Torpedoes Away

With the torpedoes baring down on us, we had no way to escape. So we just floated there. It couldn’t have been for much more than a second, but it felt like much longer. It felt like we floated there for ten minutes watching the torpedoes coming toward us, but in actuality it was little more than a few blinks of the eye. In barely the time it would have taken to sneeze, the torpedoes were upon us.

There was no time to move. They were already there. All I could do was close my eyes and hope it would be quick, but I couldn’t even do that. I couldn’t take my eyes off of our impending doom. I watched as the torpedoes came at us, watched them get closer and closer. I watched as one of them got inches from my face, waiting for it to explode.

And then I watched as the torpedoes, one after the other, sailed right by us.

They missed! I don’t know how it could have happened. We were so close and there were three of them and there were only two of us. The likelihood of them all missing both of us completely seemed pretty small, but there it was. They had.

Or so I thought.

Until I realized…they hadn’t been aiming at us.

As I stared at the receding torpedoes, I noticed that right behind us, directly in the torpedoes’ path, was the room where our friends were being held, AKA The torpedoes’ true target. My heart dropped as I realized what was about to happen and there was nothing I could do about it, nothing I could do to save anyone.

I watched as the torpedo impacted. I watched as the room exploded. I watched as so many of the trolls who had trusted me, who had gone out of their way to help me, had put their lives on the line, just for me, someone who they had just met. And I could do nothing to save them.

And then the impact wave struck us. The eels were unaffected. They were too big, too heavy. They had too much momentum going in the other direction. We, however, were much smaller and were thrown backwards with great force. And so the eels swam right by us into the impact zone.

Pem recovered quicker than I did. He was swimming toward me before I even knew which way was up. “Come on!” he yelled, reaching for me.

“But my friends…they…”

“We can’t help them now. It’s too late for them, but it’s not too late for us. We can still get out of here.”

He grabbed me and started swimming. I didn’t fight him and after a little while, I even helped trying to get away. I began trying to help a lot more when I saw that those giant eels had swung around and had begun coming for us. We swam away with all our might. I did the best I could to not think about what had just happened. If I couldn’t, for the time being, move on from the death of my friends, I was very likely going to be joining them and that helped nobody.

But I knew that just swimming by itself wasn’t going to save us. I wasn’t fast enough to keep up with Pem, as it was I was just slowing him down, and neither of us were faster than those robotic eels. That’d catch us soon enough and then we’d be dead or captured yet again.

And so I was keeping my eyes open for any means of escape, a weapon would be great, a vehicle even better, but at this point I was willing to settle on a nice safe hole in the ground, as long as it was thin and deep enough to keep us from being eaten by the mechanical eels. I saw no weapons we could use, or vehicles we could get into, or anyplace we could hide. Or at least the place to hide wasn’t what caught my attention. What I saw was a hand waving at us. A large green hand.

“This way!” I yelled at Pem, hoping my assumption was right and that I wasn’t about to lead us into another trap.

Pem, at first, didn’t want to follow me, but seeing that I had already gone off on my own, he did what he no doubt thought was the foolish thing and followed me. With as much speed as we could manage we swam down to the bottom of the ocean where there seemed to be little but debris left over from the destruction of the city.

I tried to stay on point, to keep heading toward where I had seen that hand waving toward us. As I neared the bottom, the hand appeared again. I could see now that the hand was attached to a body, specifically the body of the Sheriff. I was so happy to see that he was still alive.

Or I would have been, that was, if I hadn’t been so worried about the torpedo coming up behind us.

to be continued…


Can’t Stop the Mouth from Closing

There seemed to be at least a dozen of them. It was hard to get a completely accurate count while they were rushing toward us. However, I was able to a few observations. The main thing I noticed about them was the bottom half of their bodies, in that they didn’t have legs or even fishtails like the Meropolians. Instead, the lower half of their bodies were made up by tentacles. At first, I mistakenly thought that they were riding octopi, but then I soon realized that, no, those was actually their legs. They were squid people and they were attacking us.

“Run!” I yelled as I began to swim as fast a I could away from our attackers. Pem, the Sheriff, and Toleuk all swam with me. But Tam, however, chose to fight, firing laser blasts into the oncoming squid person horde. This took the squid people by surprise. They clearly had no been expecting a counter-attack. Their charge broke down into panic as they began to retreat.

While I stopped to admire Tam’s work, the others did not. They continued swimming onwards, oblivious to the fact that they were no longer being chased. “Nicely done,” I said as I swam up to Tam, trying to avoid the unconscious squid people, floating about them.

“Thank you,” they said. “But they weren’t..”

“Hold that thought,” I told them. “Because we need to hurry up and catch up to the others.”

“The others?” Tam looked for them.

“Yeah, they never stopped running, so they’re a bit down the ways.”

“Running,” Tam sneered, bubbles coming out of their nose. “Let’s go.” Before they started swimming after them, Tam added, “Well, they didn’t even slow down, did they?”

We swam after them as best we could, calling to them to stop, but they didn’t seem to be able to hear us for the longest time. Then, finally, I noticed the Sheriff glance over his shoulder. After a second glance, he got the others to finally come to a stop. All three of them turned around and waved for us to catch up. Though that helped no one, as we were already on our way, Tam going much faster than I. But their actions did have more dire consequences, as while they were waving us, they were unable to see what was happening ahead of them, namely that a giant sea monster was emerging from out the sand right behind their backs.

All we, Tam and I, could see of the monster was its large open mouth towering over the others. We tried to yell for them to move, to get out of the way, but we were too late and they were too slow. By the time they turned back around to see what was happening behind them, the mouth was already closing down around them.

Tam immediately accelerated, leaving me in the dust. As they got near, they began firing lasers at the monster, trying to stop it from eating our friends. I, on the other hand, was left unable to do more than keep swimming and yell as loud as I could the word, “Run!” But in the end, it didn’t matter. Neither of us could save our friends from disappearing into the mouth of that monster.

The creature then proceeded to sink back down into the ground. “Now what?” I said when I caught up to Tam. I half-expected them to suggest we turn back. With just the two of us, it seemed unlikely we would be able to save Gnomenasher on our own and Tam had never really been a fan of this plan. The last thing I had expected them to do was to dive down into the ground in pursuit of the monster. But Tam did that and that’s what happened.

I was suddenly all alone at the bottom of the sea, in the middle of the ocean in a dimension I now had no way to get out of.

Things were not looking up for me.

Going back to Merapolis was not an option. Firstly, because I did not really know the way back to the city. And secondly, because I just couldn’t abandon my friends. I certainly couldn’t get home without them. I had to hope that they were still alive. I couldn’t believe otherwise, I refused. And if they were alive, then they were in danger. I had to save them. I was going to save them. I began swimming onward.

It was lonely swimming by myself. I filled the time by worrying about if I was going the right way or not. Those worries disappeared, however, as I began to notice an object heading my way. As we got closer to each other, it continued to get larger and larger. This large mysterious object didn’t move like any submarine I had seen. Instead, it wriggled through the water like an eel, like a giant (presumably) killer eel. I immediately wanted to turn and run, but I had very strong doubts that I could get away. For one, it was much faster than me. And two, I was the visitor here, down under the water, this was its home. Really, my only chance of survival was to hide. But where to hide? There were no trees or bushes down here to hide in. No caves or giant corral reefs. I was out here in the open with nowhere to go.

I dropped to the seafloor and tried to bury myself underneath the sand. I’d seen fish do it in documentaries, why couldn’t it work for me? Because I was bigger than most fish and my hands weren’t made for digging, for starters, but I kept trying anyway. I was pretty much out of other options.

The giant eel was upon me before I had even made a dent on the seafloor. Its mouth opened wide, more than large enough to fit me inside. But just as it started to strike, I leapt out of its path and began swimming as hard as I could. The giant mouth went right by me, but it sent me spinning around in its wake.

By the time, I righted myself, the eel was already twisting its head back toward me. I knew that this time I wasn’t going to escape. I could see its sharp fangs glint in the light provided by the rebreather as it struck. I could see down the dark chasm that was its throat as I went falling into it. It swallowed me whole and I went bouncing down its gullet.

to be continued…

Over a Literal Barrel

Even before the trolls stopped pulling the giant barrel into the bar, the rest of the trolls began chanting. “Throw him in! Throw him in!” The troll carrying me held me up above his head.

“No!” I protested, trying to wiggle free. “You don’t need to do this!”

But no one was listening to me. I doubt they could have even heard me over the chanting. Not even the red troll holding me seemed to be able to hear me. He was too taken with every chanting, as if they were chanting for him. He held me up as high as he could and everyone cheered. That was all the troll needed to hear. he thew me up into the air, so high I was nearly able to grab the rafters before I went tumbling down toward the barrel.

…And went flying right into the hard edge of the barrel, rolling over it and falling to the floor, smacking hard into the ground. “You idiot!” one of the trolls yelled, as I lay in pain on the ground. “You threw him too hard!”

“You missed on purpose!”

“No, I didn’t!”

“You did! I saw you! You’re working with him!”

“Nuh-uh,” the red troll replied. “I…I…I was mesmerized!”

“Get him!” another troll yelled. “He’s been mesmerized!”

“No!” I could hear the red troll yell as I picked myself up. “I’m not mesmerized! I’m not mesmerized!”

“That’s what a mesmerized person’d say.”

“I’m not mesmerized! It’s just…just…he levitated! Yeah! You saw him! He used his magic to levitate himself over the barrel!”

I got up and muttered to myself, “Levitated?” as I walked over toward the door. I glanced back at the trolls. They were all looking at the red troll, then slowly their eyes turned toward me. Uh-oh. Not wasting another second, I rushed through the door into the back. I could hear the trolls screaming, “Get him!” from behind me.

The back room was bigger than I had expected. It looked like the magician drowning barrel wasn’t the only horror device they had back here. Everywhere I looked was one strange device or another. I didn’t know what any of them did and I didn’t want to stick around to find out. I continued to run to the back of the room as the trolls came barging into it, turning the doors into firewood as they did.

“He’s getting away!” one of the trolls yelled. “Get him!” I did not turn around to see how close they were. I just lowered my shoulder and pushed my way through the back doors and out of the tavern. Unfortunately, there were trolls out here, too. Everywhere I looked there were trolls. Walking the street. Talking on the corner. Selling groceries. Buying groceries. Chatting with each other. Looking after their troll children. Carrying their little troll babies. They were everywhere! I hadn’t just appeared in the middle of a troll tavern, I’d been magically transported into the middle of an entire troll village!

I didn’t have time to think about that. I had to get away from here! I started running down the street. The trolls stared at me as I ran by them, but not a single one of them tried to stop me, even a few jumped back in fright. They were nearly twice my size but they seemed quite scared of me. I didn’t think about that, all I could worry about was getting out of here.

I could hear the doors of the Tavern bang open as I rushed down the road. I thought I might be able to get away, but then a child screamed at me. A lady troll shrieked and a man troll jumped back in fright. Everyone cleared away from me as I passed them. I glanced back. There was a clear path back to the tavern. I could see the trolls just fine and, more importantly, they could see me.

“There he is! There’s the magician!” one of the trolls yelled. “Get him!” But then the trolls around me all began to scream.

“Magician!” they shrieked.

“Run!” they yelled.

“He’s going to kill us all!”

“Keep him away from us!”

They all began to panic.

I rushed through the streets, hoping that the panicking and shrieking trolls would keep the trolls who were trying to kill me away. It seemed to be working as I neared the edge of the city when two trolls in uniform appeared in my path. I skidded to a stop and began to turn around, but the trolls from the tavern were coming up behind me. Where could I run?

My hesitation cost me and the trolls came up behind me. I was surrounded, the uniformed trolls in front, the tavern trolls behind. I thought I was going to die for sure. There was no getting away from the trolls now. The only question left for me was to wonder would they kill me quickly or would they do it slowly?

to be continued…

Mysterious Cloaked Figures and the Mysterious Things They Do

We all began to run, but the stormhorses were much quicker than us and, though they were still pretty high up in the air, they easily began to close the vast distance. “You have to stop them!” G’fon yelled.

“You don’t mean ‘stop them’,” Lu huffed back. “You mean ‘kill them’ and I will not do that. I cannot!”

“‘Cannot’? Like literally ‘cannot’?”

“All you need to know is that I won’t. Not while there’s still another way.”

“Another way, like what?” Kink asked. “Like running? If you hadn’t noticed, they’re catching up to us. Running might not be an option for very long.” Her wings flexed behind her. It became clear that she was preparing to take off. I began to wonder if she would take any of us with her. I couldn’t help but think the only reason she hadn’t taken off already was that Tam was still unconscious in her arms. If she hadn’t had the extra weight, she might have been gone already. I had to wonder how long Kink was going to let that slow her down.

“We run until its no longer an option.” It was obvious Lu was struggling with this decision. He, like the rest of us, knew that running wasn’t going to save us from stormhorses. “When we reach the point where we can no longer…” Lu interrupted himself with a scream as four cloaked figures popped out of the ground. We tried to stop ourselves and wound up falling to the ground in the process.

I glanced up behind us. The stormhorses were still closing in on us. These new figures hadn’t deterred them in the slightest. I could see the lightning flashes in their eyes, hear their thunderous hoof steps. They had every intention of trampling us.

I turned back to the cloaked figures in front of us. Maybe it was because I couldn’t see their faces, but they didn’t seem frightened in the least. They stepped forward, moving toward us, and reached out with their hands. Their hands began to start to to glow ominously, as the stormhorses drew ever nearer. We were caught between them. We couldn’t escape. I tried to get up, so maybe I could do something, so maybe I could help us escape, but I knew I was going to be too slow.

The stormhorses were nearly upon us. Behind us all I saw was their approaching darkness. We were only seconds away from being trampled. “Disperse,” the cloaked figures said, then suddenly the horses began to fade. The stormhorses hit us, but instead of stomping on our bones, they floated past us like ghosts. Their forms quickly because unstable and soon they were just like fog scattering amongst the wind.

We were safe from the stormhorses. They had been defeated. I almost breathed a sigh of relief, but we weren’t out of danger yet. We still had to deal with the four mysterious cloaked figures standing over us.

“Thank you for helping us,” Lu said, though I could see he was still conflicted about the need to destroy the stormhorses. That these cloaked figures had eliminated them so easily on their account did not sit well with him. And I imagine he was also uneasy about the true intent of these new figures because I certainly was. “My name is Lu Wu, guardian of the realms. I don’t believe I’m familiar with you.”

“No guardian,” one of them said. “I don’t believe you are. But we are familiar with you.” The figures raised their glowing hands and the ground erupted sending dirt and dust everywhere! I couldn’t see anything. I had to cover my eyes to keep from getting gunk in them.

When I uncovered my eyes, there was still muck in the air. I had to wait for the dirt to settle. When it finally did, I realized there had been more to the figures’ actions than mere distraction. I didn’t know if it had been an attack or not, but I could see that all my friends were gone. Or, based on the fact that I was no longer on that desolate hillside, maybe it was me who wasn’t there any more. There were a lot of question marks racing around in my head, but the one thing I knew for certain was that I had been teleported away.

Now that I could see again, I looked around. I appeared to be in the middle of a bar. Or maybe ‘tavern’ was a more accurate term for it since this place was giving off more of a ‘middle ages’ quality to it, though it’s patrons were most decidedly not human. A group of what could only be described as ‘trolls’ rose from their seats and approached me. They looked down at me with angry grimaces. “We don’t like your kind around here.”

“Oh,” I said, not sure exactly how to take that. It was hard to be optimistic, however, given the circumstances. “And what kind is that?”


That was a little bit of relief. Had they said ‘humans’ I knew I’d be dead. “Well, then we’re in luck because I am most certainly not a magician.”

The trolls weren’t buying that. “You just magically teleported into the middle of the room.”

They had me there. “That’s a good point, but I didn’t teleport out of my own free will so…”

“So what?” the lead troll said. “What are you trying to say? You telling me you ain’t no magician?”

“Yes. That is exactly what I’m saying.”

“I don’t believe him,” said a blue troll with dark green hair. “Throw him in the magician tank!”

“Magician tank?” But before I could wrap my head around that idea, a red troll with multiple piercings grabbed me and lifted me off the ground. “Hey!” I yelped. “You don’t need to do this. Trust me, I’m not a magician. I have no…”

“Shut it!” the troll snarled into my ear.

He carried me toward a door in the back. The door swung open and a pair of trolls came out tugging on ropes, pulling a large barrel nearly the size of a small swimming pool. Liquid sloshed over the sides. I hoped it was water.

to be continued…

Attack of the Forest

Tam was the first to run after Lu. Kink then grabbed me and took to the air, flying us both down the mountainside. G’fon was the last to follow. I looked back at him and he seemed like he wanted to stay. I don’t know if he wanted to fight or what, but eventually even he started running down the mountain. Unfortunately, so did the giant cat monster.

“This plan does not seem to be working,” Tam yelled. “The creature is still after us!”

“We just need to reach the forest up ahead!” Lu called back.

The two of them managed to reach the forest safely, but G’fon was having a harder time of it. Because he had hesitated, the cat monster was now right behind him. It seemed from my vantage point in the sky that the monster was almost about to catch him. It even swiped at him with its paw but G’fon dove head first into the forest out of its reach for the time being. Unfortunately that meant he was on the ground while the cat was still on its feet in pursuit. It seemed that he was going to be a goner, but surprisingly instead of jumping into the forest after him, the cat creature skidded to a halt just outside it. The large cat-like creature prowled back and forth outside the treeline but didn’t dare go any further. Watching that had me a bit worried.

Kink didn’t seem to be suffering from the same trepidation as she lowered us down to the ground through the jet black leafless trees right in the path of the others. “All right,” she called to them. “It stopped.”

“It stopped because it couldn’t get through the trees?” Tam asked suspiciously. At least I wasn’t he only one concerned about the cat creature’s actions. “Or because it seemed unwilling to try?”

It didn’t try. Clearly, it saw it wouldn’t be able to get through…”

“Did it? Is that what it saw?”

“What are you saying, Tam?”

“I’m just wondering why a giant feline-like creature wouldn’t even try to make its way through an obstacle to come and get us. Did it not care enough to put in the effort? Or was there some other reason?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I’m just wondering allowed, Frank. That is all.”

“Wondering what exactly?” I knew exactly what they meant, but I was hoping that I was wrong.

“Wondering that there might be some reason why that cat creature might not want to come in here? It came down the mountain after us, but it stopped at the edge of the forest? Why would it do that? The only reason I could think of is that maybe it knows that this forest is dangerous?”

“Dangerous?” G’fon asked, trying to hide his growing fear. “Why would you say that? Why would think this forest would be dangerous?”

“There is no reason to believe that this forest is dangerous,” Lu said.

“Except that that giant creature was afraid to follow us,” Tam said.

“There are many reasons why that creature wouldn’t pursue us besides this forest being dangerous.”

“Like what? That it’s not interested in us? If that were true, then why hasn’t it left yet? Why is it still out there waiting for us?”

“This is another dimension. Why its denizens do or do not do things do not have to make any sense to us. They are alien to us. Why that creature hasn’t come after us does not necessarily have to have anything to do with the forest.”

Then the trees began to move. The branches shook, but I could feel no breeze. It was as if the bare, leafless branches were moving on their own. “Are they supposed to be doing that?” I asked, staring at the tips on the branches. They looked quite sharp.

“I don’t plan on finding out!” Kink said, flapping her wings. I was surprised that she had been so spooked so easily. It made everything all the more frightening. It made me wish for a second that when she took off that she had taken me with her, but that was before one of the trees snatched her out of the air.

“Hey!” I yelled moving toward the tree, but the next tree over bent to block my path, turning its sharp branches on me. I took a step back. My bravery had reached its end.

“Now what are we supposed to do?” Tam asked. “Fight a forest of trees?”

“I don’t think these are trees,” Lu said, studying the ground.

“What gave it away? The fact that they’re moving around?”

“If they’re not trees,” I asked, “then what are they?”

“I don’t think they’re a ‘they’ either,” Lu said.

“What is that supposed to mean?” G’fon asked.

“It means, I think these aren’t individuals trees. I think they’re all one thing, that they’re all the same organism.”

“You mean it’s not a forest. It’s some kind of monster?”

“Yes. And we just stepped onto its back.”

“Now that you’ve figured that out,” Kink yelled at us, “maybe you can get me down from here? I don’t want to find out what this thing is planning on doing with me.”

“Don’t worry, Kink,” I said. “It probably won’t eat you.” I turned to Lu. “Right?”

He shrugged. “Ummm…”

“What!?” Kink yelled. “Well screw that! I’m not dying here!” Then she let out a loud scream and light burst forth from her skin, blinding us all.

to be continued…

The Tarrgair Beast Rises

As it rose, the mountain fell away. The Beast was nearly double the size of the mountain. It towered over everything. As high as we had been, as far up in the air we still were, we were only floating level with its knee.

Above us, I saw the Sharkwoman in full giant shark mode, swimming away with Tug hanging onto her fin. She looked like a gnat compared to the Beast. They were moving much faster than us, but the Beast reached out with its hand erasing, any distance gained, and simply engulfed them.

I thought they were done for, but I saw the Sharkwoman squeak out of the Beast’s fist at the last second. Twice more the Beast tried to get them and squeeze them, but it just couldn’t catch them. Frustrated, the Beast clapped two of its hands together sending a shockwave through the air that struck us all like a hammer in the back.

I went flipping through the air and began to plummet as the enchantment on my weatherwing shirt was momentarily interrupted. I managed to stretch out my arms to slow down enough to roll as I hit the ground and avoid any serious injuries. I looked around and I couldn’t find Werz anywhere, but I did see the Sharkwoman not too far away. She wasn’t moving.

I ran to her. By the time I reached her, she had started to stir. Before I could see how she was, the Beast took another thunderous step. “Where are the others?” she asked, trying to get up.

“I don’t know.” I looked up at the Beast that was looming over us. “How can we beat that thing?”

“We don’t need to beat it. We just need its horn.”

“And how are we going to do that?”

“We shall take it!”

I looked up toward the giant as great boulders continued to fall off of it like dandruff. “Ok,” I said. “Good luck with that.”

The Beast raised its giant foot. “Move!” I yelled trying to help the Sharkwoman, but she was too heavy in her full shark form. She started to swim and I grabbed a hold of her as the Beast’s foot came down. It missed us by inches, but the force of the impact sent us tumbling through the air. I lost my grip of her and as we crashed to the ground I went bouncing off. When I stopped I was thirty feet away. I tried to get up, maybe we could get away, but the Beast’s foot was already raised for the next stomp. I looked up at the monstrous foot and saw something even more unexpected. Beyond the foot, past the giant Beast, up in the sky, I saw what could have only been a whale flying in our direction.

No, not in our direction. It wasn’t heading toward us. It was heading for the Beast. Right at it. And the Beast didn’t see it!

But I still had my own more pressing worries. The Beast’s foot was on its way down and I had to move and move quickly. Only…the Sharkwoman was still on the ground. I couldn’t just leave her. I had to save her! I rushed to her, but the foot was coming down too quickly. I wasn’t going to be able to make it in time, but I had to try! I had to! I couldn’t just let the Sharkwoman be squooshed.

But I couldn’t move her and the foot was coming. I braced for the end, so when I heard the loud smack I was surprised. I looked up toward the sound and noticed that the foot had stopped, that it wasn’t coming down anymore. In fact, it was going up! No, not up. Back. The whole Beast was falling backward! How? How could that even be possible?

The ground shook violently with the Beast’s impact. It tore itself apart beneath us. We were thrown this way and that as the ground was forced to reshape itself. It was far worse than any earthquake I had ever been in. I was more like being in the middle of a full scale hurricane in the middle of the ocean. Eventually, the ground stopped shaking and my body was no longer being tossed around. I tried to pick myself up, but there was so much dust in the air. When I coughed my ribs ached. When it the dust finally began to clear, I saw Tug had finally appeared. He was heading right toward the Sharkwoman. “Hey!” I yelled to him. “Where have you been?”

He stopped to give me a angry look. “I’ve been looking for the two of you. You know, when I wasn’t busy running for my life. If you didn’t notice there was a giant after us.”

“And now you appear? Suddenly. From out of nowhere.”

“Are you suggesting something? You going to ask the shadoweater the same thing? I still don’t see him.”

I shook my head. I had no doubts about Werz’s intentions. He had more than proven himself to me. “Where is Werz anyway?”

“Last I saw him, he was with you.”

I did not like the way he said that. “We got separated.”

“Mm-hmm,” he replied vaguely before walking over to the Sharkwoman.

She growled at him, as he reached out to her. “I’m fine.” With some effort, she rose into the air, away from Tug. “I think we still have a quest to complete.”

to be continued…

Saved by Only the Shirt on Your Back

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…