Jarmo and Aisha emerged from the Tunnel of Terror gasping for air, their hearts racing. They had faced one danger after another, but they had made it through alive. The hovercraft they’d taken through Mount Konomara made a few protesting noises, but it was still working.
“One thing I know,” said Aisha. “It wasn’t a good idea to take a vehicle that didn’t have a roof!”
“I guess I have to take my responsibility”, Dorak replied.
It had been about two weeks since they met in such an adventurous way. They had escaped the enemy city with the help of a few friendly Martians. Aisha was a linguist and was completely blown away when Jarmo told her why he had come to this place. She had heard of the legend of the Temple of the Wind Harp. She also knew that the temple obviously really existed, or maybe had existed. She was taking time off from her time as a Fleet officer, so she offered to accompany Jarmo. Maybe he would need someone who could translate languages. They worked closely together for the past two weeks. Even if the time had actually been short, a kind of intimacy had developed between the two. Maybe that came from the special circumstances of their meeting. In any case, they found that they worked well together. Almost as if they had known her not just for two weeks, but for several years. On several occasions, Aisha looked at Jarmo and was reminded of a friend she had known since she was a Fleet cadet. Then she smiled quietly to herself.
She had been able to prove her talent right away. Jarmo had photographed a stone slab in the museum in the city of Aresium. It hadn’t been easy, because the damn Mag’a cult had them hidden in the basement of the museum. To the Mag’a, the inscriptions of the ancient Martians were blasphemy. Luckily they hadn’t scratched the drawings and inscriptions out of the stone. Jarmo had seen that too, beautiful old works of art destroyed by blind faith.
The inscription on the stone slab dealt with the old myth about the so-called “Tunnel of Terror”. And that’s what it really had become, because according to what Jarmo had seen on the maps, it led through a mountain range and left the domed city at a point below ground. However, it would lead somewhere into a valley, and from there the search for clues would continue.
But, Jarmo Aisha had to agree, maybe they should have taken something other than a hovercraft. Or at least a hovercraft with a cockpit. They had indeed found the entrance to the Tunnel of Terror. And they had crossed it. They just got through.
As they stood at the entrance to the tunnel, catching their breath, they looked out at the vast ocean that stretched before them. The shore was rocky and treacherous, but they could see a path leading to a small cove where they could land their hovercraft. Jarmo quickly took out his scanner and began scanning the area for any signs of the Wind Harp. He had been searching for the ancient artifact for years, and he was determined to find it no matter what. The inscription on the stone tablet in the museum had contained a clue: a certain material, a kind of dark rock called lyranium, would show the way and the destination. Luckily, the stone tablet had a piece of lyranium embedded in it, so Jarmo could sample it. His scanner was tuned to the result of the sample and would show him the lyranium if any were nearby.
Aisha walked over to the edge of the water and dipped her toe in. The water was crystal clear and cool against her skin. She smiled, took off her top and pants, and waded out further into the water, beckoning for Jarmo to join her. He also took off his outerwear and followed her. For a few minutes, they forgot about their quest and swam and splashed in the lake, laughing and playing like children. But their fun was short-lived, as a loud rumbling sound interrupted their playtime.
They both looked up to see a massive boulder rolling down the hill, heading straight for them. Jarmo grabbed Aisha’s hand and they ran as fast as they could towards the tunnel.
The boulder narrowly missed them and crashed into the water, sending a wave of water and rocks in their direction. They were knocked off their feet and swept up in the current.
As they tumbled downstream, they struggled to regain their footing, but the current was too strong. Suddenly, they were caught in a whirlpool, and Jarmo could see the entrance to the tunnel disappearing from view.
He knew they had to get out of the whirlpool fast, or they would be sucked under. With all his might, he grabbed Aisha and they swam towards the edge of the whirlpool, using all their strength to break free.
Finally, they made it to the edge, exhausted and out of breath. Jarmo looked at Aisha, and they both nodded, silently agreeing that they had to keep going. They had come too far to turn back now. But the hovercraft was no longer of any use to them, so they had to get their backpacks and started walking. The scanner showed a direction that went along the edge of the mountain, always along the water.
Jarmo looked out at the vast expanse of water, and he knew they had a long way to go. But he was determined to find the Wind Harp, no matter what dangers lay ahead. He turned to Aisha and smiled, grateful to have her by his side.
“Let’s go,” he said, and they set off towards the horizon, ready to face whatever challenges lay ahead.
The path ahead was treacherous, but they were determined to keep going. They climbed over boulders, crossed rickety bridges, and navigated through narrow tunnels. They had to dodge falling rocks and debris.
Finally they arrived at a wide expanse, an almost picturesque beach. They put down their backpacks. The sun was already low and created an almost romantic mood. Jarmo checked his scanner.
“We seem to be right,” he stated. “Somewhere on this beach there must be lyranium. But I think it’s too late for today.”
The two set up their camp. The sun was almost down now. But there was still light.
Jarmo and Aisha decided to take a short walk along the beach, the waves lapping at their feet. The sun had almost set, and the sky was a riot of orange and pink hues. Then, Aisha sat down on the sand, and Jarmo joined her, sitting close. They both looked out at the ocean, lost in thought.
“You know,” Aisha said, breaking the silence. “I’ve been alone for a long time.”
Jarmo turned to her, his eyes searching hers. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that I’ve spent most of my life searching for something,” Aisha said, her voice soft. “And in doing so, I’ve neglected other parts of my life.”
Jarmo nodded, understanding what she meant. “I know what you mean. I’ve been so focused on finding things that I’ve forgotten what it means to truly live.”
Aisha smiled, turning to look at him. “You know, when I first met you, I thought you were just another adventurer looking for treasure.”
Jarmo grinned, shaking his head. “I’m not looking for treasure. I’m looking for something more.”
“Like what?” Aisha asked, curiosity piqued.
Jarmo hesitated for a moment before speaking. “I’m looking for a purpose. Something that will give my life meaning.”
Aisha’s heart swelled with emotion, and she reached out to touch his hand. “You know, I think you’ve already found it.”
Jarmo looked at her, confusion etched on his face. “What do you mean?”
“I mean us,” Aisha said, her voice barely above a whisper. “We’ve been through so much together in this short time, and we’ve come so far. Maybe that’s what we were both searching for all along.”
Jarmo’s heart raced, and he looked into Aisha’s eyes, seeing the truth in her words. He leaned in closer to her, and without thinking, he kissed her. The kiss was soft and gentle at first, but it quickly grew more passionate as they both realized their feelings for each other.
As they pulled away from the kiss, they looked at each other, their hearts full of love and hope. They knew that they still had a long way to go in their search for the Wind Harp, but now they had each other.
Hand in hand, they walked back to their campsite, their hearts full of love and happiness.
The next morning, Jarmo and Aisha woke up in their small campsite, the sun already up in the sky. They lay in their sleeping bags, looking at each other with a deep sense of contentment.
“Good morning,” Jarmo said, his voice filled with love.
“Good morning to you too,” Aisha replied, a smile spreading across her face.
Jarmo leaned in and kissed her gently, feeling a surge of warmth and happiness spread through his body. “I had the best sleep last night,” he said, looking at Aisha with an expression of pure joy.
“Me too,” Aisha said, her voice soft and tender. “It’s amazing how much difference a good night’s sleep can make.” She emphasized the word “sleep” in a very special way. Jarmo grinned, he understood her perfectly.
He nodded, then got up from his sleeping bag, grabbing his scanner. “I’m going to scan the beach again, see if we can find any more traces of lyranium.”
Aisha watched him go, feeling a deep sense of admiration and affection for him. She picked up her notebook and pen, then set about translating the inscription they had found the previous day. Breakfast? Later!
As she worked, Jarmo came back, his face lit up with excitement. “I found something!” he exclaimed, holding up the scanner. “It’s about 200 meters to the east of here.”
Aisha’s heart raced with anticipation as she followed Jarmo to the location where the scanner had indicated. They started digging in the sand, and after a few minutes, they found a small stone tablet with an inscription.
Aisha examined the tablet, her eyes moving quickly over the ancient symbols. “It’s a map,” she said, her voice filled with excitement. “It shows the location of the Temple of the Windharp. I have to do some more work, but…”
Jarmo looked at her, a huge grin spreading across his face. “That’s incredible! We’re one step closer to finding it!”
Aisha nodded, feeling a deep sense of gratitude for Jarmo’s companionship and support. “I’m glad I went on this adventure with you,” she said, looking at him with love in her eyes.
Jarmo leaned in and kissed her, his heart filled with joy and happiness. “I’m just glad I get to share this journey with you,” he said, his voice filled with emotion.
As they sat on the beach, basking in the glow of their love, they knew that the road ahead would be long and challenging. But they also knew that they had each other, and that was all they needed to face whatever lay ahead. But now it was really time for breakfast.