Family diary holds ancient family secrets, but what and where is the key?
|The Emerald Paladin
“Holy shit, what just happened,” Jessie said to herself as she pushed herself up off of the dirt floor. Brushing back her auburn hair from her face, she checked to make sure that there was nothing broken. She immediately bent down to feel around in the semi-dark for the book that she had been carrying before the fall down the shaft. Relieved that the book had not been lost, she picked it up and clutched it to her chest.
As her eyes adjusted to the dim light coming through a large barred window, she checked to see if there was any damage to the old leather bound book. There were just a few scratches on the cover, but otherwise still in one piece; just like her. The one thing that did surprise her was the fact the fall had not jarred the lock on the flap open. That meant that she still had to find the key, what she had been in the process of doing. Following the instructions in the last letter from her grandfather on where to find the key. From the shape of the keyhole, it was one strange key she was looking for. It was octagonal shaped and rather large for a keyhole. She could not help but feel that she should know what the key was, but the memory was just out of reach.
Glancing up from the book, she started to take in her surroundings. Turning to survey the room, she could see that she was in some kind of cellar.
“This looks like it could have been a dungeon,” she said to no one in particular.
She ran to the large wooden door and started pounding on it, yelling for help from her friends who were on the floor or floors above her. She had convinced her two closest friends to leave the sorority party just as they were about to cut the cake. As everyone gathered around the cake decorated to say Happy Sweet Sixteen WDC, they slipped out of the door.
“Aren’t sororities supposed to go by Greek letters,” asked Emma?
“I heard the group didn’t have enough money for a birthday cake, so they just took one that nobody claimed,” replied Abbie with a laugh.
When Jessie had asked for their help, Emma and Abbie didn’t hesitate at all. Abbie was on only one with her car on campus, so driving duties fell to her. During the ride to her grandfather’s manor house, Jessie and her friends discussed the instructions in the letter and speculated on just what was so important in that book that they had to go hunt for the key. Why didn’t her grandfather give the key to the lawyer along with the letter and diary? Just what kind of secrets did her family have that were that important?
Following the directions was what had led to Jessie banging on the door and yelling at the top of her lungs. Realizing that they would never hear her where she was she started to get scared. She turned around and leaned up against the door. Through her tears she could see that the barred window was too high up the wall for her to reach. It would be sunset soon and then complete darkness. The thought of being trapped there in the dark was really beginning to creep her out.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the faint sounds of grating and scratching coming from the wall just above her head. She turned look, all the while slowly backing away from the sounds. With a mix of fear and fascination, she could just make out the movement of a rock from the wall. Jessie watched the rock fall to the floor and split apart upon impact. Inching over to the broken rock, she could see a key lying on the top of the pile. Of crumbled stone. Close inspection of the key made it clear that it was for a door and not the diary. Grabbing the key, she ran to the dungeon door and tried to get it into the lock. It only took a minute to see that this key was not going to open the door. Her whole body slumped in defeat and she leaned her back against the door.
The tears were flowing freely by this point. She started to wonder if the others had gone for help. As she brushed the tears with the back of her hand, she noticed that the dim light from the window, fell on the opposite wall. It was then that she saw it, the outline of another door. Rushing to the other end of the room she fumbled around to find the lock. With shaking hands, Jessie managed to get the key in the lock and turned it. The key turned and the tumblers clicked. As she reached for the metal ring to pull it open, she heard the sounds of metal creaking and groaning.
Jessie jumped back from the door. The key had triggered off something mechanical and the door parted and slid into the wall. Fully expecting to see more darkness, she was astonished to see a corridor with torches on the wall, each coming to life one by one. There was no doubt that this was the way out, but she hesitated.
“Should I chance it?” she said to herself. “What if this is another trap?" She glanced around the dark room thinking. If she stayed here, she would die. If she went down the hallway, she could die too, but at least she would die trying to save herself.
She looked around the dungeon for something that could be thrown through the doorway to check for booby traps. The only things that could be of any use were a few of the large pieces of broken stone from the rock in the wall. Taking a few of the pieces, she threw them through the opening and waited. Nothing. Just the echoes of the rocks hitting a floor and the torches continuing to burn, lighting the empty corridor. Taking a deep breath, she stepped through the doorway and stopped. Again, nothing happened. Jessie let out a deep breath and reached up to take one of the torches from the wall. Holding the old leather tome in one hand and the torch aloft in the other, she set off down the hallway.
“Well,” she said aloud, “if I want to get out, I guess this is the way I have to go.” Her voice sounded shaky in her ears, betraying her fear to whoever or whatever was observing her. As she continued down the corridor Jessie recalled something that her grandfather used to say to her when things got tough, “Sometimes the only choice we have is really not a choice at all.”
“This had better be worth it, Grandpop,” was her warning to the universe as she set out upon her journey.