Last Stand of the World
Chapter Twenty-One: Trapped
Davern sat holding the power stone, threading his power in and out of it, cycle after cycle, breathing in and out, in meditation. Something niggled at the back of his mind as he breathed out, expelling a breath of putrid air.
He didn't know why, but ever since he'd come to this underground tunnel system, he'd had a vague feeling like he'd forgotten something, it nagged at him like his life depended on remembering it; he didn't know what it was, he sighed, and pushed the last dredges of the venom into a seal and breathed out, once he'd contained them all and bound the seal.
He would worry about it later. There was nothing he could do, about vague feelings he couldn't pinpoint; right now, he had to focus on the path ahead and take it one step at a time, and the next step was adding a little power to the ward as it began to fade, and regaining the strength he lost.
Davern pushed his hands against the ground and let his mana flow into the wards he set, just to strengthen them a little. He'd felt the constant bombardment against them for about an hour, but it had lessened as time had passed, and now there hadn't been any in quite a while. He didn't know if she had given up or was up to other devious things to harry them when they came out of the hut.
He leaned towards the latter, he didn't put it past her to set more traps and such, or maybe she'd finally found a quiet place to curl up and take a nap. He began to think about the issue of the "controlled" and what the situation with Gabs could mean for them. He really wished that he could have a visual record of her shift.
He sighed, rubbed his face leaning his head back against the hut wall, then opened his eyes and looked at the snake girl curled up next to him. Her sleeping form was just as lovely as her lively and awake form, but with a quiet stillness that intrigued him just as much.
Her glistening Azure scales shone against the fading lights still entwined around them, she'd set the main holder down, but the tendrils wrapped around her tail, providing more light. It was a very ingenious design. It didn't interfere with the user's movement and provided ample light to see within the tunnels, though Asaa said that usually, these tunnels were filled with light.
He rubbed his chest then looked down at the band on his wrist. Was it really true that his emotions were his own? He sighed and looked around; he guessed that he would just trust his gut and put it aside for now.
Just after that, he focused mana into his eyes and looked at Dugger and Ryli. They both seemed to be recovered okay and should be waking soon. He breathed a sigh of relief; as much as he wanted to be a good guy and help people out, he really needed to get on with it and try to find where that bloody Nuller had taken his brother. His guts burned with rage for a moment before he took a deep breath, and quiet his heart, getting angry wouldn't solve anything.
Asaa stirred awake beside him, rubbing her chest, "are you alright?" She asked groggily.
Davern looked over at her, noted her hand motion, which so often mirrored his own, in the last few hours. "I'm fine. Did you sleep okay?"
She rose up, resting on one of her coils, yawning into a fist, and nodded, then looked at the power stone that rested further within her coils, "seems like there's still a little left for next time," and put it away. She rose up to her full length, flipped her tail out a few times, stretching, bringing her arms up over her head, then went over and checked on Ryli. "She should be waking up soon."
He stood up and stretched, the silken fabric brushing the top of his knees; he smoothed it out and then walked over to Dugger and nudged him, "I know you're awake."
Dugger glared up at him, then scanned the room, and didn't seem to see what he was looking for. Then he glared more intensely at them, "where's Gabs?"
"Well, what do you think, Asaa? Maybe we should have just let him die?"
"I don't know, maybe. Considering his first question isn't to ask how Ryli is, but to ask how the person is, who cut him up and tried to drug him into being her slave."
"What do you mean Ryli was hurt?"
Asaa moved aside so that he could see Ryli's form on the ground. "What the hell happened? What did you guys do to Ryli?"
"Maybe, having his ears cut off did something to his brain?" Davern activated his mana eyes just to make sure that Dugger wasn't being "controlled." Nope, he was just being a grade A ass. "Listen, dirt for brains, your little girlfriend stabbed Ryli and ran off while we were trying to save your life. Ryli risked her life to save you. Why don't you show a little more respect."
Dugger grabbed his ears and tugged a little, then hissed. It still hurt. "I'm sorry, I'm a little confused, and my memory is really fuzzy. I know Gabs was here, and she wanted something from me, and then when I woke up, you guys are here, and Gabs is gone."
Asaa came over and laid a hand on Davern's arm, "Davern, he's telling the truth, that potion she gave him can cause memory loss, among other things. We're lucky that he remembers who we are at all. Which might only be due to the spell The Shaman cast."
"Fine, then I'll explain it to you. Gabs decided she didn't like the fact that you don't like her. So she was going to make you like her by using some kind of potion; I'm not really sure what the effects are. Asaa can explain it later.
'The gist is that it would have made you either love her or do whatever she said. But before it could work, she needed to break down your mind a little, so she carved you up and mentally tormented you.
'When we got here, she had just started to deliver the potion, Ryli saw it and tackled her. Asaa knows alchemy and tested what she gave you then made an antidote. While I was healing you and she was making the antidote, Ryli was dealing with Gabs, we heard a scream and turned around, and Ryli had been stabbed, and Gabs had ran away.
'I went to look at Ryli, and she'd been poisoned. Asaa finished healing you while I stabilized Ryli and then came and dealt with the toxin. After that, we held out here while Gabs bombarded us with bombs and whatever else she could find. For the last hour or so, it has been quiet. We've been waiting for you and Ryli to wake up so we can leave and find out what she's up to. I'd say that about brings us up to current what about you, Asaa?"
Asaa nodded, "yes, I believe so. We are not sure where she has gone, we are quite sorry for what has happened to you, but we have done our best with what is available to us."
There was a moan behind them, and the three of them turned. "Did you catch her?" a gravely voice croaked out.
Asaa slithered over and checked her forehead with the back of her palm; "I'm sorry we were trying to save you."
"I expected as much. How is Dugger?"
"Not mind-controlled, but a real pisser at the moment," Davern said, kicking the seat that Dugger sat on, tilting it a little.
"Hey, watch it!" Dugger paled and grabbed the edge of the chair to keep from toppling out of it.
"Davern?" Asaa came over, but Davern stopped her with a slightly raised hand.
"Well, Dugger got anything to say?"
He looked at Davern blankly for a moment. When he threatened to kick his chair again, he looked at Asaa and said, "thank you, Asaa, for saving me from Gabs' potion," and then at Davern, "thanks for healing me up," and finally he looked at Ryli, looked down and flushed with embarrassment, "Thanks Ryli."
Davern clapped him on the shoulder and smiled. "Now that that's final, let's get the stuff you came to get and get out of here. We've wasted enough time."
Dugger gingerly stood up then stiffly moved around the room. He gathered the stuff he needed and then looked at the beast bag at his waist again, then up at Davern. "How did you know? "
"About the wyrms? Or about you being the next Summoner? I didn't, really. It was just an intuition. Most goblins your age and status can't just talk directly with The Shaman and have him actually listen to you and come.
'That and Ryli, but we'll talk about it later. Now, get your stuff; if you need to store some stuff and don't have a way to store it, Asaa has a storage band that can store things. Until you get where you can get your own."
"I have one; it's just not very good."
Asaa huffed at him under her breath, "you have one too."
He pretended not to hear her, though everyone in the room heard, and wondered why he wasn't responding, or acknowledging the fact that he had one too.
It didn't take Dugger long to clear the room; though he couldn't take everything like Asaa could, he could still take the things necessary for him as the next Summoner so that his tribe didn't have any broken links in the chain of knowledge.
He thought for a second and looked at Ryli, and then looked at Davern, "you know Davern, I might not need to take you up on that offer, but the Shaman doesn't have a successor at the moment, so we need to take the stuff from his hut so that we don't lose the knowledge there, I don't have any room in my bags, do you think that Asaa would mind storing them for me until I can find the successor."
Davern shot a look at Ryli, who was looking out the door, then at Asaa, who caught the drift.
"I don't mind, Dugger. I'll go and clear it out on the way out of the village." Though she did roll her eyes at Davern and stick out her tongue.
Davern shook his head and waved his hand, collecting the wards. He looked at them then clicked his tongue; they wouldn't be useful anymore, so he set them on fire to destroy any trace of his blood left within them. He cast a last look around then glanced at Dugger; "you ready?"
"Yeah, I still need to go to my hut to grab a few things, but other than that, I've got everything."
Just as he went to step through the door, Ryli snagged him back by the collar and tossed him back into the room. "What the hell, Ryli?"
She just shook her head and bared her teeth at them, in a grim semblance of a smile, and pointed with a small thin finger at the ground in front of the door. "I don't know what was going on while I was asleep, but it seems like we'll be having a really nice time getting out of this mess." She said with a sarcastic lilt to her voice.
I'm going to be on hiatus for a few days. I'm going to handwrite the last arc of the book. To get a backlog built up, and isn't so exhausting. Thanks for your patience take care.
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