The gorillapedes moved in for the kill. I knew this was going to be it. I couldn’t fight them all.
Then suddenly a shadow fell upon us and the gorillapedes pulled back with fright. They lived in the bowels of a giant wall, how could they be scared of a shadow? I wondered. The whole place was shadows. But hen the shadow seemed to come alive and I was reminded of those shadowmonsters from the upper floors. Was this one of them? How had it even gotten down here?
The shadow swiped at the gorillapedes and they moved back, terrified. It swiped again and once again they retreated. Then the shadow pounced and the gorillapedes ran away. For a second, I breathed a sigh of relief but then the shadow turned on me. I remembered what those things had done to the Sharkwoman, how they had attacked her, how she still hadn’t recovered. I remembered how hard they had been to get away from, how quickly they moved. I remembered that falling down that hole onto a shrinking island surrounded by a lake of acid with that cabbage looking monster trying to eat me had been a lucky break. And now I was all alone against one of those things with nowhere to go and nothing to protect myself. Had I just traded one death for another?
And then the shadow started shrinking.
Suddenly, a creature fell from the sky and landed on the shadowmonster! No…wait…the shadowmonster was just…this creature’s shadow? And even stranger, the creature looked like Tug dressed in chainmail and a shiny helmet that covered his ears. He smiled at me, triumphantly. “How was my Guardian impression?” he asked. “Scared them off, huh? Worked like magic.”
“Tug? How’d you do that? How’d you get down here? How’d you know where to find me?”
“I just followed the screams. Now…where is the Gruesser?”
“She’s with the yeti thing,” I said, not knowing what to call him.
Tug looked at me dubiously. “Yeti…thing?”
“Big hairy guy. He freed me. I couldn’t carry the Sharkwoman in the state she was in. He had to.”
“You trusted this thing with her?”
“He DID free me. He didn’t have to.”
Tug shook his head. “You can’t trust anything down here. Everything here is a monster, the shadows, the trees. Everything! We must find her and save her from this vile creature before it eats her!”
Tug ran off and I did my best to keep up. I wasn’t sure which way the spectral creature had gone, but Tug sure seemed to know just fine. It didn’t take long to spot it. With the Sharkwoman on his shoulders, he clearly hadn’t been able to go very fast. “Stop right there!” Tug yelled and the creature turned around. “A shadoweater!” he gasped. “Her soul is not for you!”
“Her soul?” the shadoweater replied indignantly before looking at me. “What is that thing?”
“This is Tug,” I said. “A friend…I guess.”
“Well, little Tug,” the shadoweater said, “Who do you expect to carry her? You?”
“And I’m supposed to trust her in your hands?”
“I’ve saved her twice already and if we don’t move quickly I’ll have to save her again.”
“Do you know how to get out of here?” I asked the shadoweater.
“We don’t need that thing to get us out of here,” Tug said, “I know how to get us out of here.”
I was surprised to hear him say that. “You know how to get us out of here?”
“You can get us out if here and to the Wizard?”
“The Wizard?” the shadoweater echoed. “You’re going to the Wizard?”
Tug glared at me. “What? Was it a secret?” I asked.
“Take me with you,” the shadoweater pleaded.
“You want to come with us?”
“Look at me. The Wizard can take away my darkness. I’ve been forced to eat more shadow then I can stand! I’m changing! I’ve already gone too far! My only hope is the Wizard! Or I’ll become another shadow! Help me!”
“There’s no reason to debate,” I said before Tug could say anything. “We need to get out of here before those things come back for us and we need someone to carry her. I can’t do it and neither can you.”
“You don’t know what this thing is,” Tug said.
“I don’t know what you are. I don’t know what she is. But I do know that we need to leave now.”
Tug rolled his eyes. “Fine. The shadoweater can come with us as long it carries the Gruesser. Let’s just get out of here already.”
“Follow me,” the shadoweater said, starting to walk off.
“Follow you?” Tug laughed. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“This is the way out.”
Tug shook his head. “No, this is how we get out.” He held out an acorn, then in one quick motion he slammed it on the ground. Tug stepped back as the ground began to fall away forming a hole of light. “That’s how we get out,” he said before jumping through it.
The shadoweater looked to me. “Are we really going through that?”
“What choice do we have?” I replied. “It’s only a matter of time before the gorillapedes find us.”
“Whatever those things are called. If we keep going through the Wall, it’s only a matter of time until we find something worse. Through that?” I pointed at the hole and shrugged. “I’ve been through this sort of thing before. It’s better to not think about it and just go through. Why prolong what you don’t have to?”
With the Sharkwoman on his shoulder, the shadoweater jumped through the portal and I followed close behind.
to be continued…