Written by Samuel Gaitskell
To read Part I, click here.
The group moved on through the city, looking for any signs of the treasure that they were hunting. They came across countless buildings that appeared to be stores of some sort, and one which looked to be some sort of library, which Julia was fairly hesitant to leave behind. Eventually, however, the group stumbled upon a building which was definitely different to all the others.
The building, rather than being made of stone and wood like all the others, seemed to be made of brass or some sort of similar metal, and apart from the occasional patch of greenish rust, it looked to be in alarmingly good condition. The door into the building looked as if it belonged in some sort of submarine. The building looked to be centuries, possibly even millennia, more advanced than anything else within this underground city.
'This is… amazing.' Julia gasped, looking at the impossibly advanced building before her. 'I… I don’t even know how to describe this!'
'Well, seeing how it’s the only one of its kind, I’ll wager that it’s where we need to be,' Nathan guessed, looking up and down at the building. 'so, shall we?'
The group all nodded to each other, Julia wearing an amazed smile, before they all walked towards the entrance.
The second that the three opened the rather bulky brass door, a hissing noise could be heard. The four prepared for the worst, though their fear was quickly replaced with confusion as the building flooded full of light, which came from some automatic gas lamps that lined the walls. The group gasped, their eyes straining to adjust to the new levels of light. Once their eyes finally recovered, they found themselves in a bizarrely well-furnished room, filled with brass pipes that sprouted from the walls in various places, along with what looked to be an oak table, which was covered in undamaged, though slightly dusty, maps and tomes.
'This is impossible.' Julia claimed, immediately taking to the table to look over the maps. 'The gas lamps alone raise enough questions to put the smartest of scientists out of commission. I mean, the city outside is ancient beyond all belief, but gas lamps weren’t developed until the late 1790’s, give or take.'
'So someone found the city and built this place years ago?' David asked, looking over the papers lining the grand table.
'Well, that is the logical thing to assume, yes.' Julia stated. 'But there were no records of anyone finding this city before us, so whoever did find the city certainly didn’t advertise it.'
'Okay, scary thought,' Ryan piped up, looking through a slightly murky window. 'what if they didn’t tell anyone because they never left? I mean, I could have sworn I saw something moving in the shadows earlier, maybe-'
'That’s a bit of a leap.' Nathan said, though there was a level of concern in his voice.
'Nevertheless, we should probably be careful.' David declared as he handed what looked to be a well weathered journal over to Julia. 'Julia, could you quickly look through this while we all take a look around?'
Julia didn’t have to be asked twice. She happily picked the book up and carefully opened it, before beginning to read through it.
No more than five minutes went by before a horrifically loud siren went off, that almost sounded like an angered crow. Everyone near instinctively turned to Ryan, who had decided to push some sort of button, caring little for the consequences.
'Goddamnit Ryan!' Nathan hissed, covering his ears with his hands.
'Ryan, your ‘they never left’ theory may have been alarmingly accurate!' Julia added, yelling over the alarm as she stared out the window. 'Because we have company!'
The group rushed over to the window, where they saw cloaked figures approaching through the shadows.
'Alright, Ryan, Nathan, work on barricading the door!' David ordered, having to yell over the horrific alarm. 'Julia and I will search for a way out!'
Nathan and Ryan instantly jumped to work, swiping the maps and papers off of the grand table before moving it in the way of the entrance, while David and Julia searched through the room for any type of escape.
“Guys, over here!” Julia yelled out, trying her best to force open a similar door. The others quickly rushed to her side and helped open the door.
The alarm was slightly quieter on the other side of the door. Unlike the previous room, this one possessed no gas lamps, though it did have an awful lot more pipes, along with a spiralling staircase leading upwards. Hearing what sounded to be the front door crashing open, the group didn’t hesitate before beginning to head up the stairs.
'This is bad, this is very, very bad.' Julia stated as she ran up the fairly tall brass stairs, only lagging slightly behind the other three, as she hastily read through the journal.
'Just focus on getting up these stairs, Julia.' Nathan said, 'You can resume reading when we aren’t about to die horribly.'
'Right, right…' Julia mumbled as she closed the book and picked up the pace.
The stairway lead up to what looked to be a glass room with a bizarre looking door leading into it, which was locked by some sort of strange, unfamiliar lock in the shape of a simple button. David, Julia, Nathan, and Ryan respectively all attempted to press the button to open it, and unsurprisingly, each failed. The level of desperation began to rise as a noise that sounded like the door opening at the bottom of the stairwell opening could be heard.
'Well, I guess this is how we die.' Ryan joked, though it was obvious that he was panicking just as much as everyone else.
'Maybe not.' Julia chimed in, as she quickly opened the journal, remembering something she read. She hastily flipped through the book, before stopping on a particular page. 'Okay, here we go: according to this journal, from what I can tell at least, this lock is called a "personalised pop lock", made to only open to a specific fingerprint, which is beyond amazing because fingerprints weren’t discovered until-'
'All very interesting, Julia, I’m sure, but not exactly useful' Nathan said, trying to hurry her along.
'Right, right,' Julia nodded, snapping back on topic, 'basically, the journal says that the lock, while being incredibly advanced, were easily broken when exposed to several everyday things, such as certain vinegars, certain alcohols, and…'
Julia paused to quickly open and ruffle through Ryan’s pack, confusing all the others considerably. After a few seconds, she pulled out some sort of candy, which she proceeded to unwrap before slamming it against the lock. A sizzling noise sounded from the button-like lock, before it seemed to short circuit, causing the door to lazily swing open.
'... pretty much anything with high levels of sugar.' Julia finished with a huff, releasing a breath she didn’t even realise that she had been holding.
'Right, everyone in.' David said, as they all rushed into the glass room. Julia, being the last in, paused to look at the door.
'Problem, guys…' She said as she entered. 'The lock on the door, that’s broken. Whoever is following us will have literally no issues with opening the door.'
'I’ll hold it shut, then.' Nathan said, as he closed the door and held it shut. 'You guys look for a way out or something.'
'We mightn’t need to,' Julia said, reading on, 'I think this whole stairwell is a trap room of sort.'
'Elaborate, please.' David said, looking down through the glass floor to see the quickly ascending cloaked figures.
'As far as I can tell,' Julia began, 'there should be a button in this glass room somewhere that, once activated, causes all the air outside of the room to be sucked out, suffocating whoever is in the stairwell. Once again, technology which far exceeds the time period.'
'Over here.' Ryan said, gesturing to a button mounted on the only metal wall of the glass room. 'Should we press it?'
A sudden pounding could be heard against the door into the glass room. The cloaked figures were trying to get in.
'Press the damn thing!' Nathan demanded, straining to keep the door shut. Ryan didn’t need any more convincing before he pressed the button. Immediately, a near deafeningly loud humming noise pierced through the air. The cloaked figures all seemed to drop to their knees, horrifically gagging and coughing as the air was being ripped from their lungs. As they choked, their cloak’s hoods were flung from their heads, to reveal nothing more than ordinary faces. One might assume them to be entirely normal people, in any other circumstance.
'P-please…' one managed to choke out, desperately, if not weakly, pounding against the door, 'let us in.'
The group stood in horrified silence as they watched the cloaked figures thrash about, desperate for air, though it wasn’t long before their choked tears faded into silence. The group stood quiet, unsure of what to think. Those people… they were dead. They were dead, no less, because of them. Those people never hurt any of them. Hell, they never even showed any real signs of wanting to. As far as they knew, they just killed a group of innocent people.
'The the air should cycle back into the room automatically in about ten minutes…” Julia mumbled out, attempting to break the near deafening silence.
'We… we should continue,' added Nathan, 'We’ve come too far to let… to let this stop us.'
Though Nathan’s words were of a determined treasure huntsman, his tone was less than convincing. Nevertheless, the group pressed on because, as unconvincing as his tone was, Nathan was right. They had come too far to stop now. Even if they really wished to. So, with a false level of determination, the group climbed up a ladder, moving on.