Atlantis Vortex

by Sultry Summers

Did Atlantis exist? Had she found an entrance? Discovering a small, ancient Egyptian pyramid in a most unlike place, Southern Florida, Archaeologist Jessica Carter is confronted with history alerting questions. Excavating the mysterious entrance Jessica becomes the nexus of a series of life threatening incidents. Each event grows more baffling, as do the interventions that save her. Finally an earthquake collapses the pyramid, followed by a hurricane that buries it, ending her excavation, and the military providing security, recalls her to active duty. Jessica fears her career is over.

But her discovery leads her into the arms of the man who has haunted her dreams and her excavation. Her memory of him, securely locked in her subconscious, begins to re-emerge. Xerxes has held her heart unconsciously captive since he rescued Jessica and her family several years earlier. As High Lord of Atlantis, he was forced to cloud their memories to conceal his identity and that of the under-water civilization he is charged to protect. Jessica's discovery forces him to destroy the entrance. Now he will steal her away to Atlantis, and take Jessica as his wife to ensure her silence. However, a traitor inside his council threatens Atlantis and puts Jessica's life in deadly peril. With help from his brother, ruler of Pacifica, and an off-world ambassador, Xerxes risks all to rescue the only woman he loves from the traitor before it's too late.

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Pharaoh meditated in the sacred temple as was his custom, but his peaceful trance was disturbed by a revelation; a vision, conjured by reports from his recently returned scouts sent to explore the lands far from his kingdom. In his dream, he stood on a high cloud staring down at the continents his explorers had discovered during the years they had been away.

“Behold,” said a voice nearby. Startled, Pharaoh turned. A tall, blond man stood beside him, pointing toward a large land mass in the center of the Great Blue Sea, past the Pillars of Hercules. He followed the apparition’s direction to gaze on lush, green lands and high mountains. Fresh, cool blue-green waters flowed down from the heights, splashing over giant boulders, bordered by vines of heavy, sweet smelling blossoms. Peace ruled in this land of mountains. One peak towered higher into the sky than the others and was often hidden in the clouds. Around the mountains were fertile fields yielding plentiful crops and around it all, three concentric, wide canals that circled the continent and interconnected by wide, deep-water channels into the ocean. One large, inland waterway opened into a main harbor. Here, ships sat at anchor, far advanced of any Pharaoh had seen before and mingled with trading vessels from less advanced, neighboring merchants. He viewed the wonder of the palace which sat at the top of a lower mountain. Pharaoh marveled at the most productive land he had heretofore perceived and dared hope Egypt could become as magnificent as this land.

“This was Atlantis, my kingdom,” said the man who introduced himself as High Lord Murdak. He continued, “Alas, as the Earth changed, so did our land and it sunk into the ocean. Yet, our culture and civilization remains, hidden beneath the waves. We have much to teach your peopleā€”if you prove worthy.”

Pharaoh knelt at his feet, beseeching his favor. “What must I do, my lord, to gain such advantages for my people?”

“Build a pyramid in a place I will show you. When your labors are finished, you and your nobles will visit our world beneath the sea, and we will teach you how to defeat disease, treat injuries and expand your wealth without war. Choose your builders carefully. Build the pyramid with free men who volunteer to make this perilous journey west of the markers you call the Pillars of Hercules and across the great Blue Ocean. When your work is finished, my people will arrive and connect what will become an entrance to our world.”

“It shall be done,” Pharaoh agreed. Murdak touched Pharaoh’s temple with one finger and closed his eyes. His mind was filled with the plans needed to construct massive ships out of the Seph reeds that grow along the Nile. Vessels that would not sink if water washed over them, that could carry many men to a new land. There the small, pyramid styled entrance would be built. Pharaoh’s dream faded. He woke in the temple where he had entered his dream like state. His priests gathered around him, concerned their god-king had become ill.

Assuring his priests he was well, he explained his vision and ordered his advisors called. With exceptional speed ships were built and provisions readied, workers gathered and master builders chosen. However, Pharaoh, in the quest to achieve his vision, commanded slaves to undertake the voyage and perform the work.

* * * *

Esau, the son of a stone and brick mason, was also a slave of Egypt, one of many chosen for his knowledge, skill and youth. Forced to board one of twenty Seph ships, along with other slaves, he paused briefly on the mud-caked gangway, daring one last look at his parents and little brother. Three forlorn faces stared back at him from the shore among the masses of other families who also watched their sons’ departures. Grief weighted his heart. He didn’t expect to see his family again. His hesitation dared the bite of the slave-master’s whip. Shoved from behind by others forced to board the ship, he stumbled, but managed to keep his footing and hold onto his small bundle of belongings. He held his silence to those pushing him, sharing their fear of the whip. Esau sat down on the reed floor with the others. He bowed his head, blinking tears back, not from suffering but from heartache. In desperation, he mumbled a prayer for his family to be comforted and for the strength to endure. Soon his supplications were joined by the other slaves.

“Silence!” A slave master demanded their growing whispers to God barely audible. Esau, struck across his naked back by the slave-master's short whip, continued in silence, infuriating the man. “Prayers to your no name god will not help you.” He laughed mockingly and continued down the rows of slaves.

Finished, Esau straightened his marked and smarting back and gazed across the Nile River. Many of the Seph vessels were already caught by the current, and, pushed faster by their large sail full of warm air blown from across the desert like the ship he was on, moved away from the docks. With repulsion he looked to the Egyptian priests in the bow of the ship he was on. Their gazes turned toward the horizon, as were those of the priests assigned to the twenty ships in the fleet, he wondered what they saw.

Idleness wasn't tolerated. Esau was put to work with the other slaves at one of the many tasks necessary to maintain a sailing vessel. Unless required, mealtimes were the only times slaves were allowed to speak.

“Where do you think we are going, brother?” A fellow slave asked in the small group Esau huddled with, eating.

“Don't know,” he shrugged, “but I don't think we’ll be coming back. I heard the priests say we go to build a pyramid far from here. Not a tomb either. Were we not the sons of stone masons and builders, and taught so, too, possibly this wouldn’t be our fate.” His voice was bitter. One guard walked by, jostling him roughly. Esau finished his small portion of rice, watching the guards constantly.

Night fell and the fleet left the Nile delta, turning west into the Mediterranean Sea. Esau and the other slaves bore their burdens in silence, working from sun-up to dusk in the blistering sun, and in shifts at night with a fresh sea breeze. Their days lapsed. They passed through the Pillars of Hercules into the little known water of the Great Blue Sea.

Esau listened to the interesting tales of the few who had sailed this ocean. Stories of giant sea monsters and man-eating fish were so terrifying, Pharaoh’s soldiers were fearful. Esau shrugged. He didn't know if he believed them or not. His faith was in God.

Esau perceived the course the priests charted, which went west into open water; land disappeared behind them by the end of the first day in the ocean. Skeptically, he watched the Egyptian priests on the boat perform their pagan protection rituals, noticing each group of priests did the same on the other ships within his sight.

Fair-weather blessed them for many days, but Esau detected a change in the atmosphere and in the sea. He hoped the priests could read the signs too. They prayed to their gods with more dedication, seemingly in expectation of a change.

In hours, the seas began to build and the winds to howl scattering the small fleet. Waves grew to enormous heights. The Seph reed constructed vessels allowed the water to drain and remained buoyant. People on board watched, terrified, as the colorful square sails were ripped from their masts before they could lower them. The experienced sailors didn’t remember encountering such a storm, and none thought to lower the square sails beforehand. The storm took on the life of a monster.

Giant waves crashed down on the ships washing slaves, sailors, soldiers and priests alike overboard. Some men had the foresight to tie ropes around themselves and secure the ropes to the ships they were on before they could be washed overboard. Of those who were washed into the sea, many were rescued by lines of hemp thrown to them by those, like Esau, still on the boats.

Supplies were lost, and one of the vessels was torn into numerous chunks by the furious elements. That ship spilled supplies and the men onboard into the sea. Few men could swim in the swirling tempest. Because of the thick clouds no moon shone, the night became an endless black void except for the lightning.

Terrorized, most had grown up in the desert where rain of this magnitude and lightning weren’t a natural event. The blue-white streaks of fire held a horrible terror of its own. A priest on Esau’s boat stood on the high deck while he prayed to his pagan gods. The slaves on his vessel stared in wonder as a bolt of lightning, seemingly directed by God, struck the priest dead and set that vessel aflame. The flames were whipped by the winds but extinguished by the driving rain.

Exhaustion and the lack of food weakened Esau, and the other slaves. Keen hunger gnawed at his stomach from already slim rations, but for once, water wasn't a problem. Fresh rainwater came in sheets. He opened his mouth. The rain quenched his thirst. For that small miracle, he was thankful. Esau looked around to see what the guards and soldiers were doing. Some men had secured their supplies to the ship. Others, like Esau, tried to save as many men as possible. But the priests were useless.

“Look, Jacob,” Esau said quietly to a fellow slave, amused and disgusted at the same time. “Fools, they stand on the high brow of the ship praying and trying to light incense in a driving rain. Instead of helping, they invite the lightning to strike.”

“What good are they?” Jacob mirrored his thoughts as he worked to pull in another of his brethren. “Look! The sky begins to lighten.”


"Atlantis Vortex" by Sultry Summers


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