Will was on his feet first. "What? What happened?"
"Nothing." Skye reached into the boat and pulled out a bag. She shoved it into Norrington's hands. "Hold that." She grabbed the torches and handed them out. "We're going in now."
Skye kept her pistol out and trained on the back of Norrington's head as they slowly made their way through the trees.
The air was heavy and silent.
"Listen," said Elizabeth. "Nothing. No birds…"
"They're probably all dead," said Skye. "Or they know better than to nest here." She looked at the cloth. "We should be coming up…"
Suddenly Norrington disappeared without a sound and Skye, who was one step behind him, pitched forward into darkness with a shriek. They fell and landed suddenly, Skye on top of Norrington.
She gasped when they landed, not because of the impact.
When Norrington landed on his back, there was the unmistakable sound of several angry hisses.
"Don't move," she said instantly. "Don't move a muscle."
Skye looked up. She could see the opening, several feet above them. There was no way she could reach it. "Jack?" she said quietly.
Jack, Will, Elizabeth and Tyron where peering down.
"Skye?" called Jack. "Skye, love?"
"Jack, light the torches," Skye said as calmly as possible, even as she felt something slide over her boot. She slowly moved her foot and tucked it under her, ignoring Norrington's grunt on pain as her boot heel dug into his ribs. "Light the torches and drop them down.
Tyron tossed a lit torch down and it landed about three feet from Skye and Norrington.
Skye went white and aimed her pistol. "Good grief!"
"Ah!" cried Norrington. He sat up instantly and was on his feet, dumping Skye to the ground. In the same movement that he stood, he grabbed Skye's arm and swung her to her feet.
Skye fired wildly, hitting a snake that was coming towards them. She shrieked. "Jack! Jack!"
"What is it, love?"
"Snakes! Snakes, everywhere! Jack!"
The room was alive with snakes of every size and color. They blanketed the floor and slithered around the pillars and up the walls. They also slid through the bones of hundreds of skeletons. Piles of bones told the tale of others that had come that way.
"Bugger," muttered Jack. He tossed another torch down.
"Grab the torches!" shouted Will. "Snakes hate fire!"
Norrington grabbed one torch and swished it around his feet, sending exotic looking snakes wiggling and hissing backwards. "Get the other torch!"
Skye grabbed it and waved it around. She had her sword out and chopped the heads off several snakes.
Tyron lowered a rope. "My lady!"
Skye turned and reached for the rope and stopped. Slowly she raised the torch.
Jack watched as a red and black snake slithered over Skye's boot. "Skye?"
Slowly Skye sheathed her sword and pulled out the cloth that was their map. "'The king has brought me into his chambers,'" she read aloud. "We found it." She smiled. "We really found it," she breathed.
"Found what?" Norrington turned. "What's that say?"
"It's Aramaic for what I just said," said Skye. "On the map…it said that once we left the beach, we had to find the chamber of the King." She looked around. "Looks like we found it."
"I'm not coming down there," said Jack. "There's snakes everywhere."
"Oh come on!" Skye looked up and smiled sweetly. "You're not afraid of a few snakes, are you?"
Jack scoffed. "Without a doubt."
Skye looked at Norrington. "Hand me the lantern in your bag."
Norrington handed it to her and jumped when she smashed it on the floor where they had fallen. Oil went everywhere.
"Get back," Skye said as she touched the oil with her torch.
The snakes fled as the flames leapt up and then died down to a smoldering black heap.
Skye looked up. "Come on. Hurry. We don't have much time before they come back."
Jack slid slowly down the rope, loathe to have his feet touch the floor. He hopped over to Skye. "What now? Are we leaving swiftly?"
"Hopefully." Skye studied the cloth. "There's a door…under those words." She looked at the wall. "A door I don't see." She frowned darkly. "Tyron?"
Tyron grunted. He pulled a sledgehammer from where he had strapped it onto hi back. He stumped over to the lettering, ignoring the snakes. He raised the hammer and brought it down with all his strength.
Elizabeth jumped as the hammer smashed through the wall.
Tyron raised the hammer twice more. Then he looked at Skye with his normally grave face. "Sometimes men must make their own doors."
Skye smiled. "Well done." She went through first, burning the cobwebs down as she did.
They moved slowly through a small hallway until they came to the next room. It was a wide room, just as wide as it was long. The floor was blocked off into small blocks, each with a strange symbol on it. The blocks where set twelve across and twelve long. At the other end, there was another door, plainly visible.
They all stared at the floor as if they had never seen anything like it.
"What is that?" asked Elizabeth.
"It's Aramaic," said Skye. She sighed heavily. "On each block, there is a word." She held the torch high and looked around. "Look for lettering on the wall. I have to have a clue."
"Here," said Elizabeth. She blew dust out of lettering set eye level set where she was standing. "What does it say?"
"It says 'Like a lily among thorns, so is my beloved among the world. Without her love, my life is like a cavern of darkness.'" Skye frowned at the words on the wall and then she looked at the words on the floor. "I don't understand," she said quietly to herself. She pulled out her sword and touched one of the blocks. Nothing. Cautiously she tapped it with her foot. She gasped as the block crumbled and her legs went into…nothing. She pitched forward, quickly thrusting her hands out. Suddenly the whole floor seemed to give out and fall away into nothingness.