She had been travelling for days. Firstly by plane, then by road, followed by several miles by boat and then several more in this rickety minibus that barely seemed roadworthy. Kemi was praying in the backseat. She had not come all this way to lose her life to a car on its last legs, bad driving and unpaved roads. She was also praying that her guide actually knew where he was going. She had done her research, but she had to rely on local knowledge to get to the ultimate destination.
It almost seemed presumptuous to think of it as a destination. There was every chance that Kemi would not find the cave she was looking for, or that it would be empty with no trace of the treasures her research seemed to promise. Queen Kimani was considered by most people in her field of study to be a mythical character. No one in her department had taken Kemi seriously. Luckily the doubts of others had never had the ability to slow Kemi down.
The minibus began to slow down.
“Are we close?” Kemi called to the two men in the front seat.
“Yes, Ma,” came the guide’s reply.
Kemi leaned her head out of the window. She could see it, the mountains, just like the sketch. Eventually, they stopped. The driver and the guide came round to open her door, it could only be opened from the outside. She dismounted the minibus and began to pull out her equipment. According to her calculations, the entrance to the cave was only about one hundred metres from where they had stopped, but there was no way of knowing what she would encounter on the way or inside.
Neither one of the men had any interest in the kind of physical exertion that Kemi seem prepared for. They would await her return in the minibus. Kemi set off. During the short walk to the cave entrance, she recalled the reception her proposal had received at the university. The dean of the archaeology department had refused to fund her research, let alone the expedition. Her meagre lecturer’s salary had been all she had to live on. She had virtually starved herself for months in order to save the money she needed for her flights and the other costs of the expedition. As she approached the mouth of the cave, before she even looked inside, she sensed that it was worth it. She set down her bag and walked into the cave. The place was glittering. She had found it. She had found Queen Kimani’s gold.