Last Stand of the World
Chapter Three: Sand Wyrms
The dry arid corridor felt stifling and didn't help the never-ending nausea; he'd been plagued with ever since he'd woken hanging upside down in the Nullers’ food locker. Davern didn’t know how long he’d been in the Nullers’ lair.
He hoped it hadn’t been too long since the creature had knocked him out and taken his brother, but he had no idea where to start looking. He could only faintly follow the tracks through the tunnel, and even that was getting increasingly difficult as he descended deeper.
Davern felt a vibration under his toes and frowned. He didn't like the feeling of this, not at all; the last time something had jumped out of a wall and almost ate him for lunch, he had a feeling something was coming from underground and something he wasn’t going to like very much.
He looked along the walls to see if there were any kind of handholds that he could grasp, and even if Davern didn't see any, he should at least have enough time to make one. Davern cupped his hands and used a remove dirt spell to the tips of his fingers, and kept it active as he scampered up the wall seconds before something erupted from the floor beneath him.
The thick grey-yellow tube flailed about for a moment before sinking back beneath the ground. “Great, just flipping great. Yet another joy to bring to this joyous day. My lovely jinx…” Davern’s thoughts grew darker, as he hung naked on a mud wall in a dark, humid tunnel; would either of them even make it out of this mess alive to warn the guild? He glanced at his wrist again.
Then crept sideways along the wall. There was no way he was going back down there. He didn’t have any weapons strong enough to pierce a sand wyrm's skin. His magic was shot. He could barely activate his chore magic, and his healing magic was eating up his mana faster than he could draw it in and replenish his pool.
Every few feet, another one would pop up, and he would have to push farther up the wall; he was running out of stamina and wondered how far this worm-infested corridor extended. He looked around. On the far side of the passage, he could see an opening that appeared to be blocked by webs. Nope, that way was definitely out. He could handle one weak spider that spent all its time hiding in a hole and had a weak armor class. It wasn’t like he was a weakling despite all appearance to the contrary.
He just didn’t seem to have that many options right now; with whatever that damn Nullar had injected into him, and the fact that all his gear had been stolen, forcing his body to eat through his reserves at a rapid pace, that he usually only went through when he was in a prolonged battle.
For that matter, he couldn't even stop and take any of their magic cores because he didn’t have anywhere to put them. But that wasn’t the point; the point was that the day had gone to hell, and he didn’t have any readily available solution to get himself and his brother out of this mess if his brother was even alive, damn bloody jinx if they got out of this mess he was going to use a silencing spell on him for at least a month this time, that should keep him from getting them into any more messes, at least for a while.
Davern heaved a sigh and gripped the wall tighter, shifting the magic to the tips of his toes, as well. He didn’t have the stamina today to just hang on by his arms, and he didn’t care if everyone in the world thought he was a wimp. You try hanging upside down for god knows how long getting hit in the head and dealing with freaking Nuller venom and see if you’re feeling peachy.
He grumbled in low audible mumbles all along the passage until he came to a bend the path. The wyrms snapping along the floor had lessened, and he couldn’t feel any vibrations, but he could see a deep black cavern to his right that seemed to go back a ways, and the first one of his light stones chose that moment to go out.
Davern could see a little alcove just up ahead of him, and he decided that he needed to sit down and take a rest. He caught his breath and put his head on his knees. Slowly breathing in and out, taking as much ambient mana as he could in from the area around him, it wasn't easy. The Nuller being nearby had damaged the Mana particles on a fundamental level, making it harder for his body to draw in usable ones and filter out the dredges.
He let out a breath of putrid air. He sat up, looking at his surroundings. Davern really didn’t want to go by that big empty expanse. Then he turned to the left and something wooden, out of the corner of his eye, that seemed to be poking just out from the edge of the cavern, dang it; he really didn’t want to go over there.
But Davern didn’t really have much choice. He’d already lost one of his glow rocks, and he was sure that the others weren’t far behind; he’d lit them pretty close together.
He needed supplies. Groaning, Davern lurched to his feet and, keeping a keen eye trained on the darkness to the right, he kept his back to the alcove he’d just came out of and skirted around a pillar of stone coming to another alcove piled high with all sorts of boxes barrels and other things he had no idea about the uses for, it must have been a storage alcove for the previous tenants of these caverns.
Supplies, he would have shouted for joy if there weren’t a dark and ominous cavern right next to him. He reached forward and started snooping through the boxes; the first couple didn’t have anything useful. He was starting to think he'd never find clothing again. All he'd found were cups, bowls, and useless kitchen stuff that hadn't been used in decades by the looks of it.
Davern couldn’t even find a single piece of cloth that he could use to turn into a covering. He looked down at his nether region; this was getting ridiculous. He reached up for a box higher on the stack, it felt like it was attached to something, but he thought he saw some kind of armor sticking out of the box and be damned if he wasn’t going to pull it down no matter what it was attached to.
He heard a snick noise, oh crap, he thought, a trap? The ground rumbled, shifted, and lifted slightly. He wrapped his arms around the box. To hell with it. If he was going to fall into a trap because of this crappy piece of armor, he was taking it with him.
It was too late to grab for purchase as he and everything with him in the alcove slid down and backward towards the opposite wall; a panel had opened, and he didn’t have time to so much as squeak before the ground had lifted again and he and the boxes were deposited inside a sitting room.