Last Stand of the World
Chapter Seventeen: True colors
Ryli looked down at the deep golden bag in her hand, nodded, and stuffed it into her tunic close to her heart. Then tied the second bag at her waist; she hoped that the beast wouldn’t be too upset not getting as prominent a place as the whole of her tribe.
She swallowed, brushed her hand over face, and scrambled after Davern, waving towards Dugger, “c'mon, we don’t have a lot of time. Let’s go, you two.”
Dugger shook himself as if coming out of a trance and followed after them, “you’re right, but do I really have to carry this nasty thing?”
“Yes!” everyone coursed as one.
No one really noticed an odd glint in Gabs eye as she trailed after them. She’d wavered a bit, kicking her foot, in a low, almost inaudible, and petulant voice, “no one asked if I wanted to go along.”
Ryli looked back, “what did you say, Gabs? Hurry, okay, it’s a long way to the front of the area where they kept us.”
“Nothing Ryli, I guess you’re the boss now, huh?” She smiled sweetly.
Ryli paused and turned to her, “What do you mean?”
“Never mind, we’re in a hurry, aren’t we? We don’t have time. So let’s just go.” Gabs pushed past her and began walking next to Dugger as if she hadn’t just been unhappy smiling up at him.
Ryli looked after her, confused. Something about the situation didn’t sit right with her. But like she said, they didn’t have time. She walked to the front of the line next to Davern, "So, how long have you been stuck down here? Do you know the way out?"
Davern subconsciously rubbed his right wrist. "I can get out any time I want," he sighed. "The problem is that I need to find someone, and they've been taken by the Nuller, so I need to move quickly. As for how long I've been here...he paused, roughly six, or so hours, I'd say." He picked up his pace and continued walking down the dark tunnel with Asaa beside him, her undulating form casting odd shadows on the walls whenever she shifted her tail.
Ryli stared after him for a few seconds, mouth agape, "what do you mean you've only been here for about six hours.
"I haven't been here that long, just since this afternoon. Asaa, on the other hand, has lived here her whole life, so she knows the tunnels pretty well."
"But, if you've only been here since this afternoon, what kind of information could you have shared with us to escape." Gabs huffed at him from Dugger's side.
He paused and glared back over his shoulder at her; like I said, I can escape anytime I want. I have a spell that will send me out of here this moment; if I chose to cast it. I also said, Asaa has also been here her whole life, so we had plenty of information to share."
"Gabs, it's okay. I'm sure that they could have helped us escape." Ryli stepped in, trying to mediate, lightly touching Gabs arm.
"Well, sure, he has a spell that can send him away, but how does that help us?" Gabs shrugged off her hand, "and besides, who asked you to get involved with them anyway? If you hadn't, nothing would have changed."
Ryli pulled back her hand, slightly trembling, "what are you talking about? They saved your life."
"No, actually, if they hadn't been there, my life wouldn't have been in danger in the first place. I f I hadn't seen their lights, I wouldn't have ran away, and besides, all he did was shout, it was Dugger who saved me."
"Yeah, he was the only one strong enough to pull me to safety. What, did you think your stupid invention saved me?" Gabs sneered at her and flipped her braids back behind her shoulders.
"I don't understand where this is coming from, Gabs, aren't we friends?" Ryli went to move towards her again, but Gabs pushed her away.
"Friends? I don't understand why The Shaman made some trash scavenger The Guardian of our entire race, instead of me. I don't see the benefit in following around this human, so what if he can cast a spell and leave. How does that help us? Also, why did The Shaman suddenly pick you, and what is this library?"
"That's enough, Gabs!" Dugger snapped at her, then dragged her to the side, so she wasn't in Ryli's face yelling at her.
She rounded on Dugger, "What, you can't tell me you're happy with this arrangement after the conversation with my father?"
"Gabs, I'm sorry, but your father changes the moment he became 'controlled' he no longer had the best interest of the tribe in his heart; if he ever did."
"Just what is that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing, Gabs," He said, turning away and not quite able to meet her eyes.
"But you were chosen to be his successor when I failed..."
"I'm aware of that, but even if I became a summoner, I still wouldn't be the tribes' leader."
"What, do you mean?"
"Our tribe had two chiefs, only because of their father's folly, and he should have made a hard decision, and we've paid a dear price for it."
"So, you've always agreed with Ryli? That The Shaman should have been the Chief?"
"I've always agreed that our tribe should have had only one Chief."
She bit her lip and twisted her waist, looking up into his eyes, "you know what my hopes were for us?"
"I'm aware." He looked away, not quite meeting her eyes.
"I'm sorry, Gabs, but that's never what I intended." he wrung his hands then messed up his hair, growling in frustration.
"So you think it's okay that he just arbitrarily chose a scavenger to be the tribes' guardian rather than you or me, one of the rightful heirs?" She glowered at him, her demeanor becoming steadily more argumentative.
"I think...Gabs, I think if you'd listened to what he'd said, The Shaman hid something about Ryli from the tribe. We need to find out what it is and help her solve the quest to heal our people and cure them of the venom that caused them to be 'controlled,' I think that's more important right now than who will be the leader in the future.
'I also think that I couldn't have saved you without Ryli's help, and while you might not have ran off down that passage because of the light if the human hadn't shown up, our next mission objective was that passage, so either way, we would have gone down there so in a way it still holds that he saved our lives."
Gabs' face started to scrunch up, and she was about to retort with another comment.
When a gruff voice interrupted, and Davern broke into their conversation, "look, little brat, we don't have time for your tantrum. I never said I couldn't take you with me. Also, your Shaman tasked me to take Ryli to the library, so I really don't care if you come or not."
Gabs' small face crumpled into tears, and she looked between Ryli and Dugger before fleeing into the darkness of the tunnel ahead.
Dugger looked over at Davern, "I know you have something urgent to take care of but was that really necessary?"
"Yes, she's holding us up to throw a tantrum because The Shaman gave Ryli the job and not you or her. So she'd treating Ryli like crap. We don't have time the Nuller has my brother, these tunnels are being flooded with a large amount of toxic mana, and I don't know how the Nuller breeds, so there might be lots of little Nullers the deeper we go, so I don't have time to baby a petulant little goblin girl who's mad that her uncle didn't pick her over someone she considers beneath her. So the short answer is yes, it was necessary.
Dugger shook his head, alright I have some stuff I have to gather before I can leave. I'll try and find her and meet up with you further into the den. Sorry for the trouble that we've caused."
"I don't blame you. You've been nothing but helpful; I'm sorry I've got a short temper right now. I'm just rather worried about this situation, and I need to get back and report it to the guild before it's too late to instate countermeasures."
"I understand. I'll see you guys soon, Ryli take care until I return." He waved and followed Gabs into the darkness.
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