Our heroes have lightened the load, throwing things overboard, climbed the balloon and chipped away ice, and a break through the clouds reveals a mountaintop that the balloon crashes into, damaging the balloon badly. It tumbles out of control! Suddenly a a large flying reptile attacks the remnants of the balloon, entangling itself and panicking. The heroes slice the ropes, freeing the basket and it falls into a river below.
The air is still cold, the water cold, the basket drifts slowly down the river. Soon they notice shapes on either side of the shore following them. After a bit, they realize they are apes walking upright like men. Some of them are wearing bits of armour and even have weapons. They have a look of intelligence about them. It looks like a few white apes are leading the others, they even seem to be speaking some sort of guttural language. The river is about 500 yards wide at most points so the spears and rocks thrown by the apes are no threat yet.
The current is getting faster and the river bank is rising upwards, up ahead the river narrows to pass through a rocky canyon. The apes get excited and some rush ahead, trying to beat the basket to the canyon.
The river is forced down the narrow canyon at great speed. Every few seconds a spray of white water crashes over the basket. Silas is doing all he can to steer the basket and keep it away from the canyon walls. The spears and rocks from the apes come close to hitting the heroes. One of the apes actually leaps into the basket!
All can hear the low roaring sound coming from up ahead. Mist conceals the end of the canyon. The basket picks up even more speed as it races towards the heavy spray. The ape aboard the basket panics, trying to climb out, managing only to get tangled up in netting. As the waterfall draws close, the heroes spy a huge boulder forming a small island in the middle of the river. They leap to safety as the basket plummets over the side.
From the rock atop the waterfall can be seen a magnificent vista. They are on the edge of a vast escarpment stretching to the left and right as far as the eye can see. Hundreds of feet below the ground is covered in a thick blanket of green. The river tumbles down into a deep blue lake; this wide lake feeds another river that winds off under the heavy jungle. Far off in the distance and ocean or sea is just visible. Pterodactyls screech out as they dive and chase along the cliff face.
Far below there is a ruined circular building by the shore of the lake. From the columns it looks a lot like an ancient Grecian temple. A set of ancient steps have been carved from the rock of the escarpment. The elaborately carved steps head downwards along the cliff face. There are at least two switchbacks on the climb down.
The ruined building is a round structure and is visibly decayed by the passage of centuries. The white marble is chipped and cracked by the powerful roots of trees from the jungle edge hundreds of feet away. The now missing roof was obviously once supported by rows of carved columns. The white marble shines brilliantly in the continuous midday sun.
On the wide stairway leading up to the temple is the body of a man. He is dressed in rugged clothing suitable for the jungle. The man died from a gunshot in the back about a month ago. He has a backpack and off to the side is a rifle. In the backpack there is a first aid kit. There is a map showing a 100 mile route to the coast of a large ocean. There is a date marked for five weeks from now. Another note indicating that if the rendezvous is missed, they will return in 6 months.
Inside the temple is an elaborate circular patterns set in the floor. A number of large golden rings marked with Greek numbers and letters have been set flat into the weathered floor. Other symbols are engraved into the marble floor surrounding the rings. The rings will pivot. Pondering various astrological signs, occult signs, and mixed up legends and lore, Silas rotates the rings through various combinations until success!
There is a sudden grinding sound that makes the earth shudder, a flock of terrified birds burst from the undergrowth, massive trees sway. As your eyes are drawn upwards you see the waterfall part like a massive curtain to reveal a giant statue hundreds of feet tall previously hidden behind the impenetrable wall of water.
The 200 foot high statue has obviously been carved from the cliff face itself. It depicts a bearded man wearing a classical Greek or Roman toga, reclining on throne with an arm resting on a stream-gushing amphora. Between his carved sandals there is square opening with steps leading up to it.
Inside the Tomb
What happens inside suggests a new story idea for Silas, some sort of archaeologist hero outwitting traps within a tomb to uncover an ancient treasure, perhaps he will find the time to write it up some day.
The journey through the tomb is a series of wet tunnels and death traps, all overcome by our heroes:
- A pit trap with whirling blades of death at the bottom.
- A corridor with stone walls that ram into each other on a pattern
- A 30' wide shaft, 2 chains hanging the length, about 10-foot apart, the corridor across the way about 60' up.
- Ending in a giant stone door embedded with six dials, each with nine symbols. A sort of combination lock.
It stretches out for at least a hundred feet. Utter darkness within, torchlight reflects off a vast reservoir of still, black water within. Running alongside the edges of the reservoir is a narrow path leading to the other end. Not much can be seen, just a faintly glowing green light.
Lee rushes carefully to the other side. As he nears he sees a large 10' statue of a seated man similar to the one under the waterfall. The statue is of a green marble like stone that almost seems to move under the lights. Resting in the statue lap is a large green emerald, carved to be an exact replica of a life-sized human hand. It glows faintly in the darkness.
Silas and Kitty enter the room, staying back near the entrance. That is when the rooms erupts in water and swirling tentacles from a giant octopus attacking from the depths of the reservoir! Gun shots and magic blasts seem to have little effect on the giant creature, a creature Silas detects is kept alive via strong magic. As tentacles lash out for Lee, he grabs the emerald hand and races back to the others. When he first touches the hand he feels a shiver as some strange energy runs through him. At that moment, the octopus stops attacking and dives deep into the water.
As Lee rushes back to his friends, they all hear a grinding, then the ground shakes and there is a roar of rushing water! All the traps have reset and the tomb is closing, filling back up with water! But time is not kind and our heroes are sucked into the water at the bottom of that great shaft and they are pulled through a tunnel. As they breath their last, they are suddenly shot out of the tunnel to the surface of the lake outside! They are free.
As the heroes pull themselves from the lake they can only stare in awe as the waterfall slowly reforms to once again protect the ancient statue and its secrets behind hundreds of tons of crashing water. As they pick themselves up they realize they are surrounded by dozens of armed pirates. The leader points a gun at Silas and says:
Towards the back of the ruffians appears to be several figures tied together like prisoners. One of them, a beautiful women dressed in furs seems to be listening intently.
Just as the heroes prepare to fight, the water behind them erupts in spray as the giant octopus surfaces and begins grabbing the pirates.
The female captive beckons the heroes, asking in English to be freed, she will lead them to safety. She and the 6 other prisoners race off towards a bend in the river. As they round the bend, they see a pirate ship moored in the river. There are a few guards posted who seem to be reacting to the sounds of the battle with the octopus, they seem unsure of what to do.