SECRETS IN THE FAIRY CHIMNEYS
PROLOGUE (July 10)
A Cave in Nevshehir, Turkey
“I’m afraid, Ahmet. I don’t want to go any further.” The girl
stamped her foot, the sound echoing through the stillness of the cave.
“Oh, you little silly wussycat! I told you, it is like the story of
Hansom and Greta. I left a trail of bread crumbs for us to follow out of
“That’s Hansel and Gretel, you great fool,” his sister shot back,
momentarily distracted from her panic. Looking up at her brother, and
noticing the shadow of a mustache under his nose, she thought, Can I
really trust this twelve year old brother to save us?
Her eyes took in the expanse of the chamber they were in, water dripping
from some place their flashlights could not illuminate. The stone was
irregular and gray. The light beam revealed only a small swath, leaving
the rest of the cave in menacing shadows and deep black voids, leading
away into a terrifying unknown. Yelda’s voice hitched as she tugged on
Ahmet’s sleeve. “Let’s get out of here,” she implored once more.
Changing his tone to a more cajoling one, Ahmet reasoned, “Please,
just a few more feet, Yelda. I’m running out of bread crumbs.”
“What!” she said through quivering lips, her voice a shrill peep.
“You said this would be an adventure. You didn’t say anything about
death traps.” She pulled more insistently at his arm.
Undeterred, Ahmet surged on. “Just over there. See, at the end of this
cave.” He grabbed her hand and Yelda followed, sniveling, her body
tense with apprehension.
Ahmet stumbled over a lip in the floor, pitching forward and dragging
his sister with him. He did not let go of her hand in case she would
give into her fear and bolt for the entrance to the cave.
“What if your breadcrumbs don’t help us?” Yelda said, the quiver
in her voice giving way to fear.
Carefully picking their way, the two fell against a boulder which
shielded a rocky ledge that fell off into an abyss which they could not
see. Ahmet clutched his flashlight like a lifesaver while he tested for
footholds, making his way around the boulder. As he did so, the boulder,
which teetered precariously on the ledge, began to slide away from them.
Before they could comprehend what that meant, the thin ledge they were
standing on cracked and Yelda and Ahmet began to slide downward along
with the boulder and the broken ledge.
The sound was deafening in the cave. The fall could have only taken a
few seconds, but the sudden stop at the bottom raised a cloud of choking
dust leaving the explorers in a daze.
Yelda was too stunned to cry. Ahmet never let go of either his twin
sister or the flashlight.
“Stand up, Yelda!” demanded her brother, as he did so himself.
“Can you walk? I seem to be okay.”
“Ahmet, if we ever get out of here,” hissed Yelda through gritted
teeth, “I will kill you. Why, I say, why do I ever listen to you?’
“This is no time for us to argue. We are in big trouble. We must find
our way out of here.”
“Even so smart, you are,” Yelda sneered. “In all of Turkey, there
is not a more stupid boy!”
“Stop that! This is no time for your sarcastic poking at me,
sister.” Ahmet sounded far more confident than he felt. “We need to
think like the amateur archeologists we are.”
“Hah! You said it! Amateur! Yelda was choking back a sob.
“Get up,” Ahmet demanded. Their terrible situation was taking a firm
hold on his gut, and he had to muster all his machismo to push down his
own panic. They had fallen through the floor of an unexplored cave and
no one back at the camp knew where they were.
Yelda got up feeling the seat of her pants. “I am either bleeding, or
there is water here,” she said. “Did you lose the flashlight?”
“No,” he replied, realizing how tightly he was gripping it. “And
it is still working.”
He played the beam around their new cave. They could see they were
standing in a high-ceilinged cavern with a large puddle or small pond in
front of them. There was no telling how deep the water might be. He
played the flashlight upward in the direction of their fall. His heart
tripped in his chest at what he saw. He could just make out the opening
to the chamber fifteen feet above through the cloud of dust. There was
no apparent way to climb back up. The wall between them and it was
glassy smooth with marble-like limestone. The rock formations in this
chamber were very different from the cave above. As Ahmet played the
flashlight past the water to the other side, the wall of the cave
sparkled as if encrusted with the glitter Yelda liked to glue onto
everything she owned.
Yelda was quiet, reality making her mute.
“Let’s see if we can find another way out of here,” Ahmet said as
visions of their skeletonized remains decorating some deep chamber of
this cave system spurred him on to do something.
“Maybe if we shout,” Yelda offered, but quickly added, “Maybe we
need to save our voices.” She fell silent again.
“Ah! I have an idea. I will turn off the flashlight. We will close our
eyes for a minute or two. When we open them we will be able to detect if
there is light coming from anywhere. There might be an exit nearby.”
Ahmet clicked the switch off switch. The darkness was a velvety curtain
brushing against them. Their ears seemed to pulsate, willing to pick up
some hopeful sound.
Drip. Plunk. Another thirty seconds went by. Drip. Plunk.
“I am opening my eyes now,” Ahmet announced.
“I will not open mine,” Yelda replied. “If we don’t see
anything, I will go crazy.”
Ahmet muttered, “Nothing. Maybe I need to close my eyes longer.”
Yelda whimpered. Another thirty seconds.
“I have gone crazy,” Yelda hissed. “Do you see that?”
“What?” Ahmet hissed back. “Why are you whispering?”
“It might be some horrible cave creature. I don’t want it to find
Both of them watched as the merest shimmer glimmered and dimmed on the
surface of the pool. On the other side of the water there was a ledge
with floor to ceiling limestone formations. They could not see behind
Ahmet pointed. “It’s coming from there.” He stood and made toward
“Ahmet, no!” Yelda breathed. “You just can’t cross this pool.
What if it is very deep? And all that splashing? What if it is some
He nodded. “Good thinking. We can keep to the edge, and go around the
Dimming their light, Yelda and Ahmet carefully tested each footstep
before moving forward, making it around to the stone wall on the other
side. The shimmer on the pool was getting brighter, but not enough to
Yelda crouched down so they could both peer around the wall. That dim
flickering in the darkness of the cave made invisible objects glint in
its irregular pulses of light. It made threatening shadows, and obscured
The source of the shimmering light continued to flick on and off in the
distance, making shadows that seemed to clutch at them. Yelda and Ahmet
held their breath.
“What is that?” Yelda mouthed in Ahmet’s ear. She sensed her
brother draw in a breath to speak, and in her rising panic, put her hand
over his mouth.
“Wha mmm uhmmm.”
“Don’t call out. You don’t know what it is,” She implored.
Ahmet exhaled and they crouched out of sight. A huge shadow was taking
form in the growing light in the pool. They waited for their monster to
As the light grew brighter, the features of the cave became more
distinct. The walls were lined with recesses. They looked almost
man-made. There were objects in the niches. Colors began to emerge.
Light glinted off objects that looked golden. Sparks winked from other
“This place is some sort of treasure trove,” Yelda whispered.
Ahmet’s attention was riveted on the approaching light. A figure began
to take form. It was humanoid, but had an enormous lump on its back. It
grunted as it approached. Some instinct made Yelda and Ahmet shrink
back. This figure might not be their savior.
The monster made it to the middle of the chamber, where it shed the
gigantic lump. It was not a monster, but a human with a dark hoody and
trousers. The hump was a large sack. The figure quickly and methodically
began to empty the sack, stashing the objects in the niches. When the
task was done, it folded the sack and made quickly back the way it had
“We must follow,” whispered Ahmet. Yelda needed no urging.
“Why don’t we call out to them, Ahmet?” Yelda seemed to have
forgotten her recent fears.
“Why are they hiding golden and jeweled objects in a cave, Yelda?
Let’s get out of here first. Then we can see who this is. What if we
have come upon thieves hiding their loot? They may not want anyone
Yelda nodded. “That makes sense, Hurry, let’s not lose her.”
“How do you know it’s a her?’
“Shhhh. I don’t. Just a feeling. Later.”
The brother and sister followed, using their light and picking their way
carefully. The deep blackness they had experienced in the cave was
becoming deep gray.
“We must be close to the entrance,” whispered Yelda.
Ahmet tripped and lost his grip on the flashlight. It clattered to the
floor. The light ahead stopped bobbing. Instincts took over, and Yelda
and Ahmet flattened themselves behind a rock. They could see a glimmer
of daylight ahead. But the figure with the light had decided to
investigate the clattering sound. It turned and was coming toward them,
flashlight searching every nook and cranny.
Excerpted from "Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys" by Linda Maria Frank. Copyright © 2014 by Linda Maria Frank. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.