The first thing I noticed was how much better the Sharkwoman looked. Most of her wounds had healed and she was able to support herself in the air again. I was so glad to see that that it took me a couple seconds to realize that she had returned to her humanoid form.
When I noticed that I immediately turned to Werz. He, too, had returned to his former appearance. His shadows were back. His dark monstrous visage had replaced the heroic one he had worn in the Wizard’s Chamber. I then looked at myself and saw that I had regained my old appearance, as well. I was back to being a woman. Surprisingly, my clothes still fit even though I had been a man with somewhat different bodily dimensions when I had put them on.
“Where are we?” the Sharkwoman asked. I could see she was enjoying being back in the air, but she was trying to hide it.
“The Fields of Koras Lhee,” Tug replied. “And we should get a move on before the Dautul notice we’re here.”
“Dautul? Yes, we should go.” The Sharkwoman led us forward, suddenly in a hurry.
“What are Dautul?” I asked.
“You don’t want to know,” Werz said. “Just keep moving. Quickly.”
After a while, Tug said, “You hear that?”
“Hear what?” I asked, doing my best to keep up with the others.
“That screeching howl.”
I closed my mouth and tried to listen carefully. I thought I heard a high-pitched sound. It sounded like the wind. “I think so. What is it?”
“The Dautul,” he said. “They’re coming for us!”
We sped up then. As I ran, I glanced back and saw a single creature in the distance bounding toward us. When I looked back moments later, it was much closer. As I watched, two more joined it. When a fourth appeared, I noticed that there were also other packs chasing after us. Two more packs of three and four off on the left. Three more groups on the right. They were all converging on us and there were more behind them! They were silver hounds with evil tentacle mouths. They were racing like they could go on forever. Forever chasing us.
We ran and we ran. Surprisingly, we were able to run for a long time. Despite all the adversity we had already faced, I wasn’t tired. Even the Sharkwoman was able to swim on, but for how long could we go? And did it matter, the Dautul were catching up quick!
“I guess it’s time to see if any of this stuff the Wizard gave us works,” Werz said.
“Works?” I asked between breaths. “What do you mean?”
“Watch.” He stopped, as did the rest of us a half-step later. He adjusted the gauntlet on his wrist while the Dautal came rushing toward us. They were much too close. Then he punched the ground beneath us and I stood waiting for what he would do next, but instead of the shadoweater, it was the ground beneath us that began to move. The earth began to give way, crumbling beneath our feet. We fell.
I looked up and saw the Dautal staring down at us. Then I looked down and I saw danger! There were sharp rocks below, coming quickly! I saw the Sharkwoman swimming toward me, but she was too far away. Even if that potion had healed her completely, she wasn’t strong enough or fast enough to catch us all. Certainly, not in such little time.
Then suddenly I saw Werz put his arms out and he seemed to magically stop. I could see he had begun to float as if he had just pulled the string on a parachute. How had he done that? Could shadoweaters float? The Sharkwoman could, why couldn’t he? Or was it something else? As I continued to plummet I hoped that it was.
Seeing I had little other options, I tried to imitate Werz and hope for the best. I stretched my own arms out wide as the ground got closer and closer. It was working, I realized. I was slowing down! But not fast enough. I was still going to crash way too hard into the ground! There was nothing I could do! Nothing would slow me down any more!
Just as I could see the end coming, I felt a hard tug from behind. “Careful, human,” the sharkwoman said through gritted teeth as she held tightly to my shirt. “You don’t want to go splat.”
She gently placed me on the ground and we watched as Werz floated down beside us. “What just happened?” I asked.
“The clothes the Wizard gave us are made of weatherwing,” he said. “It allows one to soar through the sky like a fish!”
And then I remembered our fourth member of the group. “Oh, no! What about Tug? He didn’t take any of the Wizard’s clothing!”
“I’m fine,” the little teddy bear-like creature said, walking toward us. “But we won’t be. If we just sit around here gabbing away!”
“How did you…?”
“You think the Dautal are the only monsters in our path? Let’s move before we meet the next batch!”
to be continued…