Every step killed a piece of me and at one point I thought I wouldn’t be able to walk again but I staggered on not looking back, half expecting to feel and hear the unmistakable sound of the halberd whizzing through the air and crashing into my back killing me instantly, but I did not hear it, which just astounded me.
Ignoring that thought, I started to run not able to take the shock anymore and then finally came into the dull lit room of the chest.
Here there was space for two people to stand comfortably and was lit by two kerosene lamps on either side of the chest begging the question who really came down here, just to light these stupid lamps.
Finally, after reaching solid brown ground I collapsed on the floor not able to take the pain anymore.
I did not care if Stuq wanted to kill me. I was just too tired to move on and I now caressed my stinging ankles and feet both my bare hands, wishing for the pain to just vanish.
Then I heard a ‘slosh’ and then astonishingly I saw Stuq walk towards me, still in full armor and weapon in hand dripping wet just like me. He too collapsed a few feet from me, but he seemed extraordinarily strong as he got to his feet and walked over towards the closed chest.
'Maybe he too just wants to win this fight?' I thought to myself, thinking if that was the case I could get out of this fight alive. It was very astounding to see us both in so close proximity not trying to kill each other and instead for once, act like friends, but I wasn’t a hundred percent sure he wasn’t going to kill me as his face was still covered by that damn helmet.
He now walked around the chest, that just lay there on an upraised rock that seemed to be carved to fit the chest spoke out and I thought it was his own thought that had slipped out his mouth.
“That is very odd,” he said. “There doesn't seem to be any trap of any kind. It cannot be that easy.” And with that, he now cautiously touched one of the two handles of the chest. Nothing. Feeling a bit more confident he put his full armored hand on the chest and a few seconds later his other hand.
Now completely confident he now tried to open the chest. But it seemed too heavy. Again he took a step backward like as if to confirm there was no lock like many other traditional chests.
But no there was no lock there were only two handles and these to handle seemed to be the only thing for a person to open to get the prize that was inside the chest.
So he tried again and really seemed to put his might into opening the chest but still no avail.
Then suddenly he turned towards me and asked the most unexpected question. “What’s your name?” he said and suddenly the anger in his voice was completely and utterly lost. I was taken off-guard by this question and although I had heard him clearly in this very quiet space I asked him to repeat the question again just to confirm.
“Your name.” he said and again his voice was calm, which by my brief time with him knew he was short-tempered and so I was flabbergasted.
“Aiden” I said thinking a dumb thought that speaking my name might somehow open the treasure. ‘Another one to add to the list’ I silently thought as I saw Stuq stare at me. I would have guessed he was face read baffled but again his stupid helmet masked his expression.
He stood there motionless for a few seconds and I think the gears in him were grinding hard to find a solution which reminded me of my mother, but then he snapped out of his trance and walked over to the chest. He then stood there looking at it for a couple of seconds like as if deciding whether he should try opening it again.
And before I could open my mouth to ask his name he spoke and I was totally taken aback at what he said the next sentence. “Hey…hey...Aiden…is it? Help me open this chest. Will you?” and this he said in his calm which still astounded me.
I suddenly felt the pain subside within me as I took the surrounding sand wall for support as I got to my feet. Stuq was still not facing me and this would have been the easiest opportunity for me to kill him but instead, I dropped my weapon and staggered towards him, my ankle and feet paining with every movement.
I then finally reached him and stood awkwardly along with him and I noticed his weapon too was down on the ground which was a relief.
He then told me to hold one of the handles of the chest and I did, my mind thinking of all kinds of explanations for this sudden change of heart.
One side of me thought he had indeed changed but the other thought he was only using me to get the prize inside the chest. However, I decided to help him at least win the stupid game so that I could walk away from this alive.
And so I placed both hands on one of the long gold horizontally handle of the chest of the handle and nodded towards my newly acclaimed friend that I was ready. At this point, he too kept his hands on the other handle and spoke. “On the count of three.” I nodded in agreement and he spoke.
“One, two, three!” and then the most unexpected thing happened. I upon seeing my stronger and taller foe struggle with opening the chest earlier had now thought I had to put my whole remaining strength into opening the chest and so that was exactly what I did.
Stuq too upon two failed attempts seemed to put his full remaining might to open the chest.
But as soon as we put the force into opening the chest it was very apparent that it was very, very light. So very light that the individual forces we had put into opening the chest had made us both fall backward rather hard.
It was almost like the moment we both had put our hands on the chest the handle lid had the weight of the feather.
Quickly back onto our feet, I exchanged surprised glances with Stuq, and then we both walked towards the treasure, very curious and cautious to see what prize it held.
Walking slowly, I glanced a look and saw what appeared to be a single scroll that lay in the chest.
No jewels, no gold, nothing. Only a scroll that lay in the red velvet-lined interior of the chest.
Stuq too seemed surprised at the finding and I now took the initiative of recovering the scroll from the chest. I was expecting an objection from Stuq but there wasn’t one and so I grabbed the Scroll as quickly as possible from the chest.