14: The Archives
“This better work,” I stated as I stood in the darkness. Vincent had the car parked a few streets away, Caeli was checking the window that would serve as our entrance, Nylah was next to me, a massive smile plastered on her face as we waited for Caeli to give us the all-clear.
“It will,” Caeli told me, looking away from the window towards me. “Remember, as quick as you can, if there’s any hint of the Temple you need to run and give the distress signal.” She told me, I nodded as I gripped onto the walkie-talkie and looked down at Nylah. We were going into the archives, two pairs of eyes were better than one, and both of us had always wanted to see inside the archives.
“Remember, we don’t know what we’re looking for or where it is, so try your best to deduce where it might be and move as quickly as you can. There isn’t much modern security, but you don’t want to get spotted by anyone, I imagine that they will have a fairly quick response from police if they called to say there was a trespasser.” Caeli stated, and I nodded my head at the repeated point that she had told me three times beforehand. If I didn’t know any better, I would think it worried her.
“Caeli, we get it,” I told her, I watched as she took a deep breath. Initially, Caeli and I were going to be breaking into the archives together, but Nylah had a strong will and determination to see inside the archives. My little sister eventually won that argument.
“The first sign of the Temple-”
“We let you know and get the hell out of there.” I cut her off, she would usually get angry at me for doing that, but this time I was proving a point. Nylah and I knew the plan, we could do this and knew what to do if it went wrong. “We’ll be back before you know it,” I stated, Caeli’s shoulders relaxed a little at my words. Nylah, on the other hand, seemed to buzz with excitement.
But what if the Temple were in there? What if Nylah and I couldn’t fight against them? What if Nylah got hurt? What would happen to her if I got hurt? What would Caeli do if both of us ended up hurt?
“Emergency only and only on a Temple assassin,” Caeli stated, holding a handgun towards me as if she could sense my thoughts. I nodded before I took the weapon and tucked it into the back of my jeans.
“Got it,” I told her before we worked the window open and Ny slipped into the building. Before I could climb through, Caeli grabbed onto my wrist and forced me to look at her.
“It will be underground if it’s this important, and it won’t be easy to find, but it should be well kept if that’s old. It might be in a climatised room…” She gave me one final tip, I barely listened to the words as I felt her touch on my skin, but nodded before I pulled away from her and dropped into the building behind my sister.
“Strangely quiet,” Nylah whispered in the empty hallway, I couldn’t agree more. There wasn’t even the sound of movement in the distance.
“Let’s hope there’s not a reason behind that,” I replied, the weight of the gun tucked into the back of my jeans heavier than I thought it would be. I had carried a gun before, so I didn’t know why I was so focused on it.
“Stairs.” Nylah pointed out, so we immediately moved towards them and made our way down quietly. We weren’t able to find anything regarding the layout of the archives, so we were going in blind.
I hated it.
We could get lost down here, and there’s a chance that we might never find what we’re looking for. That fact weighed down on me more than anything else; that we might never find what we were looking for. We had next to no information, a year and some initials. People ordered a pizza with more information than that.
We slowly went further and further into the archives, we walked between shelves and shelves of books, full of information and secrets that we didn’t have the time to read or even look at. We needed some other clue towards what we are looking for, anything that could give us a better direction.
“What happened around the 1600s that is even remotely related to the church?” I asked, Nylah thought about the question but shrugged his shoulders.
“The Spanish Conquest happened in the 1500s…” She pointed out, I nodded.
“Spanish Conquest… a major part of it was taking out the Incas in Peru…” I furthered the point she had made.
“In the 1600s the focus was on wiping out their beliefs, converting them away from Incan gods and towards their own monotheism,” Nylah added.
“If all we have is a year and initials…” I trailed off. Think Syrus, think. “Correspondence, we’re looking for correspondence from the South Americas back to the Pope.”
“The missionary would have used the initials A. L,” Nylah added, I smiled. “To find correspondence from that long ago, regarding something as important as the Spanish Conquest would have to be somewhere safe, not just secret but safe for loose paper like that.”
“Like a climatised room…” I trailed off, the last point that Caeli had made before we came in was that exact point. She seemed to always know these kinds of things, and I wished I understood how.
“We need to find a climatised room then,” Ny stated simply, I nodded my agreement before we started moving, looking behind every door we came across. We found a handful of climatised rooms and quickly searched the contents of each. We were in room four when my hopes were dimming. I was looking in a set of drawers when I picked up a piece of paper, written in Latin, but there were two things I didn’t have to translate to know. The year and the initials.
“Nylah… I just found it.” I whispered as I turned to look at her.
“Are you kidding me?” Nylah ran across the room to look around me at the letter. It took a moment for her to read it and see the same pieces of information that I had found, but I knew when she did. “Holy shit.” She whispered.
“You are still too young to swear,” I said half-heartedly, I was far too focused on the piece of paper in my hand to care too much.
“We have to take that, it’s exactly what we’re looking for,” Nylah stated, pointing to the date. “The year 1600, signed by Andres Lopez, A.L.”
“We can’t take it, because if they know what we’re looking for…”
“They’ll know we’ve found it.” Nylah finished the sentence for me. Good, she was learning, we both were.
“You wouldn’t have a notebook on you by chance?” I asked, and Nylah smiled as she reached into her jacket, pulling out a small notebook and handing it to me. A habit she had picked up from Caeli, a handy one that I was still refusing to do. I had to admit, it came in handy.
“We don’t have long enough for you to copy it,” Nylah stated, I shook my head.
“Yes we do, I’ll just copy it in Latin, we can translate later,” I said, Latin was something we had learnt in school, from the orphanage. It took me a few minutes, it wasn’t my best work, but it was readable. Mostly.
“What does it say?” Nylah asked me, I took a second to read the Latin that I had copied, to process the words and think them through.
“Holy shit,” I whispered.
“Well, I don’t think it says that,” Nylah said, I rolled my eyes.
“It says…” I picked up the letter, and another piece of paper fell from it. The paper was newer, from within the last century. “Percy Fawcett…” I trailed off as I skimmed over the page, reaching the signature at the end.
“He lived a lot later than 1600...” Nylah pointed out, I was about to reply but heard footsteps outside of the door.
“Died a lot later too,” I added in a whisper, waiting for the footsteps to pass. They eventually did, but something was wrong.
“No one saw him again after going to search for the Lost City of Z with his son,” Nylah whispered, acknowledging the shift on the room. The added tension.
“The letter from Lopez says he found a city of gold,” I added, it all pieced together in my mind. No wonder Caeli thought we needed more training. “Ny, we’re on the trail of Paititi.”
“The Incan lost city of gold,” She replied, I nodded slowly.
“Okay, we need to get out of here now, before someone else comes,” I said.
“What about Fawcett’s letter?” That was a good question. We didn’t have the time to write it down, and it said that he had found it. There could be clues on the letter that we may need, it made taking the original letter useless. Aside from that, I already copied Lopez’s letter, so any information from it was in our hands. Clues didn’t matter from the original. Fawcett would lead us to it.
“We take it,” I responded, giving her notebook back to her and taking the handgun out of the back of my jeans.
“But we weren’t going to take the original.” Nylah pointed out, but I had just realised something in the past few minutes. The footsteps reminded me of it. The Temple knew Caeli.
“No... something tells me that the Temple know we’ve found it. Caeli wouldn’t let us leave without whatever we came here for, these letters, and now we’ve wasted time because I am an absolute moron.” I said, she nodded.
“The first step is admitting it,” Nylah said with a smirk, I rolled my eyes.
“Fold up Fawcett’s letter, put it in your notebook,” I told her, putting the original back where I had found it. “And signal Caeli,” I added as we went to the door, we then slowly made our way back up the stairs.
“I don’t get why she gave you the gun, I’m obviously the better shot,” Nylah grumbled.
“I’m older and therefore, wiser,” I stated, she scoffed.
“Just because Caeli likes you...” She trailed off, and even though I knew she was probably lying, there was still an underlying hope that she wasn’t.
“She likes me?” I asked far too eagerly, checking the next hallway before we started walking down it.
“So you do like her that way.” Was all she said in reply. She baited me, and I fell for it.
“You’re an asshole.”
“An asshole who knows your little secret...” Nylah trailed off, I sighed and shook my head.
“Did you signal for Caeli?” I asked, changing the topic.
“Yeah, why would I not?”
“She should have found us by now...” I trailed off, I knew the building was big, but Caeli rarely took this long to find people. I didn’t have time to think too hard on it before I heard a gun being readied behind us, so I turned around with my handgun pointed directly at the person.
I recognised the voice before I knew the face.
“So, we meet again.” The Spanish asshole. Leopold.
“Just as horrible the second time around,” I replied, taking in his handgun and gesturing for Nylah to get behind me.
“Who the hell is that?” Nylah asked, not seeming at all fazed by the gun being pointed at us.
“My name is Leopold, you must be Nylah, the little Dawson.” He stated with an entertained look on his face. He was studying us, and I didn’t know what to do next. If I shot him, he would try to shoot Ny or me... “I cannot believe that Caeli is working with you idiots.”
“I can’t believe that you think you have a chance to win her back,” I replied, Leopold looked confused at my words.
“What makes you think this-”
“I know about your history, the only reason you’ve promised to help her is that you want her back. She would know that, and would use that motivation against you.” I told the Temple trainee, who’s expression wavered for a moment. I hit a nerve. Hit the truth. Caeli isn’t someone you get over easily, I can tell from how hard she had hit me already.
“And what do you think she’s been doing with you this whole time? She doesn’t keep anyone around unless they have a use.” Leopold stated, and the second he stopped talking there was the sound of another gun having the safety switched off, we all turned to look at the sound.
“Come on now, I love you all equally.” Caeli’s voice echoed through the hallway. “Sorry I took a while, I was dealing with some... friends.” She added, looking to me with her head tilted to the side before she turned her gaze back to Leopold. “Your people should learn not to walk around by themselves, it makes them fairly easy targets.”
“Your friends were less subtle in their escapades than mine, Caeli,” Leopold said.
“Wrong. I followed you and the others in, started taking you all down one by one once you split up. I figured that I would leave the least dangerous assassin until last, that these two could take care of you. Never in my wildest dreams did I see you two having a grand old chat, about me no less.” Caeli trained her gun carefully on Leopold’s head as she walked over to us, slowly, carefully.
“Those two... they won’t be enough. They won’t be able to help you stop the Temple.” Leopold stated simply, I wouldn’t lie, the words stung a little.
“You sound scared, Leopold. So I think I will keep them around, I mean they have a use, but I also care about them. Now, if you wouldn’t mind, we best be leaving. Things to do and places to be... you know how it goes.” Caeli said as she stood in front of Nylah and myself.
“Until we meet again.” She said dramatically, pulled something out of her pocket and threw it to the ground. Immediately after she did, thick smoke filled the hallway, providing us with the perfect cover to escape.
I led the way back to the window we had entered through, Nylah behind me, with Caeli bringing up the rear. Once we got out of the building, we ran to the car where Sinclair was in the driver’s seat waiting for us.
“So, did you find it?” Sinclair asked straight away, I looked at the man with a smile on my face.
“Yeah, we did.”