As the dust and smoke from the explosion was blown away by the wind, the obelisk began to sway and tilt in the direction of the group. Rani, JJ, Linc, Mau and the Egyptian boy could see the giant obelisk starting to fall toward them. Running as fast as they could the group had a hard time dodging the masses of battling statues and jumping over the scattering of fallen debris.
The obelisk hit the ground only metres behind them exploding into thousands of pieces, shaking the earth beneath and sending out a dense cloud of dust. If they had been two seconds slower they would have been crushed. The city’s long-standing symbol of peace had been destroyed in the blink of an eye by a force that they were desperate to stop.
Ahead of them the door of the temple loomed and it was now within their reach. They used all of their remaining energy to race up the stone steps and into the belly of the temple. The enormous wooden door closed behind them with a crash and then there was silence.
They heaved for breath.
Their hearts were pounding.
No one could speak.
Beyond the entrance hall in which they stood a long passage of steps descended at an angle of forty-five degrees, beckoning the group down into the ground below the temple. By now they could hear muffled banging on the wooden doors behind them. It was only a matter of time until the door was crushed and the beasts would spill into the temple.
JJ knew that they only had one chance to get this right and that failure would be disastrous. The group reached the bottom of the steps and burst into a cavern deep beneath the temple. Each of them stopped and gazed about in absolute wonder. The cavern was enormous. It had been carved out from the solid rock that lay beneath the city.
Its size could be compared to two football fields side by side. The sheer walls were as high as a forty storey building. Around the cavern’s perimeter the floor was only four metres wide, before a plunge downward that was so deep it was only filled with darkness. Flaming torches sat in brackets evenly spaced every two metres around the whole outer limits of the cavern. The size of this place was breathtaking but it wasn’t the most amazing sight that they could see. That honour was held by what lay in the centre.
The void where the floor vanished into the depths was about four metres wide, beyond which there was a level floor of just one metre wide. Clear of that lay a giant stepped pyramid which rose step-by-step up into the lofty heights. Each step a metre high with the whole structure reaching up to three quarters of the height of the cavern. More flaming torches could be seen high up on the four corners of the pyramid just below its towering peak.
This was a challenge that would test JJ to his limits. Time was running out. It was the test that he mustn’t fail.
How the group had found themselves in such a dangerous place and under such pressure was still hard for JJ to comprehend. Their lives had already been changed forever, but if he failed now, the consequences for everyone would be catastrophic.
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