Tilly set the Chamber to destroy itself and then we started to attempt to sneak out of the Zlodeyskiygrad Palace. It started off being a lot easier than expected. With Tilly’s ability to phase through walls and fool the security system, we were able to move through the sub-basement with little difficulty. For the most part, all we really had to do was keep on the lookout for the Drac patrols, but, fortunately, most of those were on the floors above us. Tilly decided we didn’t need to go up there and for the moment, I agreed. The longer we could keep from going into the more heavily patrolled areas the better.
It seemed as if we were able to get through the labyrinthine dungeons with ease, but I began to wonder if Tilly knew where she was going. I didn’t know these dungeons at all and I didn’t think she knew very well either. That doubt came to a head when we found ourselves coming to a dead end. “I think we took a wrong turn somewhere,” I said, looking around for some kind of clue to where we were.
But, as always, Tilly was unphased. “Oh, no, this is exactly where we want to be. Trust me.”
I looked at the wall, suspiciously. “Is there a room on the other side?”
She shook her head and smiled. “No.”
“Then I don’t…”
Tilly grabbed me by my shirt. “Just take a deep breath and hold it.” And before I could say another word she pulled me through the wall and into darkness. There was nothing on the other side, just dirt and a lot of it. We traveled through the dirt and I continued to expect it to come to an end, for us to reach another room, but, no, all there was was dark. It was an endless darkness. But not the vast, endless darkness of space. No, instead it was a crushing, claustrophobic darkness. A buried alive darkness. A not fun darkness that I really did not enjoy.
We were moving. I could tell that. I couldn’t see anything, but there was a sensation of movement. Tilly was pulling me forward through the ground and the dirt. I could feel that, things moving through my body or me through them. Forward, forever onward. My lungs began to burn. It became hard to hold my breath any longer, but still we went on.
And then we stopped. Suddenly. We were no longer moving and I couldn’t tell why. Why had we stopped in the middle of the earth? Were we in trouble? Was Tilly hurt? Had she got lost? Were we going to die? I could imagine us turning solid, the dirt bonding with our molecules, the great pain that would cause.
And then we were moving again. But not forward. Not this time. Now, we were moving upwards. How and why, I did not know. Was she in trouble? Was she lost? Did she need to pop up to figure out where we were? Where were we? Were we going to pop up into the middle of a Ramstovian patrol? But to be honest, at the moment, I didn’t really care. All I cared about, all I could think about was the surface, was air, was the opportunity to turn solid without the possibility of something passing through me. I wanted to be back on the surface. I wanted to be able to breath again. I wanted to be away from this oppressing darkness.
When we emerged to the surface, it was night. There was darkness all around. but in contrast to what we had just been through the stars were practically glowing. I had no problem seeing the rope Tilly was climbing, pulling us up from beneath the earth. I took a great gasp of breath. It took me a little while to catch my breath. “You planted a rope in the middle of the ground?”
“Gotta have an escape plan,” she replied, seemingly as warn out as I was.
“But what if we went right by it. All that ground, we could have easily sailed right by it. What if you had missed it?
Tilly smiled at me. “Like I ever miss. Now, come on.” She clambered back to her feet. “We better get going before any of the General’s patrols spot us.”
“His patrols? But we’re away from the palace…”
“Oh, boy. He really kept things from you, didn’t he?”
I was getting ready to defend him, how could she say such things, when I remembered that Zlodey…that the General was not my husband. We were not married. We were not in love. I didn’t even like him. The General was a horrible, despicable man who used magic to trick me, to rewrite my mind, to change reality to fit his desires. “No. he told me nothing.”
We made our way toward the lights of the city. We stopped on the outskirts. We could see pairs of Dracs marching in the streets. And the truth finally came back to me. I finally remembered what the General really was. We had originally been sent here by the CIA to spy on him. We were sent here because he was a horrible man, because he was a totalitarian dictator. He ruled his country with an iron fist and oppressed his people. The government had been worried about him, about what he had had planned. They knew one country wasn’t enough for him. They had been right. There was nothing good about the General. Nothing. He had been too dangerous before, but now he was a million times worse. We had to stop him. We had to return the world to how it was supposed to be.
to be continued…