The Source Revealed

I continued crawling onward, closer and closer to the red light. Warm became hot, bright became searing, the itch became a burn. But I was getting closer. I was nearly there!

But then a tendril curved down toward me! I didn’t see it coming until it was too late. It grabbed me and wrapped itself around me. I reached out toward the figure at the center of it all, the source of the light, but I was being pulled up by the tendril, away from the source. I yelled at it in desperation and, to my surprise, the figure turned its head and looked directly at me. I gasped. I knew who it was. I think I did. It was hard to see. But I think, I’m pretty sure – I think that the figure was Tam!

“Tam!” I yelled as the tendril pulled me away.

The figure raised their hand to reach out toward me, but I was much too far away. I couldn’t reach them and they couldn’t reach me. They disappeared beneath the bright light, but I swear I heard them say, “Frank. Help me.” I swear I did.

“I’m coming back!” I yelled, hoping they could hear me. “I’m going to save you. I promise!” But the tendril had me and it was pulling me up and further away. I could feel it leeching energy from my body. I was going to have to escape soon or I’d never be able to escape at all.

Then I heard a voice. It was soft at first, but it got louder. I could tell they were calling my name. “Frank!”

“Tam!?” I yelled back.

“Frank!” I heard again, louder this time. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure, but it didn’t seem to be coming from below me. There were echoes and reverberations in this large cavern, but it seemed like the yelling was coming from above me. I looked up and saw Crag waving his hands and yelling. He was still alive and he was free! The tendrils hadn’t captured him again! It looked like my attempts to free myself hadn’t been for nothing. Yes, I was captured again, but at least he was still free. Someone could still save us.

“Crag! The source of the light, it’s my friend. They’re down there! You have to go down there and save them!”

“Ok.” He looked down from the cliff he was standing on, then back at me. “How am I supposed to do that?”

“I don’t know,” I told him, “but do it quickly! I don’t know how much longer the rest of us can survive like this.”

“Oh, great,” he muttered loud enough so I could hear, which may have been a volume that disqualified it from being a mutter. “No pressure.”

Crag began climbing down the side of the cave. I wanted to hurry him on, but I didn’t dare rush. I knew how hard it was what he was doing. Still the tendrils were draining my energy, I could feel it being pulled out of me. And I knew the others were even worse off than I was. Crag was our only hope and I knew that he knew that. I didn’t want to make an incredibly difficult task even harder.

I watched impotently as he climbed down the cave wall. As he started to slip out of view, I began to look for ways that I could help. I quickly found there weren’t many options. I was really only left with the same choice I had been left with before: using my teeth. So I opened my mouth wide and I prepared to bite down, but, to my great surprise, a small tendril grabbing the back of my head stopped me. Even smaller tendrils shot out of it across the rest of the back of my head, taking full control of my ability to bite down. Then the largest tendril let go of me and I was left hanging in the air by the tendril holding the back of my head. It was not fun.

I grabbed at the tendril with both of my hands and tried to pull it off, but it held on too tightly. I tried to pull the tiny tendrils off individually, trying to dig my fingers beneath them, but I couldn’t get them to pull free. But, too my shock, I realized I was going down anyway. The tendril was slowly lowering back down to the bottom of the cave. Why was it doing that? I couldn’t comprehend why it would. Was it bringing me to Tam? Why would it do that? It couldn’t want me to free them. Then why? Was I to join Tam on the ground to have my lifeforce drained from me? Why’d it need me down there to do what it was already doing?

As I got closer, I saw Tam begin to rise. They were being held up by tendrils, too, but they looked like a different kind of tendril, different than the ones holding the rest of us. Their color was darker and they were much thinner. Liquid dripped from them. I saw more of them rise from beneath Tam. As I was brought closer, I could see that they were indeed a different kind of tendril. They were covered in a saliva-like moisture. I could feel the moisture as they grabbed onto my legs, seeping into my pants legs. The sensation was pretty stomach churning. They wrapped around my legs and began working their way upward. The tendrils on my head let go. I now belonged to these new ones.

These lower tendrils coiled their way up my legs to my waist to my chest. I tried to struggle against them, to fight them, to pull them off. But they wouldn’t come off. I couldn’t get myself free. I was stuck. I was trapped. They began to pull me down.

to be continued…

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Down into the Island

I laid there catching my breath. What could I do? I had to go after them. I really had no choice. Crag and Domoban were in danger and I had to save them. Without them, I had no way off the island. Which meant, I had no way to get back to my home dimension. I had no way to find the rest of my friends.

But that wasn’t all. Aside from my selfish needs, they were also living, breathing people. They might be trolls, but that didn’t make them any less of a person. I couldn’t just let them be captured. Who knew what was going to happen to them down there. Whatever it was, it couldn’t be good. I had to save them. I had to.

I finally reached the spot where they had disappeared. There was a crack in the ground, but somehow the hole was resealing itself. How could rock do that? I didn’t know. I got down on the ground and quickly slid inside, carefully lowered myself down into the hole. But as I lowered myself down, I couldn’t find a place to put my feet. There were no footholds, no ledges, no nothing! I thought I was going to fall and fall far. I started to pull myself up, but I was still tired from all the running and swimming. Trying to keep up with the larger trolls had worn me out. I didn’t think I was going to have the energy to pull myself back up. But I kept trying and just when it looked like I just might have been able to get myself up, my hands slipped and I was falling.

Fortunately, I didn’t fall far. I fell hard, but not far. I had hit a rock ledge and the impact knocked for a loop. I laid there to catch my breath. As I sat up, I took in my new surroundings. I had fallen down into a hole, but it wasn’t what I had been expecting. There were rock outcroppings, but the walls seemed to be made of something else. They were smooth and warm to the touch. The hole above me had sealed itself, but the place wasn’t dark. There was a light and it was coming up from below me.

I rolled over, so I could look down. I could see various outcroppings below me. There was a dim reddish glow to everything. I could see that the glow got brighter further down, but I couldn’t see where the light was coming from. There was only one way to find out.

I got to my feet and backed myself up against the wall, feeling its warmth against my back. I swear I felt some kind of pulse go through it. But that was a worry for another time. I took three quick steps forwards and leapt across the chasm, reaching for the ledge across the way. I slammed hard into the ledge knocking the wind out of me. I immediately began to slide off. Fear of falling overcome my inability to breath and I immediately began to search for something to grab a hold of as my body continued to slip downwards off the ledge. I desperately tried to slow my downward progression by holding onto the cliff, pressing my nails into the rock, but it was no use. I was going to fall.

I continued to slide back off of the cliff. Desperately, I scrambled to find something to hold onto. But just when it seemed that all was lost, I found a bump in the ledge. I held to it as tightly as I could and stopped my slide, but I was now trapped, barely hanging onto a ledge who knew how far up with barely the strength to hang on for more than a few minutes. I glanced around and saw there was a ledge below me, a little off to the side. I began to rock back and forth side to side. When I got a little momentum going, I let go and fell down onto the other ledge, rolling as I landed. Unfortunately, I almost rolled too far and nearly went right off the ledge. I just managed to save myself at the last second.

I took a deep breath as I lay there, thinking about my latest near death experience which had been preceded very closely by at least two others. This life was getting a bit too dangerous, I thought, and then instantly burst out laughing. When hasn’t it been dangerous? Not for many, many years.

I sat up, crawled over to the ledge, and looked down. There was still way too far to go. It was slow going. I didn’t want to kill myself. But I eventually made my way to the bottom of the hole. At the bottom, the cave was lit up brightly. Light streamed in from a tunnel off to the side. It was the only path. Obviously, I had to go down it. If I was going to find the others, if I was going to save them that was the only way to go.

to be continued…