Neither brother needed much sleep to stay alert; long years and much experience allowed them the luxury of taking deep catnaps when they could. Almost two hours later, to the minute, Vic shook BA's shoulder.
BA packed his blanket and rolled the furs into tight bundles, tying them onto his pack with spare shoelaces. "We might need them," he shrugged as Vic looked at him sideways.
"The secret door was activated by a mechanism behind a stone. That's what we're looking for." Vic handed a short string of lights to BA then connected another string to a small device in his hand, winding it quickly. The whirring sound seemed loud in the night air. The string of lights glowed brightly in the darkness. BA noticed the windows were covered with Vic's furs and nodded grimly.
The lights illuminated the inside of the room enough to see the mortar between the stones. After an hour of searching BA snarled under his breath. "This might be something, Vic."
Vic brought the lights closer and they examined the tight-fitting square stones. "You're right. These stones are cut differently, but it doesn't seem to have controls on this side."
"Which makes sense. They wouldn't lock us in a room with a secret escape door, would they?"
"In fact, according to the book, that's exactly what we have, if we can find it." Vic placed his splayed fingers on the edge of one of the stones. "Start hitting these stones on the wall, BA."
BA and Vic pressed on a dozen stones, when one of them gave way under BA's fist and the rock moved inward, with a space large enough for Vic to reach into it. He pulled, the muscles in his shoulder straining, and a piece of the wall pivoted outward.
The smell of age and mildew assailed them from the dark opening.
BA grunted, pleased. He shouldered his pack and looked at the narrow stairs leading down into darkness. "I honestly don't recall the book describing this tunnel too well. It's supposed to lead to the other side of the pool and under the temple, right?"
"Something like that. I think it was pretty vague." Vic put the string of lights around his neck, shouldering his pack and heading into the narrow passage. "You want to close the door or leave it open?"
BA stepped in behind his brother. "Closed. Let them wonder a bit where we went." He pushed the thick stone door closed. In the darkness, the lights gave off a faint bluish glow as they headed further down.
"I expect we'll get some people looking for us in the morning." Vic moved as rapidly as he could.
"I expect we will, but I'll take care of them." BA carefully walked down the steps behind his brother, avoiding touching the damp walls.
"I'd rather you didn't kill them, BA."
"I know. That would be too easy, I suppose." BA growled, almost to himself.
"They probably know about the tunnels," Vic said, the blue glowing lights bobbing up and down as he moved down the stairs.
"So they know where we're going. They probably know a shortcut." Vic paused.
"So they'll meet us there. I expect that." Vic didn't even need to look at his brother's face to see the grin spread across it. "I look forward to a little fun with these guys."
Next part, next Wednesday.
Author commentary (if I have one)