Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Valkyrie's Curse Pt II

I hope you are enjoying this new tale.  Bear in mind this is a first draft. As such there is bound to be mistakes.  I hope you can overlook them to enjoy the story. 

Valkyrie's curse copyright 2012 Ellie Mack


Scott woke from the sound of crows cawing outside,  and groggily looked at his watch. “Oh shit!”

He glanced over, Helena curled into him on the cot. He softly kissed her forehead and eased his arm from around her, carefully lifting to not disturb her.  He wanted so badly to have her wake in his arms so he could kiss her, but he needed to get the site mapped before the professor and his team showed up. 

He made his way to the latrine and the showers. The shock of the cold water woke him up instantly. Ducking into his tent to change, he grabbed one of his thick bulky sweaters to pull over his tee.  The morning air was chilly, he could see his breath but by early afternoon it would be sunny and warm.

Brad was already up, and had made coffee.  “’Bout time you got up.  I wondered if we were going to make it before the bigwigs showed up.”

Scott grunted in his general direction and filled his 20 ounce thermal cup with coffee.

Brad chuckled to himself, tucking several of the prepackaged muffins in his multi pocketed vest, along with granola bars, two apples, and several candy bars.

“Geez man, you feeding an army?” Scott shot at him.

“Nope, it’ all for me.” Brad sipped his coffee then grabbed a couple bottles of the juice. “And I ain’t sharing so you better get your own.”

Brad tucked a few things into his backpack, opening a Cliff bar to munch on now.  He grumbled to himself as he picked through the assortment to find something he liked.  He’d prefer to stick around till the cook brought the eggs and bacon, but knew they were cutting it close as it was. 

The four wheeler was already loaded with their equipment and the grid markers. The two men climbed in and took off to the dig site. Brad had his tablet and the GPS locater to pinpoint  their marker locations.

The site was a half mile from their camp.  Scott munched on his bar, and drank his coffee while Brad drove. When they reached the site, the two worked diligently together.  It took them a little over an hour to put every marker in place and fire up the system.  There were a few tweaks to get it operational, but Brad and Scott had worked together setting up the grids before.  They worked in sync well with each other with minimal conversation, each knowing their part. 

By the time they returned to camp, the cook was just clearing out the cold breakfast foods.  “Wait!”  Scott jumped out of the four wheeler before it had completely stopped and ran over to Joe. “Hey man, we didn’t get to eat. What’s left?”

Joe motioned to the tray of sausage links and a little mound of scrambled eggs.  Scott immediately scooped them up, an popped his paper plate into the microwave.  There was nothing like real food in the morning. He ate quickly then helped Joe clean up before he made his way to Helena’s tent. 

He cleared his throat before he spoke “Hey, you up? Are you decent?”

“Yeah I’m up. Come on in.”

He ducked through the flap to find her sitting on the cot brushing her long hair.  “Thought you’d be here when I woke up.”

“I wanted to, but we had to get the grid set up before everyone showed up. “

“Right”   She sounded annoyed.  She worked quickly braiding her hair into a single plait.

“Are you upset with me?”  He moved closer to her, kneeling in front of her searching her eyes. “I thought you’d rather we were ready for the professor.”

She gave an exasperated sigh. “Scott. It’s not that.  Did we?”

He grinned widely. “Not yet.  Do I still stand a chance?”

She leaned forward hugging him. She kissed him lightly. “You must think I’m terrible.  I didn’t think we did, but I remember pulling you in with me this morning. Sorry.”

He kissed her, gently but growing more demanding. “Helena.  I don’t think you’re terrible. “

The sound of vehicles rolling in were shortly followed by the chattering of the undergrads as they offloaded from the busses.  “Well, looks like it’s show time.  Maybe we could pick up later?”  He kissed her forehead as he stood, and handed her the tablet.  “Let’s greet the crew, shall we?”  He extended his hand, lifting her from the cot. 

Brad and Joe had directed them to their tents to stow their gear and bags.  Helena and Scott made their way to the mess tent and waited for the undergrads.  They straggled in a few at a time until the large tent was filled with the twenty  undergrads.  Scott opened with the intro as Brad passed out the research folders to each of them. 

They went over procedures, clean rules, and answered questions.  By the time they had covered everything, Dr. Montgomery and his entourage pulled into camp. Helena dismissed them by telling them to go get set up in their tents and study their folders.

Helena, Scott, and Brad accompanied Dr. Montgomery, Dr. Sheffield, and their assistants to the dig site.  They briefed the professors on the finds so far, on their thesis compared to the previous findings, and what they had accomplished  so far.  Dr. Sheffield was impressed at the three dimensional grid display on the portable tablet.  

The small group stayed through the evening meal, although they didn’t eat much. Before leaving, Dr. Montgomery pulled Helena aside.  “NIalls will be staying to keep an eye on things.  If you need to contact me for any reason, just go through him.”

She tried to hide her disappointment at his lackey being left to watch over them.  Really she should be used to it by now, it was the same with every dig she’d been involved with.  They always had to have their man in camp.  It was infuriating, but it was part of the price of getting paid.

By the time the camp settled in, in was ten at night.  Scott followed Helena into her tent, turning her around immediately and kissing her.  He had been wanting to kiss her all day,  had wanted her in his arms ever since he had slipped out of her cot that morning.  They eased down on the cot together, kissing , caressing, each getting to know the other in a new intimate way.  He eased his hand under her shirt cupping and squeezing her breast.

Helena tensed.  It wasn’t that she didn’t want him, what would he think of her?  What would be his response to the scars on her body from the surgeries?

Scott sensed her tensing and decided that perhaps it was too much too soon.   “He pulled back from the kiss.  I guess I’m rushing you.  Didn’t mean to.”  He slid his hand out from under her sweatshirt, then stood.  “I better let you get some sleep.  We’ll uh,”  He scratched his head puzzled about her behavior, wondering how he’d misinterpreted her signs so poorly. “We’ll talk in the morning.  Good night Helena.”

He ducked through the opening and was gone.  Helena sat there frozen.  What just happened?  His hand had been nowhere near her scars.  She shook her head wondering how she screwed that up.  She lay back on the cot staring at the seam of the tent for several minutes before deciding she couldn’t sleep now.  She grabbed her flashlight and walked to the work tent.  The grid that Scott and Brad had set up was perfect.  The date from the radar equipment showed a maze of tunnels, and three chambers adjoining.  There were two trails leading exactly east and west from the central chamber.  The first tunnel that was discovered by Sune Lundquist was partially exposed.  From previous explorations they had braced the tunnel, cleaned it out to the point of a stone wall.  The wall had many Viking runes on it.  Brad was their language expert and he was working on the translations.  So far he had picked out the words moonlight, key, Nefflheim, and Valkyrie.  From age the runes had been weathered some, but as it was protected in an underground tunnel it would just take some more detailed work to decipher.

The stone wall was a massive thing extending four feet to either side of the tunnel.  The tunnel leading down was at a fifteen degree decline.  The group had a narrow window to work in before the rainy season, as there was evidence that the water collected in front of the wall to a depth of seven feet at times.

She flipped on the monitors, amazed at the design.  From an aerial view it was very close to a Triskel.  The tunnels were perhaps a little straighter stretching the design out into an oblong pattern.  A movement caught her eye.  When she glanced over at the monitor there was a man in the tunnel.  He held a torch as he carefully stepped through the corridor. 

“Who are you and what are you doing in my dig?”  Had Dr. Montgomery left someone to sabotage them?  Was it Nialls?  She looked closer.  The man had long blond hair, and a mustache,   resembling  a younger Hulk Hogan.  She’d never seen this man before.  He must be there to steal artifacts, or sabotage their dig. Either way she wasn’t going to tolerate it.  “ Oh no you don’t.  this is my dig mister.”

Helena grabbed the rifle and handgun and set them both in the small cage of the four wheeler and took off in a shot.  The tires spat gravel as she gunned the engine.  She spun to a stop, taking her flashlight from her belt.  Where was he?  She shone her light in the direction of the tunnel, and two coyotes scurried away.  She strapped the gun over her shoulder and tucked the handgun into its place on her belt.  “I’m not in the mood to be playing games with saboteurs.”  She rang Scott, but he didn’t answer.  She rang the local authorities and got an answering machine.  She left a hurried message, “ This is Helena Morris from the University of Wisconsin, in coordination with the Denmark association of Archaeological research.  We have an intruder at our site, white male, long blond hair, mustache.  He is on the premises now.  I’m going in.”

It wasn’t the smartest thing she could do by any means.  It would be best to wait for some of the guys, but she was ticked.  This had been her dream project for years, discovering a site that had to do with her family’s heritage. 

She stomped over the clumpy grass to the entrance of the tunnel, shining her light down the tunnel as she squatted down.  “Hey.  I know you’re in there.  Come on out now.”  She waited for a few minutes with no response.

She said a little louder “Hey!  I know you can hear me in there.  I saw you on the monitors.  This is a closed site.  You need to get out of there now.”

She waited.  ‘Right!  He just had to be difficult.’  She stepped  down into the tunnel, her flashlight in her hand, cautiously moving forward.  She passed the first set of aged timbers supporting the tunnel. Flashing the light behind her, then back in front of her she eased forward slowly.   Her foot caught on a stone in the floor and she tumbled headlong down the incline, ramming her hand into the next set of timbers. 

“Ow!  Ow! “  She groped on the floor for the flashlight that had been knocked from her hand.  There was a large cut on the back of her hand, blood trickling down.  Two of her nails had been broken, and the skin just above her cuticles had been scraped, blood welling it the spots.  She stood, placing her hand against the tunnel walls for support.  She took two cautious steps forward and her flashlight died.  No matter how hard she beat the thing it wouldn’t work.  She clicked it on and off, but nothing.  “Of course!” 

Easing forward even slower in the dark, she felt along the damp, cold wall of the tunnel.  Her hand hit the next timber support, and it moved.  As it shifted, a huge chunk of dirt fell from the ceiling, along with  the sodded grass from above.  A few meager rays of bright moonlight filtered in showing her clearly the stone wall less than five feet in front of her.  ‘Where did he go?  She hadn’t passed him.  Maybe he ran out before she had arrived.  That would be about her luck.’

She glanced around, seeing nothing but the wall, and turned to leave.  AS she did, she lost her footing in the dirt and clumps of grass and stumbled back toward the wall.  Frantic she turned to catch herself, landing palms first on the stone wall.  Only it just disappeared and she fell through it, landing at the feet of the man she had seen. 

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