been sitting on the trigger for the doorway, so one-by-one they stood until only Jenna was left. As she stood, the wall had begun to close, so she quickly sat back down.
The boulder she sat upon was thirty feet from the entrance, so there was no conceivable way that she could make it to the entrance before it closed again. They decided to move all the gear into the cave and then everyone except for Jenna and her father would enter. The professor rolled a large rock next to where Jenna sat, and as she stood, he leaned the weight of the rock against the boulder. The door remained open, so they quickly joined their friends inside.
Cracking open a few glow sticks, they began to examine the walls of the cave. Pictographs of battles between men and beasts were painted on the walls in a reddish-brown tinge. They took pictures with their cameras of the discovery, then continued deeper into the cave.
Further down into the darkness, they could see a light ahead. As they neared, they found that the source was a natural luminescence that was imbedded in the rock walls. The bluish glow gave an ominous aura to their surroundings. Their depth perception was thrown off slightly, and Harrison stumbled after stepping into a small crevice. They helped him to his feet and made sure he was okay before proceeding.
The deeper they wandered into the tunnels, the less they could hear noise from the outside world. The only sounds they heard, were the occasional drops of water as the dripped from the stalactites above their heads.
Twenty minutes into their journey, the luminescence began to fade, so they cracked open more glow sticks. The darkness seemed almost impenetrable beyond a few feet of the glow sticks. Jason felt the rock face to try and get a sense of direction. It appeared to him that they were slowly declining deeper below the surface. As he led the team through the blackness, Jason’s intuition told him not to go any further, so he stopped suddenly. The others bumped into one another like a vehicle collision until Jason was thrusted forward. He reached out and grabbed Harrison’s arms. Instinctively, Harrison grabbed onto Gary, Gary onto the professor, and finally, the professor grabbed for his daughter.
In seconds, they all found themselves falling uncontrollably into a dark hole. Fifteen feet below, they reached a slope and began to slide through more darkness, unaware of what laid ahead. Jenna screamed as she slid on her back. Her backpack absorbed the friction of the stone floor for the most part. Gary was not as lucky. He tumbled face-first into the darkness. His upper torso burned with pain as it dragged along the slope. Minutes later, they came to a sudden stop, landing on top of each other on a hard, flat surface.
Jenna, being the last to fall, only suffered minor bruising and quickly removed herself from the pile of people. Jason was unfortunate to be the first to land, and after the others stood up and lit more glow sticks, they realized that Jason remained on the ground before them. The professor leaned over to examine him but stood back up immediately. He saw that Jason’s skull had been crushed upon impact. He was dead. They sat in silence and mourned the loss of their new friend.
After regaining his composure, the professor held up his glow stick and moved around the area. All around them were a series of caves, just like the scrolls had described, but he wasn’t sure which one they should enter.
Gary noted that the temperature was beginning to rise, and the air was getting to be more difficult to breathe, so they opened their backpacks and pulled out their Newtex Extreme Protective Proximity Suits. This would allow them to stay cool and breathe normally as they ventured further. First, the professor insisted that Gary be treated for the abrasions he suffered during their fall. He raised his shirt, and Jenna gently applied an ointment to his friction burn. He winced as the sudden shock of pain reached his brain. Jenna looked up and smiled at him. That was enough to make the pain disappear.
The remaining team said their goodbyes to Jason then walked toward the first cave. The professor searched for symbols once again. He needed some indication of which cave they should enter. At the fifth cave, he saw a carving of a jewel surrounded by a circle and he knew that was it.
They entered cautiously, though nothing seemed unusual. There were no cave markings that they could see, and the cave seemed to end roughly forty feet back from the entrance. As they began to return to the opening, a large boulder fell, blocking their way out. They were trapped.
They stood close to one another and discussed their options. Gary suggested digging a tunnel under the rock, but Harrison said that they did not have the equipment to dig through the amount of iron deposits that likely lined the floor of the cave. Then, as if by magic, the ground beneath them began to soften and transform into a light sand. Their hope of getting out quickly turned to panic, however, as their legs began being drawn under. Within minutes, they were up to their heads, then they disappeared without a trace as the sand turned back into stone.
Harrison’s eyes slowly began to open. He thought he had died, but as he looked around, he saw that his colleagues were by his side as well. Jenna was already standing and looking around in amazement. As Harrison gazed in the same direction, he saw that they were in a massive cavern. A red glow filled the room, and he could feel an intense heat even through the suit.
The other two began to awaken as well and joined Jenna and Harrison as they revered the vastness before them. In the distance, they could see what looked like a castle embedded in the walls. Harrison studied samples of the stones and dirt on the ground and determined that it was a mix of granite, iron, and limestone.
Jenna spotted a bridge that spanned across a large crevice from where the source of the red glow appeared. As they approached it and looked over the side of the bridge, they saw a lake of bubbling magma. They quickly, yet cautiously crossed the bridge toward the castle. Once they reached the other side, Gary tried to take a picture of the castle, but his camera melted in his hands.
They found the entrance to the castle and walked inside. The walls were lined with granite, as was the floor. It was magnificent. They entered a great hall and spotted an iron table at the far end of the room. No other furniture was present. Upon the table sat a box made of granite. It measured around four feet long, and two feet high and deep. The professor and Harrison each grabbed a side and slid the lid off.
An intense red glow emanated from the box and the two men stepped back, covering their eyes. Using a tinted glass shield that Gary had in his bag, they took turns staring in wonder at what they had found.
The legend of Agartha did exist, and now they had found the firestone as well. Using a canvas bag that Harrison had brought along for mineral samples, they removed the gem from the box and slid it into the canvas bag. Despite its size, the firestone was lightweight and easily moveable, so Harrison volunteered to carry it.
As they left the castle and began crossing the bridge, the ground began to rumble, and spouts of magma shot out of the lake toward the bridge. The professor told everyone to hurry across, and just as they reached the other side, an enormous wave of magma shot up fifty feet into the air, destroying the bridge. Gary tripped and fell. Rolling over onto his back, he watched as the magma fell back into the lake, but what remained behind made them all shake with fear.
A behemoth of a creature, with skin made from the fires of hell itself stood before them. Gary, too much in shock to move, screamed as a massive foot came down upon him. His body seemed to dissolve instantly. The remaining three ran off in search of a place to hide or escape.
Jenna led the charge as she veered off in the direction of what looked like more caves. Harrison and the professor followed closely behind. The cave was small and barely fit the three of them. They could hear the approach of the beast and feel the heat as it let out a deafening screech.
The behemoth stomped upon the ground causing the cave to crack slightly. Suddenly, a fiery claw reached into the cave and pierced the back of Harrison. It dragged Harrison along with the canvas bag housing the firestone, out into the clearing. The professor and his daughter watched in horror as the creature stepped down upon Harrison. As the foot was removed, all that remained, was a black charred silhouette of what was once Harrison. The firestone had also disappeared.
Fearing that they were next, the professor held his daughter tightly to his chest and told her that he loved her. They stood with their eyes closed, waiting for their demise, but nothing happened. The professor opened his eyes and saw that the behemoth had disappeared. He released his grip on Jenna and ventured out of their hideaway. Everything seemed as it once was. The question now, was how would they return to the surface?
They wandered around the cavern, searching for an exit, but there were none that they could see. They had almost given up hope when in the distance, a bright light appeared. Shielding their eyes, they walked toward the light. The air grew colder the closer they got to it.
As they reached the source, they saw a familiar sight, it was the base of the mountain where they had begun their journey. Without hesitation, they rushed through the portal and back into the fresh air of the Earth’s surface. As they turned around, they saw several humanoid figures standing in the distance. They all had an aura to them that suggested that they were immortal beings. The professor raised his hand and waved just as the portal disappeared.
This was a story that he knew nobody would believe, so they kept the discovery of Agartha and the firestone to themselves.
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Very cool story, Greg! Indiana Jones meets Journey to the Center of the Earth with an Eastern flair. I really enjoyed this. Well done!
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I tried blending mythology with fantasy and adventure.