The temple, part 2

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The trek down this side of the hill slowed dramatically. Apparently Mark wasn't endowed with super-human speeds. Once he had been sure of shelter he had turned back to his sleeping companion. They took turns clearing a path with the brush knife when it was necessary and paused at a small brook at the bottom to get cleaned up and refill their water bottles.

David dropped his backpack on the other side of the small stream, stripped off his shirt and stuffed it into an empty side pouch.

He started, "I think today is the last where I'll be wearing one of those. It's going to take part of tomorrow to dry it out, and it isn't as though there are any girls around to get mad that they have to wear more clothes than I do."

"It doesn't matter if we smell like sweat. Like you said, there's nobody to notice anyway."

David splashed some of the water on himself in a half-hearted attempt at bathing without soaking his remaining clothes more. "I hope it's cooler in that temple up there."

"I'm sure it will be ventilated well. The people who built temples like this were good architects. Shame it's been abandoned." He paused for a moment before continuing, "I find it hard to believe that these people wouldn't have had a writing system. They had to do something for the calculations required to move and cut those rocks."

David changed subjects. "Well, I'm ready. Are you?"

"Yep."

They strapped on their packs and began the last climb of the day. As they cut through some of the dense bushes they discovered that the hill had been cultivated in rectangle or triangle-shaped plots. Mark commented that he didn't want to work his way down at night. Whatever road had existed was overgrown and nearly impossible for David or Mark to find. Some parts of the climb reduced them to using all four limbs. If it wasn't before, it became clear why shepherds carry a rod when trying to follow or lead their herds through the hills.

The sound of falling water started faintly but continued to grow louder as they neared the top. By following the sound they were able to arrive at what had been a set of wide stairs leading to the main entrance of the temple. Five columns could be seen standing upright and a sixth was laying on its side. Three more only had their bases remaining. Everything was overgrown.

The massive entrance was decorated with various carvings of jungle creatures. Two cheetahs, one on each side, were the most prominent and out of their open mouths trickled steady streams of water. In years past there had undoubtedly been troughs to catch the water and carry it beside the stairs. Now it merely tumbled out and was absorbed by the ground some ways down. How the water made it to the top of the tall hill was a mystery.

Even with the work that weather and plants perform on rocks, most of the boulders that made up the temple walls were solidly in place. Various plants had taken root wherever dirt could collect on the ridges or decorations of the building. Mark murmured that the colors must have been even more splendid when the temple was in use.

There were still several hours of daylight, so it was decided that exploring the inside for a place to sleep should be done first. After that was accomplished they could explore the rest of the temple without the burden of their backpacks.

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