Pandora's Box

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Chapter 14

The city drew up ahead, shrouded in a grey morning sky and a light mist at the top of the buildings. Still away from the city, Warren pulled gravel open parking stop, a handful of cars parked around a fence next to a large open, grassy field. “Central Park.” Warren sighs, shaking his head slightly. “Not a place I would expect to look for underground black markets.”

“It's a nice place. It’s pretty.” It was open with trees and lush grass all over and few people amongst the open park. “Do you know where the bridge is?”

“Yeah, it’ll be further down. Will be a decent walk but it’s got a nice view. Unfortunately.” Warren grumbled, slamming the car door as I followed him out. He strolled to the back of the car boot, opening it up and inside was a couple packs inside which he pushed aside and grabbed the latch for the boot floor. Deeper inside the boot were a couple items that had my stomach twist sickly.

It’s a black market filled with dangerous creatures and other horrors. A place that allows you to sell people and probably more...Of course it’s gonna be dangerous.

Warren didn’t bother hiding what he was doing since no one was around to see. Pulling out a couple knives which he slipped into sections of his clothes much too smoothly. Like he had done this too many times already, and threw on his black jacket before closing his boot and locking his car. He noticed my look and gave me a wry expression before he started waling towards the meter and placed in an all day ticket. I stared at him stunned and without looking at me, all he said was “We’re gonna be here a while, Pan.” I kept my mouth shut as I waited for him to return as he dropped off his parking ticket and then we crossed the parking lot in towards the park.

“Do you go to underground markets much though?” I couldn’t help asking and he smiled faintly.

“I’ve been to a couple. Even a couple black markets. There’s one or more in every city. Everyone needs a place to sell their stuff and I assure you,” He slowly turned to me, his eyes dark and cool. “They earn their reputation the worst ways possible. They aren’t places you want to cross.” He walked ahead of me while I stared after him, stunned until a shudder ran down my spine and I hurried after him, leaves and twigs crunching under my sneakers. It didn’t feel like it took long until Warren pointed ahead.

“There it is.” Ahead was a lengthy iron and stone bridge that arched slightly over the lake and the city buildings stood in the distance on the other side. Despite what we were here for and what it represented, it was a beautiful area. The water was so still and clear, a reflection of the bridge showing in perfect form, making it look circular all around. Far off to the left of us, near one end was a large stone block with a couple signs around it and I glanced at Warren who looked down at me, his eyes searching mine as he glanced back and forth.

“You ready?”

“Yes.” I barely hesitated. I couldn’t. I had to help some people, they needed it. Being scared right now would not do me or anyone else any favors. “Yes, are you?” His lips twitched as he eyed the toilets.

“Yeah, I am princess.” I groaned, rolling my eyes as I followed after Warren. “Whatever happens Pan, stay close. Don’t draw attention to yourself and for the love of God, don’t run off or whatever or say your name aloud.”

“Got it.”

"See if you can find anything in the women's and I'll check in the men's." Warren glanced around warily before stepping into the men’s toilets while I went to the women’s toilets to look for anything that could probably be an entrance to an underground market. Grimacing in distaste, I looked around the stalls and toilets for anything, a sign, a symbol or something that looked like it could be a hidden door. Thankful I was alone to kneel down to look closer at the walls and doors of each stall but still, I could see nothing at all.

"Anything, Pan?"

"No! Nothing! You?" I shouted back, growling in frustration.

"Wait, I think..."

"Warren,"

"PAN-" Distantly, I heard something that sounded like my name, followed by a distant thud.

“Warren?" Straightening up, frowning as it grew silent. "Warren, are you okay? I can’t find anything still.” I left the toilets, rounding the block to the men’s entrance. “Warren? Did you find anything?” The door to the men's room was closed and glancing around quickly for anyone in view, I turned the handle to open the door but it didn't budge. Frowning, I twisted and pushed and pulled against door, rattling it against the wall but it didn't budge. "Warren!? Warren, are you okay?" I shout through but I hear nothing and worry settles in. Shit, dammit! I shove against the door, feeling my shoulder ache in protest but I keep shoving against it-

BANG

"Ah!" The door suddenly flew open, banging against the wall inside and me falling straight through onto the toilet floor, landing on my hands and knees. "Curse these blasted places." I groan, slowly gaining my footing, my knees aching now and I scowl until I look inside and realize, I'm alone.

“Warren? Warren, you there?” I hiss, stepping in further, warily, as though expecting him to appear out of nowhere. But looking through the stalls, he was not here anymore. "And you gave me the lecture on not running away and sticking close together." “Warren?” Did you seriously leave me without saying anything? A couple of drachma’s and obols were dropped on the floor stained in a thick layer of dust which was odd since they were clean when I saw them in Warren's car. Kneeling down on the floor to pick them up, I grab the sink to pull myself up-

Wait! What was that?

Kneeling in front of the right sink, I noticed some scratches on the stone wall behind the rusted pipes. Pulling out the phone I had and I turned it on, holding it up to the scratched letters on the wall so I could see better.

Pliróste ton ploío

Pay the ferryman.

Fingering the obol in my hand, I waved the turned on phone along the wall behind the pipes to see any sign of a ferryman. Where the hell am I meant to pay the ferryman? Straightening up, I leant against the sink, groaning in frustration. We pay Charon, the ferryman to cross the river Goddess Styx. In the blasted underworld only. Not here, in the living world. Groaning louder in frustration, I ran my hands through my hair as I searched around me for anything. A scratch on the wall, numbers, crude words that could mean anything if you thought deep enough, images, pictures, lines, random stuff, anything, like the lines carved in the right sink.

The sink hole was outline with a carved scratch line around it and below it was a subtle curve shape like...a boat.

Oh, don't dismiss me as too crazy, please, Athena! Give me this moment of wisdom and clarity that I could get this right!

I raise the obol above the sinkhole and with a deep breath, I drop it down, listening as it clinks down the sink through the pipes with a clatter and clink and then silence. Leaning over the sink, I held my breath, waiting and waiting. Seconds passed in silence, the clump of sudden hope fading fast with heavy frustration and disappointment.

Dammit, Warren!

Sighing heavily, I stood back from the sink, glaring ahead at my reflection only my reflection suddenly jumped forward with a silent scream, beams of pale yellow eyes glowering at me in the cracked dirty mirror. With a yelp, I stumbled back, back slamming against the toilet stall door which banged against the wall. The figure in the mirror, which looked slightly like me, only more evil with beaming eyes like a yellow torch and a ragged grin and cracked lines over its face stared at me when there was a loud heavy clank. The door to the men's toilets were suddenly closed, throwing me partial darkness except for the yellow eyes which was remained in my reflection. A dull thud echoed behind the mirror, the mirror shaking slightly as the wall behind it rattled and the stones around the right sink and mirror shifted with a dusty scuff, puffs of stone and dust imploding around like a shape of dust. The single section of the wall pulled backwards, the sound of gravel being scraped over, heavy metal clangs echoing beneath the floor as it pulled away, leaving a hollow hole at the bottom that was pitch black, with no stairs or anything. I clutched the wall on either side to prevent myself from slipping into the open hole. Looking up at the mirror, the evil reflection remained staring at me with a ragged wide grin.

"It begins with a leap of faith to travel with the ferryman." The reflection echoed at me, it's voice crackly and horrible that grated horribly on my ears. It remained staring with its wide, awful smile as I looked down into the darkened hole. I couldn't see anything below until I pulled out my phone and held it over the hole. I could just the bottom of the floor which looked to be a couple feet. Leap of faith, leap of faith. Don't think about it, just do it! Until something eats me then what? Where is the faith? I mutter inwardly, cursing myself and Warren for leaving me as I kneeled on the floor on the edge of the hole, dangling my legs through which left me feeling way too nervous. With a deep heavy breath, heart thundering in my chest, as I held myself over the hole until I released my hundredth heavy breath and pushed myself over the edge and into the hole and down below. It was a mere second of air around me until my feet landed hard on ground surface. The surprise of it, even though I was expecting it had me stumble slightly until I caught my footing and slowly straightened up.

I felt a slight sense of relief until the hole above me, which breathed in some light, suddenly closed up with a scratchy, gravelly groan as the wall shifted back into place, sending me into darkness. In the dark, I released a quiet exhale, my skin cold and the hairs on the back of my arms and neck raised as my stomach twisted. I hate the dark. Holding my phone up, I scrolled the screen until I found the light switch and suddenly I had light ahead of me. I was in a tunnel that was a little low but I didn't have to duck at least. There was nothing behind me except a wall so the only way to go was straight ahead. There was no sign of Warren or even a sound except...rushing water?

Keeping my phone up ahead of me as I hurried down the tunnel, following the sound of rushing water as it slowly grew louder until I came across an underground river that rushed past with steam coming from it. The tunnel was blasted with hot, steaming air that had me sweating almost immediately. Keeping close to the wall, I followed the river where there was more light coming ahead.

Pan...

"Warren?" I halted, almost sure I heard my name. "Warren? Is that you?"

"Pan...don't..."

"Warren, where are you?" I hurried down the tunnel, definitely hearing my name. "Warren, where are you?"

"Pan...I...no..." I slowed down, feeling the tension rise and my stomach tightened, my gut swirling heavily. Danger!

"Warren? Where are you?" Unable to go anywhere else, except ahead, I kept moving forward but more alert, my phone up with its light to see anything that may move. But there was nothing except, light ahead that grew bigger and bigger, until I could put my phone away when I reached the edge of the tunnel and could see ahead of me. Oh wow!

I stood at the top of a decent height overlooking a large open underground cavern that had some lights overhanging the sprawling market beneath. The river fell straight down like a waterfall and through the market like its own pathway that curved in and out like a snake through the taverns and shops set up. A couple bridges that cross over it. Hurrying down the stairs, I looked out for any familiar person but all I could see where many shapes moving around, human looking figures and several inhuman creatures I have never seen before strolling by. There were distant, torturous screams all around, some even coming from a couple of large boxes. My skin grew chilled as the screams heightened, almost in despair and my ears ached at the inhuman sound. My shoulders tensed as I noticed a couple of glances in my direction and did my best to appear inconspicuous, not looking at anyone closely as I moved through the rough crowd. I couldn't see Warren anywhere still.

Was he hurt? In trouble? Dammit Warren, please be okay!

Avoiding a couple vendors who called to me, offering a couple souls, even a few organs that they held up in jars filled with a sickly green liquid that had my stomach curdle, my gaze caught on a strident figure ahead that towered easily over some of the crowd with dark curls and a black jacket.

Warren!

I pushed through the crowd, hurrying around them, ignoring the shouts and yells in my direction until I stood where I was sure Warren had stood mere seconds ago. But he was nowhere in sight. Shit!

"You looking for someone, sweetie?" A hand clamped down on my arm, spinning me right around and coming face-to-face with oddly shaped person. He bared yellowed, canine teeth at me, his eyes dropping along my body that made me squirm in disgust and fear. "I could be whatever you want sweet-cheeks."

"No thank you, I'm good-" My protests falling on deaf ears as he pulled me harshly up against him, his face pressed against mine as I yelped.

"I don't think you are-Oomph!" A hand jabbed into the mans gut at his side, causing him to drop heavily, releasing me as I stumbled back until an arm wrapped my shoulders from behind, pressing me against someone.

"Shall we?" The arm rested against my collar was covered in a black jacket and I felt some tension release.

"Warren?" I gasp, trying to look at him but he leaned in close to my ear, just as my gaze fell on a figure further ahead, amongst the crowd, moving fiercely and almost frantically, looking around, dark curls against his neck which was bloodied and dirtied.

"I got you, precious."

My stomach dropped and my skin ran cold.

"W-Mmph!" I tried to scream but a hand clamped down on my mouth painfully hard, nails digging into my cheek. I felt myself being dragged away, my sneakers dragging along the stone ground, as I struggled against them but they were incredibly strong, dragging me along without trouble. I frantically looked at where Warren was distantly. I could only see glimpses of him through the moving crowd and I struggled to cry out, shaking my head, kicking my legs out, screaming through the hand as they dragged me through the back of a vendor and down a through a small cracked opening in the wall, the markets fading from view as well as some of the light. No, no! Warren!

I reached out for anything, the wall, anything, digging my nails onto something or grabbing anything. My ankles caught some piping sticking out of the floor which I managed to hook my ankle around, pulling us to a stilted halt. The hand around my jaw, loosened and taking that moment, I opened my mouth.

"WARREN-Oomph!" Their fist, curled and steady suddenly slammed into my abdomen, just below my breasts, my scream turning to a wheezy gasp of air as I dropped to my knees with a gasp. My stomach quivered, as I gasped for air that was literally slammed out of me.

Fucking hell...I wheeze, fighting for air, my arm curled around myself until someone suddenly grabs my forearms, hauling me up suddenly my feet barely have the time to take balance. I stumble slightly but before I can do anything they spin me around, so I face forward and with a yelp, they twist my right arm around behind my back forcing me forwards. "Ow, fuck! What the hell is wrong with you!?" I snarl, pressing my feet on the ground to slow us down but with the way they force my arm easily and pushing against the back of my knees, they had no care. I was forced through narrow tunnels that twisted and turned with a twisted arm that going dead and an aching chest that was gonna leave a massive bruise alright. "Where are you taking me? Who are you? What do you want?"

They never spoke a word and I still hadn't seen them yet until we reached some rocks left messily at the front of an entrance of a tunnel and I found myself forced through. Releasing me, I felt slipped through the narrow tunnel, the rocks grazing my knees and arms through my clothes and noticed where I was. And I was alone now. My kidnapper didn't appear over the rocks and I didn't doubt they were still there and with nowhere else to go, I found myself in another tunnel. There were a couple open arches meters apart further ahead, an odd ghostly, pale green-blue light coming coming through each archway. A small stream ran beneath my shoes, pebbles and and rocks that would be found in actual rivers and lakes littered the narrow floor. The smell was odd and make my head ache. It was a dampy, sickly stench, like trash and water...and rot.

Swallowing heavily, I followed towards the light, looking back in case someone decided to show up again but seeing no one, I reached the first archway and carefully peeking through, to see if anyone was in there.

And there was ten people chained at the very end of the dungeon-like room. Ten people whose clothes were tattered, torn and bloodied and dirtied. Men and women wearing their mark of the church, alongside a man with a lengthy, scraggly white beard and a filmy right eye.

I felt my heart leap and without a second glance I leaped over the step, landing with a splash in ankle-high sewage water, running towards them, despite the water growing up to my knees. I climbed up the boulder to where they all stood, chained along.

"Father Marios!" The priest could barely raise his head, but he did, his eyes widening and the others shuffled awkwardly, painfully with exhaustion but woke up at my shout. "Oh my god, what have they done to you!?" I gasp in horror as I see them more clearly up close. With their clothes torn and shredded and very little hiding, their skin was lashed and cut. Open cuts and some old ones littered over them, dried and fresh blood staining their sickly skin, alongside heavy bruises that came from larger fists. Each of them was chained on each of their wrists, their arms spread out slightly above their head and their feet ankled together on the watery floor. The chains linked and embedded in the large boulders against the dungeon wall. Their wrists and ankles were stained with red and black bruises and dried grime and blood. A large grate was above, filtering some light through which could be from the outside because we were too far below but the light was a sickly yellow and green, bathing the dungeon in a slight murky green. Reeds and weeds decorated the walls like slime and caught along my ankles.

"Pandora! You...It's you! You're here! You're really here!" He rasped, staring at me with star-struck eyes.

"I'm here! I found you! I am so sorry it took so long but I'm gonna get you out of here! All of you, I promise!" Father Marios was shaking his head as I was speaking, muttering frantically.

"No, no, no! No my child! You must leave! It is not safe! They are coming and you need to get out of here! They won't let you or any of us leave until they have what they need!" I shook my head.

"I'm sorry Father, but I'm not leaving. You risked your life for me, I won't do that!" I grab the chains around his wrist, trying to pull it off but it won't and there was nothing to help, except a few rusted or slightly clean metal pipes.

"You have to Pan-" The Priest suddenly grows silent, as do I when I hear heavy thundering steps wading through water behind me. My heart drops to my stomach, my blood running frantically beneath my skin. "Pandora," Marios gasps, trembling as he stares at me with crazed eyes. "Whatever happens child, you must do whatever you can to escape. Leave us. You have to." I turn slowly as three large figures slip through the tunnel into the dungeon, their eyes laid intensely on me as they chuckle heavily.

Oh crap.

They would be slightly taller than Warren and much wider in shoulder length. Their muscles protruding through their ragged shirts and pants. They had the same jutted-out, squared, lower jaws, giant canines curling over their upper lips. Eyes the same horrid yellow, skin a horrifying grey and green pallor with dirt and blood caked in their dried cracked skin. Their steps echoed with a splash of water as they stood between me and the entrance out. They were the same as the one who attacked me in the taxi several days ago.

Ogres.

The more broader of the three, stepped closer, his fist cracking as it sneered at me, it's brown tongue slipping out to run over its cracked lips, leaving a disgusting trail of slime.

"I wasn't expecting you to show up so soon." It's voice was heavy and gravelly, the words mingling together in one word almost. "Your friend won't be helping you though."

My heart thumped to a stop as the blood drained from my face. It grinned widely, baring its teeth.

"He killed one of our dear brothers. So we'll have our fun, tearing your friend to pieces. Don't worry," It started forward. "You'll join him soon, as soon as you give us what they need."

"Pandora, get out of here! Now!" Marios hissed at me from behind and I didn't think twice. The last thing I wanted was to leave them behind but I would have no choice. Jumping off the step, onto a piece of rock below so I didn't land in the water. The ogre laughed, its laughter echoing around the chamber.

"You can run little deer, but we are the bear and you cannot escape us." It charged forwards with a roar and I didn't think. I jumped aside, landing knee deep in the water but jumping aside as it propelled itself too fast past me. I swerved the blow it would make to me just barely, as it crashed against boulders and rocks with a rattling crack. I didn't look back, kicking my legs up through the water as I tried to run as fast as I possibly could. The other two ogres stood apart, their grins implying they didn't think I could slip through. I grabbed a metal pipe sticking out between some reeds and pebbles as I sprinted towards and as it reached for me, hand outstretched, I threw the pipe upwards, using as much force as I possibly could. It roared in pain as the pipe smashed against its forearm, the hook at the end jabbing hard into its elbow. The force shook my arm, sending an ache through it and while momentarily startled and bent forward, with a yell, I swung the pipe sideways, managing to catch the side of its neck, winding it. While it collapsed, gasping and hissing, I jumped past it, thankful the water was only ankle deep now and I was almost at the entrance when the third ogre reached out for me, its lumbering sizes made them slow I was realizing but still fast enough. I could just feel its catch on my shoulder, a brush of stinging pain shooting through my shoulder. I stumbled aside slightly, almost falling to a knee but pushed myself back up as it slammed its fist just where my head had been. My feet caught dry stone steps as I leaped up past the entrance-

An arm shot out from behind the wall, elbow slamming back into the same place that arm had laid its gut punch earlier. The force of me running into their elbow threw me back with a heavy gasp. I fell backwards, feeling air and my stomach aching in terrible pain, followed by landing on water and my back hitting the floor, sending more air out of me. I managed to keep my head upwards so I didn't slam it against the stone floor beneath the ankle deep water. Gasping, I rolled over onto my knees, feeling my chest ache and tremble, too many forces on it. My heart was thundering in my ears along with my blood rushing past like a heavy stream after a storm, my breath wheezy and heavy. Something did not feel right there. I gasped, taking back any lost air, my eyes watering slightly, wrapping an arm around my abdomen as if i could hold it together. I was momentarily aware that some of the light around me was shadowed by a heavy-weight silhouette that loomed over me.

Gritting my teeth, my arm which was still underwater, my fingers grazed a metal pipe, my fingers curling around the cylinder. I can play dirty then.

Something heavy clamped down on my shoulder, nails gripping my flesh and shirt as I reached down with both hands quickly and swung upwards. I hit something fleshy, hard and heavy with a dull, grotesque thump, which earned me a roaring shriek as it dropped to its knee with a snarl. I turned to crawl away but a hand curled around my thigh, pulling back, my stomach running over cracked stones on the floor. I writhed against it, kicking my free leg as I tried screaming over the water, turning around, using my weapon to hit anything it could come into contact with. With a crack, the pipe landed straight into its palm with a smack, with a snarl and a stifled smirk, it curled its hand around it. I yelped, my head jolting when its other hand jutted forward, hand curling around my neck, not too tightly to choke me but enough pressure my body was starting to panic. I felt my body being lifted up as it stood up slowly from the floor, my feet a few feet off from the floor. I was still gripping my pipe until it wrenched it from my hand. I gripped the hand curled around my neck, trying to loosen the pressure but it sneered at me.

"Puny thing, you are." It growled as its companions closed in behind. I could see Father Marios and the others shouting and shifting, trying to pull away.

"Let her go!" Marios shouted, eyes wide and frantic. The head ogre gave them no care or attention as raised the pipe in its hand with a pop and metallic crack, it broke the pipe as it slowly tightened its fist around it before throwing the bits of junk aside. Turning it leering gaze on me, it grinned widely.

"Puny, like a piece of junk, you cause trouble. But eventually, junk breaks." I squirmed, gasping its enclosed fist. I was still able to breathe but not as well and the ogre turned to one of the smaller ones and gave a slight nod. The ogre stormed through the water towards the nuns, who started struggling and my heart dropped heavily. I clawed, scratching against the rough leathery skin of its hand but it didn't react as the ogre stood before one of the nuns on the left, looking back at us.

"Where is the box?" The ogre snarled at me, its breath heady like rot and decay and I gagged, eyes watery in disgust and despair. "You have one chance for each of them. Where is the box?"

"I-I don't know...please, I don't know. No one does!" I cry, gasping and struggling. "Please-NO!" It turned to its companion without hesitation the ogre slammed its nails and fingers straight into Sister Mayra's throat, blood bursting out like a spray of red.

"NOO!" I scream, tears spilling over my cheeks, as I stared in horror. The ogre easily ripped its hand out of her throat, effectively tearing apart Mayra's throat. Her eyes turned from fear and despair to blank and unseeing as she slumped in her position, blood poring from her torn throat. The nuns started screaming and crying in fury, cursing aloud and despair. "Please, I don't..." The ogre stood next to the next nun, who was sobbing hysterically and praying garbled words.

"Where is the box?"

"I don't know! Please! No one knows!" I shrieked, desperation clawing within me. My blood was rushing through my head like I was underwater during a storm, my breathing and thundering heart was echoing out all sounds around, drowning out the screaming, the moaning in despair, the prayers and the repetitive question.

Where is the box?

Help us! Lord help us! May the almighty gain us a savior!

Please, not them! No more death! Daphne, I promised you! Warren, please! Anyone please! Please, let me do anything! Give them anything!

My thoughts were screaming frantically through a cacophony of hysteria. I felt sounds around me fall to a hum like I was drowning underwater, fading from it all. The air I could barely breathe was fading fast, my head growing dizzy. I vaguely saw the ogre turn towards the nun in the corner of my eyes. I wanted to scream, I wasn't sure if I did. All I could hear was the surge of my blood rushing around me, my heart thundered so painfully in my chest, lights flickering behind my eyes as though pushed forward with a surge of something deeper. I felt so hot, like I was baking and struggling to breathe. Reaching for anything, more of the ogres flesh and arm, my fingers barely wrapping around its forearm, trying to claw my way free as my vision started to blur-

Splash

Air! I could breathe in air suddenly like a bubble popped, I was pulled from my underwater cacophony. Cold freezing water converging over me and my face until I frantically sat up, coughing and spitting out dirty water clogging up my nose and throat, crawling away from the ogre that was suddenly hunched over on its hand and knees, body twitching abnormally.

The other ogres moved away from the nun toward its boss as it convulsed almost painfully, garbled words leaving its mouth until it slowed down until it was just kneeling on the watery floor, head lowered.

"What in the name of Nyx just happened-" One of the ogres reached down to pull its boss up until it slammed its fist in its chest, pushing him harshly. My heart stuttered as the ogre slowly raised its head, meeting my face and any little bit of blood still residing turned to curdled ice water. Its horrid yellow eyes were bright dirtied yellow, icy glints jolting through as it stared at me like a snake, the chilling fury sending pure terror through me.

Warren! Please, help me!

Crawling backwards through the water as it slowly stood up, water streaming down its body like tiny waterfalls, its monstrous form appearing more frightening and bigger than I realized.

"We'll do this my way now." Its growl was low and calm, its lips curled into a dark smirk and I wanted to throw up from the curdling fear. It stepped closer to me, raising its arm, which had a piece of a broken pipe. "Maybe, we'll break you instead so those little pests may sing."

No, no. God no!

It raised its arm with a roar, while I tried to back further away until it threw its arm down to me, pipe ready to smash into me-

CLANG

"PAN! MOVE!"

I didn't hesitate, even though I didn't pay attention to whose voice it was, I wouldn't wait for a chance to move out of the way as two figures loomed above me briefly. Crawling aside as Warren pressed against the ogre, where he gripped the ogres wrist mid swing easily, holding it up with his own grip and his other wrist crossed under applying more pressure. The ogre snarled down at Warren, who calmly faced him, shaking only slightly. Warren glanced at me briefly from the corner of his eyes as I stood up and his expression hardened as it turned back to the ogre. Bending his knees slightly, Warren's fist resting beneath the ogres wrist while he gripped it tightly, as if being pushed along, propelled his curled fist straight into the ogres gut who barely had time to curl inward when Warren's shoulder followed, slamming his shoulder into its collar. The ogre thrown backwards, off balance, it stumbled backwards a few feet, falling back into his companions. Warren straightened smoothly as I stood there against the wall, feeling sore and achy all over but looking at Warren, I felt the relief suddenly drop over me.

Warren! He was here. He was okay but he looked like a mess. His jacket was torn and shredded, some skin showing through which was bloodied and cut up. A couple red welts were darkening along his jaw and neck and arms, some blood dripping down the side of his face from a wide cut above his eyebrow. My stomach convulsed in horror. Oh, Warren!

He turned to me briefly, his eyes pitch black softened as they ran over me and he released a breath.

"I'm sorry I took too long to find you." Was all he said and I didn't have words to say. Much less because a snarl ripped through the chamber and Warren's eyes blackened, his expression turning to hardened marble as he turned to the ogres, which faced him as the bigger issue at the moment. And he is. "Pan," He hissed at me. "You go help the others." His lips curled into a wickedly dark smirk as he stared at his opponents, reaching behind his back smoothly and smoothly pulling out the couple large knives he had hidden there. "I got this. It's time they fight someone their own size." He smoothly stepped of the steps, striding towards them as they snarled at him. I didn't hesitate, momentarily stunned but I needed to get the others out of here. Running long side, away from the fight that was taking place in the middle of the chamber. This time, I could see, Warren was not holding back.

This was War.

He caught every hit as though it barely fazed him or incited him more. But I never saw any red in his eyes which briefly confused me. I just reached the rocks where the nuns and Father Marios stood when an ogre crashed into the wall behind me. I heard it snarl and briefly glancing back as I ran, I saw it reach for my legs, causing me stumble slightly. I rolled out of its reach, rolling up onto my feet, as it crawled after me, snarling furiously.

"Pandora, move aside!" Someone shouted from above and listening quickly I rolled aside, jumping into the knee deep water as a large rock, the size of at least two heads was pushed over the side straight into the ogres face. He was thrown back from the force he didn't see coming, falling into the water, the rock dropping off after him and landing straight on its face with a sickening crunch. Grimacing in disgust, I turned away from the gruesome sight, taking my way up the steps towards the prisoners.

"You see, we'll get you out of here!" I gasped when I reached them, smiling briefly as Father Marios shook his head, stunned and in shock.

"You never fail to impress us, child." A shout and grunt, had me looking away towards the fight in the middle of the chamber, my heart dropping slightly. It was now two versus one and while Warren seemed to meet them evenly, I could see the exhaustion in his movements. But he never faltered. The bigger ogre caught a large knife in his shoulder stumbling backwards. Warren ducked slightly as the other ogre charged forwards and Warren tensed his shoulders, slamming his right into the charging ogre who was propelled backwards, head slamming backwards, as it lay there stunned or unconscious. Warren slammed the back of his arm against the bigger ogre but it countered back throwing a suckerpunch into Warren's face. I flinched, my body tensing as though ready to jump in. Warren straightened off the floor, his face twisted in smirk as he rubbed the slight trail of blood off his lips.

"That's the best you can do." Warren leaped forward, arm raised and fist throwing forward. The ogre was unprepared for the force as it crashed him straight back onto the ground with a yell and a splash. Movement from the side caught my eye while Warren wailed into the ogre.

"WARREN! BEHIND YOU!" I screamed as the ogre I presumed dead by a rock crushing its face ran straight for him. Warren didn't flinch, jumping backwards, slamming his elbow into its side as it passed by. It countered a punch back, leading to punches and kicks thrown in the mix heavily. My heart thundered and jumped, unable to look away, fear and terror and hope coursing through me. The ogres converged on Warren, wailing on him as he beat them back just as hard. "Warren!" I cried out when a knife was pulled from under the water and caught his thigh. Warren snarled in fury, gripping the ogres wrist and twisting around, he threw them over his shoulder, into his companion. Wrenching the knife out of his thigh, Warren grabbed a thrown fist that glided just past his face and yanking the arm down at the same time he raised his knee straight up into the bigger ogres elbow. A sickening crack echoed around the chamber as he roared in pain but he shrieked in further pain when Warren twisted under the arm, using the larger knife he had, impaled it straight through the ogres arm, cutting through flesh, muscle and bone. The ogre shrieked, cursing and pleading but Warren pressing his boot against the ogres backside, arm pulled back, he wrenched the knife powerfully through the ogres arm. And in a grotesque burst of brown and red, a horrible wriggly tears, the ogres arm was cut and torn straight off above the elbow. Warren threw the arm aside and with a quick spin, slammed the side of his foot against the ogres head, knocking him clean out as it skidded across the floor and crashed into the wall.

And then came the growing silence.

Except for the heavy breathing coming from Warren, whose shoulders and chest rose and fell heavily, blood dripping from his cheek and eyebrow, arms shaking slightly as he stood facing the direction his opponents laid in a heap.

Oh my god...

That was just one layer of his strength. And it was terrifying but...all I could think as I stared at him, standing, breathing though it pain and exhausted, was just relief. Pure, utter relief.

"Warren?" I stammered, shakily staring at him. He flinched, my voice catching him off guard, he slowly turned his head over his shoulder towards me, eyes pitch black, full of dark fury and cool emptiness. His eyes falling on me, I opened my mouth, unsure of what to say until he straightened up, turning to me and his eyes softened, fading back to that autumn brown colour I knew. He left out a shaky breath, running a hand through his watered down bloodied hair.

"Are you okay?" He asked and I stared at him stunned, blinking numerously at once before a heavy breath escaped me in a puff of laughter.

"Christ, Warren. Isn't that my question?" I straightened slightly as Warren stood several feet from us, he slowly stepped toward us, glancing at the bodies splayed over on the left and he grimaced, turning to me, our eyes meeting and he smiled softly.

"I'm okay," He murmured sheathing his knife in his pocket. "I promise."

"Then yes," I smile faintly despite the ache in my chest and shoulders. "I'm okay too." His lips twitched and someone coughed behind me.

"Pardon, but I do believe we shouldn't delay here any longer." Father Marios smiled wryly and my cheeks flushed heavily at the look. I glanced back at Warren.

"I need something to break this War-"

"I'm sorry for taking so long to get here." We spoke at the same time and I blushed faintly. Warren smiled faintly as he passed me a key he had yanked from one of the ogres belts.

"It's okay," I breathed, quickly unlocking Father Marios who took the keys back from me. "You're here now. You saved me. You've saved us-"

I was hit with red. And all sound was taken so suddenly. It was like the chamber was sucked of sounds and movement. My breath halted as though as I was winded again, lips trembling like my hands as I felt them move up to my face like another person was moving them. I heard shouts, voices but they were dim like I was underwater. I touched my face with trembling fingers, glancing down at my finger tips which were stained crimson. The air faded further around me as I stared dully and confused at the red on my trembling hand. Shaken but almost numb, I looked up meeting Warren's gaze, who stared back at me with stunned autumn eyes that turned blank.

Distantly I hear a scream.

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