Rocky Escape

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My feet collided with loose gravel and decided, without my consent I was better off without them. I was sliding down and gaining speed. I couldn’t be certain, but the stream of unintelligible devil language told me Kalista wasn’t far behind. It was impossible to see the bottom. The shale and loose stone abraded my backside. I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.

A violet light flared and burned arcane sigils into my vision. It felt like someone had grabbed hold of my arms and slowed me down some before letting go again. The light flashed again. I saw the same sigils and felt the same tugging. I couldn’t see the bottom yet, but I felt I had slowed down enough to risk grabbing a stone. The stones buffeting my hand ripped open several new small cuts. I managed to grasp a stone the size of a wine cork, and pull it into me. I clutched the stone to my chest and focused on it. I muttered the few arcane words I knew into the stone. A cool, relaxing, energy flowed through me and pooled into the stone in my hand. A clean, pure, white light washed out of the stone and filled the entire tunnel.

The arcane sigils that had been burning into my eyes were carved into the walls at regular intervals. I slid past another set, but wasn’t blinded when they flared. Just at the edge of the stone’s light, I could see Wyanet. She was standing in a loose semblance of a horseback stance, and would shift her weight every now and again to stay upright. I still couldn’t see the bottom. Pulling what leverage I had, I chucked the stone past Wyanet. The stone lit up a long arc, bounced once, and started tumbling, pulling even more stones with it in a miniature landslide.

Several minutes passed, we kept falling. Kalista had fallen silent, but one of the warg pack had fallen in as well and the creature was whimpering. The stone rolled to a stop, and was immediately smothered by the cascade it had carried. Wyanet reached the bottom. Her front foot came to a complete stop, and she tucked into a perfect somersault to keep from falling on her face. She bounced up, weapon at the ready.

I tumbled out next. I couldn’t recover. When I hit the floor, I tucked my arms in and bounced across rough-hewn stone until I came to a backbreaking stop against a stalagmite. My back cracked and protested as I got to my feet. Every part of me felt like ground meat. I stumbled toward the gaping tunnel mouth that had spit us out.

More gravel cascaded down. The elf limped up behind me, half of the arrow stuck in his leg was missing. He grunted, wheezed, and snarled the entire way. Kalista erupted from the opening. Her arms and legs flailed as she barreled into me. Kalista’s weight pushed me back to the ground. The back of my head got personal with the stone floor. Black and white stars danced in my vision. Kalista rolled away. I stayed motionless, waiting for every pain to stop.

A disembodied voice, sweet as fresh summer honey whispered to me. “You need to move, my child, you are not yet out of danger.”

I sat up. My head felt like it was coming apart. The stars cleared from my eyes in time for me to dodge a panicked warg and Goblin rider.

The warg drove its face into the ground. There was a gut-twisting crunch, bone-shattering snap and one final whimper. The warg went ass over tea kettle, its Goblin rider thrown. When the warg settled, it didn’t move again. The Goblin picked itself up, batted its own head once, and looked around. The elf grabbed the Goblin by the neck and dangled it a foot off the ground with a single hand. The Goblin squealed and squirmed, its legs unable to find purchase. The veins in the elf’s arm started to pop, and the Goblin stopped moving. The elf dropped the dead Goblin.

“Anyone else still alive?” the Elf called.

Wyanet stepped out of the shadows. Half of her face covered in blood, but she was moving fine. The sprite hovered close to Wyanet. He didn’t even have a speck of Goblin blood on his doublet. I stretched my legs out in front of me and propped myself up with my arms.

“What in the name of the nine is that thing!?” Kalista demanded. She stumbled into our little circle. She was soaked to the bone, not unlike the rest of us, and her gambeson had a new tear or two, but she didn’t appear to be bleeding.

The sprite whipped out his rapier and zipped over to Kalista, cursing her in Sylvan the entire way.

“He is a sprite, you foolish half breed,” The elf braced himself against a stone column and slid down it to a sitting position. “I am curious where he came from, but he deserves our respect.” The elf bowed his head as best he could to the sprite. “You have my thanks, cousin.”

The sprite returned the bow and came back to my side. “His name is Stargazer,” I said. “I saved him when I was young, and he has been with me ever since. Normally, he rides along on my pack, but every now and again, he jumps into a fight, or if he gets bored causes some other people grief.” Stargazer flew up and sat on my shoulder.

“Is there anything anyone can do for light?” Kalista asked, “Or are we going to chat in the dark?”

Stargazer quirked an eyebrow at me.

“Go for it, they all know you’re here now,” I replied

Stargazer fluttered up and threw his hands above his head. Dozens of little motes of light the size of fireflies danced in the air and filled the cavern with a soft warm glow.

Wyanet stalked between the Elf and me. She had dropped her spear and shield, and doffed her rucksack. Wyanet strode right to Kalista and punched her in the face with a left hook. Kalista got knocked back. Wyanet seized hold of Kalista’s gambeson and pulled her back. “Why did you abandon us last night!?” Wyanet demanded.

Kalista stared at Wyanet and stammered.

“What if that warg pack had found us while we slept?” Wyanet shook Kalista like a wolf with a rabbit. “Answer me.”

Kalista regained her senses. Blood trickled down her now split lip. “I came back, didn’t I?”

The Elf started to struggle back to his feet. “Don’t,” I whispered. “It won’t help.”

Wyanet threw Kalista to the ground. “I do not care that you came back.” Wyanet snarled. “How can we trust you? Why should we trust you? We were depending on you, and you left us. How do we know you will not do it again?”

Kalista’s eyes quivered. “I’m sorry.” She cried. Kalista pulled her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms and tail around them. She couldn’t meet anyone’s gaze.

Wyanet lorded over Kalista with an unrelenting, boring, stare.

“Wy,” I said, keeping my tone even and calm, “We have other things to figure out right now.” Wyanet turned her angry gaze to me. “We’re all injured, some of us worse than others, and we haven’t even started. We can deal with her later.”

“Yeah, those little monstrosities shot me with my own arrow. What kind of luck is that?” Cealdrim interjected.

“We all could use a few hours to recover, maybe dry our gear while we’re at.” I said.

“We will need watches then. I do not trust those that avoid the sun by choice.” Wyanet added.

“I can take first watch.” Kalista piped up.

“No.” Wyanet scowled. Kalista slid back into her sulking.

“I don’t need to sleep that long.” Caeldrim offered. “If you take the first two watches, I’ll take the third and fourth. That’ll give me time to work some spells as well. We need to find a secure place first.”

“I can agree with that,” I stated. I forced myself up, “I’ll see what I can find nearby.”

The story will continue, June 20th. Stay tuned for more.

Written by: Sweeney

https://ko-fi.com/sweeney

Creating original content in an online space is a time consuming process. If you find it in your heart, please donate a few dollars at the link above. Thank you, you are appreciated!

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