The room shuttered to a stop. The General rose slowly from his chair and walked toward me. I stepped back and he walked past me to the doors. He opened them, took one step through, paused, looked back and asked, “Coming?”
I followed him out of the room and onto a long walkway. I glanced down on either side of the walkway and beneath us was a giant pit. I sighed. How overly dramatic of him. And then I wondered, what if he wasn’t being dramatic? We were here to see his monsters after all. I looked down again. How far did the pit go?
The man continued walking and I followed him out of the pit room and into another. We were still up on a walkway, but below us was not a pit. I could see the floor. I could also see the cages on the floor and I could see the creatures in those cages. One might call them monsters, but they looked pitiful. I felt sorry for them. Those poor creatures, what had Zlodeyskiy done to them? There were lions with horns and scales and pigs with wings and talons. There was a part wolf, part snake, part bat creature. They were hideous abominations. The animals looked sick and diseased. “What have you done?” I demanded.
The General looked back at me. “Oh, these? These are the failures. There are many of them, I know, but there are successes too. Wonderful, glorious successes! Come. Let me show you the successes.” The General turned and continued walking across the room.
I glared at his back. I wished there was something I could do for these poor creatures, but there wasn’t. I followed him to the doorway where he stopped. “Now, Miss Stone. I would like to introduce you to my Dracs. They are wonderful.”
On the other side of the door were three dozen men, though men might have been the wrong word. Maybe once they had been men, but not anymore. They looked more like alligator-men to me. They had scales all over their bodies. Some of them had tails. They all had claws and I could see their sharp teeth. Was this what Hera was? Had Zlodeyskiy turned her into some kind of reptile person?
The far door opened and seven more reptilemen came walking into the room dragging a body. It took me a second to realize the body belonged to Lu Wu. He was beaten and bloody. “Oh, my god,” I gasped.
“Where are the others?” The General asked.
“Gone,” said one of the Drac, his arm missing.
“I sent three dozen of you…” The General shrugged his anger away. “It appears I severely underestimated, Mr. Lu.”
I ran to Lu, through the Dracs, glad none of them decided to attack me. “Wu! Are you all right?”
His eyes seemed to struggle to focus. Yet he smiled nonetheless. “Miss Stone, I see I have found you.”
“Are you all right?” I repeated.
“I…could use a hug.”
I was confused, but he seemed in bad shape, so I humored him and wrapped my arms around him. “Hold tight,” he whispered into my ear. Then suddenly there was a Poof and we were gone!
to be continued…