“Life is always better with a little Indiana Jones type adventure in it, isn’t it?”
Leandro’s Key of Legends
Reluctantly he handed over the key. That golden fob belonged to a chest of legends hidden deep within the catacombs. However, wealth is no good to a corpse.
Leandro was already bruised and bleeding having been assaulted by these men. Now, he was on his knees hoping for mercy.
“You’ve made a wise choice, Leandro,” Everard sneered while gazing upon the gilt key in his gloved hand. “There are enough bodies in this graveyard without adding your fresh carcass the numbers.”
“At least I belong with the holy and good here. You’ll be interred with the scumbags in Hades!” Leandro looked between his four attackers. Two bore guns, the others coshes made from pickaxe handles. He was outmuscled and out of options.
Everard snapped forward, his hand whipping through the torchlight.
Leandro felt the fiery crack across his face. He recoiled from the slap but said nothing in favour of a furious glare.
“Marco, guard him. If he moves kill him!” Everard seemed to grow with smugness.
“My pleasure, boss.” Marco chuckled while cracking his knuckles with murderous intent.
“Okay, Rico, Martinez. Let’s find the chest. Those riches will be ours.”
Leandro remained on his knees, watching the three men disappear into the catacombs. The moment the torchlight vanished underground, he focused on Marco.
“I’m watching yer.” Marco levelled his Remington shotgun. “One move and I’ll paint the cemetery with your brains,”
“Always the puppies and kitten’s routine with you scoundrels, isn’t it?” Leandro retorted.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That, your wife married you out of pity. She’d have bedded any mongrel over an ugly mutt like you, otherwise!”
“That’s it! Now, I’m gonna kill yer!” Marco dumped the gun, rolled up his sleeves and stepped forward.
“Aww, can’t you take a joke?” Leandro grinned through his blood-stained teeth.
Marco slammed a fist into his stomach.
Leandro rolled with the blow and pounced like a leopard. He shouldered into Marco’s stomach and drove him into a gravestone.
The scoundrel groaned, his kidneys bending over the granite slab. “You’ll pay —” Marco lunged, fists swinging.
Leandro parried and ducked; ensuring his punches bludgeoned the man’s beefy stomach and jaw. A savage head-butt sat the scoundrel down. “Good night, Marco.” Leandro kicked him to the oblivion of unconsciousness.
Leandro frisked the man and took a folding knife from his back pocket. He dispossessed him and the gun of bullets. Leaving the man tied to a gravestone with a rope from his tools, Leandro turned his attention to the catacombs.
The church of John of the Cross was centuries old. History said; the catacombs came first. The church arriving much later.
Leandro didn’t care, he jogged down into the darkness broken only by flaming torches within sconces upon the stone walls. Every wall was filled with funerary niches here. Many were sealed, more still were open and stacked with desiccating bones.
Spiderwebs hung everywhere like creepy curtains. Leandro flicked a large brown spider from his hair as he reached the first tomb. There were dozens here, each belonging to a wealthy family from the city above. The deeper underground, the further back in time you went. The oldest tombs were over a thousand years old.
“I’m coming for you, Everard!” Leandro breathed as he jogged along the winding tunnels.
Cold breezes graced his skin like the fingers of a ghost. Strange mists and disembodied screams on the cold air caused him to shiver as he moved on.
Torchlight broke the darkness ahead.
Leandro froze, he’d found them.
A footstep close at hand.
Something moved fast, slashing across the light.
Leandro reacted fast, catching the cosh. The wooden club stung his hands, but he twisted his attacker into the wall. Bones within the funerary niche shattered and cascaded to the floor.
Martinez’s dark features were caught in the flickering light. He swore as he attacked with a savage knee.
Leandro felt his ribs buckle. Winded, he couldn’t stop Martinez from slamming him into the opposite wall.
“Hehe, gotcha!” Martinez grinned revealing gold-capped teeth. “Now, I kill you!” he snapped forward with his pickaxe handle.
Leandro’s vision darkened. Dropping to his knees, he avoided death and rolled past Martinez. At once, he sliced him down with a spinning kick to the back of the knees.
Martinez seized and dragged him down.
Leandro fell backwards, cracking his head hard. Darkness crept into his vision as he lay dazed.
Martinez crawled on to him, “Say, goodnight, my friend!” he said punctuating his words with savage punches.
Leandro was close to unconsciousness, pain flared in his mouth as those punches loosened his teeth. He scrabbled about desperate to get free. As all seemed lost, his fingers closed around something. Gripping it, he swung with all his might.
Martinez yelped. The blunt object smashed his nose with a sickening crack.
Leandro threw the man askance; cracking his head against the wall. A second blow ended his fight.
Leandro rose to his feet and swore away his pain. As his equilibrium returned he smiled at the skull in his hand. He’d split it along the sagittal suture but it was still more or less intact, unlike Martinez’s nose. “I’m sorry, old fellow. You’d better have this back,” he said returning the skull to the rest of the skeleton.
“You’ll pay for hurting my friend!” yelled Rico, his voice echoing around the catacombs.
Leandro swore, “I’ve had enough of this!”
“Then die!” Rico lunged.
Leandro unleashed the folding knife. It flashed across the passage and slammed into the man’s throat.
Rico’s eyes widened in shock as he choked.
The blade hadn’t been open, but a heavy metal object striking a delicate throat can cause extreme damage.
Leandro seized and slammed him against the wall rendering him unconscious. Swiftly grabbing the men’s belts he tied them together back-to-back. “Now, sit still and behave!”
In the fray, Leandro had suffered an injury to his right knee. He limped his way deeper into the crypt. His last task; find and deal with Everard.
It was Everard who found him. The sound of the safety releasing from his pistol was unmistakable. “I don’t know if I should applaud or deck you for beating my men,” he said pressing the gun into his adversaries back.
“They’re too garrulous for their own good,” Leandro retorted biting back the fear from the cold metal barrel pressing into his spine.
Everard chuckled, “Ha, they never shut up!”
“Well, they’re quiet, now.”
“Enough games. Take me to the chest or I’ll drop you where you stand!” Everard’s voice went stone cold.
“Empty threat. You shoot me, you’ll never find it!” Leandro limped into the gloom anyway.
“I said, drop you, not kill you. First, I’ll blow your ankles away and then work up your joints until you speak.”
Leandro arrived at an arch; the keystone was engraved with ‘1521’ indicating the age. “You sadistic, scumbag!”
The walls here were adorned with carvings of soldiers in battle. To historians like Leandro, it was clear the rich and battle honoured were interred here.
“Thank you,” Everard chuckled. “Now, move or your left ankle vanishes!”
Leandro felt the gun move.
Everard unleashed a bullet into the stone at his feet.
Leandro flinched but said nothing as he made a right turn into a circular tomb with an alter dead centre. Six white marble conquistador soldiers stood guard.
“Is it here?” Everard asked lighting sconces on either side of the entrance.
Leandro stood aside and pointed. “There.”
“Thank you, Leandro. It’s been nice working with you—goodbye!” Everard raised the gun and fired twice.
Leandro had been ready for him. He rolled behind a statue and reappeared holding a harquebus, a large Spanish gunpowder musket. There was no time to load it, he just swung for all he was worth.
Everard reacted, getting off a single wild shot before the heavy wooden stock crashed into his jaw.
Leandro grimaced as bits of wood and teeth flew across the tomb.
Everard staggered; his gun clattered to the floor. His consciousness was close to following, “W-where did the g-gun come from?” he slurred.
“It’s been here the whole time. The local historian’s advantage, I guess. As for the chest, its contents will go to a museum to be enjoyed by the public as they should.” Leandro waved good night and laid him out with a stiff haymaker.
Taking back his key, he walked behind the altar and smiled at the simple wooden chest inset into the stone. The lock turned easily; Leandro had opened it many times. Inside upon a pile of Inca gold coins, were six glass vials with gold stoppers. Bottles of water from the Fountain of Youth, thanks to the Ponce De Leon’s discovery.
Leandro had planned to keep it hidden here for eternity. Now, he had no choice.
The vials and gold went on display in the museum. Leandro went into the history books for his discovery. He wasn’t too pleased about that, he hated publicity. The historian did smile knowing he’d kept one of history’s greatest treasures safe from harm though.
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!