MidReal Story

Guardians of the Forbidden City

Scenario: A group of treasure hunters embarks on an expedition to uncover a lost city deep in the Amazon rainforest. Along the way, they must contend with hostile wildlife, rival treasure seekers, and the supernatural guardians of the ancient civilization they seek to unearth.
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A group of treasure hunters embarks on an expedition to uncover a lost city deep in the Amazon rainforest. Along the way, they must contend with hostile wildlife, rival treasure seekers, and the supernatural guardians of the ancient civilization they seek to unearth.
Sophia Rodriguez
The heat was unbearable.
I wiped the sweat from my forehead and squinted at the map in my hands.
This part of the jungle was uncharted.
There were no highways, no street signs, no landmarks.
Only an endless expanse of greenery.
If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought we were lost.
But I had been here before.
And I knew we were close.
I looked over my shoulder and saw Alex Thompson a few feet behind, his blue eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses.
He looked so much like a movie star that it was hard to believe he was also a ruthless treasure seeker.
The only person I’d never outsmarted.
The man who had financed our little expedition into the heart of the Amazon.
And now that he was here, I had to make sure I found the lost city before he did.
I turned around and kept walking.
The trail was narrow, and the dense underbrush scraped against my bare legs.
But I couldn’t stop to rest.
I heard something buzz by my ear and swatted it away.
A few minutes later, it returned, and this time I realized it was a mosquito.
Damn it, I thought as I quickened my pace.
I hated bugs of any kind, but especially mosquitoes, which seemed particularly fond of me.
“Sophia,” said Diego from up ahead.
“I think we should stop for a break soon.”
“I’m fine,” I replied.
My legs felt like rubber, and my throat was so dry that it hurt to swallow.
But I knew we couldn’t stop yet.
Our camp was still a few hours away, and if we didn’t reach it before nightfall, we’d have to sleep in the open—which was never a good idea in the Amazon.
Diego sighed, but said nothing more.
He was a good guide, loyal to me because I had hired him first—and because he knew that if anyone could find the lost city, it was me.
But as it turned out, Alex had more money than I did.
Or so I thought at the time.
I looked up and saw that the sun was beginning to set, casting long shadows across the jungle floor.
And with nightfall came the rainforest’s most dangerous predators—jaguars and snakes and other things I’d rather not think about as I navigated my way across the uneven terrain in search of our campsite.
The jungle seemed to go on forever, as if we were walking in circles—or worse, as if the trees were moving around us, deliberately trying to confuse us so that we could never find our way out.
I tried not to think about that as I trudged through the dense underbrush, my legs and arms covered in scratches and insect bites—my entire body screaming for rest and relief from the oppressive heat of the sun beating down upon me.
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We must be getting close by now,” I called out over my shoulder.
But Alex didn’t answer—at least not with words.
Instead, he flashed me a cocky grin that made my heart race faster than it should have given the circumstances, and kept walking—with Diego trailing close behind him like a loyal puppy dog at his master’s heels.
I rolled my eyes at the thought of Diego being anyone’s pet, much less Alex’s, but I couldn’t deny that the two of them made a good team—almost too good if you asked me—and I wasn’t about to let them outsmart me this time.
I picked up my pace and rushed after them—my eyes glued to the map in my hands that showed us exactly where we needed to go to reach the lost city’s hidden entrance—determined not to lose sight of my teammates until we found what we came here for once and for all.
The jungle was so thick by now that it was hard to see more than a few feet in front of us, but I didn’t let that slow me down.
I’d traveled to some of the most remote parts of the world in search of lost treasures before, so I knew better than most what it took to survive the sweltering heat and oppressive humidity of the Amazon.
And even though it wasn’t always easy, I was confident that we would make it to our final destination in one piece.
My guide, Diego, led the way with confidence, and I followed close behind him, my eyes scanning the dense underbrush for any signs of movement as I listened for the sounds of wildlife that filled the air around us.
We were in a remote part of the jungle, far from civilization and other people who might try to stop us from finding the lost city.
But even so, I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone—or something—was watching us from the shadows.
At first, I thought it was just my imagination getting the best of me, but as we continued on our way, the feeling only grew stronger, until eventually, I realized that it wasn’t just a feeling at all—it was a warning.
Because as we crested a steep ridge a few hours later, a breathtaking sight unfolded before our eyes.
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A sprawling valley bathed in the soft glow of the setting sun stretched out before us like an emerald oasis in the heart of the jungle.
Massive trees loomed on the horizon like ancient sentinels guarding the entrance to a long-forgotten kingdom that had been lost to time.
We were closer now than ever before, and even though we still had a long way to go before we would reach our final destination, the sight of the valley filled me with a renewed sense of excitement and determination.
I might not have known exactly what we would find at the end of our journey, but whatever it was, I couldn’t wait to see it for myself.
The sun had already dipped below the horizon by the time we finally made camp that night, and as we sat around the crackling fire eating dinner and discussing our plans for the next day, the jungle came alive with the sounds of nocturnal creatures that had only just begun their daily routines.
It was an eerie symphony of chirps and calls that echoed through the trees like a ghostly chorus, but even though it sent shivers down my spine, it was also a comforting reminder that we were not alone out here in the wilderness.
Diego was the first to rise the following morning, and after a quick breakfast, we set out on the next leg of our journey with the rising sun at our backs.
The jungle was even thicker now than it had been before, with dense undergrowth and towering trees that blocked out all but the faintest traces of sunlight, but even so, we pressed on, determined to reach our destination as quickly as possible.
It was slow going at first, with Diego hacking his way through the underbrush like a human machete, but as the hours wore on, the landscape began to change, and the path grew easier to follow as we made our way through an open meadow that stretched out before us like a green carpet in the heart of the jungle.
But even though we had finally made some progress, I could tell that something was wrong.
Diego was still leading the way with confidence, but he seemed more on edge than usual, as if he was expecting something to happen at any moment.
I had known him long enough to trust his instincts, so when he suddenly stopped in his tracks a short while later and motioned for us to stay low, I didn’t hesitate to do as he said.
A tense silence fell over us as we waited for whatever it was that had stopped us in our tracks to make its move, my heart pounding in my chest so loudly that I could hardly hear anything else over its thunderous beat.
And then, just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, Diego finally spoke.
“There’s a jaguarundi stalking us,” he whispered.
“It’s been following us ever since we left camp this morning.”
I shivered at the mention of the elusive predator—I’d heard stories about how dangerous they could be and how hard they were to find before—and I tightened my grip on my machete as Alex readied his camera with an eager grin.
I knew that he would do anything for a good photo, but even so, I couldn’t help but worry that he would get us all killed in the process.
But just when I was about to tell him to put his camera away before it was too late, Diego motioned for us to stand up and continue on our way once again.
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We moved as quickly as we could after that, cutting a straight path through the jungle as we made our way towards the lost city with the jaguarundi just out of sight behind us.
But even so, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were not alone out here in the wilderness.
The jungle was a vast and ancient place that was teeming with life at every turn, and even though we hadn’t seen any other signs of human habitation since we had left camp that morning, I knew that there were other people out there as well—people who were looking for the lost city just like us.
It was an unsettling thought that nagged at the back of my mind as we continued on our way, but even so, I pushed it aside in favor of more pressing matters as we came to a sudden stop at the edge of a massive cliff that loomed before us like an insurmountable obstacle.
The lost city was still nowhere in sight.
Diego stood at the edge of the drop-off with his hands on his hips as he surveyed the landscape below us with a thoughtful expression on his face.
“I think we can make it down this way,” he said after a moment.
“It’s going to be tricky, but it’s better than trying to go around.”
I peered over the edge of the cliff as he spoke and felt my stomach drop down to my feet as I saw just how steep the drop-off was.
There was no way we would be able to make it down there without some kind of support, but even so, we didn’t have much of a choice in the matter, so after Diego showed us how to rig up some makeshift harnesses from our climbing gear, we slowly began to lower ourselves down the face of the cliff like a group of amateur spelunkers on our very first adventure.
It was slow going at first as we carefully picked our way down the face of the cliff, but after we got the hang of it, we started to move more quickly, and before long, we finally reached the bottom in one piece.
But even though it was a relief to finally have our feet back on solid ground once again, there was still no sign of the lost city anywhere in sight, and even though I was starting to get worried about our chances of finding it, I knew that we couldn’t give up now—not when we were so close to our goal.
Diego seemed to share my sentiments as well, because after we took a short break for lunch, he quickly set off on the next leg of our journey with renewed determination as we followed close behind.
The jungle was growing steadily thicker as we made our way through the dense underbrush, and by the time night began to fall once again, our progress had slowed to a crawl as we hacked our way through the thick underbrush with our machetes and cut our way through the tangled vines that hung from the massive trees like living curtains of greenery.
But even though we were moving slowly, we pressed on without complaint as we made camp for the night once again, and as I lay down to sleep beneath the stars just a short while later, I couldn’t help but marvel at just how far we had come since we had first set out on our journey.
It wasn’t easy by any means, but even though every muscle in my body was aching from head to toe after all of the hiking and climbing and hacking that we had done over the past few days, I was also having the time of my life as we continued on our journey into the heart of the jungle.