Hope that everyone's holidays were/are great! And thanks for all the kind words, guys!
Amy's heart began to pound. It was strange - she knew exactly what would happen and what she was going to do, and yet apprehension and anticipation continued to build within her chest.
It had been at this moment when everything had truly begun, when events had been set in motion that would change the fate of the world forever. Her head spun just thinking about it. 14 year old Amy had had no idea what the consequences of her actions would be; she had felt lost after the death of her grandmother, and was desperate to find any small part of her to cling to. That small part just happened to be an envelope with a single slip of paper and the promise of so much more.
Shouts and names flew over her head as Mr. McIntyre once again explained just how powerful the Cahill family really was by listing several of its more famous members. Disbelief was evident in the air, but Amy couldn't help but wonder how much of it was faked. Alistair and the Kabras, to name but a few, undoubtably knew of their family's history well before this day, yet the old Korean man was one of the more outspoken members of the crowd in rebuking McIntyre's words.
"Embarking on this quest," Mr. McIntyre was saying, "will lead you to the treasure. But only one of you will attain it."
Amy exchanged a glance with Dan. Mr. McIntyre had been right after all, in a way. In the end, only Dan knew the whole formula, but it had been all of the branches, represented down in the gauntlet, that had ultimately found the 'treasure' the old lawyer spoke of. Without their help, Amy seriously doubted that it would have been possible at all.
"One indiviual-" Mr. McIntyre's gaze flickered to Amy, "-or one team will find the treasure. I can tell you no more. I do not, myself, know where the chase will lead."
Not true, Amy thought, staring at the man. You know perfectly well where the chase will lead us. If not every single location, then at least the end. You're a Madrigal; you know how our hunt must end in the gauntlet eventually. A quick glance at Dan confirmed that he too was thinking such thoughts. Knowing all that they did now and re-living through it all again really put everything in perspective.
"I can only start you on the path, monitor your progress, and provide some small measure of guidance. Now - who will choose first?" Mr. McIntyre looked expectantly out at the crowd.
Aunt Beatrice immediately stood and claimed the money, followed by most of the forty or so people in the room. Ian and Natalie were once again the first to stand up and accept the challenge, followed by the Holts, Alistair, the Starlings, Irina, and the Wizards and once again leaving Amy and Dan as the last two to make their decision.
The Madrigal siblings looked at each other, hesitating as they had before. But it was not out of worry or uncertainty this time; rather, Amy and Dan just wanted to prolong the inevitable action, if only for a few more seconds, that would shape not only their futures, but that of the world's. One thought ran through both of their minds.
Here we go again.
With the tiniest of nods to each other, Amy and Dan stood up. Ignoring the glare Aunt Beatrice was aiming at them, Amy took both of their vouchers and picked up the lighter on the desk.
"We're in," she said, as for the second time in her life she sent two million dollars up in smoke.