“Last… one,” Liam grunted, grinning in satisfaction when a portion of the wall groaned and gave way.

Two flares arced into the dark cavern.

“There’s a shadow near the far wall,” Omar said.

Liam nodded, already wishing that he’d found a way to shake off his financier before this last step. He’d known he was getting close, but not that he’d been right on top of the fabled Griffin’s tomb. As long as he was the first to the cup, he’d have what he wanted. Poor Omar still thought they were after bones, treasure and glory. Well, there would be that, too. Gold tiles winked in the low light, and Omar was right. There was something near the wall.

Liam didn’t wait on the financier. The moment his feet hit the stone tiles he was walking out of his harness toward the shadow near the wall. It wasn’t a heap of bones as he’d half expected. It was an ornately carved pedestal and equally decorative chalice. His heart thundered. This removed any doubt that they had finally found it. The griffin’s body would be under the stones or entombed in a wall or something. They’d get to it eventually as they took this place apart, piece by piece. The true treasure was here. A taste of unimaginable power waiting to be sipped.

“You should be careful with that,” Omar said as Liam lifted the chalice from its home.

There was a tense minute while Liam waited and listened, realizing too late the wisdom of Omar’s warning. There had been plenty of traps along the way. It stood to reason that something nasty would be lurking if the cup were removed.

“Nothing,” Liam laughed incredulously. “After all that. They really didn’t believe that anyone would make it this far.” He snorted. “Arrogance.”

He took out his canteen and poured a few ounces of water into the chalice.

“Well here’s to the arrogant fools,” he said, raising the cup and winking at Omar.

“I’m surprised at you,” Omar said. He held a mysterious smile on his face. “That trademark caution, the mountain of research you conduct before any expedition, all out the window suddenly.”

“Don’t worry,” Liam assured. “I’m an expert. It’s safe.”

He took a long, satisfying drink.

“See?” he grinned.

His grin faded almost immediately.

“Obviously not,” Omar said, taking the chalice and placing it on the pedestal with reverence.

Something wasn’t right. A stomach cramp sent Liam to his knees.

“We may have to move the chamber again,” Omar said. “It was discovered far too quickly this time. Technology continues to haunt us.”

“Us?” Liam gasped.

“The guardians,” Omar said, returning to the dangling ropes.

He was in conversation with someone above. Bricks rasped. Agony shot through Liam when he tried to move.

His foot had fur.

Omar was gone. The hole was being sealed.

“No!” Liam tried to shout but something between an eagle’s cry and a roar filled the chamber.

Written by W. C. McClure. This may be shared (and please do); just please be sure to share it in its entirety, unaltered (and including this fine print), with credit given to W. C. McClure. This is a work of fiction. None of the characters or events depicted are meant to represent anyone or anything this side of dreams. Comments are welcome!  Also, please help support this indie author by telling your friends about the excellent short story blog at
http://www.farsideofdreams.com and buying W. C. McClure’s books at http://www.wcmcclure.com. Thanks for reading!


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