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The Last Satyr: The Return of the Gang Part 3

Summary

In the final book of the trilogy, the boys must escape the underground caverns of Lolth or die. Then, if they reach the surface, they must still save the Black Dragons from Vhaeraun's wrath as he orders the destruction of Moon City and plots the death of his sister. Will the Last Satyr really become the last one?

Genre:
Adventure / Fantasy
Author:
IMAnonymous
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
58
Rating:
5.0
Age Rating:
16+

Hopeless

“NO WAY OUT… No Way Out… no way out…”

The anguished cry of the elf echoed through the cavern, reverberating back like a hideous laugh that seemed to pierce the very stones, mocking their plight endlessly.

But the laugh held a cruel truth. They were trapped, confined within the confines of this cave with its entrance sealed, dooming them all. Against this unyielding barrier of rock, escape was impossible. There was no way out.

Ronthiel, driven to desperation, pulled and grabbed at the rocks that separated him from the surface until his fingers bled. His voice cracked as he cried, “I cannot stand another day down here, not another minute!”

He fell to his knees in desperate sobbing as escape slipped through his fingers. He hated the caves and hated the dark. All that had kept him going these last few days was the dream and the promise to get out, to escape this claustrophobia, and see the blue skies and wide-open spaces of day again.

His despair infected the others. The boy was already in panic, for he hated being underground as much as Ronthiel. Ronthiel found no sympathetic quarter from him. Young Joe, swayed by Ronthiel’s anguish, considered throwing himself off the road and to the rocks below, only to be restrained by Marroh and Amien. Even Leradien, who comprehended Ronthiel’s torment intimately, couldn't reason with him.

To be cut off from the light is a terrible thing to a Light Elf. They see so well and their eyes are so sharp that, to be deprived of this one keenness of sense was to be deprived of them all. An elf left blind was not an elf. He lost his sense of purpose, lost his security, and lost his independence. He was simply lost – in the dark – with no way out.

The cavern had become his prison and the darkness his relentless jailer. He lamented, screamed, cried, and sobbed and, worse, it all seemed so much more intense to the elf than ever before. There was nothing the others could do but let his rant of despair run its course. The boy watched and waited until Ronthiel simply succumbed to exhaustion, unable to shed another tear.

Turning to Leradien, the boy leveled an accusing gaze. “You have done this to him,” he told her and then he turned to the others for an answer to their predicament. “Where to now?”

Amien and young Joe were bereft of answers, expecting the boy to lead them. The wounded satyrs they had brought along were barely able to carry themselves, let alone move a rock, and so they too were silent. Marroh, the only one among them familiar with these underground paths, finally spoke up. “We must return to Mills Breath.”

Leradien contradicted, her voice a resolute counterpoint. “There is nothing beyond Mills Breath but Thera Pass, and Lolth’s half-orcs hold it.”

“There is certainly no way out through here,” argued the dwarf. “This way is blocked. We can only go to Mills Breath. Friends await us there. There is nothing here.”

Ronthiel, vehemently opposed, declared, “No! I’m not going back there!” exclaimed Ronthiel. “I will not go downhill into that black Under World abyss again! I would rather die here trying to dig my way out!”

“That cannot be done,” answered Marroh. “But the dwarves at Mills Breath can tunnel us a new way out.”

Hope flickered as the boy asked, “And how long would that take?”

“Months,” replied the dwarf.

“Months?!” cried Ronthiel. “I will go insane if I am not already!”

“There is no other way,” said the dwarf.

Ronthiel, challenging the apparent fate, proposed an alternative. “Maybe, or maybe not! I notice no one has asked Leradien if there is another way out and she knows the Under World better than the dwarf. The drow always keep secret ways open to the surface that the dwarves do not know about.”

The dwarf acknowledged the truth. “That’s true.”

Everyone looked at Leradien for her answer.

“I agree,” she said. “We should return to Mills Breath.”

The boy recognized Leradien had just changed her mind. A moment ago she had been opposed with Lolth's army so near. Yet now she was in favor. Hadn’t Ronthiel just said she would know a secret way out? And had not Marroh agreed? Could she be trusted to tell them?

“See how she agrees?” Ronthiel interjected, suspecting her of a hidden agenda. “She always does when decisions favor her. She didn’t want to ascend the Three Candles when she volunteered to accompany me in the search for the boy. Leradien avoids volunteering whenever she can. Yet now she proposes it! She wants to go back! She wants to find Lolth!”

The boy disagreed, defending Leradien, “That doesn’t mean she knows another way out.”

Ronthiel, insistent, asserted, “I’m betting she can get out any times she wants, but chooses not to!’

“Is that true?” The boy confronted her. “Can you get us out?” he asked, his eyes searching hers for a glimmer of truth.

“I cannot get you out,” Leradien replied, “not through here!”

“But somewhere else?” demanded Ronthiel.

Leradien did not answer his question.

“See!” Ronthiel exclaimed, accusing her of conspiracies. “She wants us to fail! She wants to stay down here! You’re all too happy to follow the dwarf’s advice,” he accused Leradien. “You’re thrilled because now you can freely hunt Lolth’s blood!”

“Enough!” the boy ordered Ronthiel, his voice filled with a mix of frustration and sorrow. “You don’t know what you’re saying! So stop saying it! These accusations won’t get us anywhere!”

“So what will get us out of here?” Amien wanted to know, looking upwards at the blocked way for some sign of a way through.

“Certainly not panic,” answered the boy. “Someone stopped up these tunnels. Who did?”

“Not the half orcs,” answered Amien. “They would not seal themselves underground.”

“Graybeard!” said the boy in sudden realization.

“That would be my guess,” answered Amien in agreement. “Only he would benefit from this.”

“Then he and the others must have reached the surface and are alive!” The boy concluded.

“For all the good that does us,” said young Joe.

“But Graybeard would have left a way open for us to get out,” said the boy.

“Only if Sar told him you were alive,” answered Amien. “He would not know if Joe and I were alive and probably thinks us dead.”

“There is still Ronthiel and Leradien,” answered the boy. “Graybeard would know they were still alive.”

“He would know them to be alive but not captured,” answered Amien. “And the same goes for you with Sar.”

“But if they knew we were alive,” said the boy. “They should have left us something.”

He began to look around the walls, searching for the elusive answer.

“What are you looking for?” asked Leradien.

“Something only we can find,” replied the boy.

“It’s right in front of you,” she cryptically responded.

“What do you mean?”

“There’s a subtle cut in the rock, visible only to an elf.”

Ronthiel shined his light on it. “She’s right. Something’s hidden behind that rock.”

“One way to find out,” offered the dwarf, eager to reveal the secrets hidden within the dark confines. “Let me through!”

“A line you say,” he stopped to note, studying the rock surface for a long moment.

Then he raised his axe and fell it neatly along the line, splitting the rock in half. Then he reached in and pulled out what was within.

It was Graybeard’s wineskin.

“Mead!” Marroh announced, triumphantly holding it up. “And quite tasty, too!”

“They know we are alive!” exclaimed the boy.

“They know,” agreed the dwarf. “And they have left us this small comfort.”

He handed it to the boy who took it.

“Marroh?’ asked the boy, seeking the dwarf's guidance. “By what means would the others have left us a way out?”

“Impossible to say,” answered the dwarf. “Leaving a way out is contrary to blocking the entrances in the first place. I think they left us that mead for a reason. It’s to tell us we’re here for a while.”

“Possibly forever,” Ronthiel added in despair.

The boy, dismissing Ronthiel’s bleak outlook, pursued a hidden possibility. “But is it possible the Three Candles should have been called Four?”

“If that were true,” answered Marroh, “the dwarfs would have called it Four Candles.”

“There must be another way out,” said the boy. “Leradien? What do you know of this?”

“Why do you ask me?” she deflected. “This is the dwarf’s cavern and not mine. We stand on their road and not mine.”

“But Ronthiel is right. The drow are always finding ways to the surface and you’re half-drow.”

Leradien, refusing to concede, questioned, “Did the man orcs find a way through? They know the ways as well as me!”

“You’ll get nothing from her!” said Ronthiel in a low voice. “So long as we’re trapped down here, it means she can get Lolth. She’s quite happy with things as they are!”

“Oh! Shut up!” she declared. “I tried to get you out!”

“Oh, yes! You tried to get me out all right but not yourself!”

“You talk as though you’ve lost your reason,” Amien commented, addressing Ronthiel’s descent into paranoia. “The man orcs could not get through so there is no other way!”

“Oh? Then let her tell me I am wrong,” challenged Ronthiel. “Tell me I am wrong, Leradien, and I will believe you.”

Accusations were being flung, trust questioned, and the boy stood at the center, trying to anchor them amidst the turmoil.

“Hush yourself!” he ordered. “Leradien tried to move these rocks. You saw her yourself! She tried and she couldn’t!”

“She tried and she couldn’t, true,” admitted Ronthiel. “But now that she knows the way ahead is blocked, she knows the way back is not.”

“You’re talking nonsense!” said the boy.

“Am I?” asked Ronthiel.

“Absolutely!” the boy answered, “she was the first to say this way was blocked or the half orcs would not have been stopped. And Marroh agrees!”

“Blocked to us – Yes – but maybe not to her,” he replied.

“Watching these two lovers’ bicker is making my head sore!” complained Amien. “None of this arguing gets us out of here.”

“She never says I am wrong,” insisted Ronthiel.

“I never say you’re right, either!” exclaimed Leradien.

“Stop your bickering, both of you!” declared the boy. “If you’re so confident Leradien can’t be trusted,” he told Ronthiel, “then I assume you won’t object if I leave the decision to Marroh?”

Ronthiel fell silent.

“Marroh?” asked the boy. “What is your advice?”

“That we return to Mills Breath,” he reiterated. “The dwarves there are just as trapped as we are so our problem is also their problem and they are experts at solving such problems.”

“Leradien?” the boy turned to ask, “Do you object?”

She too was silent.

“She says nothing,” Ronthiel said in warning, “because you are all deciding exactly what she wants you to do!”

The boy ignored the elf. He had lost his mind and the boy knew why.

“Then we make for Mills Breath and seek the counsel of Arnen Fang.”

“Forgive my interruption,” said Amien to the boy, “but keep in mind that Arnen Fang is neither wise nor a friend in these matters.”

“Aye,” Marroh agreed. “That he isn’t.”

“We’ve no one else left to trust,” said the boy.



Going downhill on the road was much faster than going up and they reached Mills Breath by what was considered nightfall down there. As they approached the city, darkness enveloped them like a shroud, swallowing every detail of the once-vibrant landscape. Here,

Marroh forbid them from using their elf lanterns for fear of raising the alarm amongst the half orcs at Thera Pass. So they all had to blindly follow the lead of Leradien, Ronthiel second in line behind her.

Ever since his surviving Lolth’s poison, the elf boy found his senses more acute and aware. And, though he could just barely make Leradien out ahead of him, he could see that while she was leading them to the city, her head kept facing Thera Pass.

“Thinking of Lolth?” he inquired, suspecting her motive.

“Man orc patrols,” she replied hesitantly.

Ronthiel caught the hesitation in her voice though. He knew her spider body hungered for Lolth’s blood. It was that hunger that drove her to attack the three wall crawlers and it was that hunger which gave her such speed when she carried him here before. He wondered what he had fallen in love with. But it was too late now. An elf only falls in love once and he had done it.

“The city is not far,” she told him.

“And how far away is Lolth?” the boy wanted to know.

“Far,” she stated flatly.

With Lolth beyond her reach, she took them to the darkened city that rose up before them like a great tomb. For a tomb it was for the dwarves trapped within. The enemy could take it at any time. The city stood before them; a monolithic sentinel veiled in darkness. The darkened walls whispered tales of hopelessness, and as they approached, an aura of despair enveloped them.

It was not a place of hope but of hopelessness. Its unmanned walls told its grisly tale, and as they approached, a sense of impending doom settled upon them like a heavy mist. In the face of the forsaken city, the fate of Mills Breath awaited, its secrets lying in wait, ready to consume their hopes. Its walls bearing witness to the struggle within and echoing the silent cries of those trapped, the future loomed uncertain in the shadows.


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