This post is a bit longer than usual. I didn't want to push the creature reveal back another week but, thanks to Miss Lucy, there was a new character to introduce. So I just smooshed it all together. Yay!
So, the monster of Atlantis. Bet you didn't see this coming. And if you did... stop reading my mind!
For the first time in his long life, François felt a pang of jealousy.
It seemed to be a normal assignment when the dust of their arrival finally settled and the workers at the site all stopped to see who the newcomers were. Charlotte, as usual, had an air of calm and absolute authority about her as she scanned the surroundings. Amanda set about unloading their equipment; she was reveling in the thrill of excavating once again despite the dangers she had warned them against only moments before.
The thought of sitting in the dirt under a hot sun was not thrilling to François. He was a gentleman, after all, and not suited to manual labor. He stood in the shadow of the truck and tried to make a useful fan out of his pith helmet, succeeding only in earning the curious and wide eyed stares of the workers.
François had begun to wish that he had brought Marguerite along, at least then he’d have someone to talk to while Amanda was being generally useful. He could hear her at the back of the truck listing off equipment like a mantra and he had to smile. How odd, he thought, that it should be someone so very normal that captured…
“Charlotte!” The voice that called out across the dusty landscape was clear and strong. Everyone turned to see who it belonged to. Charlotte sighed and stepped forward to greet him.
“Max, it’s good to see you.” The man called Max was, in plain terms, exceedingly handsome. He wasn’t very tall but he seemed to be perfectly proportionate, from the broadness of his shoulders to the narrowness of his hips. Amanda could tell before he spoke that he was German; the square jaw, strong forehead, and bright blue eyes simply screamed it.
“Charlotte, how wonderful to see you again.” Max took Charlotte’s hand and kissed it. The act was so surprising that Amanda nudged François and raised an eyebrow at him. It was clear that this man was smitten with Charlotte and had been for some time.
“This is Dr. Maximillian Fischer, the lead archaeologist here.” Charlotte cleared her throat in a vain attempt to keep everything professional, “Dr. Fischer, my team; Monsieur François Boudreaux and Dr. Amanda Gilbert.”
“Thank you all for coming. I know it was a long trip for you, but there have been such strange things happening here that I knew I needed experts.” He flashed a brilliant white smile.
“Wild horses couldn’t have kept me away.” Amanda took his proffered hand. “It’s not every day one gets to uncover Atlantis.”
“Ah, yes, that is what all the papers are calling it. But I wouldn’t put much stock in what they say. I admit that there are some similarities, according to Plato, but I don’t believe it.”
“Nor do I. Plato was a fruitcake.” Amanda’s jab at the revered figure sent Max into peals of laughter.
“Thank goodness, someone else thinks that too. I can’t stand the man.” Max held Amanda’s hand with both of his and beamed that perfect smile at her. It was in that moment that François felt jealousy tug at his heart.
“If we could get started?” Charlotte cut into the story book moment like a knife. François couldn’t be certain, but he suspected there was an ounce of jealousy there as well.
“Yes, of course.” Max released Amanda’s hand to the relief of François. “As it is near dark there will be no digging today, but I’ll give you the tour and we can go from there.”
It seemed that a great deal of the work was already done. There were several storehouses filled with small finds; figurines, pottery sherds, and the like. What Amanda found to be most impressive was the uncovered temples. Some of the rooms were nearly complete, while others were merely outlines in the dirt. There were three grand buildings in all, and the rooms inside were vast and filled with shadows as the sun sank.
None of the marvels of the site could do much to improve François’ mood. He and Charlotte both stayed quiet and pensive well into the night. Max and Amanda sat side by side at the campfire and compared theories and histories, chatting excitedly like school children. François wasn’t sure why he should feel jealous; neither of them had made a formal commitment to the other but they held each other in high mutual admiration.
François had just started to wish that some horrible monster would attack them when an alarm was raised at the far end of the site. One of the storage sheds had been smashed open and its contents destroyed. As they approached to investigate the vandalism they found one of the volunteers, a student on break from school, lying on the ground. Charlotte bent down to examine him.
“Weapons at the ready.” Amanda and François obeyed without question. Max stood amazed as both produced their favored weapons; François had his cudgel, which had been blessed by a witch doctor, and Amanda gripped her specially modified handgun. Charlotte looked up at Max’s quizzical expression. “He was bludgeoned, multiple hits. We’re dealing with a brute.”
“Do you want it alive or can I kill it?” This was the action that François wanted and he stood in the pale moonlight grinning like a madman.
“Subdue it first. I want a look at it.”
They split up, each searching one of the three uncovered buildings. François happily noted that Max followed Charlotte like a puppy. He chuckled and turned his attention to what had been a temple. In the quiet of that once sacred place François could hear something shuffling in the shadows only to see nothing when he shone a light on it. Whatever this thing was it was quick.
In the ruined palace, Amanda was having the same problem. She followed the sound of footsteps from one room to the next, careful not to disturb any of the areas that were still being worked on. The walls of the palace were low enough that Amanda could see nothing moving above them. A quick radio call to the others confirmed that they were all following multiple small creatures; the site was infested.
Amanda swapped her pistol for a tranquilizer gun and entered one of the more intact interior rooms. There were work benches lining the walls, throwing many shadows against the crumbling stones. She scanned the room slowly trying not to miss any of the nooks and crannies. She saw nothing and turned to search the rest of the palace when a soft noise from behind her stopped her. She flashed her light in the corner where the sound came from and saw that a brush had fallen from one of the benches. Amanda breathed a sigh of relief and bent down to retrieve the brush.
As she lifted her eyes she saw peeking out at her from behing the bench what had to be the tiniest and most pathetic looking goblin she had ever come across.