This piece started out as a basic idea for a 55-words entry but I quickly realized it would be impossible for me to express what I wanted in such few words without butchering the feeling and the idea behind it so I ended up developing it until it reached its course. I dedicate it to the Princess Sapphire Rain.
“Are you getting the same readings as I am?” Samuel asked, a pearl of sweat dripping from his forehead.
“Oh yes!” Brian exclaimed, frantically, eyes glued on the silvery detector that no 31st Century archaeologist could live without. “The readings coming from the next chamber are way off the charts. We’ve got to get inside. This could be the discovery of a lifetime!”
“Agreed. Let’s try the door then. We’ll push together on the count of three, okay? One, two… three!
Feeling the weight of their strengths combined, the heavy entrance moved in a slow, almost ceremonial fashion, revealing, between specks of crystalline light, what was left of a sanctum of power, unlike anything the world had ever witnessed before.
The full majesty of the room the two explorers now found themselves in had long been eroded by both Time and Nature, but the very same primeval forces that had conspired to claim it without mercy had, at some point, come to realize that their purpose was better served through preservation, creating a perfect bubble around the half a dozen steps that led to the throne, in the center of it all. Unlike the raw foliage they had seen everywhere ever since they had entered the ruins, the one that grew inside was contained, trimmed to perfection, submitting in parallel rows to a whispered reality that still lingered in the air.
The solemn aura on the inside was so intense that they had no choice but to go quiet, their steps slow, their breath subdued, as they moved closer and closer to the source of unmitigated awe. The whispers seemed to grow a little louder, but remained soft and rhythmic, like a lullaby everyone knows even if it’s the first time reaching one’s ears. It’s uncertain whether they were both hearing the same thing or subtle variations of its central theme, but the effects were the same, spreading like a wave of blissful tranquility from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes, and spiraling deep down inside their aching hearts.
Samuel was the first to notice the soft glow next to the throne, and Brian the one to grasp what hid behind it. The object was small, rectangular but with slightly rounded edges, a couple of worn-out buttons and a cracked display. Remembering his History lessons, he identified it as being an old MP3 player. Its batteries should have died ages ago, and yet there was still enough juice in them to make it whirr, and have beauty remain alive within dreams of sound.
It was a woman’s voice, a honeyed fragment of a royal soul, telling hypnotic stories of dominance and submission. The fracture lines on the display obscured parts of her name and title, rendering it even more mysterious to their already drooping minds, but it didn’t matter anymore.
“… cess Sapph… ain,” Brian muttered, like a prayer.
“… cess Sapph… ain,” Samuel repeated, knees faltering.
And as the doors closed behind them again, their undying service began.