The team traversed deep into the thick jungle vegetation, trusting themselves to the path Arantu guided them upon. Jonah could feel the tension that they had now stepped straight into, under his orders. But to him, this could not be a coincidence. The heat and humidity had increased as they had continued to travel. Hours trickled by, and the scenery seemed to change and yet stay the same. Tall ferns, vines hanging from nearly every tree, and the constant buzzing of some insect were becoming all too familiar now.
"This is fucked," a guff breath shot across the back of Jonah's neck. Roger had moved silently within inches of him. He was good, worth the outrageous fee, clearly. And he also had a point, but Jonah's mind could not stray from a few lines he recalled from the journal.
...the only true witness accounts of the damned place were from one of the ship’s captain and crew, one that quite auspiciously had left the island without any of the explorers it had brought to this place. They spoke of strange savages that seemed to appear from the trees almost instantly...
It was a piece of information even his great-grandfather had taken with a grain of salt. Now, however, a more serious approach was needed. Jonah kept moving, but glanced back towards Roger.
"We continue on. We must. Be ready in case we need all of your services." Jonah's eyes flicked to the rifle at Roger's side. He adjusted it slightly, grunted, and backed off a few paces. Jonah's eyes focused back to the winding path they were taking as sweat cascaded from his brow.
After another hour more, the team all found themselves at a dead stop. Arantu and the two other natives had stopped moving and were now facing the exhausted and overheating team. Arantu maintained his macabre grin and raised his hands.
"We here. Stay close. Others will watch. Do not fear. We take you to place to sleep. Next Sun, we go to the place you seek." Arantu had finished speaking and slowly turned from the team. Jonah spoke up and stepped forward.
"Wait! What is..." Jonah words stumbled through his mouth from exhaustion and confusion. He shook himself and regained composure. "What is it we seek? We have told you nothing, and we ourselves know nothing of this place and what it holds. We have followed you, given trust. I need to know my team will be safe before we follow any further." And with that last statement, both Roger and Terrence shuffled forward, hands snuggly locked into place upon their rifles. Their grim faces bore nothing but cold contempt towards Arantu. Arantu, could only smile just a little bit more.
"No. Questions good. No harm in village. Promise of Eight of Eyes. No harm. We must make ritual for you. It will show you what you seek. We give blessing to all. Food. Sleep. Next Sun, we talk more." Arantu held his hands up still. Jonah looked from Roger to Terrence. Their eyes never left Arantu.
"What is Eight of Eyes? Is that your chief? His name?" Gerard had spoken up from the back of the group. He began stepping to the front as he continued his string of questions. "Is Eight of Eyes your god perhaps? Or several gods that you, uh, you and your people worship?" Gerard’s questions were met with silence. He looked about and began to speak again, but Arantu quickly moved his hand up to cut him off.
"Eight of Eyes is sacred. That is all for you to know. If she wish, she will tell you more. But now, we must keep moving." Arantu turned on his heels and took a few sprints forward to distance himself from Gerard. "Come!" Arantu shouted. Quicker than seemed possible Arantu and the two other natives stepped back into the brush, and were gone. Roger and Terrence had drawn their rifles and were about to open fire into the trees, but Jonah barely interceded. He raced in front of them with his hands now in the air.
"Stop! Stop! Listen to me.." Jonah spoke and Roger was quickly upon him, his large hands gripped the collar of Jonah's shirt as he yanked him close. His hot, putrid breath washed over Jonah's face in quick bursts.
"Listening to you has got us following these fucking wild men into an unknown wilderness and I'll be damned if I take any more orders from a man blind to danger!" Roger shoved Jonah to the ground and stepped over him. The other scientists had huddled together, fearful of what the next moment brought. Emily was shaking, and had lost the wonder that had resided in her eyes upon their arrival.
Roger and Terrence, guns drawn, moved forward as the jungle swallowed them. Jonah hesitated for a moment, then leaped to his feet and chased after. The branches and vines of the jungle slapped him in the face as he charged in the direction he believed the survivalists had gone. He hoped he could find them before he heard gunshots.
"Roger! Terrence! Hey! Don't do this!" His pleas became frantic, and he quickened his pace. The vegetation encompassed all he could see, so he ran with his hands blocking his face. He went to shout again, but the resistance of the jungle gave way and he crashed down onto a hard sandy ground. Slightly dazed, he found himself looking at Roger and Terrence. They were on their knees, their hands on their heads, and their guns discarded on the ground. Several spears were aimed directly at their throats by the numerous natives that stood in a semi-circle around them. They had arrived at the village. Jonah was startled as a hand locked on his shoulder and yanked him upright.
"No harm. Promise of Eight of Eyes," Arantu said as he dusted off Jonah. He looked at him and then to Roger and Terrence. His smile widened, if for but a moment, and then faded.
"Release!" Arantu shouted and the spear wielding natives backed away from the men. Arantu walked to them and extended a hand to Roger.
"No harm. And you?" Roger smirked and shook his head. He had been bested, this time. He took Arantu's hand and was hauled to his feet.
"No harm," Roger said. He dusted himself off and glanced toward Jonah. Jonah knew what he saw. Hate. Rage. This would not go well.
This will be a four part story, keep tuned for part 3 late this week.
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