“Get off of him!” Tilly yelled, rushing to my aid.
The Sharkwoman’s eyes turned toward her. She snarled. But before Tilly could respond the Sharkwoman slowly let go of my neck. “Yes,” she said. “I can taste that same…uncertainty. Where are we?”
“In a dungeon,” I gasped.
“We’re saving you,” Tilly said, angrily, at my side. “So you shouldn’t go around trying to strangle people!”
“Strangle?” the Sharkwoman looked confused. “No. I was tasting him.”
“Yes. Tasting. How else was I supposed to identify him? I am feeling a bit groggy so I needed to have direct skin to skin contact so I could get a good taste. Plus, the air in this dimension is horrible. I don’t know how you humans stand it. You can’t swim in it. It only moves in one direction. And you can barely taste anything through it. Except smoke and disease and sometimes flowers. It’s repugnant. ”
“Well, you are in the bottom of a dungeon,” Tilly said.
“Dungeon? Is that what you call this place? These…people were trying to perform…some kind of…magic on me.”
“We see,” I said, feeling slightly relieved that she hadn’t just been trying to kill me. She hadn’t squeezed down so my neck didn’t hurt, but I still felt the need to rub it. “Don’t worry. We’re going to destroy all of it.”
“Destroy?” Na Fru asked. He seemed appalled at the idea.
I don’t know what he was thinking, but I knew it wasn’t good so I was going to put a stop to it immediately. “Yes. All of it.”
Anger flashed on the stone man’s face. For a second, I thought he might attack me. Ok, maybe more than a second. “Fine.” His hands twitched and the room shook. The ground beneath the tanks opened up and swallowed the tubes whole.
“We should probably get moving,” Tilly said. “This was supposed to be a surprise attack, remember? After that, we might be running out on the surprise part.”
I took a second to think. I hadn’t expected to find the Sharkwoman down here. She changed all of my plans. Not that they were great plans in the first place. I was definitely reconsidering all of this. “Maybe we should get her out of here. Shayu, might not be able to…”
“Shayu,” the Sharkwoman said, between grunts as her tail became legs, “can do anything.”
I sighed. She was so damn stubborn. “Can you stand?”
“I can do much more than that.” She swung around so her new legs were hanging off the table, then slid forward until her feet were touching the floor. The Sharkwoman started to rise, but her legs suddenly buckled. I rushed to catch her before she collapsed onto the floor. She held tight as I helped her back to her feet until she noticed that she was holding me then she immediately started growling at me.
I was more irritated by her posturing then intimidated. Her scariness dwindled when she needed me to keep from falling over. “I’m helping.”
“I don’t need help,” she replied, now that she was back on her feet.
I didn’t feel like arguing with her so I let go and so did she. But after a single step, she reached out to brace against me. I didn’t say anything.
“Now what?” Tilly asked.
“Now, we need to get out of here. We have to get the Sharkwoman somewhere where she can recover.”
No surprise, the Sharkwoman didn’t like that idea. “I am fine. We need to stay here and kill whoever did this to me. I will tear off their heads!”
“She has a point, Frank,” Tilly said.
“About tearing off heads?”
“About leaving. If we leave, the General will know that we were here. He’ll be ready for us next time. This is our best opportunity. Maybe our only real opportunity.”
We walked out into the hall, the four of us. “We don’t have any choice. Shayu is in no shape…”
“Stop!” the Sharkwoman growled.
I was getting tired of her complaining. If she was going to act tough, she should try doing it while standing on her own. Until then, she was going to just have to shut up and let me help her. “Shayu, I know you don’t like it…”
“No,” she cut in quickly. I noticed her attention was not on me. “That is not what I’m talking about. I can taste him.”
I exchanged a look with Tilly. “Taste who?” she asked.
The Sharkwoman turned, looking into Tilly’s eyes, then into mine. “Wu,” she said. “Lu Wu is here!”
to be continued…