“So what is it this time?” asked Jones, spitefully.
His last trek for these people had ended in near disaster, and he had been left for dead by the very organisation that had recruited and paid for the expedition.
“Nice to see you too.” The man said, entering the dimly lit room.
“No one invited you in.”
“No, no they didn’t. I will of course leave if you want me to, but then again Mr Jones, you are addicted to this game we play.”
“It may be a game to you..” Jones spat back, rounding on the man.
“Easy.. easy… I’m going. I’ll let someone else take the glory for finding the Chalice of Koo-Ram Kar.”
“Koo-Ram Kar?” Jones had suddenly lost his anger as the man anticipated, and was now taking notice.
“Yes. But if you’re not interested…”
“Peru.” The man replied, “a few days ago a tracker says he spotted the perimeter markings of a temple. You know the stuff, shrunken skulls, feather contraptions, hidden pits…..”
“Yes.” Jones sighed, subconsciously rubbing the scar through his trousers.
“The trackers refuse to enter. We need someone of experience.”
“It could be any old temple. There are hundreds in that area.”
The man held out a photograph in a gloved hand.
“The mark of Ko-Ram Kar!” Jones whispered, staring at the picture.
“Yes. There are several of these carved on rocks within the outer perimeter.”
“It’s the hottest part of the year, I’ll need supplies, transport….”
“It’s all in place. The trackers have left supplies at regular intervals; you just have to get there in time. Each pack of supplies will last just long enough to get to the next.”
“And what about the journey back?”
“Good question. If the legends are true, he who holds the chalice will feel no hunger and require no drink.”
“So the success of bringing this back is based solely on legend?”
“Legend researched by you Jones. How many books have you published on this, two… three..”
“Are you saying you lied? Your own research is wrong?”
“No. What I am saying…”
“The plane leaves in two hours. Once in Peru, transport has been arranged to take you to the outer perimeter. From there, you are on your own. Find the temple, get the chalice and get it back to the truck.”
“This time,” Jones asked with an edge to his voice, “do I get to come back?”
“Of course Mr Jones. If you find the chalice.”
The man turned and left, leaving Jones alone once more.