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…

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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?”

“Magicians.”

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…

Escape from Gorillapede Village

Time passed, the light faded, and I thought maybe the gorillapedes had forgotten about me. I hoped they had, but I heard a noise coming close. I squinted into the darkness, but it wasn’t until the creature got up against the cage that I saw that it was the spectral creature coming for me! The monster grabbed the cage and began to shake it. I backed away as it bared its teeth at me. The bars bent then snapped as the monster tore them apart. I wanted to scream, but for who? For what? The gorillapedes?

The creature came closer, but I couldn’t run, my back was already up against the cage. It leaned in toward me and opened its mouth. “Quickly,” it whispered.

“What?” I replied, as shocked to hear the thing speak as I was by the actually word it said.

“Hurry! We have to move before they see us.”

“Move?” I asked, wondering if I had heard him correctly.

“They’re going to eat your friend.”

“Eat her?”

“They’re already finished eating the munsorv. She’s going to be next. They had me suck the shadows out of her. It’s poison to them, to most creatures. Now that it’s gone they can eat her.”

“Why are you helping us?”

“Because I cannot stand by. I have tried before but the captives are never strong enough to help me. I think maybe you can be.”

Surprisingly, I believed him. He seemed sincere enough and I couldn’t think of a reason why he would free me. If he wanted to hurt, why free me? “I’ll try.”

“Hurry! We must save her!” The creature turned and rushed out through the hole in the cage. I followed behind him but kept my distance just in case. I may be convinced, but I wasn’t that convinced. Maybe this was all some kind of game, I thought, but even if it was, it was better than being stuck in that cage.

The creature led me through the village where we saw dozens of gorillapedes. I could see the body of the acid monster cracked open like an egg, hollowed out inside. And in the middle of the gathering lay the unconscious Sharkwoman. One of the larger gorillapedes moved toward her and began chanting. The Sharkwoman began to revert to her less human form. “Why are they doing that?” I asked.

The shadoweater whispered back, “So there will be more of her to eat.”

“We have to do something!”

“I will attack them and that will allow you a chance to grab your friend.”

“When she’s like that?” I pointed at the Sharkwoman, nearly in her full massive shark form. “There’s no way I could pick her up, I’ve tried. She’s way too big for me. You’re going to have to grab her.”

“And what will you do?”

“Distract them.”

“Distract them?” he asked, surprised by my answer. “And then how will you get away?”

“I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll think of something. You just focus on getting her out of here.”

Seeing little time for thought, I ran out to the gorillapede gathering and threw my body into the closest gorillapede. Landing on my feet, I kept moving. There was no stopping now. I leaped over the Sharkwoman’s body and screamed as I slammed into another gorillapede. It didn’t seemed to be very effective, probably hurting me more than them, but it did seem to have angered them. They began chasing me as I ran away. So far, my plan was working perfectly. Now if I could just figure out how to get away from them.

I ran as fast I could. My time in the cage had allowed me a chance to rest, but I was still no match for the gorillapedes. In less than a minute, they had caught up to me. A few gorillapedes had rushed past and curled around back at me. They were in front of me. They were behind me. They were all around me. They had me surrounded!

The gorillapedes began to circle around me. Every now and then one would lean in and growl. They were playing with their food now. I had no way out. There was nothing I could do. At least, that yeti thing had gotten away with the Sharkwoman. They would both escape. At least I wasn’t going to die for nothing.

to be continued…

The Monsters in the Wall

He rushed off and all we could do was try to follow. Tug leapt about like a grasshopper on speed. I couldn’t keep up. The Sharkwoman grabbed me because I was slowing her down. She rushed off chasing after him, but just when she started to catch up the floor roots began to thrash at us. The Sharkwoman dodged them easily enough. Tug even easier. But then we heard the growl.

And then the shadows moved.

A monster jumped from the shadow. Or…no. The shadow was the monster! It was a monster of shadows! The Sharkwoman had to dodge so quickly I fell from her grip. She caught me with one hand, but the shadows moved in on us! The Sharkwoman dropped me as she morphed into a giant shark. “Run!” she snarled, her word barely understandable.

I ran with all the speed I could muster as the shadow monsters emerged from everywhere. I ran wildly, only thinking of escape, but then the Sharkwoman let out a pained scream that brought me to a standstill. I watched as the shadow monsters surrounded her, tearing at her skin. I had to help her!

I ran to one of the writhing roots and snapped off its end. I hurled the root at the monsters, momentarily earning me their full attention. In that short break, the Sharkwoman shrunk back to her smaller more humanish form. The Sharkwoman swam toward me and together we ran from the shadow monsters, but they were close behind us!

We barely got thirty feet before the Sharkwoman suddenly collapsed. I could see her wounds, deep blackish cuts, but I had no time to tend to them the shadow creatures were coming upon us quickly. I threw her onto my shoulder and began to ran. She was heavy and my body was only so strong, but I wasn’t going to be caught. I couldn’t!

But despite my determination, her weight knocked me off balance. I stumbled and tried to keep on my feet, but instead I went tumbling into a pile of roots. The shadow monsters came closer and closer. I tried to get up, but as I rose I heard the roots snap beneath my feet. I didn’t dare look up. I didn’t want to see the monsters coming upon us. I could only move as fast as I could move, so I focused all my attention on the Sharkwoman. She wasn’t moving, so I would have to pick her up. I started to lift her, but she was so heavy. I heard the roots snap and crack beneath us. Just when I thought I might be able to hold her and get away, the roots gave away and we began to fall down a deep hole!

We plummeted, further and further down. We fell further than I thought we had climbed up the stairs. It was much too far. And tt was not a smooth fall. It was a windy path. We were bounced back and forth off of roots and stones and who knew what else. And then with a hard thud it came to end. We were at the bottom with no way to get back up to where we had been and very little desire to do so. At least down here, the shadows weren’t trying to kill us.

My body was hurting, but I slowly climbed to my feet. I looked down at the Sharkwoman. “Hey,” I said, but she didn’t say anything back. She didn’t even move. I tapped her on the shoulder, then when that did nothing I shook her. “Hey! Get up!” Sadly, I came to the conclusion that the Sharkwoman was not going to be getting up.

I checked her wounds. They were many and deep. The cuts were dark and oozing. Was that how sharkpeople bled? Or was this just as bad as it looked?

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much I could do for her. My clothes were in such tatters that if I tried to make bandages I’d be completely naked. And even then I would have barely even managed to start to cover up her many wounds. I needed to find another way to help her. One that could actually be of help. I looked around and saw that we were on a small island. An island meant water! If there was water, I could clean her wounds!

I rushed to the beach, but before I stepped in I saw a root sitting in the water, smoking. That was not water! Whatever it was, it seemed to be acidic. I obviously couldn’t use that to clean the Sharkwoman’s wounds. And now I had a new problem, how was I going to get us out of here? The Sharkwoman could probably have flown us out of here, but she was out cold. I couldn’t jump back to the hole above us, it was too high, and there was acid all around us. She was dying. It was only a matter of time until I joined her.

The only thing at hand were the broken roots that had fallen with me. Perhaps I could make something with them? A boat? A ladder? I picked up a small root and went to see how quickly the acid would eat through it. That was when I noticed the acid was eating the island. I grabbed a root and tried to use it to see how deep the acid was, but as I started to lean over the island began to lean as well!

I jumped back. The island rocked back into place. How could it rock? It couldn’t be attached to anything for it to be able to do that. We weren’t trapped on an island, we were on a boat! A quickly dissolving boat, but a boat nonetheless. That meant we could move! I grabbed one of the larger roots and began paddling. I aimed for what I thought was a shore when I noticed bubbles starting to rise from the acid.

At first I thought they were from my rowing, I hoped that they were, but the bubbles were too far away and they were getting larger. It was almost as if there was something underneath coming up to the surface. I tried to row faster, but I was only on one side so I was careful not to start us spinning in a circle. Plus, I didn’t want to splash myself.

The bubbles came faster and grew larger. I saw the shadow coming up from the bottom. It was coming up and coming up fast! And then it burst onto the surface. It looked like a massive cabbage, a massive cabbage with very large teeth!

to be continued…