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What the Eye Beholds, the Heart Denies
The 'gate room was dark...the only light coming from the 'exit' signs above the blast doors that opened on opposite sides of the room. A podium was standing at the foot of the ramp. Chairs had been arranged to one side of it. Daniel strained to see, certain that he had heard something...movement of some sort. He moved toward the far corner, where the electrical boxes with the bundles of wires that supplied power to the massive Stargate were located, stumbling slightly as a sharp pain moved through his head. He pressed his fingers against his temple. Paused when he saw the figures that stood hidden in the shadows.
"When you have grieved for the proper amount of time, I shall ask again."
That was Teal'c's voice!
"I'll give you my answer then."
And that soft, sweet voice was Casey's.
"Until that time, think on this."
His eyes had adjusted to the darkness. He watched as Teal'c gently pushed a lock of hair from Casey's face, tucking it behind her ear. Then he lowered his head and kissed her. His arms pulled that slender body against his muscular frame.
Daniel expected to see Casey object, to push him away, to ask Teal'c what in the hell he was thinking. Instead, her arms went around the Jaffa's wide shoulders. Oh, hell no! He hadn't even been gone three weeks and she was messing around with her 'best friend'? That little bitch! And just where did that lousy bastard get the nerve to make a move on his Wife?
"You are dead," a voice snarled in his ear. "She does not love you. She loves him."
He fought the pain in his head, and in his heart. One real, and one imagined. Which was which, he had yet to determine.
"Look at them! Does she look as if she is grieving for you....missing you? Perhaps she has already taken the Jaffa to her bed...allowed him access to the secrets between her thighs...addicted him as she did you."
"No," he whispered. The throbbing in his head became more intense.
"It is true! Perhaps she has taken your other 'friend' to her bed as well...he offered her comfort," the voice jeered.
The scene changed in a flash of light. Now he was standing in Jack's bedroom...watching Casey and Jack hold one another. Jack was shirtless, Casey's shirt was missing as well. He watched the long fingers of his best friend move over the lacy cups of her bra, reach for the clasp between her breasts.
"Oh, Jack," Casey whispered. Her body arched toward his touch.
"I know, baby, I know," Jack whispered in reply, his hands moving over her slowly, sensually.
"She is but a harlot, a slut not worthy of you," the voice hissed.
The pain was nearly unbearable. Anger flared in his veins, anger at the voice daring to call Casey such names. Anger at seeing his friends touching her so intimately...anger at her for returning the caresses so willingly.
His attention was drawn to the corner of the room...although he wasn't sure just what had caught his eye. There seemed to be a bright light focused there...he was certain that he could see the faces of two women and a man.
"Listen to your heart, Daniel," the older of the two women said softly. "Your heart speaks the truth."
For just a few seconds, it seemed that a shadow moved over that corner, as if trying to hide it. He blinked, and the glow...and the beings...were gone.
The voice that had been hissing in his ear began to screech. "Look at her! She does not love you! She has forgotten you! Give up the hope that you will be found, because they do not search for you!"
"No! It's not true!" Daniel replied hotly, through clenched teeth.
"Look for yourself!"
"It's an illusion, it's not the truth," Daniel spat.
The voice remained silent. But he could feel a surge of anger.
"I know these...images...are lies! You don't dare show me the truth! Because what I'd see would be different! I know my best friends. I know my Wife. Neither of my friends would act in such a manner. Casey sure as hell wouldn't! What you've shown me are lies!"
The sound of snarling...growling, filled the air around him...
He sat up, his heart pounding, his body shivering, sweat beading on his forehead, in his beard. He felt as if he'd just run ten miles with a full pack. The images continued to dance in front of his eyes. Wiping his hands over his face, he knew that he had to confront his own worst fears, or the nightmares would continue...probably get worse with each 'replay'. The fears were deep, and dark. He'd thought it already dealt with, after the discussion about his jealousy of Jonas Quinn. It seemed, however, that it was still very much in place, in the recesses of his mind. Fear that Casey would leave him. He hadn't before been plagued by the notion that she'd do so on the arm of one of his friends. There was no basis for that fear...for either of the worries that spun in his mind; the logical, coherent part of his brain understood that. But those fears were there, no matter how deeply buried. Needed to be acknowledged. He understood from where the fear arose. Because everyone he'd ever cared for, ever loved, had always left him.
Still breathing hard, he searched for, reached for the softly spoken words of love, the promises made. Clung to them. Wrapped them around his heart as a gauntlet against the darkness that continued to push, trying to pervade his mind, his very soul. Casey loved him. She would never leave him...she would never willingly walk away from him. Never!
Once he had caught his breath, had been able to separate the images and feelings, dream from reality, he focused on one particular aspect of the nightmare; that of the three...beings. There was something going on. He had no doubt that the voice that taunted him belonged to one of Dartal's minions. And he had the feeling that if it hadn't been for what that woman had said to him, he would have believed the illusion...even if only in his dreams. The fears, the suspicions would have been planted, left there to eat away at his very soul. He had no doubt that even subconsciously those fears would have affected him, would have colored any decisions he made. Why had she...whoever she was...interfered? Were the mysterious They concerned that he'd give in to his despair? It wasn't like he'd been left much hope. The radio was gone, destroyed by his own hand, to be sure, during a rage that he'd suffered during his withdrawal from his Wife's sweet, sweet pheromones. There was no Stargate. At least, no Stargate nearby. So just what was he supposed to do? Unless the Prometheus came for him, and Jack found him, he wasn't going anywhere!
He silently analyzed his nightmare, for that was surely what it was. There had been a message in it, one that those who had caused all the problems didn't want him to receive, nor to remember. It took awhile before his mind finally found it, recognized it. Listen to his heart. His heart was so full of love for his Wife, for that beautiful creature known as Casey Jackson, that he thought it would burst. Everywhere he searched, she was there...smiling at him, reaching for him, loving him.
Casey loved him. He loved her. Knowing that, being secure in that knowledge of that fact, didn't change the current situation. A thought that had nagged at him earlier returned, pushing past the emotions. Why had he been led to this meadow? Why had Kiam and Maelu been led to this meadow? Was it simply to offer him the shelter, the safety, of Kiam's tribe during the approaching winter? Or was there something that he was missing?
Damn! If only Casey were here! She'd be able to figure it out! Her gift of sight, her ability to sense things would give him at least a clue to work with. And if Casey were here, other than being able to survive the winter, getting off of this planet wouldn't matter one way or another to him, he admitted silently.
He laid back down. Tucked his hands beneath his head. Wondered what she was doing. Was she missing him? God, I miss her so damned much!
A A A A A A
A light mist covered the meadow as the two men carried the body toward the river. Daniel allowed Kiam to choose the spot where they would bury Maelu. The young man wandered back and forth, stopping every so often, pointing his face toward the sky...then moving on. When he reached what had to be the very center of the meadow, it was impossible to miss the shiver that moved over the young man's body when he stopped, looked heavenward.
"This is where Maelu's bones should rest," Kiam said softly.
It didn't make any difference to Daniel where the old man was buried. One spot was as good as another...but clearly Kiam thought otherwise. As long as the young man was satisfied, then they could proceed.
Using large, flat stones, which Kiam had sharpened on one edge, the two began to dig in the soft, wet dirt. The meadow grass gave way easily, as they piled the dark, rich loam to one side.
When his 'shovel' hit something hard, Daniel figured that they were going to start finding rocks, or perhaps hard packed clay...the digging had been going much too easily so far. He cleared the mud away with his hands. Felt his heart stand still when he lifted a square stone to the top of the hole. Trembling fingers cleared it as much as possible. "Water. Bring me water," he said quietly. Calmly.
Before he could form the words to question why, Kiam remembered the council of Maelu. "Yes, Dan'yel," he replied. He jumped to his feet, raced toward the shelters. Grabbed the skin full of water.
Heart hammering against his ribs, Daniel slowly poured water over the stone, washing away the mud. Exposing the gouge marks that were evidence that the stone had been cut into the square shape that it was.
Afraid to hope, forcing himself to remain calm, Daniel refused to even allow himself to speculate on what he had found. He carefully began to dig around the spot where he had found the stone. Was about to give up, thinking that perhaps the stone had been an odd, natural phenomenon after all, when his 'shovel' struck another.
The second stone was much as the first. Size, weight, shape...all the same. Daniel looked up at Kiam. "I know that you chose this spot for Maelu's bones to rest. There might be something here, something...important. If it's imperative for you that Maelu rest here, then I won't argue with you. We'll bury him, and then..." he shrugged, because he hadn't thought about what he'd do once the old man was buried.
"What is important to you, Dan'yel?" Kiam asked.
"I'd like very much to see if there are more stones like this. See these marks?"
Kiam looked, nodded that he recognized the grooves. "Someone carved that rock."
Thrilled that the young man understood, thankful that his eyes weren't just playing tricks on him, Daniel nodded. "Yes, they did. If there are more of these stones, it could mean that we've discovered an old structure."
"A shelter made of carved stones?"
Daniel smiled. "A very common practice, actually."
Kiam frowned. "What will you do if you find this struk-shure?"
"That, my young friend, is a good question. I suppose it depends on whether or not it's just a simple dwelling, or if we've found something with a more important function."
Daniel's grin broadened. "Use."
"Why not just say that," Kiam grumbled. "You use words that I don't understand."
"You know, I've had other people complain about the same thing," Daniel replied, grinning broadly.
Kiam sat back on his haunches. Not even catching the fish and finding those roots had made Dan'yel this happy. He had felt the quiver in his heart, the one that told him this was the spot. But if Dan'yel wanted to search for more stones...
Maelu's voice echoed in his head. "My bones won't know where they're buried..."
"It's up to you, Kiam," Daniel said softly.
"Maelu would want you to do what you feel you must. There is a patch of thick clover over there," the young man said, pointing a muddy hand toward the south end of the meadow. "Maelu liked clover."
"Then we'll bury him there," Daniel said.
It was difficult to climb out of the hole, he wanted to find more of the stones, certain that he'd discovered an ancient wall of some sort. But the burial of Maelu had to be dealt with first. Kiam had been kind enough to agree to the change. He couldn't insult him by allowing him to dig the grave alone. Besides, he owed both of them his life.
A A A A A A
Daniel stood quietly, his hands held in front of him, listening as Kiam sang a song of death, one that wished the ka of the deceased a safe journey to the Afterlife. His heart was beating a tattoo in his chest, he wanted desperately to return to the excavation...
The thought jerked at his attention. Excavation? Yes, he admitted slowly, that's exactly what it is...what it will be, he corrected himself.
With a mental shake, he forced his thoughts back to the quiet voice of the young man who had helped to save his life. Maelu deserved as much, for it had been the old man who had decided to follow the 'trail' made up of bits of cloth. A mystery that Daniel had no clue as to how to even start to unravel. Casey would probably have a smartass comment about it. If he could just discuss it with her, with his teammates, one of them would be able to at least find the end of the thread. The pain of missing his Wife and his friends jabbed at him.
Kiam had finished, it seemed. Neither man wanted to pile the mud on top of the old man...Daniel finally pushed the first 'shovel' full of dirt over the fur robe. It didn't take long to have him completely buried.
"When I have finished helping you, I will complete Maelu's journey," Kiam said softly.
"We can always go now, and come back and see what there is to find," Daniel offered.
The young man shook his head. The quiver in his heart brought a frown to his face. "Dan'yel, I believe we should stay, and find more of those square stones."
He studied the intense brown eyes. Shaman. This young man was destined to be a shaman. So what was he seeing...or at the very least, sensing? He gave a nod. Turned to lead the way back to hole that had been abandoned, while they had dug another and gently laid Maelu into it.
Standing on the edge of the three foot deep hollow, he doggedly forced his thoughts to remain on the simple aspect of unearthing what he could. No speculation. No expectations. He'd found two stones that could be from a wall. Could be. For all he knew, there would be no others.
He looked over at the young man who waited patiently. Forced a smile to his lips. "Let's see what's down there."
They dug in silence, the late afternoon sun watching them as they labored, tossing more dirt onto the pile, widening the hole inch by inch. When Daniel once again found a stone, he instructed Kiam to begin digging another hole just a few feet away. If he was right, more of the stones would be located, if not in that direction, then in another. He suspected that he had found a wall, whether it was the inner wall of a building, or part of the outer wall, was something only further investigation would reveal.
Hunger eventually overrode curiosity, drove the men to the river to clean the mud off of their hands and faces. Then back to the copse of trees where their camp waited for them. The fire had died down, Kiam added wood, while Daniel cleaned several of the potatoes and stuck them into the embers. It wouldn't be much, but it was better than nothing, he told himself. What was Casey eating? Was she eating? Was she drinking the protein shakes that kept those soft curves so enticing? Images of her...naked and wet in the shower...waiting for him on the bed...standing in the kitchen, her robe hanging open and offering tantalizing glimpses of her sexy body as she waited for the coffeemaker to finish working its magic...he shivered mentally; aching for her, missing her so much that the pain was tangible.
Kiam watched his companion, the man who was a god. Wondered what thoughts brought such sadness to those strange blue eyes. The downturn of Dan'yel's mouth. He glanced at the skin that held Dan'yel's belongings. He was thinking of the goddess Ca'see, no doubt.
The cool night air had each of the men reaching for the heavy fur robes that served as both coat and sleeping blanket. Daniel drifted to sleep without realizing it, Kiam not awake more than a few minutes longer. The physical labor had fatigued both of them to the point that neither would stir until the first light of dawn.
A A A A A A
He opened his eyes. Nearly moaned out loud to see the rough bark of the tree limbs and the spidery fingers of the bushes that made up the roof of his shelter. It hadn't been a dream...or a nightmare. He pushed the button on his watch, turning on the light so that he could see the time. Not quite five-thirty. He noted the day. Nineteen days. He'd been missing for nineteen days. Once again the hope that Jack and Casey and Sam and Teal'c were looking for him filled his heart, while the fear that they weren't bounced around in his mind.
When he tried to sit up, he did groan out loud. His back and shoulders were stiff and sore. No doubt he'd be unable to move if not for his Immortality. With that thought fresh in his mind, he recalled exactly why he ached so badly. Stones. From a wall. He was certain of it. They'd found four before hunger and fatigue and driven them from the meadow to the shelters.
Kiam rolled to his side, opened his eyes. There was just a small bit of stew left. It would have to do for their morning meal. His stomach growled loudly. With his own groan of protest, the young man pushed himself up. "We will dig again today?"
"Yes," Daniel replied quietly. "Kiam, you don't have to, if you don't want to."
"I will do whatever you ask of me, Dan'yel. So that I may be blessed by you."
Daniel heaved a sigh. "Kiam, I'm not a god. I'm a man, no different than you."
The young man stubbornly shook his head. "That is not true, Dan'yel. Only gods can travel in the stars."
"There are many people who are capable of interstellar travel. Traveling the stars," Daniel responded firmly. He reached automatically for his vest. He needed to see her face...after the nightmares he had endured, he need to see her sweet, beautiful face.
Watching as Dan'yel ran his finger lightly over the pik-shure, as he called it, Kiam could see again the love that flared in those strange blue eyes. The longing. The sadness. He remained silent, moving quietly to fill the bowls with the last of the stew.
He wasn't entirely sure that eating the stew was a good idea...it was the same as had been in the fire-blackened cooking skin since he had first awakened to find he was no longer alone. That had been damned near a week-and-a-half earlier. His stomach, however, overrode his reservations, and he ate what was given to him.
"I will set a snare or two. Then we will have meat for our evening meal," Kiam said.
"That's a good idea," Daniel nodded. He drank a bit of water. Realized he needed to get up and tend to his very full bladder. As soon as he had finished, he took a few minutes to wash a bit in the river. He had to break a crust of ice from the shallow water near the bank where he knelt. The water numbed his hands, made his teeth chatter when he splashed it over his face. Amazing that the fire and that fur robe had kept him so warm, he thought, squinting up at the early morning sun. Without a doubt, Maelu and Kiam had been led to this meadow so that he wouldn't freeze - or starve - to death.
As much as he hated to admit it, there was no way, however, that the humble camp would be warm enough once winter set in. The lack of stored food would be a problem as well. Kiam had spoken of his family, and the tribe of people with whom he lived. The young man had extended an invitation to return with him. If he left a carefully marked trail, surely Jack and Teal'c would be able to follow it, right?
The ground wasn't as soft or malleable as it had been the day before. The first hard freeze had brought in much lower morning temperatures. Daniel feared that the day wouldn't warm much more than it already was. While digging would keep them warm, frozen ground was damned difficult to dig in...and could slow them down considerably.
He frowned as he stood at the edge of the hole where he had discovered the stones. If he didn't find at least as many today as he had yesterday, he would know that the ruins were so old that there wouldn't be much to examined. He'd accept Kiam's generous invitation, travel with him to take Maelu's belongings to the Sacred Mountain...and wander ever farther from the escape pod. The nagging fear that it made no difference, that after nineteen days, his friends had given up hope, his Wife resigned to living life as his widow, pecked at the last bit of hope that he had clung to...had so valiantly tried to keep alive.
A A A A A A
The sun was dropping below the horizon when Daniel dropped onto his ass on the grass beside the hole where he had been digging. Nothing. Three and a half days of work, six holes now six feet deep, six feet long, and at least as wide, had produced nothing. He had worked from first light until it was too dark to see. Desperate to find another stone, a reason to remain in the meadow. There just wasn't anything here. Not any longer.
"You will die here," the gravelly voice hissed in his ear.
He was too tired, too numb with grief to argue. "Kiam, stop," he said wearily. "We'll cleanup, and get ready to go to the Sacred Mountain."
The young man could hear the defeat in his companion's voice. The deep sadness. He climbed out of the hole he had been working in, squatted beside the one where his friend stood, blue eyes so full of anguish that it reached out and touched his own soul. "Dan'yel, what did you hope to find?"
"I don't know," Daniel admitted. He'd been asking himself the same thing. Even if he found an ancient building, or village...what then? What would it accomplish? What would it offer him? Nothing, more than likely. Just the knowledge that Kiam and his people weren't the first to live on the planet. So what? "I suppose that my theory that there was a structure of some sort is still viable. But there haven't been any more stones that could be from a wall. It's possible that the ruins are so old, that what we found are all that's left." He stared silently at the river for a few minutes. "It's possible that the river flooded, and anything that was here was washed away a very long time ago."
Kiam looked out at the river as well. Understood the power of the water, especially when swollen by the spring thaws. He had dug holes where Dan'yel had asked him to, working as long as the sun offered enough light to see by...never had he questioned why. To stop now...he shivered slightly. "Perhaps we should dig just a bit more?"
Daniel shook his head. "No. There's no need. We have a promise to keep to Maelu. Then you need to return to your family before winter sets in."
"And you, Dan'yel?"
At that moment, he just wanted to sit down in the hole and pull the dirt in around him. He was marooned on this planet, with absolutely no way off. Unless a very enterprising search was being conducted, there would be no miracle rescue. Casey was as lost to him as if she was dead...or he was dead. "I don't know," he said softly.
"You will be welcome with my people, Dan'yel."
He tried to force a smile to his face. Tried to feel as grateful as he knew that he should. Failed miserably at both. "Thanks," he managed to say.
"I will get my shovel," Kiam said. "It is a good tool, and I wish to keep it."
Daniel nodded wearily. He dropped his own stone, his hands blistered and sore from digging with it for three and a half days straight. Had no desire to ever pick it up again. "That's fine."
Kiam jumped into the hole where he had been working. Let out with a terrified scream when the hard packed dirt gave way.
Scrambling out of his own hole, Daniel raced to the side of the pit where Kiam had been, looked down to see nothing but darkness. The young man had disappeared into a much deeper hole. His heart hammered against his ribs. Fear, excitement, hope, all raced through him at lightening speed. "Kiam!...Kiam!"
"I am here, Dan'yel."
"Are you hurt?"
"I don't think so."
"Don't move, I'll be right back," Daniel ordered.
"I will not," Kiam promised, his voice shaking slightly.
He raced back to the camp, pulled on his tac vest, not certain what he might need from it. Not that he had anything that would be of any use...except the lighter. That might come in handy. He grabbed two large limbs, broke them into manageable pieces. Held each into the fire, wishing he had something to make wood burn slowly, brightly. Beggars can't be choosers. He glanced at the spot where he had hidden the P90. Should he take it with him? Just in case? Probably a good idea. He reached for it, slung it over his shoulder.
Jogging back to the hole where his young friend had fallen through to a subterranean cave of some sort, Daniel sent up a prayer that he'd be able to get the young man out. He needed to see where Kiam was, however, to be able to assess the situation.
He jabbed the ends of the torches into the black dirt that had been removed from the hole, climbed gingerly into the gaping opening, hoping to avoid joining Kiam. He gave a sigh of relief when the ground beneath his boots seemed steady and firm. He grabbed the torches.
"I can see you," Kiam reported as soon as Daniel held one of the burning limbs over the edge of the pit.
"Good. Stand back, I'm going to drop this down to you, so that I can see you."
"I am ready," Kiam replied.
Sending up a prayer, Daniel dropped the largest of the limbs. When it hit the floor of the cave, it sent up a shower of sparks. Just enough to illuminate one of the walls. A wall made of square stones. And one that looked to have some sort of hieroglyphs on it. His breath caught in his throat. "Kiam, I'm going to come down there...move the torch."
"But Dan'yel, if you are here, how will we get out?"
"I'll lift you up so that you can reach the edge. You'll be able to pull yourself out."
"What of you?"
"I'm not sure," Daniel replied. Calmly. Even though his heart was beating so fast he could feel it. Trembling with hope...with trepidation, he sat down on the edge of the hole. Maneuvered himself around, supporting himself on his arms, lowering his body slowly. He felt Kiam's hands on his legs. Took the weapon and handed it to Kiam. Who looked curious, but not alarmed as he put the P90 beside the stack of wood. "Move back," he instructed the young man. Could only hope that Kiam had listened. With a deep breath, Daniel let himself drop. Hit the floor and rolled.
"Now we are both trapped," Kiam whispered.
"No, we're not. I'm going to help you reach that ledge, and you're going to pull yourself up."
Kiam looked around. "There are many stones here, Dan'yel."
"Yes, I see that. Do you see these marks?"
The young man nodded his dark head.
"These are hieroglyphs. A type of writing."
"The marks are symbols?"
"Yes, they're symbols," Daniel nodded eagerly. "I just have to figure out what they say."
"I will stay with you."
"Kiam, I'm going to need more wood, to use so that I can see. You'll have to get that wood for me." Even in the dim light of the burning limbs, Daniel could see the stubborn set of the young man's jaw. "If you want to help me, Kiam, I'm going to need wood. I don't know what else I might need...and if you're up there," he pointed to the hole, where stars were beginning to twinkle, "then you can get it for me."
"I will bring more wood. Then I will rejoin you," Kiam said. Daring Daniel to argue the point.
Daniel sighed. It was possible that he'd need the young man's assistance. If there was a door in this room, it could take both of them to open it. "Fine. Let's get you out of here so you can gather some wood." He moved to stand beneath the hole. Laced his hands together. "Put your foot in my hands."
Liam obeyed. Immediately felt himself moving upward. He scrambled to reach the ledge.
"Come on, I can't do this for long," Daniel grunted.
Fingers digging into the dirt, the young man was finally able to get one arm over the edge of the hole, pulled himself forward. He rolled to his side, then peered back down at Daniel. "I will return quickly with the wood that you need."
With a nod of understanding, Daniel picked up the quickly burning torch. Held it aloft, his expertise helping him to find the 'beginning' of the text. Could hear the blood pound in his ears when one of the first phrases he translated referred to the Chappa'ai. He was afraid to hope...terrified of yet another bitter disappointment. Twenty-one days. Today had marked twenty-one days since the mission for the Tok'ra, to destroy Ares' ship. He could only assume that they'd been successful. Could only wonder what Casey and his teammates were doing. Didn't dare to hope that they were still searching for him.
His index finger moved lightly over the hieroglyphs, the other hand holding the burning limb close enough to make out the symbols. Temple! This was a temple! To Ra, it seemed. Which meant that the people who had been brought here had arrived a very long time ago. When the heat of the fire forced him to drop the limb onto the dirt floor, he searched for the lighter. Held it up, so that he could finish reading. There was mention of 'animals that lived as humans'. Pre-historic men? Such as there had been on Earth? It was possible, he supposed. Sam had theorized at one point that Earth had been only one of perhaps dozens of planets, or more, that had been 'seeded' to develop in the manner that it had. Nature had driven the evolution of the life forms, from simple one-celled ameba to the humans who populated the planets now. It was an interesting theory, and given what they had learned so far, plausible. The whole language thing poked at him, however. And the similarities between Egyptian and Native American customs. Maybe Ra had brought groups of each to this planet, and they'd encountered pre-historic people? And somehow those diverse groups had united to become one people?
He moved back to the section that spoke of the Chappa'ai. This was a most holy place, it seemed, where Ra himself would arrive in order to 'bless' his 'children'. There had to have been something on the planet that the Goa'uld had wanted. Naquadah, probably.
What about the 'Sacred Mountain'? He frowned. The mountain was only a few miles to the west. It was possible that this temple had been at the center of a large city. And, without the presence of pyramids, Ra had chosen to land his ha'tak on the mountain. That would certainly play into the whole 'god' routine, wouldn't it? Ra had been like all of the other Goa'uld, maybe more arrogant...he had surrounded himself with 'lesser' Goa'uld to help him with the day-to-day trifles of life. No doubt at least one Goa'uld had served as High Priest in this very temple. It would have been easy to use the ring transporter to move between the ship and the temple, if a transport ring had been built into the temple. Appearing in a flash of light among rings that seemed to vanish would certainly awe the natives, wouldn't it?
And if this was a temple, this...room...was just one part of it. He glanced up at the hole in what was the ceiling. Had the temple been deliberately buried, or had that been a result of time and natural forces? He frowned, put his money on the latter. Which meant...this had to be the front of the temple itself. No doubt more digging opposite the stone wall would expose steps that would have led to a paved street.
All right, Danny, find the hidden door, he told himself. He stood back, tried to survey the tiny area. Sighed mentally. It was possible that any doors to the inner chambers were buried on either side. And digging around in here could bring another collapse of the dirt above him.
He hurried to stand beneath the opening above him. "Yes?"
"I have brought wood, we can build a fire there, yes?"
Daniel looked around. The small 'room' would probably fill with smoke...but it would offer a bit more light. As long as the hole in the ceiling remained unobstructed, the majority of the smoke should rise. "Yes, we can do that. Just drop it down."
He jumped back when the first pieces of heavy limbs hit the ground with resounding 'ker-thunks'. Kiam must have dragged every piece of wood from their 'wood pile' to the hole, he thought amusedly.
"I am coming down now, Daniel."
"Wait! You'll land on all of this wood, and hurt yourself. Give me a minute to move it." He hastily tossed the wood aside, ignoring the protests of muscles overused in the past few days.
Kiam landed with a thud beside him, looked up, and even in the dim light Daniel could see his smile. "We have found what you wanted?"
His eyes went back to the section of wall that had referenced a Chappa'ai. "I don't know yet. Let's get a fire going, so that I have some light to work by."
The sudden howl of what sounded like a coyote...or a dog of some sort, broke the silence of the night, echoed oddly in the small chamber. Whether it was an omen, or a warning, Daniel wasn't certain. He did know that being where he was might be a good thing at the moment.
"Hounds of Doom," Kiam whispered, shivering visibly. "They come out only when the moon is full. They seek to devour souls not safe among ancestors."
The young man was thinking about Maelu, Daniel thought guiltily. "Would you believe me if I told you that there was no such thing?"
Kiam's dark eyes swung from the opening to Daniel's face. "If you tell me this is so, then I will believe you."
Sometimes, the weight of doing...and saying, the right thing could be overwhelming. He didn't want to destroy the young man's belief's. Although, given the time he had, if he was right about the translation of the hieroglyphs, there was no way to explain everything about the Goa'uld, and other planes of existence. If he tried to fit the truth into what the kid already knew and believed...Daniel took a deep breath. "There are many things that we can't explain...and there are other...places, where..." He waved his hand in a circle, searching for the words that would help him explain to this simple, impressionable young man. "Places where the ancestors reside. There is evil out there, among the stars. But here..." He shrugged. "There aren't beasts that devour souls."
"Perhaps there are."
He ignored the voice. "There are those who would try to frighten you into believing that they're more powerful than they are. But the only power they have is what you give them. If you refuse to listen to their lies, then you take that power from them." There, deal with that you Ascended-rebel piece of shit.
For several long moments, Kiam's face was furrowed into a frown. He nodded slowly. "I understand, Dan'yel. How will I know which spirits would lie to me, and which would tell the truth?"
His smile, as well as his response, was automatic. "Listen to your heart. It will never lead you wrong."
Again the young man nodded. He looked at the stone wall. "What must you do?"
Daniel's gaze followed Kiam's. "I need to find out just exactly what this place was. And if there are any doors...um...walls that move to hide a room."
"How can I help?"
So like Skaara, so eager to learn, and to be useful. "I'm not sure, yet," Daniel replied truthfully.
Kiam crossed the room, sat down on the dirt beside the fire. "When you need me, Dan'yel, I am here."
"Maybe you could say a prayer for Maelu. Explain to him that as soon as I've finished, you'll bring his belongings to him."
The young man nodded solemnly. Closed his eyes, and appeared to meditate.
Silence filled the chamber, broken only by the occasional crackle and hiss of wood giving itself to the fire.
After nearly an hour, Daniel closed his eyes, forced himself to take a deep breath. Remain calm. It seemed that there had been a reason for him to be in this meadow. Maelu and Kiam had saved his life. But if he and Kiam hadn't been digging a grave, he never would have known about this temple. And the Stargate that was hidden somewhere within it. He thought again of the three beings, how they glowed in his nightmare...the comfort the woman tried to offer him. Was she...were they...responsible for helping him? For giving him the hints, the clues, that had him formulating the theories that he had, making him so certain that he'd find a Stargate here? He'd just expected it to be a bit...higher...not once thinking that he'd been led to the right place, just not the exact spot.
He looked over his shoulder. Kiam was standing just behind him, uncertainly. "What?"
"Is something wrong?"
"No...at least, not yet. There's a Stargate...a Chappa'ai, somewhere in this temple. I just have to find it," Daniel replied.
"I will help you."
Daniel smiled. The determination in the young man's voice once again reminded him of Skaara. "If there are doors in this wall, I haven't found them."
"Then we will remove the wall."
He chuckled at the straightforward response. Sometimes, he thought, Occam's Razor provided the best solution. And sometimes, it took someone else to remind him of that fact. "I suppose we could do that."
Kiam pushed against one of the stones. "How do we move the stones?"
What he needed was a chisel and a crowbar. What he had...Daniel patted the pockets of his vest. Found his pocket knife. Okay, if he could dig out enough mortar, they had wood, they could fashion some sort of leverage tool. "Let's see how this works."
The knife slid between the stones. Had they only been stacked, and not mortared? Once again he forced back the hope that flared in his chest. It wouldn't be that easy. Slowly he worked the blade around all four sides of the block. Pushed slightly. The stone fell with a resounding 'whump' on the other side of the wall. Daniel exchanged a startled look with Kiam. Watched as the young man pulled the next stone block free. Apparently it was that easy!
"We'll stack them over there," Daniel said pointing to the corner opposite of where the fire burned.
Kiam nodded, dutifully carried the stone to the spot Daniel had pointed to, carefully put it on the dirt. The young man's excitement, and fear, were both reflected on his face.
Daniel removed another stone. When they had opened a space large enough, Daniel took a piece of wood, lit it from the fire that flickered brightly, and tossed it into the room beyond. The antechamber, from what he could see. Heart racing now, he and Kiam made an opening that he could crawl through.
"What is it, Dan'yel?"
He picked up the stick of burning wood, held it high. "The antechamber...um...the room between the outside, and the main part of the temple." Where the Stargate should be, his mind added excitedly.
"If you find this...Chap-ah-eye...you will leave here?"
"Yes, Kiam. If I find it....and the device that controls it...I will return to my home." That thought filled him with such rush of hope and joy that he nearly shouted out loud. He continued to push that hope back. Refused to look at it. Daniel turned to look at the young man, who was half hanging into the room. Studied him carefully. If he left this room open, any Goa'uld who sent scouts would find their way out, and up into the meadow. Which meant that they could find Kiam's people. He reached for one of the back pockets of his tac-vest. One small piece of C-4. One timer. Brought along 'just in case', as his beautiful Wife had explained, when she had tucked it into the pocket. The timer was preset, it wouldn't detonate for one full hour. All he had to do was insist that Kiam leave. The kid...and he...would be long gone before the explosion would rebury this temple, and the Stargate within it. Had she sensed he would need it? Or was this more interference from those who were trying to protect him from Dartal's minions?
"I will travel on to the Sacred Mountain. Say the prayers and sing the songs of the ancestors for Old Father Maelu. Then I will return home, and tell of my journey, and Old Father's last hunt."
Daniel smiled. He was certain that it would be difficult for the young man to explain all that he had seen, and learned. It would, most likely, add to the reputation that he already seemed to have...that as a shaman, or healer. "You'll make it home before the bad weather sets in?"
Kiam grinned broadly. "The first snows won't fall for many days. I will be home long before then."
Let it be so, Daniel thought fervently. He didn't want to think of his young friend struggling through blizzards and snow drifts alone.
"You should look now, Dan'yel," Kiam said quietly. He pointed toward the far wall.
Taking a deep breath, Daniel moved closer. The doors were tall, and like most temples, there was a 'key' that unlocked them. All he had to do was decipher that key. His fingers trembled with anticipation as he touched the doors. Wood, his senses told him. Read the story of the great and powerful god Amon-Ra. Yeah, the very dead snake Ra. Ousted from the First World by slaves, killed by the progeny of those slaves. Didn't do you any good to forbid the knowledge of reading and writing, did it? he thought amusedly.
Fifteen minutes later, Daniel was turning the wooden circles that 'locked' the doors. Heard the sound of stone moving against stone. Okay, he'd either unlocked the doors, or set in place a trap that would seal them into this room. He held his breath. The doors swung open...
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