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Apollo's Soldiers
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 29

     As evening arrived, Mr. Wallace watched in awe as the sun set, setting the sky ablaze with pink, purple and tangerine. One house at a time lights popped on, casting an eerie glow on the glass tubes over the rings of water. During the day he’d simply wandered about, not understanding a word anybody said, yet enjoying the different styles of architecture. He’d stood near the naval shipyards for hours living history of the moment.

“What is their source of energy? It’s not oil, electricity, or gas. Have they harnessed the power of the sun and use solar energy, or do they use the water? Amazing.” Since he couldn’t understand anyone, he began his search for the source. “My guess is that I’ll find my answer under, or inside that temple mount.”

Mr. Wallace crossed the bridges and stood in front of the entrance. “Silly looking mugs,” he whispered, seeing the attire of the guards. “They look preposterous.” Six guards paced back and forth in front of the main gate. Golden bars were decorated with shapes of horses and bulls.  “There must be a way inside.” He marched around the gate looking at each bar and door. A mound appeared between the water way and the gate. “Interesting.” Upon closer inspection, Mr. Wallace found an entrance. “Isn’t this convenient.” A piece of glassy substance reflected the surrounding grass, hiding the entrance. Mr. Wallace stepped inside. “It’s a cave and a tunnel. I’m sure it leads to the temple, but how did it get here?”

The tunnel was lit with candles. “Someone’s been here. These candles have barely been lit.” He heard noises up ahead. “Young girls.” In silence he made his way towards the chatter. “Master Tait! What on earth are you doing here and who are you?”

Millei, Paisley and Murray stopped. “Mr. Wallace? How…”

“It doesn’t matter how, does it? Where are Leith and the other lads?” Mr. Wallace moved in front of them, blocking the tunnel.

“You’re Leith’s dad?” Paisley put her hands on her hips. “What are you doing here? You have no right. You don’t treat your son well. He hates you.”

“He doesn’t hate me.” Mr. Wallace shifted his weight.

“Why shouldn’t he? I hate my mother. She doesn’t treat me well either,” Millei added.

“And who might you two young ladies be?”

“I’m Paisley Opis Greer. I met Leith at Scone Palace. I’m staying with my Auntie Bessie in Dunstan. I know everything about Leith and about you. He’s told me how mean you are to him and how badly you treat him.”

“Yes, I’ve seen you with Leith and the other lads, in the Azores.” Mr. Wallace ignored her other comments.

“You followed us through the tunnel?” Paisley shouted.

“Not only did I follow you, but Professor Wilson did too. He’s running around here somewhere. Why can I understand the girl, but not any other Atlanteans?” Mr. Wallace frowned.

“It’s because Leith has the Golden Arrow of Apollo and its magic is working around us. I guess we’re enchanted,” Paisley said. “What do you want anyway?”

“Where are you going? To the temple?”

“Yes, why?” Murray had kept silent up till now.

“That’s a good question. Let me introduce myself. I’m Millei. My mother is Norindal. She’s a wizard. I hate her like Leith hates you.”

“I told you; Leith doesn’t hate me. He just doesn’t understand me,” Mr. Wallace said.

“He hates you. You never stick up for him. There’s no loyalty. You don’t talk to him as a person, nor do you treat him with respect. Have you any idea of what he’s accomplished in this quest? You should be proud of him instead of constantly criticizing him. He’s a leader.” Paisley glanced at Mr. Wallace. “There. I’ve said what needed to be said. Now, what are you doing here?”

“I was curious about the source of your energy. I thought I’d find it in the temple, or nearby. You know I work in the oil industry. I couldn’t help but be curious.” Mr. Wallace snapped at Paisley.

“If you’re going to be rude, then turn around and leave. I’m not Leith. You can’t talk to me like I’m a door mat.” Paisley took Millei’s and Murray’s hands. “We’re leaving.”

“You’re quite a brave girl, aren’t you? I apologize. I’d like to come with you, if you will allow me to. While we’re heading there, I’d really appreciate it if you explained exactly what is going on here.”

“I’ll tell you, Mr. Wallace,” Murray said.

The girls led the way while Murray told Mr. Wallace the whole story.

*  *  *

Professor Wilson kept out of the way, avoiding people when possible. His manner of dress stood out against the bright colors of the natives. He kept his gaze on the ground, searching for something he could use to pry jewels off the house walls. “There has to be a treasury. It’s probably in that temple mount.” He made his way over the bridges to the gates of the temple and peered through the fence. “This is like a fortress. I’m never going to find a way inside, unless there’s some sort of secret entrance that the royals use to get in and out without being seen. I’ve never known of any person of high rank not having an escape route. It may be around the back, away from the public’s eye.”

Professor Wilson walked around the mound, keeping to a pathway clearly marked with silver stepping stones. He found a hole, placed the jewels he’d already gathered and marked them with a pile of stones so he could retrieve them on his way back. When he reached the back part, a vast plain stretched before him to the mountains. “Amazing. Those mountain tops will become the Azore Islands.” Farmland and orchards filled the plain; wide canals sliced down each side. Streams flowed down the mountain to the sea. “They must use these rivers to carry things from the mountain and plains to the city. I suppose they’ll have harvests in summer and winter because of the mild climate.” The scent of sweet fruit permeated the air. “If there’s a secret entrance, it will be well hidden. Ah, those trees. A good place to start my search.”

He pushed branches away from him as he moved deep into the apricot orchard. “Ah ha! I suppose Atlanteans are a trusting people. This was far too simple.” A marble door covered with Atlantean markings, blocked the entrance. “It has to be three feet thick. These markings must tell the way to open the door.” Professor Wilson searched around the door for secret buttons or handles. “Another ah ha. Let’s try this.” He pushed a round marking on the door and it slowly moved open, inch by inch, grinding against the marble floor.

The professor hesitated to enter, waiting to the side to make sure no alarms went off or hidden guards jumping at him. Once he was sure he was safe, Professor Wilson entered. The walls were covered with the same marble used on the bridges and door. The narrow hallway wound its way, meandering deeper into the mountainside. After an hour or two he came to a room. It was as big as his classroom at school and had eight doors. Aside from that it stood empty; no furniture; nothing but a globe of light in the middle. “Which of these blasted doors is the right one?” He was surprised to see they were made of mahogany. “Might as well start here.” He turned the knob. The aroma of perfume swept from the room. When he pulled the door wide open, he found it full of jars of essences and fragrances. “This isn’t it.”

Behind the second door were shelves of frankincense, myrrh, amber, and other resins. The third – seeds, juniper berries, capers, and nuts of all types. The fourth – opals, emeralds, rubies, black pearls, and amethyst. “Ah, here we go. I’ll help myself to some of these gems.” He stuffed his pockets. “But where are the diamonds and the sapphires?”

He moved to the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth doors, filling his pockets with every gem he could find. “If they use these things to decorate houses, why on earth are they keeping them in their treasury? Are these ones special, more expensive, rarer? They must be things they’ve traded, from other ancient places. I’ll take these to my secret stash and come back for more. To think I was content for a few pieces of quartz with diamonds in them.” The professor closed the outer door, jogged through the orchard and made his way back to the ring of land around the mount. He emptied his pockets and carefully covered the horde. “Perhaps I’ve got enough for now. Time to find a bite to eat.” He headed back to the bridge.

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