Seven

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Scarlett swam the wrong way. Before she knew it, she found herself inside an apparently bottomless room. The murkiness was less severe, but it was enough to disguise the way she entered with several other possible passageways.

She rested in place, too tired to swim any further, and checked her oxygen. There was less than half left and she had only been in the water for twenty minutes.

Her trainers had told her to breathe slowly to conserve air, so that was what she did, but if she didn't find a way out and up soon, she would suffocate. That really wasn't the way she thought she'd go. Kat would say something asinine like, "I knew this would happen," at her funeral. Resolved to not let that happen, Scarlett spun in place to search for any hint of a window – and, thankfully, the sunken palace had been built with many of those – only to find an enormous face staring back.

The colossal statue stood erect in murky green water, with a feminine face and a halo adorning it. The style of the crown was uniquely Phaedrian. Keelan had mentioned a room with a large statue. 

"That's a difficult room to find," he had said, later adding with clear uneasiness, "and leave."

Scarlett checked her oxygen levels again. She had enough time.

Mind made up, she began taking captions of the statue. It would be one less room to document. As she swam to the bottom of the statue, where the feet were concealed by the stone-carved dress, she saw a knob covered in algae. She captioned it, filling the room with a flash that made the water glow an eerie green. In the fading light, Scarlett reached out a hand and touched the knob.

The algae fell away, revealing the knob to be a handle shaped in a half-moon. Her gentle touch was all it took to make the moon knob wiggle and unscrew. A doorway opened like a dam bursting. Water pushed Scarlett through hard and fast, filling a corridor that had only seconds before been filled with air.

This wasn't the first time Scarlett Burn thought she was going to die.

.....................

When Scarlett came to, she was in a large well of gloopy lake water with dark green chunks of algae in it. Her flasher and torch bobbed beside her suit. 

Scarlett blinked and glanced up. Above her, the water rippled. 

She grabbed the string connecting the torch to her suit and reeled her light source in. Where there were ripples, there was air. She had found a way to the surface.

 When Scarlett swam up, her headgear breached the surface of the water first. There was indeed air, but it wasn't the surface of the lake. She shone the light up. A domed ceiling was steadily getting closer.

Beside her was a spiral stairwell carved into stone. She swam to it, intent on climbing up, but the steps were too narrow for her suit and flippers.

Breathing heavily, she assessed her options. At the top of the stairwell was a landing. The water was rising fast enough to deposit her on to it, but that would lessen her time in finding a way out. In the end, she decided she had only two choices: lose the suit and climb, or try to swim back the way she came. 

She checked her oxygen levels. They were nearly empty. She'd suffocate in the suit. 

"Well, that decides that." 

Scarlett unclasped the suit's heavy headpiece. It fell to the side of the stairwell and sank. She gulped air, which smelled strangely sweet, and was startled by a rush of cold water that poured into her suit. Chunks of algae settled into the space between her body and the leather. She set her flasher and torch on a higher step, where they teetered but stayed, and crawled out of her suit and up the stairs as fast as her short legs could move. 

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