Needwood: A New World Fairy Tale

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The Tunnel

Early the next morning, after a hearty breakfast of fruit and porridge, Lady Fiona led Savvy, Alistair, and LeBits to the mouth of a cave in the side of Long Mountain. Standing before the yawning entrance, Savvy felt a cold wind brush past her face. She shuddered at the idea of going underground, but the lives of everyone she loved rested upon her shoulders and during the night she had resigned herself to the burden.

Tying her coppery hair behind her head and regretting that she had lost her hat, Savvy asked if Fiona could reveal anything to her about the tests.

“No, Savilla, I cannot,” replied Fiona with a gentle shake of her head. “All I can tell you is that your character will be tested. You will be asked to look deep inside of yourself for answers and after the process is finished you will come out a different person on the other side.”

“Is the journey dangerous?” asked Alistair.

Savvy stared at her friend. Worry clouded his face and she wondered if fear filled his heart even more than hers.

“Loyal Alistair, I’ll not lie to you,” said Fiona. “The journey is perilous, but I am confident that you will see Savilla again.”

“That’s something, I guess,” sighed the boy.

Turning to Savvy, Fiona asked if she was ready to go.

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” said Savvy, her voice trembling slightly.

“Good. Then hold out your hand. I have a few things to give you.”

Reaching into a large pouch that dangled from her belt, Fiona drew out a fist-sized crystal. “This is a glowstone. It will light your way in the darkness.”

Fiona placed the glittering quartz into Savvy’s hand. “It also has the power to dispel illusions. Merely give the command ‘lumino’ to activate the crystal’s light and say ‘obscurum’ to shut it off. The light is your friend, Savilla. Use it to your advantage.”

Savvy nodded that she understood and tucked the crystal into Alistair’s satchel, which he had emptied of its contents and given her for the journey.

Next, Fiona drew from her pouch an object wrapped in dark blue silk. Laying the item in Savvy’s hand, Fiona unfolded the cloth to reveal an unusual looking dagger with a wavy blade.

“A weapon?” Savvy gulped.

“There are more uses for this than as a weapon, Savilla. Take it and keep it handy. You will know when to use it.”

Savvy refolded the silk around the dagger and slipped it into her bag.

“Now, there is one more item I have for you,” said Fiona. “It will seem trivial at first, but it is the most important object of the three.”

The Sirachim reached into her pouch a third time and drew out a gold chain with a small locket dangling from it. Resting the locket in her hand, Fiona clicked open the cover and held it up for Savvy to see inside. A tear formed in Savvy’s eye and her bottom lip began to quiver.

“Mother,” she rasped, her voice filled with emotion.

“Yes, this is a portrait of Magdalene that I have had since she was young. Look at how beautiful she was. Consider how much you resemble her, too. Always remember the love that Magdalene had for you. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. With it you can overcome any challenge. Without it you are lost.”

Savvy brushed away a tear that rolled down her cheek while Fiona hung the locket around her neck.

“No matter what you encounter, always think of what your mother would have done,” the Sirachim advised. “Magdalene had a gentle, merciful way about her. Hold her values close and you will do well. These, then, are the gifts I have to help you on your way. Take them and use them wisely.”

“I understand, but how will I know when to use them? You haven’t given me any instructions,” Savvy protested.

“Haven’t I? You must rely on your wits to guide you, my dear, and trust that you will understand when the time is right.”

Savvy nodded and tucked the locket into her shirt. Then she turned to Alistair and threw her arms around his neck.

“Y-You take care now, Savvy,” he sputtered, his cheeks flushing red. “I’ll be waiting for you when you get back.”

“Thank you, Alistair. Look after yourself while I’m gone.”

“I will. Don’t worry.”

“Very well, Savilla, are you ready?” asked Fiona.

“I am. Are you ready, LeBits?”

“Prrrr, I am ready,” nodded the Felim.

Swallowing hard, Savvy faced the dark cave. She stepped toward it and forced the butterflies in her stomach to be still. Then, after a final glance back, she passed through the entrance and disappeared from sight with LeBits by her side.

Once Savvy had gone, Fiona turned to Alistair.

“Now it is time for you too to depart,” she said. “Do you know the way home?”

“Yes, I know the way,” Alistair nodded. “Needwood Village is due east from here. Will it be safe with that demon lurking about?”

“You will be safe,” Fiona reassured him. “I do not sense the Krytten anywhere near your path.”

“That’s a relief. Lady Fiona, will you tell me when Savvy comes back?”

“Yes, dear boy, I will send LeBits to you when they return. Yet for now, Alistair McCad, I bid you farewell.”

Taking a step back, Fiona snapped her fingers and vanished in a flash of light.

“Doggone it, how does she do that?” blurted Alistair, astounded at the display of magic.

Then he turned to the cave and peered into the gloom.

“Savvy?” he called, but no reply came back to him.

Alistair began to pace. Back and forth he went, debating with himself until at last he heaved a great sigh.

“I sure hope you know what you’re doing, McCad,” he said, and before he could talk himself out of it he plunged into the cave after his friend.

Once she had entered the cavern, the smell of damp earth filled Savvy’s nose. She let her eyes adjust to the gloom and continued to a wide opening at the back of the hollow. The cold breeze that she had felt earlier wafted up from the darkness, along with a silence so heavy that the beating of Savvy’s heart was the loudest sound in her ears. LeBits paused beside her and looked down into the void.

“It’s sure dark down there,” he said. “All I can see are the steps running down the wall to our left.”

“Be grateful you can see that! I can’t see anything,” said Savvy, and reaching into her satchel, she drew out the glowstone.

“Lumino,” she commanded, stirring into life a small flame at the heart of the quartz.

The light grew in size and brightness until the entire stone beamed with a cold white fire. Savvy held up the gem to illuminate the cavern. To her left, she spied the narrow stairs that LeBits had seen. Hewn from the rock itself, the stairs traveled downward along the wall before ending at a ledge one-hundred feet below. Moisture running down the cavern wall glazed the steps, making them glisten in the stone’s pearly glow. Savvy extended her arm fully and peered straight down. Light from the glowstone rippled far below her as if reflecting off of water. She kicked a small rock off the ledge and counted its descent.

“One … two … three … four … five … six … seven … splish!”

The rock struck the pool, sending shimmering ripples skating across its surface in the ghostly light.

“We need to be very careful, LeBits. That fall would kill us instantly. Now, let’s go.”

Placing a hand on the wall, Savvy began descending the stairs. LeBits shot by her underfoot, his soft paws better suited to the narrow flight than Savvy’s shoes.

“Hey, silly cat! I said be careful!”

“I’m sorry, Savvy. I’ll watch out,” purred the Felim in reply.

Stepping onto the ledge at the bottom of the stairs, the entrance to a passageway yawned before them. Savvy held fast to the rock wall and looked back over her shoulder. Darkness filled the uppermost part of the cave, concealing the entrance from her sight. Only the crystal’s light showed the way. If she lost it they would be plunged into total blackness.

Continuing through the opening, Savvy entered a tunnel with a low ceiling. She followed LeBits for a good distance until the tunnel opened into a deep cavern. There the trail stretched out before them across a narrow stone bridge that sloped downward. Savvy’s stomach turned loops as she eyed the slender trail. No more than two feet wide, there was neither a rail to hold nor a curb to stop her feet from slipping off. A single misstep would send her plummeting to her death.

LeBits walked a short distance onto the bridge and looked back.

“Prrrr, are you coming?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m coming. Just give me a second,” replied Savvy, who took a deep breath before stepping onto the span.

It held fast beneath her weight, giving Savvy some relief, so she began making her way across. Her footsteps echoed from the cavern walls, mingling with the sound of dripping water as she and LeBits moved to a wide rock platform in the middle of the void. Peering over the platform’s edge, she realized they stood atop a tall column of stone that descended into the shadows below. Savvy wiped cold sweat from her forehead and gathered herself to traverse the bridge’s final length.

Once she had arrived on the far ledge, she let out a sigh. “Phew! I’m glad that’s behind us, LeBits. I don’t care for heights at all.”

“You’ve been very brave so far,” replied the cat. “Shall we continue?”

“After you,” said Savvy, gesturing to the opening ahead of them.

LeBits entered the tunnel’s mouth and followed the winding corridor until it opened into a low chamber filled with rough stone columns that stretched from floor to ceiling. Savvy raised the glowstone above her head to gauge the size of the room, but in the shifting shadows she could not see the far wall.

“Which way now?” asked LeBits.

“I have no idea. We may as well continue straight until we reach the other side. Then we can figure out where to go.”

Stepping into the chamber, they passed through the columns until the dark opening of another tunnel yawned to their left. They made for this opening, but paused at the entrance when Savvy felt a curious tingling in her chest that told her danger was near.

“LeBits, wait!” she cautioned.

A dim glow enclosed in a silky mist appeared deep within the passageway. Pulsing with shades of red and blue, the luminous mist seeped toward them, growing in brightness until it spilled into the chamber around Savvy’s feet.

“I’ve seen this mist before,” she observed.

“Prrrr, what mist?” asked LeBits.

Savvy thought to answer the cat’s strange question when a dreadful stench suddenly entered her nostrils.

“It can’t be!” she gagged, her steps carrying her backward into a stone column.

Ceiling dirt shaken loose by the impact bounced off of Savvy’s shoulder and onto the floor, but she ignored it, her attention focused completely on the incandescent haze. A terrible hiss from inside the mist sent a cold shiver racing down Savvy’s spine and she quaked with terror as the silhouette of a hunched feline figure loomed up within its depths.

“Obscurum!” Savvy cried, shutting off the glowstone.

Darkness enveloped the chamber, leaving only the pulsing red and blue mist.

“Sssss, come out from hiding, little girl. I can smell your fear,” snarled the Krytten. “Come out so that I may claim your soul.”

Savvy edged around a stone column to hide. Sweat beaded on her forehead and her hands shook with fright.

“This can’t be happening,” she whispered while choking on the awful stink. “Lady Fiona wouldn’t send me into this place if she knew the Krytten was here. But what if she didn’t know?”

Savvy peeked around the column to see the demon step into the chamber. Silvery strands of spittle dripped from its jaws as its glowing eyes sent beams of sickly green light searching for her in the darkness.

“Think, Savvy, what can you do to fight this thing? Wait! I have the dagger!”

Stuffing the glowstone into her pants pocket, Savvy retrieved the dagger from her bag. The blade trembled in the sweat-slickened palm of her hand.

“Fiona must’ve known I’d need this to defend myself,” she mumbled.

“Defend yourself from what? What are you talking about?” asked the cat.

“The dagger, LeBits! It must be enchanted. I’m going to use it against the Krytten. You stay here behind the column.”

“But—,” protested LeBits.

“But nothing! Do as I say,” commanded Savvy and bracing herself, she stepped out from behind the column.

The glowing mist threw an eerie light across the chamber before her, bathing Savvy in shifting hues of purple, red, and blue. She swallowed hard and gripped the dagger tightly in her hand. Yet at the very moment she went to speak her mouth went dry. The words simply would not come.

“Hagh,” she croaked.

Meanwhile, the creature stood hunched over in the mist like a murderous shadow, its green gaze seeking Savvy in the darkness. At that moment, a vision of the Strength tarot card flashed through Savvy’s mind. In it a powerful woman tamed a lion. Had the card foretold that she do the same with this demonic cat? Perhaps, if she could be strong. Resolved to make the attempt, Savvy’s confidence flickered into life and mustering the courage to call out, she cried, “here, I am! Come and get me!”

The Krytten hissed and Savvy braced herself for it to leap. Then LeBits shot past Savvy and playfully pranced a circle between her and the demon.

“Savvy, what are you doing? Is this some kind of game? I love games!” he laughed.

“Silly cat, get out of the way!” cried Savvy. “I’m going to stop the Krytten once and for all so it can never kill again.”

“The Krytten? What are you talking about? There’s nothing here.”

Savvy’s brow furrowed with confusion. “But, LeBits, the Krytten is right behind you. Can’t you see it? Can’t you smell it?”

“All I smell is damp earth. Well, maybe some disgusting rats too, but certainly not the Krytten. Take out your crystal and look.”

Savvy stared at the demon. It took another step forward and hissed. How could the Felim not see it? She trusted LeBits, however, and reached into her pocket. Holding up the gemstone before her, Savvy gave the lighting command.


White light filled the chamber, banishing the Krytten, the mist, and the smell. Merely the dark mouth of the tunnel stood before her.

“Why? But—but how can this be?” she asked.


The glowstone dimmed, revealing once again the horrid glow, the awful demon, and the terrible stench. The Krytten was an illusion.

Sighing with relief, Savvy slumped back against the stone pillar and sank to the floor.

“Lumino,” she called, re-igniting the crystal.

“Savvy, are you alright?” asked LeBits.

“I am. Thanks to you,” she chuckled.

“To me? What did I do? Are we still playing the game?”

“No, the game’s over and thank goodness too. I just need a minute to collect myself. Then we’ll press on.”

“As you wish. That was a strange game, Savvy, prrrr. Do you want me to lead the way? The air coming from that tunnel is fresh. We should follow it.”

“Whatever you say, LeBits.”

Savvy rested on the stone floor for a few moments before climbing to her feet. Then she followed the Felim down the tunnel. This part of the passage climbed steadily upward, telling Savvy that their descent had come to an end. Now they were moving back toward the surface.

They passed through another series of chambers before the walls opened into a massive cavern. Savvy and LeBits entered the gloom and continued straight until they spied a beam of light descending in a cone from an opening high in the ceiling. At the base of the light stood a high-backed throne surrounded by a golden pentacle etched into the floor. A female figure sat slumped atop the throne, her hands gripping the armrests and a cascade of ginger hair hiding her face. Savvy tucked away the glowstone and peered at the figure. Something about the woman looked familiar.

“Is that Lady Fiona?” asked LeBits.

Savvy looked down at the cat and shook her head. “I don’t think so. Unless Fiona changed the color of her hair since we last saw her.”

Walking to the pentacle’s outer edge, Savvy called, “hello?”

The figure on the throne stirred, revealing her face.

“My goodness!” Savvy gasped. “Is it really you?”

The woman rose from the throne, her lips parted into a smile. “Yes, Savilla, your eyes do not deceive you. Your mother has returned.”

“Pssst!” spit LeBits, his fur puffing up. “Remember the Krytten game, Savvy! It wasn’t real. How can this be real?”

“But that’s my mother, LeBits. It’s her hair and her face and I recognize her voice. Why shouldn’t I go to her?”

“Something here isn’t right,” snarled the distended Felim. “Be careful!”

Savvy looked back at her mother, her heart overflowing with joy. Magdalene descended from the throne and moved toward Savvy with her arms held open.

“Come to me, Savilla,” she said.

Savvy took a step forward. The figure appeared to be so real. How could it be an illusion? Savvy longed to take in the scent of her mother’s hair and to feel the warmth of her skin. It felt like a dream come true. Magdalene had returned!

In her joy, however, Savvy failed to see a second woman with auburn hair and scintillating skin emerge from behind the throne. In her hand this woman held a sharp dagger and, approaching Magdalene from behind, she gave a vicious laugh before thrusting the knife into Magdalene’s back. Magdalene’s eyes went wide and she fell to her knees before Savvy, her hands reaching for her daughter.

“My … love,” she gasped as she toppled to the floor.

Savvy fell onto her knees sobbing. “Mother, no! I can’t lose you again!”

Savvy wailed in anguish and LeBits rubbed against her to provide comfort, but Savvy would not have it.

“Leave me alone!” she snapped, pushing away the cat.

Then Savvy’s grief swirled into fury and with tears streaming from her eyes she staggered to her feet.

“Lilith, you’re going to pay for what you’ve done!” she raged, and reaching into her satchel she pulled free her dagger.

“Think, Savvy! What would your mother have done?” called LeBits, and although thoughts of revenge filled Savvy’s mind, the words stopped her in her tracks.

Savvy looked down at the locket that Fiona had given her and reaching for it she clicked it open to see Magdalene’s smiling face. Her mother had always counseled mercy, no matter what the circumstance. Yet Lilith had killed Magdalene right before her eyes. For that she must pay!

“Wait a minute,” said Savvy to herself as she gazed at her mother’s body. “Lilith killed her a second time.”

A … second … time.

The words echoed in Savvy’s head and the madness poisoning her mind began to clear. She looked up at the simulacrum of Lilith, which had defiantly taken Magdalene’s seat upon the throne. LeBits was correct. No one could be killed a second time. Like the illusion of the Krytten, this scene also could not be real.

Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Savvy put away the dagger.

“Lilith, I forgive you for your crime,” she said. “I swear by all that’s holy I will bring you to justice, but I refuse to feel spite for you. Be gone!”

The facsimile of Lilith fell silent and rose to its feet. Then it dissolved in a shower of sparkling light, along with the body of Magdalene, leaving Savvy and LeBits alone in the cavern.

Stepping into the pentacle, Savvy approached the empty throne. A heavy iron chest on a pedestal stood beside it, its engraved top containing a narrow slot. The cat scaled the throne beside Savvy and perched on one of the arms.

“LeBits, what do you make of this box?” she asked.

“It looks like the hole in the top is for a key,” purred the Felim. “Do you have a key?”

“I’m afraid I don’t. All I have is this dagger.”

“Prrrr, why not give that a try?”

Savvy agreed and dug the dagger from her bag. Turning the point down, she pushed it into the hole where it settled with a click.

“Well, I’ll be. The blade fits perfectly. The dagger was a key all along.”

“That’s what Lady Fiona said, prrrr. Sometimes a dagger is more than a weapon. Give it a turn.”

Savvy twisted the handle and stepped back as the lid of the box sprang open, revealing a golden chalice filled with dark red liquid.

“Take the chalice, Savvy, and rest on the throne,” said LeBits in a strangely human voice.

Savvy hefted the chalice and sat down. Beckoning LeBits into her lap, she sniffed at the liquid.

“It smells like cherries,” she observed.

Then, with a shrug, Savvy took a deep drink. The potion coursed down her throat like fire and into her veins. Her body crackled with electricity and Savvy felt her consciousness expand beyond time and space. She forgot where she was and the chalice clattered from her hand onto the floor. Her mind passed through stars and galaxies to places long ago and far away. Some of these places Savvy recognized, others she did not. Strange symbols and incantations floated through her head and she felt herself swell with a power that she had never felt before. She understood now what earlier had only been intuitively clear. Strength did not come from lording over the weak, it came from acting out of love. A Sirachim must behave with dignity and compassion and fearlessness. She must practice magic for noble purposes. Those like Lilith, who used the craft for evil, perverted the true nature of things, all of which arose from the light and love of the Creator itself.

Swooning in her seat, Savvy passed out.

She did not know how much time had gone by when she awoke to LeBits licking her face with his rough sandpaper-like tongue.

“Mm, I must have fallen asleep,” she groaned.

The cat jumped down to the floor and paced in an agitated circle.

“Savvy, you need to wake up!” he cried. “I just heard a scream. Alistair is in the tunnel behind us and he’s in trouble!”

Alarm filled Savvy’s heart and she attempted to rise from the throne. Her knees gave way, however, and she collapsed onto the floor. With a mighty effort, she rose to her hands and knees, shaking the cobwebs from her mind while LeBits raced around her.

“Savvy, hurry!” he urged.

“I’m trying, LeBits. The drink made me dizzy.”

“Breathe deeply and concentrate on the power within you, Sirachim!” commanded LeBits in a loud voice.

Savvy’s brow furrowed.

“Lady Fiona, is that you?” she asked, her eyes seeing double.

“It is, Savilla. You must make haste. Alistair is in danger.”

Savvy closed her eyes and took a deep breath. The electrifying tingle of the drink still throbbed through her body. She focused on harnessing its power and forced her mind clear. Opening her eyes, she looked down at LeBits. He gazed at the cavern’s far entrance and then back at Savvy.

“Can you walk?” he asked.

“I can now. Let’s go!”

LeBits leapt into a run with Savvy coming up behind him. The black mouth of the tunnel yawned before them and Savvy paused to draw out her crystal.

“Lumino!” she cried, then she dashed into the tunnel after the cat.

Down the twists and turns they raced as fast as they dared until the echo of Alistair’s voice reached them.

“Savvy! LeBits! Help!”

“I hear him, LeBits! Alistair, hold on, we’re coming!” she called back.

Rounding a twist in the tunnel, Savvy spied a shifting yellow glow.

“That must be him!” she said.

They turned the corner and found themselves at the entrance to a chamber with a high-ceiling. Alistair huddled against the chamber’s far wall below the translucent coils of a towering albino centipede. Blue veins swollen with blood pulsed through the terrible thing as it lunged at Alistair, but the closer to him it drew, the more repelled it was by the light of the candle that flickered weakly in his hand. Sharp mandibles clashed around the thing’s mouth and it sought to close them around Alistair’s throat.

“Savvy, LeBits, help me!” he cried.

“What can I do? I don’t have a weapon,” shouted Savvy.

“I have an idea,” said LeBits. “See how the insect recoils from Alistair’s candle? It hates the light. Savvy, dim your crystal!”

“You’re right, LeBits!” said Savvy and she tucked the glowstone into her shirt so that it cast only a low light. Then she cried, “hey, over here! Come and get me!”

Hearing Savvy’s voice, the centipede turned away from Alistair, its hundreds of spiny feet clicking grotesquely on the stone floor. Savvy backed into the mouth of the tunnel through which she had just come.

“Savvy, it’s seen you!” shouted Alistair. “Run!”

Savvy and LeBits took off at a run and the giant insect barreled after them through the narrow passageway. Racing through the twists and turns, Savvy hid the glowstone just enough so that it would not deter the horrible creature.

“LeBits, I need a place where I can shine this light on the centipede and scare it away!” she panted.

“The throne room! You can do it there,” shouted the cat.

They dashed toward the cavern and had nearly reached it when Savvy felt a sharp sting on her right calf. The tip of the centipede’s mandible had struck her a glancing blow, slicing open a wound on her leg. Savvy stumbled through the last section of passageway and fell onto the floor of the throne room as the centipede swept out of the tunnel behind her. Rearing its massive bulk into the air, the creature prepared to strike Savvy dead while she cowered on the cavern floor. Then Alistair emerged from the tunnel behind the hideous worm.

“Hey, it’s me you want!” he yelled.

The centipede turned on Alistair and coiled to strike him when Savvy grasped the glowstone and raised it in her fist.

“Lumino lux intendet!” she bellowed, without knowing how the words had entered her mind.

A beam of light leapt from the glowstone, striking the giant arthropod on the side of its head. It uttered a terrible shriek and writhed in the light as vapors of steam rose from its seared skin.

“That’s it, Savvy! You’re burning it!” cried LeBits.

Keeping the beam of light focused on the creature, Savvy climbed to her feet and limped toward it, steadily driving the thing back into the tunnel until at last it skittered off into the darkness.

When the creature had gone, Savvy dropped to the floor and the white fire went out, enveloping them once again in darkness. Alistair struck a match to re-light his candle and knelt beside his friend.

“Are you badly hurt?” he asked.

“I’m not sure,” Savvy whimpered.

“Can you stand?”

“I think so, but I’ll need some help.”

Alistair grasped Savvy’s arm and pulled her onto her feet. She teetered there for a moment with a hand on Alistair’s shoulder before testing her leg.

“The pain’s not too bad. I think I can walk,” she said, putting weight on her foot. “Boy, Alistair, am I glad to see you’re safe.”

“Me too,” grinned Alistair. “That thing nearly got me.”

“It sure did. Now, what are you doing here? Lady Fiona said you weren’t supposed to enter the cave.”

“I know she did, but after all we’ve been through did you think I could just leave you to face the challenge alone?”

“I don’t know,” said Savvy. “I guess not, but how did you follow us? The tunnels are so dark.”

“I brought candles and some matches with me. Don’t you remember? I grabbed them from the attic when we went after the hunting party.”

Savvy shook her head. “No, I must have forgotten about that. I guess it’s a good thing you brought the candles. Otherwise you never would have been able to find your way.”

“The light saved me from that thing,” Alistair explained. “It must have smelled me in the tunnel. I heard it coming up from behind and turned just in time to see it. If you and LeBits hadn’t come back, though, it would have eaten me for sure. I owe you my life, Savvy.”

“Never mind that, Alistair. I’d never let anything hurt you, if I could help it.”

“That was some neat trick you did with the crystal. How did you make the light shoot out of it like that?”

“The crystal! Where is it?” Savvy asked, realizing that she had dropped it onto the floor.

“It’s here, Savvy,” said LeBits.

Alistair held up the candle to throw light on the glowstone that lay at the cat’s feet.

“Here you are. You don’t want to lose that,” he said, retrieving the stone from the floor.

“Thanks,” Savvy nodded. “I don’t know how I projected the beam of light. The words were just in my head. In fact, there’s a lot in my head that wasn’t there before.”

“I don’t what that means,” shrugged Alistair, unaware of Savvy’s experience with the chalice, “but is a way out of this place one of the things knocking about in your noggin?”

“I know the way,” volunteered LeBits. “Look there.”

A golden glow at the far end of the cavern spilled from a wide ramp that led up to the surface.

“LeBits is right. There’s our path out.”

“Thank goodness. I’m tired of all this darkness,” Savvy groaned. “I need you to help me walk, though.”

“With pleasure, Sirachim,” smirked Alistair, and after looping Savvy’s arm around his shoulders, the two friends followed LeBits into the welcoming sunlight.

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