Up to this point things had been going smoothly….too smoothly……
It was a legend that Chaz had heard speak of in various circles and read about described in very vague terms in certain manuscripts and explorers journals. No-one had concrete evidence and the legend of the Emerald Panther was just that…a legend. Until a month ago.
Two days after the burial of his long time friend and mentor Professor Cecil Drake, a crate was delivered to Chaz. The letter that accompanied the crate was written in the hand of his friend. A letter that had, according to Cecil’s solicitor, been in his safe keeping for some time and it was Cecil’s wish that this letter and the crate was to be delivered to Chaz in the event of his death. It took Chaz two days to bring himself to read the letter, the pain of losing his old and dear friend was too raw and so the crate stood in his living room taking the space of the coffee table that had been pushed aside to make room for it.
And so….on a cold and rainy morning nearly a week after Cecil had been buried, Chaz had opened the crate. Inside had been sectioned off almost like a wine rack holding various relics that Chaz had admired many times when he would visit his old friends home as well as a section that held many leather bound journals. He flicked through many of the journals learning through his brief glances that there were many things he didn’t know about his friend, of places he had been to and treasures he had discovered and some that he had decided to keep a secret for the rest of his life. Pages had been torn out of many of these journals that Chaz assumed had been maps and details of treasures Cecil wished to remain hidden forever.
He noticed too that Cecil had included a stone urn, a piece Chaz had long admired that sat on his friends mantle above the fireplace. This piece was a rather ordinary looking urn, very roughly made and very heavy which Chaz put down to the base as the bowl itself was rather thin but regardless, it was a piece he had taken a distinct liking to.
Cecil in his final letter, had apologized for many things he did not share with his friend as well as the removal of many of the pages of his various journals but he had his reasons and hoped he would redeem his actions by instructing to Chaz to locate the set of four journals marked with the symbol of the half moon. None of his journals had names…just symbols to identify their relativity to each other.
He located the journals and poured himself a straight Scotch as he settled in to read the journals. On this day he was to discover a whole new love for the nondescript urn for the final entry in Cecil’s handwriting written much later than the rest of the journal was a direct instruction for Chaz to smash urn that he recognized as the one that stood on the mantle over Cecil’s fireplace.
He raced out to the shed and grabbed the first thing in sight, the canvas tarp that was gathering dust which covered his dead father’s prized possession….a 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. Chaz could never bring himself to ride this incredible machine, for it bought back too many bad memories of time lost, time not spent with his father because of his father’s obsession for circuit racing which ultimately led to his death.
Returning to the house with the canvas, he spread it over the small dining table placing the urn on the table with growing excitement and anticipation and slowly almost gingerly, began hammering away at the urn watching with a slight sadness that he was destroying something he always admired. He had broken the entire bowl section away from the base and only then when the base was open to direct light, did he realize why the urn was so heavy. The inside base was covered in a very thick layer of wax that must have been coloured with red clay dust to blend it with the colouring of the urn so when anyone looked inside the urn, for all intent and purposes, it was assumed it was part of the urn. He grabbed a knife and with the handle of it, slowly started tapping the wax so it would crack allowing him to reveal its secret…..a scrap of cloth that had been fully encased in the wax and drawn on the cloth was a map.
In reading the marked journals, Chaz had come to discover that the legend of the Emerald Panther was not a legend at all for according to Cecil’s writings which included detailed drawings, Cecil had indeed held this incredible treasure in his hands. As legend had it, a hundred plus years ago a solid flawless emerald of approximately twenty-nine pounds in weight was meticulously crafted by natives in the Amazon gifted to a most beautiful woman named by the natives as “Princesa das Panteras” (Princess of the Panthers). The legend of this beauty is told that a missionary couple and their babe had drowned in the raging river during a fierce tropical storm. What was not known by the outside world was that the baby’s basket had drifted a long way down river and was come upon by a panther female who had just lost her cub to the wilds of the forest. Her soft gurgling noises attracted this mourning mother as she drank at the edge of the river. Gently she pulled the basket from the water with her mouth dragging it back to her den amongst the old ruins. For many years the only family she knew were the panthers and when news of untold riches and fortunes were to be made in the jungles, bands of treasure hunters started reclaiming the forests in their push to easier access to the deep dark jungle forcing the natives to move deeper and deeper within the jungle. It was during this push into uninhabited forests that the natives came about this beautiful woman with red hair who was protected and ran with the panthers. Her natural inquisitiveness recognized that apart from colour, these beings looked like her and slowly over time both she and the panthers who protected her had built a mutual trust with the natives who revered and worshiped her as a Goddess.
Now, a month after Cecil had passed away, Chaz and his guide armed with the map and details from Cecil’s journals find themselves in the place that Cecil had referred to as the “Panther Falls” because on either side of the chasm were two great statues of panthers. The ladder was exactly where Cecil had written it would be and was still intact leading up to the first cave that wound inside the stone to another level and on to a bridge, now seriously in danger of collapsing as many footholds had already fallen into the water far below. But they had come this far….they couldn’t stop now. They had to be careful and as the guide stood waiting Chaz slowly, carefully started crossing the bridge. He had made it halfway when out of the corner of his eyes he saw the eyes of the panther start to glow a bright luminescent emerald. It put him off guard because he didn’t recall Cecils writings ever mentioning anything about the panther eyes glowing. All of a sudden he heard a crack and the wooden slat beneath him gave way. As he felt himself dropping away his reflexes kicked in grabbing for the weathered rope of the walkway hanging on for life itself, the muscles in his arms burning as if a red hot knife was slicing through them. As the guide started to move forward, rope in hand to come to his rescue all Chaz could think of was of what was still to come, closing his eyes and recalling Cecil’s detailed writings warning him of the turquoise pool within the second cave. “ Within the cave across the chasm was a beautiful turquoise pool casting its glow lighting up the entire cave, its depth unknown. As we came upon it the guide cast a hand over the light breaking the glow that shone to the roof of the cave. As this shadow was cast a barrage of darts shot from the nearside wall puncturing his head in a hundred places as the blood oozed from his eyes, mouth and nose.”
Chaz’ arms felt like they were about to tear out of his shoulders. He opened his eyes and turned his head to the approaching guide muttering under his breath for him to hurry up but then again he knew they couldn’t take the risk just in case the guide lost his footing too. He gritted his teeth thankful for the leather gloves he had on his hands and for the fact that he was fit. He knew he could hold on …he had to for Cecil. For this would be his tribute to his friend a journey they travelled together a journey in “Search of the Emerald Panther”…..
Story written by me
I hope you all enjoy both the story and the visual in this piece “Search of the Emerald Panther”
1st piece in the trilogy -
3rd piece in the trilogy -
BEST SEEN IN FULL VIEW
Rock Faces ...all of them [link] [link]
Chaz and Guide [link] [link]
Blue Water [link]
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