NOVEL: Allie Strom and the Ring of Solomon, Ch 13

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PLOT: Allie discovers that her new necklace and an unlikely friend are her keys to traveling across the world to save her mom from a cult and their otherworldly leader, and in the process learns that she has a greater destiny.

Without further ado, let’s dive into my MG novel, Allie Strom and the Ring of Solomon. 

Chapter Thirteen

She looked around, instantly recognizing where she was. Before her stood the gold walls of Solomon’s throne, beyond the wall that had crumbled. She was back in Osh.

Footsteps echoed from the rock tunnel behind the crumbled wall. Allie turned, looking for somewhere to hide. Ready for anything except, to her surprise, when Paulette poked her face through the opening, panting and sweating.

“What happened?” Paulette asked. “How’d we get back here?”

“I… I found another way.” Allie stepped back and looked at the massive golden wall, too tall to climb. “You?”

“I don’t know, I was on my way to meet you and my necklace started to glow, and suddenly I was in the tunnels, scared. But I heard something, and knew it was you.”

Allie shook her head, trying to clear it. This was all too much. “Daniel is out there, we have to save him. And Chris. He isn’t himself.”

“They’re here too? This can’t be good.”

“What do you mean?”

“Allie, tell me exactly what happened.”

Allie told her as Paulette circled the room, inspecting the walls and ceiling. When Allie finished and explained how she returned, Paulette nodded knowingly. “The Strayers must be behind everything, their magic must be hiding their presence at school, and it seems they’ve gotten to everyone, if they got to your friend Chris. Unless we do something they’re going to take Daniel as one of their own.”

“So what do we do?”

“The secret to saving him must be here, in this very room. Come on, we gotta find it.” She turned, ready to go, but paused.

“Paulette,” Allie said. “I’m glad I’m not the only one.”

Paulette smiled and put a hand on her shoulder. They shared a moment of eye contact before shaking it off and getting back to work. They explored the darkness to find only a square room, with nothing but the gold wall. The floor seemed solid. Allie searched the dark corners and noticed Paulette running her hands across the smooth gold, knocking occasionally.

“It’s solid,” Paulette said with wide eyes. “Do you realize what this would be worth if someone could get it out of here?”

Allie stared at the ceiling in desperation. “I doubt we’ll be able to buy Daniel back from them.” She stepped back, craning her neck. “There’s definitely a ledge up there, there’s got to be a way to reach it. If Daniel were here…. Wait, I remember reading something at his place, about Solomon’s Throne, about the six steps, and at the base were a lion and an ox made of gold.”

She ran to the side. There was nothing but stone. The stone closest to the steps was a different shade, beige, like sand. She pinched it and it crumbled to reveal gold beneath, worn and dull, but gold nonetheless.

“You found it!” Paulette said as she ran to the other side and found a similar spot.

They chipped away at the sandstone until two gold statues stood before them: one a lion, the other an ox.

“Great, now what?” Allie said. This couldn’t be what they came for. Paulette looked equally confused. Allie searched around the statues, hoping she could use the same trick from before. She caressed the statue, hoping a gentle touch would win its secrets.

“He’s out there, possibly dying and we just sit here playing with gold statues!” Allie said. She kicked the statue and leaned against the leg of the ox. It began to tremble, with her on it. A golden step rumbled as it moved out from the wall, the leg of the ox lifting her to its height.

She scrambled onto the step and watched as Paulette did the same with the lion.

They found themselves on the first step, where this time the statues were of a wolf and sheep. Allie tried the same tactic, but it didn’t work. Paulette finally climbed onto the sheep’s back to try reaching higher and when she did so, smaller steps opened in the ledge before them.

This continued on each level. The next was a tiger and a camel, a lever of which was a tooth in the tiger’s open mouth. Then came an eagle opposite a peacock, a cat opposite a rooster, and a sparrow-hawk opposite a dove. At the sixth step, two large eagle wings spread down, which Allie and Paulette climbed upon and were lifted to the ledge where they froze in amazement.

Before them was as a throne of pure gold, surrounded by ancient writing inscribed into the walls.

“Can you believe this?” Allie said.

“It’s like a dream,” Paulette said.

Allie searched around the throne, hoping to find something. “Why would we do all that only to find a throne?”

Paulette looked around and then smiled at something on the far wall. “Look, over there!”

Allie strained her eyes and indeed saw a ledge on the far side. But it was at an equal height as the throne, some twenty feet from the ceiling. Below it was emptiness, nothing to climb.

“And what good would that do?” Allie sat in the throne, facing the ledge, and when she sat a switch triggered and a golden rope uncoiled from the shadows above. She ran forward, but the rope recoiled and was gone.

“You stay here while I sit,” Paulette said. “I’ll keep the rope down.”

Allie waited, and as soon as Paulette sat on the throne the rope shot down and Allie grabbed it. She gave it a hardy pull, then turned to Paulette. “Here goes everything.”

Paulette held up crossed fingers and smiled. “Good luck.”

Allie ran and, gripping the rope with all her strength, jumped from the ledge. She swung across, reaching with her toes for the opposite ledge. She felt stone, but it was too dark to see. Hoping blindly, she let go. Her other foot landed, but only half on the ledge. Her arms flung about in the darkness and she thought it was over. Screaming, she overcompensated and fell forward, smacking her head into something hard.

“Ouch!”

“Are you okay?” Paulette asked.

“I hit my head, that’s all. It’s so dark over here!”

“You have your cell?”

Allie hadn’t thought of that. She pulled the phone out and flipped it open. Before her the faint light reflected on damp stone, cut smooth and shaped into a rectangular box. It had a lid, and as she looked closer she saw deep patterns carved in the stone. She pulled back, her breath catching.

“What is it?” Paulette called from the other ledge.

Allie breathed deep, unsure what to do.

“Allie?”

“Um,” she managed, then pushed back her fear. “I think I found the tomb.”

“Solomon’s tomb?” Paulette ran forward, leaning over the edge from the other side. “You’ve got to open it, see what’s inside!”

“Are you nuts?” Allie yelled back. “What if there’s a dead body? Bones? Or worse, bugs?”

“Think! We are here for a reason and so far as I can tell, the only possible reason lies before you. Don’t let it slip away because you’re scared!”

Allie gulped and stepped forward. She pressed on the stone top but it didn’t move.

“It won’t budge!” she shouted into the surrounding darkness. Although she had noticed a slight echo before, it didn’t bother her until that moment. She wanted to find the rope and climb down, to leave this place. But she couldn’t, and then Paulette gave her the reason why.

“Your friends need you.” Paulette’s voice carried through the stale air like words lost, barely there, but stinging in Allie’s ears.

She was right. They needed her. Allie searched and found the wall was only two feet away from the tomb on the opposite side. Holding her phone for light, she put her back against the wall. She lifted one foot and then the next, placing them against the stone top of the tomb and then pushed with all the muscles in her legs. It budged. She pushed again and it moved far enough for her to stand and look inside.

The stench of death did indeed come from the opening in the tomb, like rotten eggplant, but when she held her phone above the opening, not wanting to look in at all, she was surprised to see, instead of slimy bones, the glisten of the light’s reflection on metal. A ring rested on the curve of a shield. She reached in first for the ring, pocketing it, and then tried for the shield, which she managed to lift with surprising ease. While the ring was simple bronze with an empty spot where a stone would be, engraved on the shield she found a knotted tree set in the green clad metal. A circle of old runes surrounded the engraved tree. The shield scraped against the stone as she lugged it out, sending piercing echoes through the cavern.

“What’d you find?” Paulette called over.

“Just this,” Allie said holding the light of her cell phone to the shield so Paulette could see.

“What are we going to do with a shield?” Paulette paced the ledge. “Nothing else?”

Allie pulled the shield with both hands then attached it to her arm. It must have weighed at least twenty pounds. “Throw me the rope.”

Paulette looked up. “I don’t see it. Check if there is anything else, there has to be something.”

“There was nothing else.” Allie fumbled with the ring in her pocket, not totally sure why she wasn’t telling Paulette the full truth. “You have to sit on the throne to bring down the rope.”

Paulette stood staring across the gap, but Allie couldn’t see her eyes. “Fine,” Paulette said. She turned and sat on the throne and the rope fell, but it was on Paulette’s side. Paulette ran, grabbing the rope and jumping before it could recoil. But it began to pull back up anyway, and she heard the ceiling groan.

The rope gave way, and Allie heard Paulette smack into the floor. She ran forward.

“Are you okay?”

A groaning noise came from above. A crack of light began to form in the ceiling, growing as rocks tumbled down upon them. Allie held the shield above her head and yelled, hoping Paulette could hear her. “Get below the ledge!”

More rocks fell, the mighty room crumbling away, the whole wall falling outward to reveal the open air. Rocks smashed the gold, and the gold crumbled into dust as the sunlight from outside shone down upon it. Then, with a final massive tremor, it was over.

Allie stared at the destruction in a moment of disbelief. She turned, looking for Paulette, then saw the open sky and the dark army one-hundred feet from the fallen wall. They spotted her and the darkness seeped into the room, blocking out the sunlight in a dense shadowy mist.

“Paulette,” Allie whimpered.

A muffled voice answered from below. The rocks had piled up beside the ledge Allie was on and she was able to climb down. She strapped the shield to her back and started the descent, almost losing her balance more than once. The second time she said ‘forget it’ and tossed the shield to the ground.

“Where are you?” Allie said. “We have to get out of here!”

She tried shoving rocks aside, working her way to the opposite side of the room. A clatter of metal told her the army had begun its approach.

“Paulette!” she screamed again.

Then she spotted her, arms around her head, cowering under the ledge. She was alive, but her left leg’s pants were torn and blood lines of blood showed. Allie lifted her up and held her by the waist, then pulled her toward the tunnel they’d come through. It was blocked by the fallen rocks.

“We only have one way out,” Paulette said. She turned on her own and looked toward the darkness. Allie heard the roars of the army and saw the spear tips glinting in the purple haze as they drew closer. She wished nothing more than to be back home with her mom and dad, tucked into bed and listening to a sweet bedtime story. Only her mom was here somewhere, relying on Allie to save her.

“Get down!” Paulette said as a whistling filled the air.

Allie dived for the shield, raising it in time as black arrows scattered across the ground and dinged against the green metal. A moment later, another volley of arrows struck the ground around their feet.

“This isn’t going to work!” Paulette screamed as she grabbed Allie and pulled her up. “Let’s move!”

They ran, Paulette with a slight limp, past the wall and out of the fallen rocks. They dived behind a small outcropping just outside the Throne of Solomon. Breathing heavily, Paulette poked her head over a large rock to see what was happening. Allie followed, holding the shield up below her eyes, ready to raise it.

The army marched forward, the Strayers’ faces visible among them. They all walked in a daze, their skin grayish and the darkness weaving around them to make up their robes and weapons. As they walked the shadows escaped into the air, twisting and twirling, then formed before them into some sort of shape. The darkness formed thick arms and legs and eyes blazing with midnight-black fire. The shadows melted into the skin of this ten-foot tall demonic giant, leaving an oily flesh that glistened and dripped as he walked.

The giant leaned back with massive arms spread and roared into the dark sky. It raised its fists as the army around it fitted arrows to their bows. Then, with another roar, the giant brought its fists down, slamming them into the ground. A wave of fire burst forth and shot towards Allie and Paulette, the volley of arrows following.

Instinctively Allie dropped the shield and reached for the ring in her pocket. She turned her eyes skyward, the ring now on her hand.

Energy surged through her limbs and exploded from the ring – it pushed outward, a great ball of light deflecting the wall of flame and myriad arrows.

Paulette looked at her with excitement. “That’s what I’m talking about!”

Allie collapsed to one knee, her energy drained, but exhilarated. “I don’t know what came over me.” The feeling didn’t last when she lifted her eyes to the enemy – the giant lunged sideways as it walked, and in that moment she saw Daniel. He was hovering off the ground, a red glow around him, his eyes white. Allie yelled out, then looked to Paulette with eyes that pleaded for her to do something.

“There’s only one way we can defeat a force such as this,” Paulette said as she ducked back behind the nearby rocks.

“Anything,” Allie said. “Just hurry.”

“We have to use their power against them.”

“How!?”

Paulette pulled her necklace from beneath her red blouse and Allie saw that it was a simple triangle. But Paulette pulled the triangle and the lower half became a blade. She grabbed Allie’s wrist and pulled it to her, taking the blade and cutting deep into the flesh of Allie’s forearm.

“What are you doing?” Allie yelled as she tried to pull her arm back. “Ouch!”

She struggled, but Paulette’s grip was too strong. She pulled hard, watching Paulette’s glowing eyes as she cut the shape of three circles into Allie’s arm. The struggles were useless, but Paulette stopped mid-cut. Her eyes were on the ring on Allie’s left hand, the one from the tomb.

“So that’s how,” Paulette said, dropping the blade. “You did find it.”

Allie tried to pull her hand back, but Paulette’s grip was like the vice of hell, her other hand reaching for the ring.

“Wait,” Allie pleaded.

A power surge coursed through Allie’s arm, the one with the incomplete pattern. It tingled. Her arm glowed purple, then rippled with energy. It blasted Paulette into the opposite rock wall. Something burned inside of Allie’s stomach. She felt the urge to puke.

Paulette shook her head and looked up, her eyes red now. Her fingers tightened around Allie’s ring. “It’s my play Allie.” Paulette spit blood, but she smiled, kneeling beside the mountain. “You’ve lost.”

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