Gates looked to Qatif, who nodded.
"...Our safest bet is to head into the central temple. It's the most likely to have valuables left to plunder, and the Rukhs won't be able to get in."
"Marvellous!" The captain grinned once more, and charged, albeit with a delicate, almost skipping gait, back onto the main path, which did appear to lead towards a grander ruin in the near distance.
It would seem that all was clear, for the time being. If the previous one had been any standard to measure against, the Rukhs weren't shy about making an entrance, so it would be a fair assessment to think the group safe.
Gates, meanwhile, had set his sights firmly on the temple ahead, and was prancing along with a fair level of glee. Midnight inclined his head as he watched. Such behaviour was hardly becoming of a pirate, or so one would believe; but, then again, this was an expy, for want of a better word, of Middy. What surprised him most was that he was even surprised enough to spare a thought on the matter.
"If we're where I think we are, then...probably?" He disguised a wary look towards the pirates, not quite willing to reveal he had the map, in case they took it for themselves. "Something tells me we're probably on the right track. Fate...tends to work like that, in my experience."
"I would say that the temple seems like a safe bet-- after all, that's typically where people keep ancient, powerful artefacts. It's that much of a cliché." Midnight cast a look, both weary and wary, in both directions, then followed Gates with a little more intent. "...But I get the impression the World Rings are a little more well-travelled than that."
"Gates has a good eye for treasure," Qatif interjected, barely emoting. "No matter what happens, as long as you're as good as your word, you won't leave this place empty-handed." She half-smirked, half-scowled. "Whether Gates lets you leave the ship empty-handed is another matter entirely."
Gates had already barged his way into the temple, by this point, and was admiring the sheer verticality of the structure. The main hall that welcomed them extended a fair way up (which, given the island's already elevated location, just seemed plain excessive), eventually giving way to a tower. Windows on all sides let in a modest amount of dreary light, from a certain height and above. Despite this, the pirate captain began meandering across the open, relatively barren floor-space, occupied by little other than some vague, archaic statue in the centre, and other esoteric installations made of stone. It seemed, after that first, brief introduction, he had lost all interest in how high this place could go.
"Not afraid of heights, I hope?" Al-Hasa asked Ellie as they trailed behind him.
"Oh, please," she scoffed, shaking her head. "What kind of person would I be to both have no sea legs and be frightened of heights?"
"That reminds me," Cal interjects, "from what I've overheard, apparently Mum's a touch acrophobic."
Rex's father chuckles at this.
"Some things never change, apparently."
"Qatif, sweetie, would you mind?~"
Gates called from across the chamber, from beside a carved effigy of some kind, ensconced in a small alcove in the wall. Obediently, and in impressively few strides, the bear was at his side, and, at her captain's instruction, twisted a...branch? Arm? Some extremity or another of the sculpture, so that the diamond-like object it bore at its end now pointed up, instead of the down it previously indicated. As if in response, and with almost no sound or vibration, in spite of itself, a larger variant of the same statue pushed itself forth from the wall perpendicular, covering, with its base, a staircase that had led downwards just a moment ago, now obscured to the point of being completely hidden from view. Gates raised both eyebrows, apparently quite pleased with himself.
"Nothing. ...Nothing yet, anyway." Gates reached up and adjusted the branch again, moving the statue back out of the way, and revealing the staircase once more. He nodded towards the stairs, and Qatif led him down them.
From Gates's smug gait as he entered the chamber below, it would be fair to assume he had come to the same conclusion. Midnight found himself cringing with trepidation the moment the captain cleared his throat.
"Oh, Baddy-boy, I know you're in here somewhere!~" His patronising tones echoed across the emptiness and occasional pillar of the chamber. "Save us both the hassle and come out now. I've actually gone to the trouble of bringing a small army to deal with you, as per your trash-talk from last time!"
In response, a red echidna (who happened to bear a striking resemblance to the one Midnight and Ellie knew as Knuckles) walked out from behind a pillar. From his clothing, it'd seem that he was some kind of Arabian sailor.
"So you show yourself before me again..." He smirked. "I can't tell if that speaks more about your courage or intelligence... or lack thereof."
"Perhaps it's just fate." Gates waved his cutlass with the same idleness as usual. "We're just destined to keep running into each other until the inevitable happens~"
Qatif, already hanging back, put a protective arm out to stop her temporary crewmates from getting too close.
"I trust you've at least heard of Sinbad? In case you couldn't infer, he and the Captain have quite some history together..."