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Sanctum

By cwatson All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Fantasy

Phoenix

Three figures huddled against the greedy shadows. The rock beneath their sandals was rough, but coated in a thick layer of soot that spilled up among their toes. They drew heavy woollen robes tighter and scurried into the network of passages.

The air was hot and thick, bathed by dozens of spot fires that cast an eerie orange light. The lead man navigated according to a series of instructions he’d long-since committed to memory, while the two others hauled between them the case secreting their cargo. Avarice glimmered sinister in each man’s eyes.

They came to a larger chamber, almost the shape of a misshapen sphere. The walls were bare stone, rough-hewn, and like the rest of this underground maze it was illuminated by casual blazes flickering in nooks and crannies. A squat limestone plinth stood in the centre of the room, unremarkable in appearance save for dozens of intricate runes smothering every face of it. Raw, blistering heat poured from it, an unnatural torrent of warmth that left eyelids fluttering against dry eyeballs and skin tinged angry red.

They were not alone for long. A pyroclastic torrent of smoke and ash charged from the opening opposite to burst against the central plinth, billowing smoke writhing into rapturous forms that danced in the unsteady light. What followed this display was even more spectacular.

She stood exactly six feet tall, with delicate porcelain skin that bore the searing heat unblemished. Lightly curled locks of white-grey hair tumbled almost to her waist, framing sharp green eyes and a regal – almost angular – face. She simply exuded mastery, a supreme unadulterated confidence that commanded the chamber with ease.

Even men as unsavoury as those she greeted felt compelled to offer some half-hearted courtesy, a meagre but nonetheless deferential bow from the lead man and something altogether more awkward from the others - burdened as they were.

She nodded at the plinth, every movement subtle and refined. Tentative against the searing heat, the second and third man hauled the box between them onto the fierce stone, hurriedly setting it down. The container was carved of some inexpensive wood, taller than it was wide, almost an upright cuboid in shape. Its edges immediately began to char, blackened mahogany falling away in loose slivers.

All at once the tortured wood ignited, flames scrambling up its sides to leap proudly from atop it. They consumed the case with ravenous hunger to at last reveal the treasure secreted within.

It was an egg.

No ordinary egg, naturally. Quite how special this particular egg was did not make itself apparent, but it could certainly be identified as something extraordinary even by those who weren’t familiar with its nature. It was about the size of a human head, inky black save for a dapple of warm orange that seemed to shift across its surface like a fiery aurora.

The proceeds from a single Gryphon egg could keep the three men living raucous and comfortable for more than a month. They had been promised more than six times that for this particular specimen.

There was momentary silence, the final slivers devoured by the hungry flames. The egg sat unremarkable for some time, four pairs of eyes gazing intently at it. Then something remarkable happened.

It began to hatch.

The process started with a single crack, a zigzagging split in the shell that at once shattered its mesmerizing beauty. They four figures didn’t get a lot of time to observe the crack, however. Almost as soon as it appeared incandescent flame roared from around the egg, thunderous and infernal. It was like the shell itself had suddenly switched from an impossibly heatproof casing to the most extraordinary accelerant.

The inferno billowed and mushroomed; cataclysmic, savage. Every inch of the chamber was devoured by hungering fire, every thread of fabric destroyed in the rampaging conflagration. The three men were barbecued where they stood, with scant enough time to scream. Their charred corpses would feed the chick for weeks.

The woman fared slightly better. Porcelain skin now ashen and sooty, she strode from the chamber. If anyone had been there to witness it, the sly smile she allowed herself might have seemed malicious. As it was, she gave it only a moment. She had many other plans to attend to, and it would not do to betray the events she had set in motion.

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Bri Hoffer: I couldn't put it down!! The characters are all incredibly likable, and it's so descriptive you can see, smell, and feel thier surroundings. Great story, and very well written. I cannot wait for follow up stories. there were a few grammatical errors, but nothing that I could move right over.

Dessie Williams: loved the book. the plot the characters all just great.I think it's a must read. once you start this book it's hard to put down. hope it gets published....I think this book is a must read.great job!!!!

Felisa Yoder Osburn: I really enjoyed the story. Civil War stories are some of my favorites and the intertwining of the past with current times was wonderful. I look forward to reading the next stories.

spooky jedi: Love your story!I really hope more people read this story!Its amazing!! The plot is very unique and different, which is very good to have in a world full of stories. You have very complex and intellectual plot line, with your many loveable character and that hint of 'will they, won't they' is ju...

izzymerchant: This book is truly special. The plot, the characters and the way the story flows is so engrossing and magical that I found it virtually impossible to put down. The character relationships were particularly fascinating and Melenthia's character was fascinating. Cannot wait to see what happens next!

littlebunnypoopoos: Omg this was so amazing! The ending was a little bad and predictable. But otherwise, I need a second book or I'll die :DThe character development was excellent and the whole romance, action, and suspense was superb

Shweta Somwanshi: I just chose to read this out of nowhere and now I can't stop. Hats off to the author who made the reader swoon away with words so beautifully! I loved how I was able to imagine everything so explicitly because the writing was simple and easily comprehensive with a touch of complexity somewhere b...

Alkira Joan: Great story, I found it hard to read especially the dialogue. You just need to fix up some spelling errors and the gramma .I enjoyed this book. was a little hard to get though.,.,..,.,.,,..,.,.,, , , , ,.,, , , , , , , ,., ,,.,,,,,

maewilde25: I am so in love with this story!!! captivated me till the very end, there wasn't a dull moment. Didn't particularly enjoy the lay out and some bits of info was missing along with how a 21 year old man amassed so much wealth that needed to be explained other than that and a few spelling errors, th...

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ynez2005: I LOVE THIS BOOK SOOOOO MUCH!!!!Though you really need to make another book,more Princesses!!! Whoooo!!!Girl Power!!!Mabey it could even be Devona's BFF???That would make it even better!!!Plus can you pleeease make Akki come back,together with Thea and Authur amd the whole family is back!Other th...

Hudson: Your story was fantastic Erin! The Rising Sun was one of the first stories I read on Inkitt, and I have to say I don't regret the three to four days I spent pouring through the story.Probably the biggest strength I see in your writing is your characterisation of Eliana, Oriens, and the rest of th...

Erin Crowley: The concept here is really strong, but the execution is definitely lacking. Tenses, grammar, etc are all off, with at least one or more errors per 'Page' on my phone. The writing style is almost broken- sentences move into each other awkwardly, and are filled with an excess of "filler words", lik...

Laraine Smith: My only suggestion on the grammar is to use www.grammarcheck.net. I have it bookmarked on Google Chrome. I see myself in the determination in this beautiful story! I have Cerebral Palsy, and I have dreams that I have been working hard for, too! The humor made me laugh!

Olivia N J Hamel: I want this book. I love it so much. It is so enjoyable to read and to have a copy of this always, I would be very happy, to always be able to come back and look at it again.

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