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"Five hundred years ago, the Incans ruled Peru. For centuries, their Empire was the sole powere in South America... before Columbus. With the arrival of the Europeans, most of whom were seeking wealth and slaves, the Incan Empire collapsed.
"Legends and Mythology have it that the Incans had a Champion with the power and skill to drive off the Europeans; yet was forbidden to by his people's elders. As a symbol of his position, the Champion wore a jade amulet. In protest over his inability to protect his people, he infused the amulet with his power. Then it was hidden away to prevent the invaders from getting ahold of it. No trace of the amulet has ever been found."
Kara Vichana stood at the entrance to a cave in the Andes Mountains. A light snowfall dusted the narrow pass and rope bridge she and two others had just crossed, their footprints slowly fading.
"Until now," she finished.
Making sure that they all had their flightlights and oxygen detectors in place, the group entered the cave.
"Well, the paintings on the cave walls are definately Incan," the one man of the group commented, leaning in for a better look. "See how this pictograph features a full-bodied person, not a stick figure reminiscent of less civilized peoples. What do you make of it, Kara?"
"I'm not quite sure, Jono." She shined her light upon the wall. "I'd say it was a personal history or something, only we know that the Incans had a written language at the time."
"A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Besides, there's some writing over on the other wall."
"So there is... Kimmy, you're the translator on this trip. Can you make this out?"
"Lemme try," the younger woman replied. "It's a history all right. 'And so, on the '... can't make out the date, sorry... 'the Champion ... disappeared? vanished? ... deep into this cave,' this can't be right... 'never to be seen again'?"
"Sounds close to the legend," Kara muttered. "Any mention of the amulet?"
"Only that the Champion was wearing it when he disappeared."
"So when we find the amulet," Jono muttered, adjusting his glasses, "we'll also find a corpse. I feel like a graverobber."
Wandering deeper into the cave, the trio failed to see a figure slip into the cave behind them.
"Musta been the Champion," Kara muttered. She pressed her hand against the door, then grabbed it by one of the cross-beams, and pulled it out of the way.
"How...?" Kimmy asked, confusion in her voice, as Kara leaned the door against one of the walls.
The trio wandered into the adjacent room, shining their flashlights around. Seeing something in front of him, Jono pulled out a camera, and quickly took a few shots. The resulting flashes enabled the others to see what he'd found.
"Is that...?" Kimmy asked, shining her light on the skeleton that sat in a small wooden chair in the middle of the room. Around the skeleton's neck was a gold necklace, adorned with a jade amulet. Cloth rags laid on the floor and across his lap.
"Yes," Kara replied, pulling out a book. She quickly flipped through it's pages, stopping only once. The others huddled around her.
"See how the amulet in this picture," she explained, running a finger over parts of the page, "based on sketches taken by Europeans from Incan descriptions, matches the design of that one over there?" The others nodded.
"So this is the Champion?" Kimmy asked. "And he died just... sitting here? Creepy..."
"I've been on worse digs," Kara mentioned. "Come on. We confirmed the location of the amulet. Let's get moving."
"We're not taking it?" Jono asked.
"No. It belongs to the Incans, not us. We'll simply let the proper authorities know where it is."
Before the trio could exit the room, they heard a rumble, felt the floor shake. Outside the doorway, Kara, Jono, and Kimmy could only watch as tons of rock closed off the room.
"As my ancestors said," they heard a male voice call from the other side of the rocks, "a jewel is better hid in a pile of rock, than in an open pot. Enjoy your treasure, fools!"
"This sucks," Kimmy muttered.
"Well," Kara stated, pulling off her jacket, "let's start digging."
Hours later, the three laid on the floor of the cave, exhausted. The pile of rocks in front of the doorway was larger than they'd expected."
"So this is how it ends," Jono breathed. "Halfway around the world chasing down an ancient treasure, and we run out of air in a cave-in."
"Don't talk," Kara muttered. "It wastes air."
Slowly, the three fell asleep.
It was then that she noticed a chain around her neck. Glancing down, she noticed a jade pendant dangling from the chain.
(Not just *any* pendant,) she thought to herself. (*The* pendant from the cave.)
The mountain scene faded, replaced with a tall, bronze-skinned man with black eyes and black hair, dressed in ceremonial Incan garb.
[For ages I searched for a successor,] she heard in her head. [I have searched for someone to wear the amulet. One of us who cares about our ways. You are the one.]
The man simply nodded, and her world faded to black.
The intricately carved jade amulet seemed to glow in her hand, sending a small burst of strength through her body. Slowly, she slipped the gold chain around her neck.
The act of wearing the amulet seemed to super-charge her body with energy. She shook her head a few times to clear the rush. Picking up a small rock, she was shocked as it crumbled in her hand.
(Time for a *real* test,) she thought.
Glancing at the pile of rocks blocking the door, she leaned against one of the bigger ones, and shoved. It moved effortlessly out of the way. Smiling, breathing in the fresh air that met her face, she proceeded to move the rest of the rocks away from the doorway.
Satisfied, she lifted the still-sleeping Kimmy, and carried her to the front of the cave. Then she did the same with Jono.
Kimmy and Jono awoke to see light shining on their faces. Startled, they sat up, and glanced around. Kara sat farther back in the cave, tending a small fire.
"What happened?" Jono asked her, sitting across the fire from Kara and opening a can of Spam.
"Let's just say, help arrived," she explained. (In the form of a *new* Champion.) Her face had a mischievous smile Jono and Kimmy could not make out.
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