Marcus raised his hands in surrender and tried to speak calmly, “Max, I understand you’re angry and I don’t blame you. But please, listen to me. We translated the mark some time ago and came here to uncover the whole truth, the next clue led us here.”
Max gritted his teeth, his finger still on the trigger. “What truth? I asked you about the mark and you said nothing.” Max was furious. “Explain now!” Max emphasized every letter of the sentence.
Marcus took a deep breath and continued, “The truth is that the Angels are not what people think they are, or at least not hundred percent. We translated the mark and it says, Do not harvest, not fit for consumption,” Marcus stopped for a second, letting Max take everything in.
Max scoffed, “And why should I believe you? How do I know you’re not just trying to cover your own ass right now?”
“Here I’ll show you,” Marcus said, reaching into his backpack. Max did not like the sudden movement and jerked his rifle toward Marcus. “I am just gonna get my tablet, slowly…” Marcus said opening his backpack and reaching for the tablet inside.”
As Marcus showed the group the tablet with the translation of the mark and everything that led to it from their years of exploration under Mr. White’s pay, Max and Sarah were both stunned. It was clear they had not expected this revelation, and it took a moment for them to fully comprehend what it meant. Marcus explained their theory about the Angels and how Samael might hold the key to the truth.
“So, we are looking for the Devil?” Max said lowering his gun.
“I don’t think Angels and Devil are what we think they are,” Marcus said. “But I know it’s hard to dismiss everything that we have been taught all these years. But somehow it just makes sense with the way the Angels have just appeared and something about their presence feels off.”
“I have to agree with that, something does feel off about them,” Max said. “But I thought it was more us being sinners and not feeling the connection with the divine.” Max continued. “Makes more sense than what you are saying.”
“I thought the same way,” Marcus answered. “But I saw some truly good people, children who don’t deserve to be branded sinners or whatever, being branded with the mark and it drove them insane. It just feels wrong, unholy, or whatever you want to call it.”
Max was still clearly angry, but as he listened to Marcus’s explanation, he slowly began to calm down. He could see that Marcus truly believed in what he was saying, and there was sincerity in his voice that made it difficult to dismiss his ideas outright. Sarah, who had always been more open-minded than Max, nodded in agreement.
“I’ve just lost my family, the last time Angels came they took them,” As Marcus spoke those words, a wave of sadness and anger washed over him. Calling their name in the empty house still felt like mere minutes ago, but Marcus couldn’t think about it now, he couldn’t let himself sink into that hole of despair, they needed to continue.
“So you think this cave is where we’ll find Samael?” Max changed the subject quickly, setting his rifle to the side.
“It’s our best lead,” Marcus replied. “It’s what we gathered from the ancient ruins and all the texts that mention Angels in a different light.”
Max thought for a moment, weighing his options. He knew that continuing with this expedition was dangerous, but he also knew that Marcus might be onto something.
“What if you are wrong and we set the devil free?” Max asked. “What if we unleash true hell on earth?” He asked. “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he did not exist,” He continued. “What if he pulled it even further, somehow convincing us that he is a good deity in all of this and the Angels and the God are evil themselves?”
“I understand your fears, Max,” Marcus said, his voice steady. “Believe me, I’ve thought about all the possible outcomes of our actions. But what if we are right? What if the Angels are hiding something from us? What if they are not the benevolent beings we thought they were?”
Marcus paused, looking around at the crew, seeing the determination in their eyes. “We cannot ignore the truth, no matter how difficult it may be to accept. And if we don’t act, who will? We have a chance to uncover something that could change the course of history. We cannot let fear hold us back.”
Max looked at Marcus for a long moment, considering his words, the tension in the air finally dissipating. “Okay, Marcus,” he said. “Let’s say I trust you. Let’s find Samael and see what he has to say.”
Sarah nodded in agreement, and Marcus felt a sense of relief wash over him. He knew they were taking a risk, but he also knew that it was a risk worth taking. If they could find Samael and uncover the truth about the Angels and what happened to his family it would be all worth it.
“Martin can’t continue,” Alex said chiming in. “I think his leg is broken.”
Max looked at Martin with concern, “How does it feel?”
“I’m not okay, but I’ll be fine,” Martin replied. “You guys need to continue without me. I’ll wait here and catch my breath.”
“But what if something happens to you while we’re gone?” Alex asked, worry etched on her face.
Martin let out a small chuckle, “I’ll be alright. I have my radio with me, and I’ll keep in touch. You guys need to keep moving forward and find the heart of the cave. I’ll be here when you come back.”
“I’ll stay with him,” Olivia said.
Max nodded in agreement, “Alright, take care of yourself and contact us if anything happens and we’ll see you soon.”
With that, the rest of the team moved on, leaving Martin behind with his radio and a few supplies. Martin watched as his friends disappeared into the darkness of the cave, hoping that they would find what they came here to discover and come back safely.
As they continued their expedition toward the heart of the cave, they encountered multiple splitting paths that led in different directions. The cave was a maze of icy tunnels, and it was easy to get lost. But Marcus was there to help them navigate.
He carefully examined the cave walls, reading and translating the ancient drawings and symbols etched onto the ice. Some of the images were of creatures they had never seen before, while others depicted strange, humanoid figures with wings, multiple shapes, and sizes.
Marcus carefully examined the symbols and ancient language and followed the clues that he believed would let them towards whatever they came here to find.
Despite the frigid temperatures, the team pushed on, eager to find the hearth of the cave. They encountered obstacles along the way, including treacherous crevasses and narrow passageways that required them to crawl on all fours.
Finally, after hours of walking, they reached a massive cavern deep in the heart of the cave. It was unlike anything they had ever seen before, with jagged stalactites hanging from the ceiling like sharp teeth and glowing crystals jutting out from the walls.
In the center of the cavern, they saw a massive pit of blue fire burned brightly, casting flickering shadows across the cavern walls. The pit was an otherworldly sight. It was as if the very fabric of reality had been torn open, revealing a glimpse of another dimension beyond. The flames burned with an ethereal quality, flickering and dancing like restless spirits trapped within the pit. The fire was somehow cold as if the flames were made of frozen ice rather than burning hot embers. The walls surrounding the pit were slick with ice, shimmering and reflecting the blue light in a mesmerizing display. The air was thick with a palpable sense of unknown as if they had stumbled upon a sacred place of power that had long been forgotten by the world. The sight was both beautiful and terrifying, leaving the team in awe and wonder as they gazed upon the mystical flames.