This story is a work of fiction based on the story and characters that are the property of the creators and producers of "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World" syndicated television series.

I want to thank my beta reader Lora for helping me with the story. Without her this wouldn't have been possible. I also want to thank all those people who wrote such wonderful reviews.

The Wedding Banquet

II

Challenger, Malone and Roxton made their way down the flight of stairs, they had just been shown to their rooms and have had a change of clothes which to their taste was a bit flashy, they weren't accustomed at wearing bright colours.

Ned came at the end of the stairs and stopped." Which way where we suppose to go?" he asked. He wore a pair of loose blue trousers and a red shirt with gold beads all around the edges. He felt silly, but these clothes would have to do.

"Right, I think. " Challenger motioned for the others to follow. He too had been given the same attired as Roxton and Malone but different colour, white trouser, with a bright orange shirt, not the colour he would have chosen but it'll have to do.

" Shouldn't we wait for Veronica and Marguerite?" Roxton caught up to him. He wore a light blue shirt and a pair of loose fitted black trouser, which he hoped he'd never have to wear again.

Just as he said that, Veronica made her way down the stairs. She was wearing a figure hugging red dress; her hair was adorned with flowers and lace. She looked absolutely stunning.

Challenger approached Veronica and gave her a peck in the cheek "My dear, you look absolutely beautiful. "

Veronica couldn't help but blush. She wasn't used to wearing dresses, but she had to admit they did suit her. Malone looked a bit flushed. She only hoped that was a good sign. She hadn't gone to all this trouble for nothing.

Malone swallowed hard. He soon composed himself and approached her. He gave Veronica a kiss in the cheek and proceeded to pay her a compliment.

Roxton gave Veronica a slight smile, " Where's Marguerite?" Roxton couldn't wait to see her. They hadn't had time to talk.

" She's been asked by Adele and Xavier to sit with them at the head table. And the tradition is for the chosen couples to enter just a few minutes before the queen and king." She couldn't wait for Roxton to see Marguerite, because she looked absolutely dazzling.

Veronica knew Roxton was desperate to see Marguerite, after thinking they had lost her for more than a week. Their reunion was short live, as they had to get change for The Wedding Banquet. Malone had told her how Roxton would disappear for hours to look for her. To her it had become more apparent that what they had was more than friendship.

" Couples?" Roxton queried.

" They choose five couples from the city to sit with them at the head table. Adele wanted the woman who had brought them together to join them, she'll be escorted by Gabriel."

Malone offered his arm to take her in as her companion. " Shall we?"

Veronica was more that happy to accept and soon they were all making their way down the corridor.

There were hundreds of guests waiting to be seated. The explorers waited in line for their turn. A couple that appeared to be in there forties soon approached them.

The strawberry blonde woman said, " You must be Marguerite's friends, whom she talk so much about."

" I'm afraid you have us at a disadvantage," said Challenger

" I'm Isabel and this is my husband, Jesse."

Challenger was about to introduce himself and the others when the woman cut in. " Wait don't tell me, Professor George Challenger, Edward Malone, Veronica and Lord John Roxton. "

Her husband interrupted her," Dear, it seems to be our turn to go in."

" We must talk some more, we'll see you inside," the woman told them as she left.

Knowing the heiress had been talking about them make the group feel uncomfortable.

One of the servants approached them. " You must be our honour guests, please follow me."

The room was fairly big, and guests were already being shown to their seats. The room in which the banquet was being held was the ballroom, which was now adorned with flowers, lace, and organza that hung like curtains around the room. They were shown to their respected table, which wasn't far from the head table.

Malone and Veronica were equally admiring the room. Round tables were everywhere around the room, with the exception of the dance floor, which was at the centre. Each table was adorned with a flower arrangement. A huge rectangular table was at the front of the room. They could smell of jasmine or perhaps lavender. I was never good on spotting the difference between those two, Malone though.

Roxton and Challenger weren't much interested in the decoration, but they agreed it made a change from the treehouse and they almost felt home.

Challenger began with his usual gibberish." It's just incredible to grasp that a whole city exists…"

Roxton interrupted him. " I'm just glad that for a change will be able to relax."

A man in a white robe appeared and began to make an announcement, which no one seemed to be paying attention to. The man cleared his throat, but that didn't seem to be working, so he had one of the servants played the trumpet. The guest soon became silent.

" If I could have your attention please, In just a few moments Our King and Queen will be entering, so if you please remain in your seats, and try to remain in silence."

After a few moments, the couples were announced and began to make their entrance. The mention of Marguerite's name caught Roxton's attention. He turned around and caught sight of Marguerite. She looked absolutely gorgeous and was escorted by the man they had met earlier. They seemed a little to cosy for Roxton's taste.

Marguerite looked stunning in a lilac chiffon dress that clung to her body like it was a second skin. Gabriel wore black pants with trims of gold; his shirt was red with an insignia of a dove at the left corner of the shirt. Gabriel felt like the luckiest man alive to be in the company of such a beautiful woman whom he hoped would return his affections. He had seen the way she had looked at Lord Roxton when he first arrived. He had asked her if there was anything between them, but she had dismissed it saying that they were merely friends. But he could read between the lines He saw the way the hunter looked at her, and there was more to them than she was willing to admit. He wasn't going to give up without a fight.

The heiress noticed how all eyes were on them as they made their entrance. She was used to having men fawn over her. But she had to admit that it made her a tad uncomfortable. She immediately began scanning the room and finally her eyes rested as she found what she was looking for. Her friends sat nearby, she had made sure they had the best table, one close to her. She had wanted to sit with them, but she had been asked by Adele and Xavier to sit with them, and she couldn't say no. She managed to give then a little wave and a smile, which they returned. Roxton appeared a bit uneasy-perhaps jealous? A smile crept unto her face.

Five minutes later it was announce that the bride and groom would make their entrance. The room felt silent and the guests stood up to greet their queen and king.

Finally they made their entrance and proceeded to greet a few of their guest before sitting down at their respective seats in the middle of the head table. After they sat, the whole room was allowed to sit.

After a while the banquet was served, which consisted of various appetisers, hors d'oeuvre and of course the main meal. The guests were busy going through the courses.

" Your friends seemed to enjoying themselves." Gabriel commented as he took a sip of his wine.

" Well it's been a long time since they had a feast like this."

" Marguerite, Xavier tells me you arrange everything for the wedding. You'd done a wonderful job. The decorations are marvellous. " Adele smile as she admire the room.

Marguerite smiled. " It was my pleasure. It's not every day that a girl gets married. Besides I had to have something to do with my time while I though of a way to get out of this place."

She had to admit the place look beautiful, she had planned the wedding with great detail, and spent many a night here making last minutes preparations. She didn't like manual labour, but making the flower arrangements had helped her a lot through the hard times. This was what had helped maintain her sanity, when she didn't know if she ever get out of here and see her friends. Not that she hadn't been through worse things, but she had finally started to trust the friends that fate had kindly put into her path. It was one thing to be stuck in the plateau, but at least she had friends, people she considered her family.

" And believe me she tried every possible way." Xavier smiled at the thought of how a many times Marguerite had been brought back to the palace escorted by armed men.

" Don't under estimated her, she almost succeeded. " Gabriel gave Marguerite a glance, reminding her of the ruse she had played the night before the wedding.

" I hope to hear some of these stories." Adele now wondered what the brunette hair women had been up to. That night she had come to replace her, she had found her fast asleep in her bedroom, obviously drugged.

" I hope you planned to stay with us for a couple of days, if not permanently."

" That's very kind, but I think I may just go back home. You've been very kind and hospitable, well except for the part of being held against my will. But I think I may just go back home."

" Let's have a toast, to new friends, health and love."

The sounds of the wine glassed clicking together reminded her of the good days back in old London. " Hear, Hear."

Challenger wiped his mouth and gave out a huge sight, " This was the best meal I've ever had", he looked at the group." No offence"

" None taken." Veronica assured him. It was indeed the best meal she ever had too. Some of the food she had never tasted before.

Malone had taken out his little notebook and was making notes. " This is going to make some story. "

Veronica rolled her eyes. " Malone would you stop being a journalist for one night and for once start enjoying yourself? "

Malone was taken aback and began putting his notebook away. " Well I guess this can wait."

Veronica had been observing Marguerite for a while. " Marguerite seems to be having a good time."

The explorers turned around to look at the heiress who seemed to be having the time of her life.

Roxton seemed a little uneasy about how carefree she was acting, especially around that clown. What does she see in him? That was supposed to be him. He noticed Marguerite was acting a bit different, could it be that…

All of a sudden Challenger changed his tune and was more aggressive and irritated. " I suggest we all take a chapter from Marguerite's book and start enjoying ourselves. It's not every day that we get invited to a wedding. " He stood up to leave. " And besides with all of the dangers in this godforsaken plateau I think it's time we had sometime to relax. " Now if you'll excuse me."

A girl who was now standing before them stopped him.

" I hope I'm not interrupting," said the girl who couldn't have been more than twelve years old, " I'm Katherin, my grandparents are Isabel and Jesse La Croix, you met them earlier. "

Challenger composed himself and finally manage to say, " Yes, my dear child."

Katherin was a bit frightened by the man. She had heard how he treated the others. " Well they wanted to know if you would join them at their table." She motion toward her grandparents who where seating a couple of tables away.

" Why don't you go ahead Challenger? We'll come in a minute." Malone took this as an opportunity to get rid of Challenger and whatever was bothering him.

Lord John Roxton wasn't in the mood for mingling; he was more concerned with what was going on between Marguerite and Gabriel. " Yes, Challenger this will be a perfect opportunity to ask all those question you'd been dying to ask."

Challenger followed the girl and disappeared from their view.

" What's wrong with him?" Veronica wore a frown of concern. She had never seen Challenger so agitated.

" I don't know. He has been acting like this for a couple of days. I think with Marguerite's disappearance and being stuck in this plateau has finally taken its toll on him," Malone speculated.

" What do you think Roxton? "

Roxton didn't stay to answer the question. He stood up and left the table.

" What's wrong with him?"

" I think that's too obvious. Have you seen the way Marguerite has been acting towards Gabriel?" Malone asked her.

" They're just friends," she reassured him.

After a while it was announced the king and queen would have their first dance as a married couple.

Roxton was back at the table. He had written a letter to Marguerite and was hoping to give it to her as soon as he had the chance. He was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable; watching Marguerite dance with every man was more than he could take.

He had even snapped at Malone when he was contemplating asking Veronica to dance. Life is too short he had said to him.

Malone and Veronica were now on the dance floor dancing to a slow instrumental composition.

Veronica sniggered at the though that Malone had been so shy to ask her to dance. She had been talking to Marguerite when Malone had approached her and asked her to dance, well almost. At first he couldn't even get it out. Marguerite had interrupted him and had asked in his behalf. Them she had made some comment on how these days children were to shy.

Marguerite was feeling a little overwhelmed. She had dance with every man in the room and was tired. She soon excused herself from the man she was dancing and made her way to where Challenger was seating.

" Mind if I join you?"

" Not at all." Challenger looked up from his wineglass.

"Are you okay?"

" Tired that's all." He responded.

Marguerite looked at him with quizzical eyes, somewhat not believing what he'd just said. " Is just that you look worried?"

" Miss Krux, you're not the only one who's entitled to her bad days, and besides what's this concern all of the sudden? It's not like you cared before." Challenger got up and left, leaving Marguerite sitting in utter shock. She didn't think Challenger was capable of that. She couldn't help but feel sad that Challenger felt that way about her. Tears welled in her eyes, but she immediately gathered up her composure and left to find the rest of the explorers. Perhaps they could shed a light on what's going on with Challenger.

" Can any one tell me what on earth is going on with Challenger? I just nearly had my head beaten off by him." Marguerite sat down on the chair next to Veronica.

" What? The queen finally decided to graze us with her presence? " Roxton threw his napkin on the table, " Well, if you'd excuse me, I promised a certain lady a dance. " He left the table without even glancing back.

Marguerite wore a distressed look. " Not him too! Was it something I said or did? "

" From what I can tell Challenger is homesick and Roxton, well Roxton. "

Marguerite didn't stay long enough to hear Veronica's comment.

" He's got a touch of the green eye monster," Veronica whispered loud enough for Malone to hear.

Roxton went to farthest corner in the room, where no one could see him, he stood gazing at everyone. She just comes traipsing in, without even saying a hello. Who the hell does she think she is? And to think I was going to give her this. He held the letter in his hand and put it back in his pocket. Jealousy, me, jealous? Ha, that's right old boy keep repeating that to yourself a couple of hundred of times and you might start to believe it.

Katherin, at seeing him all by himself decided to approach him, " Are you alright? "

Roxton looked up and saw the little girl they had met earlier." I'm fine."

" You look a bit lost." Katherin kept questioning him.

" No, I'm alright." He tried to reassure her.

" Ah, women trouble," The little girl got a mischievous expression on her face.

Roxton couldn't helped but laugh." Whatever makes you think that? "

" I've been observing you, and during the whole party you'd been staring at a certain lady." She looked towards where Marguerite was." She's very beautiful."

Roxton didn't move or said anything. Marguerite was all by herself. She seemed so fragile and vulnerable.

Out of nowhere came the question." Do you love her?"

Roxton avoided the question. " Katherin?… "

She nodded.

" Whatever makes you think that? "

" You have been staring at her during the whole banquet, it doesn't take a genius to figure it out."

" And just how do you know what love is?"

" Hey, I'm just trying to help you." She started to leave.

" Alright, how do you propose we do that?"

" We just have to make Marguerite realise what she is missing." Katherin had a mischievous way of making things happen and often interfered in others people's love lives. Thus far she had succeeded in getting every couple together.

Roxton looked at the girl standing in front of him. What on earth could this girl do for him that he couldn't do himself, but he'd follow her lead.

" Fight jealousy with jealousy, that's my motto," said Katherin as she led Roxton to one of the tables so they could talk.

Marguerite sat in her chair, deep in thought. Well this evening turn out worst than I expected. At least some of us are enjoying ourselves, she thought, looking at Veronica and Malone who hadn't stop dancing the whole night.

" Mind if I join you? "

" Gabriel! " Marguerite smile.

He took one of the chair and sat down." Is something the matter? "

" Well apart that Roxton and Challenger are acting a bit weird, everything is just dandy."

" I'm sorry."

"Gabriel, I've never seen Challenger like this and it frankly has me worried."

" Have you talk to him?" he asked.

" No, I don't know if that's a good idea seeing as he nearly bit my head off a while ago. Perhaps its better if we let him cool off."

" How about a last dance."

" I promised the last dance to Lord Roxton." She was lying of course, but she hoped he got the hint. She only liked him as a friend.

" I don't think he's going to mind seeing as he's otherwise engaged."

" What do you mean?" She turned around and saw Roxton in the arms of another women. How could he? Here I am worrying I've done something to upset him and there he is with another women.

Katherin was observing them from a distance and couldn't help but snigger. Everything was going as planned. She had asked one of her friend's older sisters to dance with Roxton. Not that it was a problem for Lord Roxton to find a dance partner, but he needed someone who knew that it was merely a plot to make Marguerite jealous.

Roxton gave Katherin a broad smile. Erika, the girl who had agree to play along in these charade, was more than willing to play the game, a little to willing perhaps he thought as he felt the girl's hand along his thigh. He held her tight and they both giggled and whispered things.

Veronica and Malone who where still dancing had watch the events unfold.

" Looks like Roxton is finally having a good time."

" Did you see Marguerite's face when she saw Roxton with that girl? I though her eyes where going to pop out." Malone sniggered at the thought.

" I just hope that Roxton knows what he's doing." Veronica knew that Roxton was asking for trouble.

" I'm sure he's got it under control." Malone gave Veronica a little twirl, and they continued dancing.

Gabriel held a very irate Marguerite " Marguerite are you OK?"

" I'm fine. " she managed to give him a little smile. God! When was this dance going to be over?

" It's that you haven't said a word during the whole dance." Gabriel knew what was bothering Marguerite, he couldn't helped but smirk, Marguerite saw the look on his face " What?"

" You're jealous."

" Oh please there's nothing to be jealous about."

" Marguerite, this is me you're talking to."

" There's nothing going on between me and that poor excuse of a Lord. Do I make myself clear? " Marguerite was furious she didn't yell but she raised her voice high enough for Gabriel to hear that if he continue with these questions he was going to regret it.

As soon as the music ended, Marguerite told Gabriel to get her something to drink. She couldn't leave like this. She had to show Roxton that this little display of affection didn't affect her. Jealous? Please. It's just that if he wants to make a fool of himself... Beside two can play that game, I'll give him something to be jealous about.

Marguerite made her way pass Roxton, ignoring him. She only had eyes for Gabriel-at least that's what she wanted Roxton to see.

" Marguerite!"

Marguerite turned to find Roxton with a grin in his face. She couldn't loose her cool now.

" John! " Marguerite had the most condescending smile on her face." I didn't see you."

Roxton introduce his dance partner." This is Erika, "

Marguerite smile to acknowledging the woman.

Gabriel came back with the drinks. Marguerite took a sip of her drink. " You met Gabriel. "

" Yes, we met, earlier."

" I'm really sorry about what happened. But as guardian of the temple it's my duty to protect the temple as well as the city." Gabriel apologised.

" I understand, I would have done the same."

Marguerite held Gabriel's hand. " Would you walk me back to my room?"

" It will be my pleasure." Gabriel decided to play along. Besides this might just be his opportunity to get closer to Marguerite. However it didn't go as he planned. She had practically thrown the door closed in his face. When he returned to the ballroom, most of the guests were leaving.

" Ah, Gabriel I need to talk to you?" Xavier approached Gabriel.

Gabriel bowed. " Your highness."

" I was thinking about what you told me regarding our visitors and the answer is still no, I don't want to talk about it anymore. It's been a secret for centuries and I planned it to keep it that way. Understood?"

" Yes, your majesty."

Marguerite lay awake on her bed for several minutes before deciding to go down for breakfast. She stood up and headed to the vanity table where she began brushing her long dark tresses. Last night during the party the Queen had invited the explorers to stay for a week, she of course had declined her invitation but later on she had been informed that the rest of the explorers had taken a vote and she had lost. Malone saw this as a great opportunity to write and Challenger who's mood was rapidly changing had wanted to learn more about the city and his inhabitants plus they could take this as an opportunity for a nice vacation away from those pesky dinosaurs. If it were up to her they would leave as soon as possible.

At the dinning room Roxton, Challenger, Veronica, Malone, Xavier, Adele and Gabriel were all having their breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast and some assortment of jams.

" This tea is simply delicious. " Challenger said from under the rimmed of his cup.

" I have arrange for a tour of the city. I'm afraid we won't be able to accompany you as Adele and I are going to spend a few days at our summer home. But I'll see that you get everything that you need to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Gabriel will be in charge and I'm sure Marguerite can tell you where everything is."

Marguerite finally came in, " Good Morning everyone." She took a seat next to Gabriel, and the servant immediately brought her breakfast.

" What are we discussing?" She poured herself a glass of juice.

" We were just talking about giving your friends a tour of the city." Gabriel informed her.

" How exciting!" Marguerite said sarcastically while digging into her eggs.

" I take it you won't be joining us."

" You seen one city; you seen them all." She replied not even bothering to look up from her plate. " Who's going on this little excursion?"

" Professor Challenger, Veronica, Malone and Lord Roxton."

" I won't be joining you as I have a previous engagement." Roxton informed them.

" And why might that be? " Malone teased Roxton.

" Erika promise to give me a tour of the city."

Marguerite tried to look, as she didn't care, but so far it wasn't working, she nearly choke when she heard him.

" Are you alright?" Veronica patted Marguerite on the back.

" Fine, must have gone the wrong way."

" Erika? Is that the daughter of Anton and Delilah?" Xavier inquired.

" Yes, your majesty." Gabriel told him.

Having finished their breakfast, King Xavier and Adele said their goodbyes and left. Roxton took this as an opportunity to leave too.

" I guess I'll see you at dinner." He put his hat on and left to look for Erika who was waiting for him in the gardens.

Malone sat on his bed finishing his story. They had been shown around the city, and it was very beautiful. The architecture was simple but was none the less appropriate for this kind of weather. Most of the people were very young and friendly and were more than happy to share stories with him. Marguerite had introduced them to some of the elders who had centuries of information and had told him the most fascinating stories.

At one point Marguerite's whining had gotten to him. She had agreed to come on the tour at the last minute and had done anything but criticise, mope and complaint. They had exchanged a few harsh words, which had left him feeling a sense of guilt. He understood that she had heard all of this before, but she didn't have to come. Later on he had remembered that she was like that because of Roxton.

Tomorrow he had been promised a tour around the library and couldn't wait. Marguerite had told him it was the most exquisite library and had recommended a few books to read on the history of the city. He was hoping Veronica would accompany him, but he knew that was a stretch as Veronica wasn't much of a book person. Still it didn't hurt asking her; he would do so next morning for now he would just concentrate in finishing his sketches.

In Marguerite's room, the heiress moved swiftly across the room, went to one of the drawers and took out a blanket. She was quiet cold, and to make matters worse the fire had died. Where was Roxton? She hadn't seen him since he left with that floozy. She couldn't go to sleep until she saw him. He hadn't come back to dinner like he said. There's nothing to be worried about. She had been told he probably lost sense of time. Or maybe…wiped those thoughts of your head. Hours later she was barely awake; she couldn't keep her eyes open and she soon drifted of to the land of nod.

Morning came quickly for the heiress, she was sure she had just fallen asleep about an hour ago. Maybe I'll just stay in here the whole day, seeing as everyone is too busy with his or her things to notice if I'm gone. Still, she got up very groggily and made her way towards the basin where she proceeded to wash her face. Suddenly there was a knock on her door.

Marguerite dried her face and went towards the door. " Who is it?"

" It's me Veronica."

Marguerite opened the door and managed to give Veronica a smile.

" Just woke up?"

" Ah … Yes, What time is it?"

" It's almost noon. Rough night?"

She didn't respond, but instead proceeded to take various outfits, and lay them on the bed. " So, what brings you here?"

" I just though you might want to do something, seeing as Malone and Challenger seemed to be managing just fine on their own." She didn't dare mention Roxton, since they hadn't seen him since he went out yesterday morning. Malone had told her he had heard him come back at dawn. But he still hadn't come down for breakfast.

" What did you have in mind?"

" I don't know, What did you do when you where here?" Veronica asked the heiress who was now behind the dressing screen getting change.

" Apart from trying to find a way out, I spend all my time in that blasted library. Not much to do I'm afraid. That is why I suggest we pack and get out."

" I think you where outvoted in that one Marguerite." Veronica sat down on the bed.

" I would have though you of all people would want to get back to the treehouse. It's practically unprotected."

" We left the electric fence on and Assai and Jarl will check on it every now and then." She knew the heiress would say and do anything to get her way.

Marguerite finished folding her nightgown and headed towards the door " Are you coming?" Veronica followed Marguerite not knowing where she was taking her.

Malone sat in the library reading. He was so wrapped up in his book that he didn't notice a man standing next to him until the man cleared his throat to gain his attention.

Malone was startled. " Sorry, I didn't see you."

The man smiled and accepted his apology " I found the books that you were looking for."

" Thanks." He took the books gratefully. These would complete his research. But there was something that was bothering him that he didn't quiet put his finger on it.

" Are you OK?" The man inquired.

" I was just thinking it's a pity that these book are so old. I would have loved to have met the writer."

" Oh he's still very much alive."

" But it says here that he died over 100 years ago. "

The man took the book out of Malone's hand and flipped a couple of pages. He then held it for Malone to see. "This book was written by two people. "

Malone studied the page and something clicked inside his mind. " You know where I might find him?"

" Yes, he lives a couple of hours from here, I could take you there."

" Thanks, I would love that."

" Meet me here tomorrow morning. For now I'll leave you to finish your work." The man left Malone alone with his thoughts. He wasn't sure if he was right but some of the information in the book didn't make sense. He hoped tomorrow's meeting with Aluminous, the other author, would clear a couple of questions he had.

Veronica trailed along side Marguerite; each step was heaven. The mossy wet grass felt good against her feet. She wasn't wearing her normal foot attire; she'd been given a pair of sandals that while practical here, in the jungle her feet and her legs wouldn't last a day.

" Marguerite, where are you taking me?"

Marguerite didn't say anything but only smiled. Right in front of them was a stable. Horses! The most beautiful horses she had ever seen.

They were standing just a few feet away from the stables. She had been so engrossed in her thoughts that she hadn't been paying attention.

Marguerite started walking towards the stable. " Are you Coming?"

Veronica stood there looking at the horses, a smile plastered on her face. She finally managed to say something. " They're beautiful."

" Well c'mon." Marguerite called out to her.

Marguerite and Veronica reached the stable. While Marguerite went to have a word with the caretaker, Veronica noticed a dark chestnut mare standing just a few inches away from her. It was the most beautiful horse she had ever seen, she approached the horse carefully and began to stroke its cheeks.

Marguerite caught Veronica off guard. " You scared me."

" That was the idea. " replied the heiress. " I think you taken a liking to Gabriel's horse, Caramel."

" You'll think he'll mind if I ride it?"

" I don't think so. Here." Marguerite handed Veronica change of clothes, as the clothes she was wearing weren't appropriate for horse riding.

" Miss Krux, " The man Marguerite was talking before appeared with a black stallion ready to be ridden.

" Thank You, Archibald." She took hold of the reins.

" He's beautiful!"

" Isn't he? Gabriel gave him to me. It's a pity I won't be able to take him with me."

Archibald returned with a black mare.

" There's a change of plans, could you please get Caramel ready."

The man proceeded to fit the mare with the necessary equipment.

" Veronica?" Marguerite ushered for her to hurry up.

Veronica came out from one of the she now wore a pair of beige loose fitted trouser with a light white chair.

The heiress handed her Caramel's reins. And they proceeded to walk the horses out of the stable.

Once outside the two women mounted their horses and headed to the valley. Marguerite loved riding him it was the best horse, well trained and lets just say he reminded her of someone. She had named him "Apollo." After the Greek God, if only I could take him with me.

Marguerite walked through the corridors of the palace, smiling as she recollected the events of the day. Horse riding with Veronica had done her a world of good. Gabriel had invited them all for tea. She had been informed that Veronica, Malone and Challenger were already there with the exception of her and Roxton. So far she hadn't seen him and she sure wasn't going to go looking for him.

But fate had other things in mind, she thought as she heard his voice coming from one of the rooms. As she made her way in she saw her.

" Marguerite! What are you doing here?"

She noticed that the girl was visibly upset about something. But as soon as she saw her the girl demeanour change dramatically and she was back to her old flirtatious ways.

I could say the same about you, she thought. " Gabriel invited us for tea. I was just on my way. But as you're clearly busy. " She glance back to Erika.

" Erika was just leaving."

" Oh don't leave in a count of me. I'm sure that Gabriel won't mind if you join us." What was she doing? She was practically sending him into the arms of that floozy. But she wanted him to see that she wasn't at all jealous.

Marguerite made her way out of the corridor with Erika and Roxton following her.

Once inside the temple they where greeted by Gabriel and soon join the others for tea and biscuits.

Marguerite took a sit next to Gabriel while Roxton was force to sit next to Erika.

Malone and Gabriel were involved in some kind of conversation about the temple, which the rest of the explorers found boring. Challenger's mind was elsewhere as he listened to Veronica latest attempt to cheer him up.

Marguerite notice Erika's hand rested on Roxton thigh and soon she was overcome with jealousy, but what she didn't see was Roxton reaction to this. He immediately tense up and whispered into Erika's ear to please remove her hand. He was far too much of a gentleman to cause a scene.

Marguerite wasn't going to be left behind in this little show of emotions. She slid closer to Gabriel. This made Gabriel very uncomfortable, as he didn't like to be in this kind of situation when he knew very well Marguerite's intentions were only to make Roxton jealous.

" More tea Gabriel?" she picked the teapot of the small table.

" Yes, please." Marguerite picked the cup and proceeded to re-fill it.

" Thank you," he took the cup from her.

" Anything else, Gabriel?" She said in a sickly sweet voice.

" No, thank you."

Veronica sat quietly observing. Surely Marguerite wouldn't go too far this time, she though.

" You don't mind that I let Veronica take Caramel for a ride. I told her that it was OK."

" That's OK."

" I think you're to find that Marguerite has a tendency of taking things that aren't hers."

" Do you mind if I look around?" Malone was trying to stop another argument.

" Feel free, if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask, " Gabriel assured him.

" I'll join you." Veronica linked arms with Malone and left.

Veronica rested on her bed, with her eyes closed. All of the sudden she got up and went towards her window. She stood gazing at the stars. She had a lovely time at the stables. She and Marguerite had laughed time after time. They had talked about various topics. Veronica was growing more curious about the heiress past, but she didn't dare ask her about it.

During her stroll with Malone, he had told her he had found out about something that would change their lives, but he hadn't told her what it was. Why was he being so secretive? Her thoughts went back to her parents. She had been thinking about them a lot lately, not that they were ever out of her thoughts. What are they doing? Would I recognise them if I saw them and would they recognise me? I'm not that little girl they left 13 year ago. How I wish I could share my happiness with them, I hope that wherever they are, they know that I won't give up. I would always search for them. She closed her eyes and made a last wish before she went to bed.

Early in the morning Malone made his way to the library. He was greeted by a bunch of people who were curious about him as he was about them. He went inside the library. He suddenly realised that in all the haste, he had forgotten to ask the name of the man he had met yesterday nor had he given his.

He approached a man who seemed to work there." I'm looking for a man, about this tall, brown hair… " He then spotted him. " Never mind."

The man he met yesterday approached him and smile." I just realise that I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Marcelo. "

He extended his hand. " Ned Malone."

" We better get going. We want to get there before lunchtime. I asked one of my cousins to lend us his carriage. "

Malone and Marcelo left the library and they were soon on their way.

The weather was lovely. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping. But none of this made a difference to Marguerite. She ate her breakfast without saying a word. They had been told that Veronica and Gabriel had gone to the stable to feed the horses, while Malone had left mysteriously this morning with word that he be back later. And Roxton. Where on earth was he? He'd tried to talk to her yesterday, but she had said some smart remark and he had left her alone. Did he really expect me to talk when he was acting that way, she though. He was just doing it to make her jealous, but it couldn't be he had been spending too much time with that girl.

Challenger picked at his breakfast in silence. He hadn't had a good night sleep since Marguerite disappeared.

Marguerite finished eating her breakfast and was about to excuse herself when she noticed that Challenger had hardly eaten his. What was wrong with him? Now it was a good time as ever to find out, even if it means getting yelled at.

" Challenger, I'd watched you for this past couple of days, now something' s the matter. You just can't keep it bottled up inside." Who would have though she'd be the one to talk when she was the one who kept everything from everyone.

Challenger was a bit stunned by her forwardness. But she had a point. Marguerite got up from where she was sitting and pulled up a chair close to Challenger.

" Marguerite, Everything just seems so bleak at the moment. We have been looking for away out of the plateau for over two years now and frankly I'm beginning to lose hope. Whatever we do, we haven't even got close to getting off this damned plateau. Some genius, eh? " He said. " I regret a lot of the things I've done. Being stuck in this place gives you some time to think. There some things that I wish I had said to my wife. How many times I've failed all of you, first with the death of Summerlee and when we though we'd lost you… How many times how things how gone wrong just as we though we finally found a way out. "

" You can't blame yourself for Summerlee's death. You sound like John, blaming himself for his brother's death. Both were accidents. If it wasn't Summerlee, it could have been any of us. We are all in this together; it's not you fault that we are stuck here. We made a choice; no one forced us to come on this expedition. " She remembered that day when she tried to dislodge that piece of diamond, causing the cave to collapse, destroying their way out. " You have to go on living. I mean, we've all done things that we regret, some more than others."

" What it is that they say? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. "

" George, you have been nothing but strength to us. Without you will be probably in the belly of a raptor. How many times have your inventions saved us? The electric fence, for an instant, keeps those dinosaurs away, not to mention the ape-men and cannibals. Everyone does something for our survival. "

Marguerite stood. " Now c'mon George, stop seating there moping around. I've got just the place for you. " Marguerite made her way out the room expecting Challenger to follow.

Challenger sat in the chair thinking about what Marguerite had said to him. She was right: He couldn't spend his life regretting things he should or shouldn't have done. If they ever got back, NO when they got back, he planned to change. The first thing he'd to would be to apologise to his wife.

She was half way down the corridor when she notices that Challenger wasn't behind her. She went back to the room. " Am I going to have to carry you?" She asked him.

" Marguerite, I was just going…"

Challenger and Marguerite entered the temple where they where met by Gabriel. " Marguerite! Professor Challenger what brings you down here?"

" I was just telling the Professor about this plant you use to control people. "

" Marguerite you make it sound, so…I don't usually use my power, unfortunately I was force to use it on you. "

" Marguerite tells me you have telepathic powers. "

" I do, but there're somewhat limited. That is why I use plants to increase my powers."

" How interesting. "

Marguerite interrupted. " I'll leave you boys to it." She left.

Gabriel worked feverishly on his latest experiment. As he studied the plant up closely, he discovered that this was an entirely different genus. He was excited at his new discovery but that was soon short lived as he heard the guard arguing with a man.

" What's the matter? " he said clearly irritated at his latest interruption.

" This man insists in coming in and you left strict orders that no one was allowed in." the guard tried to explain.

Lord Roxton stood there gazing down at the guard.

" Lord Roxton, I'm sorry about this please come in."

As he entered the room Roxton heard Gabriel reprimand the guard.

" I'm sorry about this but I gave strict orders." he apologised.

Roxton had come here with the intention to find out what Gabriel's intentions towards Marguerite. Get to the point Roxton, the rugged hunter told himself. " I want to know your intentions towards Marguerite."

Gabriel was a bit stunned by his forwardness but at the same time he felt somewhat happy for Marguerite.

" What do you mean by intentions? If you're referring if there's something between us, then the answer is no. I'm very attracted to her but unfortunately she doesn't return my affections. I believe there's someone else in her heart. "

Roxton was of course relieved to hear this.

" If I were you I wouldn't hesitate on telling her. "

Roxton had made his mind up." You know where she is?"

After hours of travelling in the uncomfortable carriage. Malone and Marcelo finally arrived at their destination. They disembarked and Marcelo told Malone to wait while he let the man know they were there. Minutes later, a man in his sixties came out of the house. He approached Ned and introduced himself.

" I'm Aluminous."

He shook his hand. " Ned Malone." He had expected an older man, but Aluminous looked young with white hair with golden shimmers that reminded him of his grandfather.

" I've been told you got some question regarding Augusto's books. "

" Yes, I do."

" Well don't just stand there, come in." The man motion for him to go inside.

Malone entered the small house. As he walked in he could smell the aroma of fresh tea. Camomile tea, if he was right. In the corner of the room Marcelo was engage in conversation with an elderly woman, whom he assumed was Aluminous's wife.

Aluminous introduced his wife, Leticia. She was quite beautiful white long hair, which was braided. Her eyes were blue, they sparkle like the deep blue ocean.

" That's a beautiful name. "

" Thank you."

Marcelo made his excuses as he was visiting relatives nearby. " If you will excuse me, I will be back later. I'll leave you to it." Marcelo left the house.

The man motion for Malone to sit down. " Please sit down."

" Please sit down," said Aluminous. " Would you like something to drink? Tea perhaps, I just made a fresh pot."

Malone accepted.

" Well, my boy what is it that you want to know?"

" I was reading Augusto's books and I noticed some of the things in it didn't make sense. He knew things that told me he wasn't from around here. Or either he knew of a way out of the plateau," Malone explained.

" That was very clever of you. He died before he could finish writing his last book. In honour, I decided to finish his book. Over the years I had helped him in his search for cures for different diseases. I had learn a great deal, and so I was able to finish his book."

Leticia came in the room with the tea and freshly baked cake.

Malone took it gratefully.

" I'll be in the garden, if you need me," she told them.

Aluminous continued: " He was one of my best friends. All I know is that there's a way out of here, but he chose not to go. He fell in love with Leticia's sister, Rosalynd, God rest her soul. "

" Do you know where the way out is?"

" He made a deal with the king and promised not to tell anyone where the cave was. Before he decided to stay, he went to the cave and had disappeared. He didn't come back till the next day. All he told me was that he had gone through some kind of test. He told me of the several chambers between the cave. He had gone through one and had passed out. He said he experienced some kind of hallucination. That's all he told me; he really didn't want to talk about it."

" How did he ended up here?"

" He said that he came on one of the several expeditions that were coming to the new lands. As a physician, he was needed. He said he wandered into caves and that's how he came to be here. "

Aluminous stood up. " But you could read that for yourself. Follow me."

Malone followed him up the stairs to the attic. As he went up he nearly banged his head on the ceiling.

" I still have some of his things." Aluminous attempted to open a very dusty trunk.

" Here, let me help." Malone kneeled down and helped Aluminous with the trunk. They went through his things, a few notes scatter everywhere regarding medicine study.

Aluminous handed him some pages bounded together with strings. " This one was never published."

" His memoirs?" Malone asked as he examined it.

He nodded. Malone began reading it.

" It says here he attended the University of Basel in 1524, he studied with the famous German-Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus." Malone was intrigued and excited. " He was there when Michelangelo began working on the Capitoline!"

"Do you come from the same place?" Aluminus asked.

" No, I 'm an American, from what he calls new land. He was German. Things have changed dramatically since then."

" You must tell me all about it."

" I would be delighted."

Malone and Aluminous headed back downstairs.

His wife came in. " I've been looking all over for you."

" Well here I am."

" Will the gentleman be staying for dinner?" he asked.

" Would you mind joining us for dinner." Aluminous inquired.

" Not at all."

This was one of the places where she could feel at ease, she had found solace many a time here. Marguerite lay on the soft grass on the valley. She wondered at the mysteries of the plateau. Suddenly from out of nowhere the sky opened up and rain started to pour. The raindrops were huge, and in an instant Marguerite got drenched from head to toe. But instead of running for cover, she stood with open arms taking in the rain. She closed her eyes. She hadn't done this since she was a child. She felt liberated and suddenly she didn't have a care in the world.

Roxton just barely made it back to the palace. He was completely soaked. He joined the others in the drawing room.

" It's raining cats and dogs out there." He carefully removed his hat and ran his finger through his moist hair.

Veronica, Challenger and Gabriel all turned to look at their new arrival.

" So where's Marguerite and Malone?" Roxton asked.

" Malone left word that he'd be back later." Veronica told him.

" Last time I saw Marguerite, she said she was going for a walk." Challenger told him.

" If she doesn't come back she's going to catch her death."

Gabriel saw the worry on Roxton eyes. " Don't worry, she's probably on her way back. " He tried to reassure him.

" She shouldn't be wondering around the streets at this time of the night. I'll go and see if I can find her." Roxton was out of the room in an instant.

" Let him go." Challenger took hold of Veronica's arm to stop her from going after Roxton. " No sense in you too getting sick."

Roxton made his way through the valley one hand on his hat preventing the wind from blowing it off. He suddenly saw her standing in the rain. She looked so beautiful, but what on earth was she doing? She just seemed to be standing there, her eyes close almost as if waiting for something. Roxton approached Marguerite carefully from behind. Marguerite didn't hear him. He covered her eyes with his hands and waited.

Marguerite was taken by surprised, she though no one knew where she was and she didn't certainly think anyone would come looking for her. " Gabriel?" she knew it was Roxton but she couldn't help but toy with him.

Roxton hands dropped to his side and the smile he was wearing disappeared.

Marguerite turned and smiled that mischievous way she did, and Roxton knew that she was playing with him.

" Marguerite, what are you doing? You have notice that it's raining?"

" Lord Roxton you're not my keeper, I can do what I please and if that is to stay out here in the rain catching a cold, that's up to me."

" Miss Krux, you can stay all night, for all I care, but as contagious as a cold is we can't have you infecting us with your cold."

Lord Roxton turned to leave. He'd enough of her attitude. When was she going to stop playing games with him? He had come here to make up with her but instead she was the same selfish arrogant, stubborn…Isn't that exactly why you love her…Damn it. He turned around and started walking towards her.

Marguerite let her tears run down freely on her face. Did he really care so little for her?

" Marguerite, look at me. I'm sorry."

Marguerite wiped away a few stray tears that were still on her face. Most of the rain had taken care of the rest. Marguerite looked at him with cold eyes.

Roxton couldn't tell if Marguerite had been crying or not. " Marguerite, C'mon you're not really thinking of staying here?

Marguerite folded her arms against her chest. " I though I made myself clear and besides why do you care?"

" Marguerite, I told you once and I'm telling you again, I care about you a great deal."

Marguerite's face softened up a bit, but then she remembered. " Why don't you go back and tell that to your…

" Marguerite there's nothing going on between Erika and me.

" You don't have to lie to me, it's not like I care, It's not like I haven't been having some fun myself."

Marguerite started walking back through the valley. Roxton took hold of her shoulders and spun her around. This woman was more obstinate than he had though. He would have believed her little lie but that talk with Gabriel had clear things out.

" Marguerite, listen to me, I really mean what I said. I do care about you. Look at me." With one hand he got hold of her chin and forced her to look at him." There's nothing going on between Erika and me. It was all a show to make you jealous. I admit it was childish and immature. I was jealous when I saw you with Gabriel. I thought…I don't know what I thought. I mean we keep playing these games and frankly I don't know where our relationship stands. If we even have a relationship. Just when I think I am getting somewhere with you, you revert back to you old self with smart remarks, sarcasm and insults. "

" Lord John Roxton you don't know anything about me." She told him blankly.

" Whatever it is, I'm sure we can work it out." He began to pace. "I'm not sure I can't take it anymore. Those weeks when we thought we had lost you forever was torture. You don't know how many a time I laid a wake thinking about you, the what ifs…" His lips quivered with emotion.

Marguerite didn't let him finish. In one quick motion she began to kiss him passionately. He responded with the same kind of passion. They stood there gazing into each other's eyes for what it seemed hours.

" I love you, you know." He told her with tears in his eyes, tears that he had been holding back.

Marguerite smile in acknowledgement, she bent forward and kissed him in the cheek. She let go of his hands and started walking back.

Roxton stood there looking at the woman he had just declared his love walk away.

Marguerite turned around with a mischievous look in her face. " I love you, too!" she yelled back at him.

Roxton laughed and ran towards her. " Why you little devil." He began kissing her all over.

She tried to talk between kisses." John… we better get… back."

" I though it didn't matter."

She pulled back and told him. " And you really believe that?"

A soaking wet Malone walked the dark streets of Ludlow as he headed to the palace. Having Marcelo drop him at the library had been a bad a idea as he had completely been drenched. He had such wonderful news to tell his friends, but somehow he didn't feel like celebrating. Leaving the plateau could mean he could loose Veronica. There's two options, Neddy boy, he told himself. You don't have to go back to London.

As he approached the palace, he had a change of mind. He would go to Gabriel and ask him about this mysterious cave.

Marguerite and Roxton entered her room.

" You think anyone saw us?" he asked.

Marguerite shook her head and started to light the fire. She went to one of her drawers and took some clothes out. " Here, you change here and I'll change over there."

Roxton watched Marguerite as she went behind the dressing screen. He began taking his clothes off. He started to dry off. And then he held up the clothes he had been given. " She can't really expect me to wear this." he muttered under his breath.

" I'm sorry what did you said?" Marguerite yelled from behind the screen.

He turned around expecting to see her, but he wasn't prepared for what he saw. He could see her silhouette in the screen. He blushed and at the same time swallowed hard. Just concentrate on getting change, he told himself. He wrapped a towel around his lower part of the body and hung the clothes near the fire.

Marguerite finished changing and made her way out of the screen, Roxton was putting more logs onto the fire.

" Still cold." He asked.

She shook her head. She began her rubbing her shoulder but that wasn't helping at all. Roxton pulled Marguerite towards him and pulled her down to the soft rug next to the fire. They sat there in each other's arms, saying nothing.

His bare skin glow in the darkness, Marguerite couldn't help but feel safe in his arm. She had doubts about her relationship with the hunter. She had a past and one that could destroy their future together. Oh how she wanted to tell him everything but at the same time she felt that if she did, he would leave her. He wouldn't understand, she thought.

Roxton stared at the beauty she was all his. He felt how tense she had become.

" Marguerite are you alright?" he asked.

She immediately let go from his embrace. She stood up and began pacing the room." Yes, I mean NO. Did you really mean what you said earlier on?"

He nodded. How could she ask him that? Of course he had meant it.

" But you hardly know anything about me. I have a past something I'm not proud about and I rather forget it. But I can't its there and …" She looked him in his eyes.

Roxton approached Marguerite and brought his index finger to her lips to silence her." I'm in love with you with the person you have become."

" That doesn't change the fact…"

Roxton interrupted her. " If it bothers you that much, you could always tell me."

Marguerite didn't respond.

" If you feel you're not ready to open up. That's alright you can tell me whenever you feel ready."

Marguerite smiled in appreciation.

Roxton beckoned for Marguerite to join him in the rug and as they lay in each other's arms soon they drifted off to sleep.

As Malone entered the temple he could have sworn he had saw Roxton and Marguerite running into the palace.

One guard stood at the door. " Could I please speak to Gabriel?"

" Who should I tell is calling?"

" Ned Malone."

The guard left and minutes later Gabriel came out.

" Mr. Malone! Are you alright?" he was concerned for him.

" Yes, just a little wet."

" Please come in." Gabriel ushered him in.

Gabriel sensed something wasn't right. He didn't like using his power to read minds, but he decided to make an exception. Gabriel motioned for Malone to follow into one of the rooms, then handed him a towel. " I have a pot of fresh tea. Do you care for some?"

Malone accepted his offered and began drying himself. Gabriel saw this as an opportunity to slip something into his tea. It was better to be prepared. Gabriel strongly felt Malone was going to bring trouble.

Malone took the tea gratefully and took a few sips of it to warm down. He didn't know where to start so he just blurted it out." I know about the cave."

It was not use for him to act surprised or deny it. " How did you find out?"

Malone told him everything he knew about it and by the end of it he had finished his tea. Gabriel had no other choice but to use his powers on him. He was going to make him forget all he had found out. He had given the same serum to Marguerite but he chose to use a stronger dosage on Malone. The serum alone didn't work—he had to penetrate Malone's mind and work with him, blurring his memories and making him believe that it was just a dream.

Gabriel tried to explain to Malone that he wasn't at liberty to tell him—his orders came from the king, who was opposed to the idea. He had to respect the king's wishes. As he spoke, he began entering Malone's mind.

Malone starting asking question about the cave. He wanted as much information as possible. From what Aluminous had said, it was no easy task gaining a way out. Strangely, he was overcome by dizziness, which sent him crashing to the floor.

Gabriel called for one of the guards and began his work, which he was none to proud to be doing but it was either he or they.

Marguerite shifted more comfortably against her pillows. She couldn't wait to see the handsome Lord. He had left earlier in the morning not wanting to arouse any suspicion from the rest of the explorers. She got up and started to get dressed. Roxton had agreed to go horse riding with her. She felt like singing she was so happy. They had agreed to keep it quiet for a while and when the time was ready they would share their news with the rest of the group, the news that they were officially a couple.

When she finally went down for breakfast everyone was already gathered in the dining room.

Marguerite greeted everyone and sat down next to Challenger, who smiled in appreciation of their talk. She smiled back and squeezed his hand. No one else notice this, as they were too preoccupied deciding what to have for breakfast.

Roxton smiled at Marguerite who smiled a sweet, seductive smile in return. After a while it dawned on Malone that Marguerite didn't get up this early in the morning so he decided to have a little fun. " Must have heard about those gems." Malone joked.

Marguerite who had been talking to Challenger and Gabriel looked immediately at Malone waiting for more information." What gems?"

" I mean what other reason would make you get up this early in the morning." Veronica elbowed Malone.

Roxton gave Malone a reprimanding look. Oh no, here we go, and I though this was going to be a quite day.

Marguerite let this one pass she wasn't going to let anyone ruin her day and her mood. " I'm starving, what's for breakfast?" she ignored him.

Throughout breakfast Veronica noticed Marguerite and Roxton were actually being cordial toward each other. She had seen those quick glances they were giving each other. Could it be they had patched things up? Everyone seemed to be acting particularly nice this morning. Challenger was back to his old self. It was mornings like this that she thanked God for bringing them into her life.

Gabriel, too, noticed Marguerite and Roxton sudden behaviour change. He wondered if anything had happened last night. Well at least she's happy. Tomorrow was their last day. He had tried to convince them to stay a while longer, but they had declined. This was going to be a long day indeed.

Malone excused himself and told Veronica to wait for him at the gardens because he had a surprise for her.

" What's that boy up to? " Challenger asked the group.

The group just shrugged and continued making plans for the day.

Just as he had said, Roxton had joined Marguerite at the stables they had fed some of the horses and now they where busy preparing two of them to take them out for a ride.

Marguerite made the final adjustments to her horse. She had her back to Roxton. She was still kind of mad at him. She had lost one of her priceless earrings. If only he had stopped when she asked him, but she couldn't resist him so she allowed him to continue and moments later she had noticed that one of her earrings was missing.

Roxton approached Marguerite and started to pick pieces of hay from her hair. " You've got hay all over your hair."

" Well whose fault is that?"

" I'm not the one who was playing find the needle in the haystack."

" If you hadn't been nibbling my ear I wouldn't have lost a very expensive earring."

In one swift motion the heiress snatched Roxton's hat from his head, got on her horse, and was off like a rocket.

" Why you little…" Roxton got on his horse and in a few minutes caught up with her." Marguerite give me back my hat."

Marguerite teased Roxton with the hat. She started waving it and at one point she even wore it. " What's the matter, Roxton? Afraid that I may notice those grey areas around your hair?"

Soon there was no place to go. She immediately got off the horse and started to run. Roxton did the same and was now hotly in pursuit.

Between giggles and shouting Marguerite was soon out of breath. She stopped for air and was kneeling down on the grass. " I give up! You can have you stupid hat." She threw it at him.

He caught it " What makes you think I was after the hat."

Marguerite stood up to her full height and approached Roxton until they were standing within inches of each other.

" Lord John Roxton are you flirting with me?"

Roxton responded by gently caressing her face. One had lifted her chin up and the other pulled her towards him. He started kissing her tenderly on her lips. Marguerite let out a few giggles.

Roxton stopped kissing her. " What's so funny?"

" Nothing, It's just that you haven't shaved and you're kind of tickling me."

" Tickling? You want tickling? "

" Roxton you wouldn't dare."

" I beg to differ."

In a flash Roxton was after Marguerite who had started to run. He got hold of her and they both fell onto the soft grass, Roxton tickling her.

Marguerite tried to fight Roxton, but it was no use. " John, stop it."

Roxton didn't stopped, he was having too much fun. " What was that did you say something?"

Marguerite tried to sound more serious. " I mean it."

" Roxton!" she shouted.

Soon both of them were lying flat on their backs. Marguerite turned to Roxton. " Don't think… I won't forget this."

" I wouldn't have it any other way."

Things were progressing between Malone and Veronica; these past few days had done wonders to their relationship. The days had gone so fast that he had almost forgotten about that promise he had made. Now here he was taking this jungle beauty to a secret destination he had prepared earlier on with the help of Marcelo.

Something still bothered him he still couldn't remember what it was. But he knew it was important. He had woken up with such a headache that he had forgotten to meet Marcelo. Because he didn't showed up to meet him. Marcelo had come to remind him of his plans. He had to remind himself to thank Gabriel for that wonderful tea he gave him earlier in the morning. It had taken care of his flu-like symptoms. That was his last time that he walked the street under such horrible weather.

After breakfast Veronica had been asked by Malone to put the blindfold. At first she had objected but he had insisted so much that she had complied, and now here she was, clinging on to dear life as she was lead to who knows where. All he had said was that it was a surprise. " Malone, where are you taking me?"

" OK, here we are." Malone stopped suddenly without giving Veronica any warning.

Veronica accidentally bumped into Malone." Malone, you could have told me we were stopping."

" Sorry."

" Can I take this off?" Veronica started to dabble with the blindfold.

" Not yet."

She could hear him, he wasn't standing next to her. But he couldn't have been more than just a foot a way. She was starting to grow impatient.

Suddenly she felt Malone come up behind her, she could feel his hands around her hair.

Malone struggle to get the blindfold off, some of her hair was caught on the knot. It was not going to come out without pulling some of the hair with it.

Veronica felt a relief when it came off. Malone had been pulling at her hair for some time she had actually told him to leave it, she would take it off herself. But just as she had said that, the blindfold had fallen off.

As soon as it came off she had trouble seeing, she fluttered her eyelid for a few seconds and she soon regained her sight. The first thing she saw was the picnic lay down underneath the tree. All sorts of meats laid neatly on the red mantle, fruits and vegetables she never seen before. There were flowers everywhere it was a beautiful site indeed.

" I didn't know which one you'd preferred, so…" Next thing he knew Veronica was hugging him.

" Thank you," Veronica gave Malone a big kiss on his cheek. Malone was a bit startle he didn't expect her to react like this, after all it wasn't as if this was their first picnic. " I guess we better dig in."

Veronica and Malone started eating. Veronica was on her third piece of fruit, it was sweet and juicy but tangy at the same time. " Do you know what this is?" she held it up.

Malone, who had been observing her for a while, shook his head. He'd been told the names but he had been trying to get everything together that he hadn't been paying attention.

Half an hour later, Malone and Veronica had finished most of the picnic. Malone was lying against the tree and Veronica sat in front of him her head rested on his chest. Malone had just finished reading some excerpts from his book.

" That was good, you may want to cut down on some of the stories."

Veronica reached down for another piece of fruit.

" I though you had enough."

" Of this delicious fruit, never. I was thinking we could take examples of the plant or I could save the peep, dry it and plant it. "

" You have been spending way too much time with Challenger."

Malone reached for his backpack and handed a couple of paper to Veronica so that she could put the peeps in them.

" Thanks." She began wrapping them neatly.

How can I been so stupid I almost forgot. His hand reached down the backpack and came back up with a blue box. He handed it to Veronica, who looked at him in surprise.

" Well, open it," he said.

Veronica opened the box carefully. She lifted the papers that covered something that she didn't quite make out. It was a beautiful amber necklace. She looked at it carefully and a smile curled onto her face.

" I know it's not much…" Veronica didn't let him finish. She crushed his lips with a very passionate kiss. Malone at first was taken aback but he soon responded with the same force.

" Well, help me put it on." Malone did as he was told, he had some trouble-putting necklace on, but he managed.

" How does it look?"

" Not as beautiful as the lady who wears it."

Veronica thanked him for his compliment and gave him a peck on the cheek.

Marguerite's laughter could be heard throughout the stables. Roxton had just been thrown off her horse. She had told him to be careful, as he was a stubborn horse- not with her but with stranger especially men.

" Stubborn, now why does that remind me of some one," Roxton had said. Soon after that he had gotten on the horse, he hadn't gone that far when Apollo, had sent him flying to the ground.

Roxton got up from the ground and started dusting himself off. " Very funny, Marguerite."

Marguerite tried to suppress her laughter but it was no used. She moved closer to the horse and started to caress its head. " There, there"

" I could have been hurt. And here you are laughing."

" The though did pass through my mind but when I saw you get up, I knew you were fine." The heiress turned to Roxton " I think he doesn't like you."

" You think? "

" He's jealous."

" How can a horse be jealous." Roxton asked trying to come close to the stallion, which in return shook his head violently at him.

" Well he is, If you want proof… I have just the guinea pig."

Malone and Veronica walk in.

" Malone would you mind getting on the horse."

Malone eyed Marguerite with concern." Why?"

" Just do it." Marguerite and Roxton shouted at the same time.

" If you insist." Malone got on the horse fine he even rode on it for a while.

" See I told you."

" Told him what?" asked Veronica

" It seems that Apollo has develop a dislike to Roxton."

" He practically try to kill me."

" Don't exaggerated; he was just playing with you. He's only jealous."

" And why should he be jealous?" Veronica inquired with mischief.

Marguerite immediately changed the conversation. " What a pretty necklace!" Marguerite examined the necklace up close.

" Isn't it? Ned gave it to me." Her eyes sparkle with delight.

Roxton agreed " Yes, its very pretty. "

Marguerite pushed Roxton out of the way." Well not as pretty as that earring I lost and may I add valuable. "

" Marguerite, I though that we agreed that once we get back to London I get you another pair."

Malone handed Apollo's reins to Marguerite. " Don't you dare think I forget."

Marguerite now turned her attention onto Malone." Now, Malone when is it that you set the wedding." It was her turn to have some fun.

" Wedding? " Malone's colour drained of his face.

Veronica didn't get mad at Malone, as she would have reacted the same way. She tried to give Malone a hint, that Marguerite was only teasing him. " Yes, tell us."

Malone caught her drift. " I was just thinking we have ours as soon as you have yours."

Marguerite and Roxton were left speechless.

" Now if you don't mind we were just heading down for dinner." Veronica and Malone left giggling the whole way to the palace. " Did you see them, I though Marguerite was going kill me."

" Roxton didn't seemed to mind."

Having had their dinner, they went for a walk and now they where retiring for the night. Marguerite finished whispering something into Roxton's ear." Don't tell anyone I said that."

Marguerite finished whispering something into Roxton's ear." Don't tell anyone I said that."

Roxton just smile and though about what she just told him. " And what ruin your reputation? I guess I'll see you tomorrow bright and early."

" Right, not too early. I need my beauty sleep." Marguerite started walking away.

" Don't I get a goodnight kiss."

" Lets just say that you had enough for today."

" Come here." Roxton pulled her to him and gave her the most passionate kiss. She eventually pulled away and continued walking down the corridor.

" Good night. " She waved as she disappeared down the corridor.

Roxton was exhausted, but it had been the most wonderful days in his whole life. He rested his head against the door and pondered on the events of the day. Out of the corner of his eyes his spotted movement. His hunter's instincts kicked in and he immediately was ready for whatever was lurking in his room.

The figure came into view. It was Erika. " It's just me."

" Erika! What are you doing here?" She was the last person he expected to see after telling her he didn't want anything to do with her. It had turn out that she had wanted more than he was willing to give.

After the banquet he had talked to Katherin. He had seen that the entire charade was wrecking his relationship with Marguerite. So he had told Katherin that he was grateful for her help, but he was now going to do it his own way. She had told him she understood and wished him luck and that she would tell Erika not to meet him tomorrow.

But that morning as he was getting ready to go down for breakfast, she had turned up to show him the city. He told her he didn't need her help anymore. She told him she hadn't got the message and now that she was here, she might as well show him the city. Not wanting to be rude he had accepted, after all, she wanted to do was help.

She had shown him the city and had been very cordial and distant. She said that she understood the situation and was happy she could help. And now that he really didn't need her anymore didn't mean they couldn't be friends. He had agreed and she had invited him to meet her parents. Her father asked him to come the next day to see his collection of trophies. Roxton hadn't noticed how late it was, and they offered him a bed to sleep in. He had declined the offer, as his friends were probably worried.

What he hadn't counted on was in getting lost and arriving at his room in the early hours of the morning. He had slept most of the morning when he was awoken with a knock at the door. It was Katherin who wanted to know how everything was with him and Marguerite. He repeated that he didn't need Erika's help any longer and reminded the girl of the message she had failed to give Erika.

Katherin was surprised. She told him she had delivered the message. Roxton was shocked and knew that Erika was trouble. He asked Katherin to tell Erika's parents he couldn't come today. She told him it would be no problem, as she didn't live more that a few blocks away from her.

Just as he had found out where Marguerite was, he had been told someone was looking for him. He had pretty good idea who it was. Indeed it was Erika, who was upset about him not coming. That's when he made himself pretty clear he wasn't interested in her. And now here she was again.

" My parent are having a big celebration tomorrow and I wanted to invite you." She tried to sound casual. " And your friends, of course."

" We're leaving tomorrow," he told her as he opened the door. " Now, if you don't mind."

" What's the rush." Erika put her arms around Roxton's neck.

He put a distant between them. " Erika, I told you there could never be anything between us. I love Marguerite."

At that moment Marguerite had found John's missing socks and was now heading down the corridor.

Erika wasn't going to let this man get away from her that easily. She had never been turned down and he was going to be no exception. She closed the door and in one quick motion she took her dress off.

" John, you forgot…" Marguerite didn't bother to knock. She stepped in the room, but wasn't prepared for what she saw.

" How could you?" She dropped the socks. No longer controlling her tears, she ran out of the room, she had believed everything he had said. How could had she had been so stupid. It wasn't the first time she had gone through this, but she had believed John to be a different kind of man.

Marguerite ran to the only place she knew she could go. Now she lay in Gabriel's bed fast asleep.

Gabriel had given Marguerite a drink to calm her down and soon she had fallen fast asleep. He would talk to Roxton tomorrow and find out what really happened.

Marguerite had told Gabriel everything. He had tried to explain to her that Roxton would never do something like that. Maybe she had misunderstood the situation. But if he had deceived her he was going to regret it. Still, he couldn't let his love for her come between her and her true love. He had to find out what really had happened.

Challenger, Veronica and Malone went to have breakfast. Their faces showed a little bit of sadness.

" I'm sure going to miss this." Malone said.

" Then why don't you stay." A voice suggested as they entered the room.

The explorers were startled to see Xavier and Adele.

" That's very kind of you, but we're still looking for a way home and Veronica is still looking for her parents."

" I may have a solution."

Challenger, Malone and Veronica looked at Xavier, wondering what he was talking about. Just as Xavier was going to explain to them about the cave, he had been keeping a secret for centuries, Lord Roxton interrupted him. He came in looking like he hadn't slept in month. He had looked for her but he hadn't found her and had spend most of the night waiting to see if she'd come back." Has anyone seen Marguerite?"

" It's something the matter?" Malone asked clearly concerned. Veronica and Challenger waited for an answer. Roxton didn't respond. He instead proceeded to sit at the table.

The explorers joined Roxton at the table. Obviously something had happened between them. Lovers quarrel, perhaps.

Xavier called one of his servants and whispered something in his ear. The servant left immediately.

Challenger took his napkin and set it on his lap. " How was your honeymoon?"

" It was wonderful." Adele and Xavier replied at the same time. They both laughed.

" So professor did you get everything you needed from our food supplies. " Adele asked as she took a sip of her juice.

" Yes, thank you. That was very kind of you giving me samples of your tea."

A few minutes later Gabriel made his way into the room. He greeted everyone and proceeded to sit next to the king.

" Gabriel, I have come to a decision. "

The explorers all turn their attention to the king.

" Friends I have something to tell you, but perhaps its better is we wait for Miss Krux."

" Speaking of the devil. " said Challenger.

Marguerite came in the room, she looked like her old self. She greets the king and queen and thanked them for their hospitality. She avoided Roxton's gaze. She wasn't going to let him speak to her and as soon as they were back, there where going to be some changes.

Veronica notice how Marguerite was acting she had seen Roxton trying to speak to Marguerite, she practically told him to go to hell. What happened between them? Yesterday they look so in love.

" Now that everyone is here, I can proceed to tell you. Friends we haven't been absolutely truthful to you. I know it wasn't our right. But I had all this time to consider and I finally made the conclusion. We know of a way out off the plateau."

The group fell in shock. Malone felt as if he already knew of the news but brushed that feeling aside as he listened equally as excited and eager as the others.

" You mean you knew and you didn't tell us." Challenger said to Gabriel.

The King continued: " There's cave that will lead you out, but it's not as easy as it sounds. In order for you to get out you must past a test. No one knows what the test is. Those who have failed are stuck in the plateau forever. I thought I'd save you the trouble… I mean if you fail the test, you are here forever. I now realise I couldn't make that decision for you. I hope you forgive me.

" Knowing the risk I'm sure you'll like some time to yourselves. We'll come back when you have made your decision."

Xavier, Adele, Gabriel and the servants left the room leaving our explorers to make their decision.

The group was left alone. One would think they'd be celebrating, but instead they stood there in utter silence, staring into space.

Will Marguerite ever find out what really happen between Roxton and Erika? Will Gabriel help reunite the unhappy couple?

Who will go in this quest knowing that if they fail, they'll be stuck in The Lost World forever.

So many questions find out in the next instalment " The Quest "