Raiders of the Forbidden Valley
Chapter 6: The Dragon's Maw
Indy struggled against the enveloping darkness of unconsciousness.
He was in the massive cavern again; this time things seemed different. Indy walked over to the tree and placed his hand on its mighty trunk.
It was enormous. Not quite as big as Indy had at first thought, but still awesome. He had seen the giant redwood trees in North America and this tree dwarfed them.
As Indy placed his hand, palm down onto the surface, he felt a vibration shoot up his arm. The tree was trembling.
A fragment of a half-forgotten memory floated through Indy's mind and he felt troubled. Why was the tree trembling? There was a reason for it. However, before Indy could concentrate a number of slender green tendrils erupted from the ground around the tree. Indy stumbled backwards, but the shoots wrapped around his arms and body. He started struggling wildly but a strange beatific feeling of calm came over him. He stopped tensing and let himself be dragged towards the trunk. The hard wood came closer and closer to his face. Indy vaguely thought that it might hurt but didn't care.
Suddenly he felt his psyche being dragged away from this place.
Indy jerked awake. He was in a dark room; a beam of light was shining from directly above him. He tried to move but couldn't - at first he thought that the trees tendrils still had him wrapped up but after a few moments he became aware that he was tied to a stake - ropes criss crossing across his chest. The stake was strange - it felt as though it was curving and twisting! He could feel the warmth of another body behind him.
"Xiang? Is that you?" he spoke as though the roof of his mouth and his tongue were made of marshmallow.
"No Indy, it's me!" Susan's voice came to him. Indy was struggling to come to terms with his immediate reality. The dream or hallucination of the tree was still incredibly vivid in his mind. "Where's Xiang?" he mumbled. "Who?" "Your friend is dead! Or at least he soon will be." An accented female voice drifted from the darkness. "What?" Indy called out. "Your accomplice will be found floating in the Clyde tomorrow morning. The police will not be too interested and any tests performed will show that his system was full of opium. The verdict will merely be 'another stupid Chink died because of drugs'! On the whole you Occidentals have no interest in our affairs Dr. Indiana Jones. It is unfortunate that you chose to be different."
Indy heard two hand claps and the lights suddenly flared.
Indy and Susan were bathed in light. Indy looked around - they were both tied to a stake in an oval pit. It was about seven feet deep and not too wide. The wall in front of him had a strange ornamental quality about it. There was a structure that looked for all the world like the upper jaw of a crocodile . . . or a dragon. It was about six feet wide at the bottom but tapered to about a foot wide at the top. The structure was about five and a half feet tall. Above them Mae Ling walked to the edge of the pit; she was wearing a fashionable cream dress - in her hands she held Indy's whip.
"You should not have become involved Dr. Jones. My father has not forgotten your last encounter but he has more pressing matters on his mind at the moment."
"Listen honey, I don't feel like speaking with the organ grinders monkey. If your father has anything to say then let him say it himself." Indy looked up at her with as patronizing an expression as possible. This had the desired effect. He had stung Mae Ling; a look of cold hard fury crept across her delicate features. Before she could respond a thin laugh drifted from behind her. Qwam Sung Ho moved to the edge of the pit and looked down at his captives.
"With that attitude Dr. Jones I hope you have something interesting to say?" Sung Ho said through his laughter. "I have a limited amount of time and do not wish to spend that listening to inane prattling which is only designed to prolong the inevitable."
Indy looked on his captor with amazement. It had only been eleven years since he had last met Qwam Sung Ho, but the man looked at least sixty years older. On their last meeting Sung Ho had been a tall and middle-aged looking man, now his height was bent and his skin was like parchment. His hair, which was iron grey, was now wispy and snow white. The villain wore a vibrant red silk robe that accentuated his aged appearance. However the man looked like a Chinese emperor of old.
"Jesus, Qwam, what's up with you? Too many late nights?" "Most amusing Dr. Jones. Now, what do you have to say that is so important?" Sung Ho asked wearily. "Listen, this has nothing to do with the girl. Why don't you let her go?" "Why do you assume that this has anything to do with you? Do you honestly think that this is all part of some elaborate revenge? Dr. Jones you failed to take Nurhachi from me when we met, my fortress was going to be destroyed by the Japanese anyway. You assisted in killing Kao Kan, which was inevitability anyway. I have no reason to seek revenge on you Dr. Jones. You are like a gnat buzzing around the head of a dragon! Why are you Americans so arrogant?" Sung Ho started getting angry. Indy noticed, with some satisfaction, that he started wheezing and sought support from his daughter when this happened. "It's not Americans, it's just me." Indy replied. "I would have been unaffected if our paths had never crossed again Dr. Jones. However, you chose to become involved in something that did not concern you! And now you will pay dearly for this transgression!" Sung Ho gazed at his captives wistfully "Although in many ways you are to blame for my current state of . . . infirmity." Indy looked up at the ancient Chinese villain. A puzzled expression crossing his face.
Xiang was being dragged along the ground by two black-clad thugs. His head was swimming with strange and alien thoughts. The ground was far, far below him and his legs had stretched like elastic in their effort to reach it. The sky was all around him and his thoughts were far away in a different world. he glanced at his captors - their faces were completely blank, not their expressions, their faces. No eyes, nose, mouth, nothing!
He chuckled. They wouldn't be able to see where they were taking him. A small and urgent voice buzzed at the back of his head, but Xiang was not in the mood to listen to it.
He was dragged towards the edge of the river. To Xiang the water looked like smoked glass and much to his amazement he could make out the vague form of his own face looking out at him. Xiang chuckled again.
Far away he heard a voice.
"He's heavy this one!"
Xiang felt himself drop. It felt like he dropped from the sky and when he landed he felt a searing pain shoot through his knee. He looked down and saw that as he had fallen from heaven he had landed on an old piece of rusted pipe. This had punctured the skin underneath his kneecap.
The small voice buzzing at the back of his mind suddenly became startlingly clear.
"If you don't pull yourself together you'll be sitting with your ancestors before morning. You are going to die!"
It took him a few seconds to realise that the voice was, in fact, his own.
"Give him another injection and then dump him in the river!" an alien voice echoed around his head and he felt a pair of hands grip him under his armpits and haul him to his feet. Through a strange undulating mist Xiang saw a human figure walking towards him. A figure with red eyes and an enormously wide mouth that was full of small sharp needle like teeth. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to concentrate. This wasn't real! It couldn't be real!
Xiang opened his eyes again and saw that the figure was just a man after all. A man who had a syringe in his hand. He scrambled against the fog that was obscuring his thoughts. He had not fought his way out of a Japanese compound all those years ago to get killed by these insignificant worms. He screwed his eyes and focused on the syringe. In one swift move he spun around. The suddenness of this maneuver caught the man holding him by surprise and he ended up with his back towards his companion. Xiang crouched down and then sprung backwards. His assailants crashed into each other. The man holding his arms gurgled and fell forward - the syringe stuck into the back of his neck at the base of his skull.
Xiang rolled forward and picked up the metal pipe which had plunged into his knee a few moments before. He thrust it forward and felt grim satisfaction as it punctured the mans sternum. He looked at Xiang with a mixture of horror and surprise, and then pitched forward.
"What do you mean blame me?" Indy sneered.
"When you breached my fortress all those years ago you threw my plans into disarray. The Japanese started shelling my castle before I had managed to gather all my belongings. One of them caused my storeroom to explode. Destroying all of my supplies. Since then I have been searching for a replacement source and for that I need access to the world tree of Norse legend."
Indy started to laugh.
"Do I amuse you Dr. Jones?"
"Don't take it personally Qwam," Indy smiled, "but I think you're barking up the wrong tree."
Qwam Sung Ho smiled.
"What I do in an hour's time will neither concern or interest you Dr. Jones! Enjoy eternity!"
The villain turned and walked away from the edge of the pit. Mae Ling hung back for a few seconds and then approached the pit edge.
"Dr. Jones you may need these in the afterlife." she chuckled and threw his whip and holster into the pit. They landed uselessly at Indy's feet. "Perhaps if you can placate the dragon you may live a little while longer."
With a tinkling laugh Mae Ling turned and left the bound captives to their fate.
A few seconds passed and then Indy heard the turning of gears and cogs. The dragons jaw started moving towards him. Susan gasped in fear.
"Indy . . ." she began.
"I know, I've got one on this side too." he said through clenched teeth. Suddenly either side of the jaw sprouted wicked, sharp looking metal daggers.
Daggers that looked like teeth.
"I knew that was gonna happen." Indy muttered under his breath.
Qwam Sung Ho and his entourage left the depths of his subterranean lair and emerged out onto a dirty, dilapidated alleyway. His guards left the safety of the doorway first. Sung Ho followed them as soon as it was deemed to be safe.
A large and sleek Rolls Royce pulled up and one of the guards opened the door for Sung Ho.
"Set the explosives! Dr. Jones is about to cost me another of my homes." he turned from his guards and climbed into the car. Mae Ling joined him and looked at her father.
"What now father?"
"Now we find out where Jones has hidden those Runestones," he leaned forward. "Take me to the docks in Port Glasgow and have my men search Jones' hotel room. My time in Glasgow is at an end."
The car silently pulled away into the night.
The jaws of the death trap were moving towards them with a slow, but deadly inevitability. Indy started trying to think what the origin of Mae Ling's cryptic comment could be. He felt Susan wriggling frantically against her bonds behind him. He could feel his getting tighter as she struggled. He rolled his eyes and starting doing some mental calculations.
The machinery wasn't moving too fast - but then again Susan and he weren't too far away from the lethal looking spikes. Indy reckoned that they had about five minutes left.
Now . . . how the Hell could he placate and tame this particular dragon?
"Indy, these ropes are too tight! What are we going to do?" Susan shouted.
"I'm workin' on it!" Indy snapped back at her. There were many stories in many cultures about how to tame a dragon. Golden bridles, various plants, tricking it but nothing he could really think of.
"Susan, how's your singing voice?" he asked.
The metal teeth were about three and a half feet away and getting closer by the second.
"I beg you pardon?"
"There are many fairytales and myths about placating wild beasts by the use of music. That includes dragons! Now, my talents don't include singing. So, honey, I'm afraid it's up to you." Indy twisted his head around and looked at Susan.
"What will I sing?" she asked.
"You know, I don't really think that's too important at this moment honey. Just sing!"
Susan sighed and weighed the options. If it worked then they'd both be alive. If it didn't work then her embarrassment wouldn't last for too long.
"C'mon honey!" Indy barked.
In a small and trembling voice Susan began to sing.
"There may be troubles ahead. But while there's moonlight and music . . ."
The dragon's jaws continued to close in on them.
Sung Ho's men started setting timers on a series of bombs throughout the cavernous rooms of the lair. It would be completely flooded when the bombs exploded.
"Soon we'll be above the moon humming a different tune and then..." Susan's voice started getting a little stronger and louder.
The jaws were closing.
Indy held his legs up, supported by his bonds and attempted to halt the deadly jaws. It was no use - the machinery was too solid and heavy. He felt his knees fold under the weight and force.
"But while the fiddler has fled. So when they ask us to pay the bill and while we still have the chance!" Susan sang - desperation was giving her voice strength and timbre. However the machinery still wasn't stopping. Indy was beginning to think that he had made a big mistake.
"Let's face the music and dance, dance! Let's face the music and dance!" Indy blurted out the last line in his own unmelodic style. The spikes started picking up speed.
"Indy, you're not helping!" Susan snapped. He grinned apologetically - however the spikes were almost upon them.
A moment of silence passed between them - the only sound was the grinding of the approaching machinery.
"Susan, sing the last line yourself." Indy looked at the sharp blades; they were only inches away from his chest. Susan looked at the spikes and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath.
"Let's face the music and dance, dance. Let's face the music and dance!"
Susan hit a perfect note and held it for what seemed like minutes! The purity and clarity of the note amazed Indy.
The sound of the note was filtered down through a metal pipe - which amplified the sound. When it reached the end of this pipe the sound had been modified into a perfect tone which shattered a glass bubble releasing a lead ball. This dropped into a hole beneath the bubble and rolled down into a metal funnel. The momentum carried by the lead ball caused it to shoot through the funnel and into a collection of cogs and gears. It landed straight into the middle of the spring mechanism which ultimately powered the gears, which closed the jaws.
There was a screeching sound and the jaws stopped dead. The blades touching Indy's chest.
Indy sighed and started using the edges of the blades to cut through the ropes that were around his chest. Within a few seconds both he and Susan were free from the stake. Indy picked up his whip.
"I wonder why they called this the Dragons jaws?" he muttered to himself.
He moved forward to wards the bottom of the pit and looked up. The wall was smooth but above them, attached to the ceiling was a metal pipe. A remnant of the ship building history of the structure. As he looked up he felt his foot slowly sink into the floor.
Indy looked down at the pressure pad he had stood on.
Liquid started flowing into the bottom of the pit. Indy knelt down and examined the stuff. He wrinkled his nose as realization dawned on him.
The reason for this being called the dragon was suddenly becoming so much clearer.
Somewhere beneath them a small wheel turned against a flint and a spar ignited a single jet of flame. It started to heat up some copper pipes and this in turn started to heat the floor underneath the pit.
In a few seconds the gasoline would ignite.
Indy could feel the heat beneath his boots and he rolled his eyes.
This was not turning out to be the best of days . . .
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: Hannibal King
Created: June 7, 1999
Last modified: October 4, 1999