Chapter Thirty-Four: A Close Call
Suddenly stopping, Evan drew Fraya’s attention to the rocky overhang above the cavernous canyon.
“Is that what you were talking about?” Evan asked in a hushed panic, his finger pointing to a man standing by the precipices.
His skin was a multitude of grey tones that matched the rock they were stood on, his head cocked to the side as he stared at them with soulless nighttime eyes that held no visible distinction between the pupil, iris or sclera.
“Run” Ida responded critically.
Looking from the strange being to Ida, Kaydence said “But it's not moving” his mind focusing on moving forward, the further he was from Vasilios the better, even if he would never be out of his reach completely, he’d at least feel a little safer in a world he was familiar with.
A shaky breath was taken by Ida and her two companions as her voice trembled “That one may not be, but those ones are”
Twisting his head to look over his shoulder Kaydences gaze locked onto roughly cut stone bodies clawing their way over the edge of the canyon towards them.
Their glitchy and inhuman movements were terrifying as they came at them with no features than deep eyes, some of which held eight or more scattered over their curved and smooth head like spiders, others with a number of limbs to match.
“No weapons we possess are a match to defeat them, our only hope is to run” Ida yelled
“Do you even know the way?” Kaydence asked despite the fact he and the others brainlessly followed like a herd of sheep.
“No” she replied in a lower tone.
“Brilliant” Kaydence mumbled beneath his breath as he leaps over a hand reaching for his ankle, the grinding of stone bodies shrill to his heightened sense of hearing.
The mountain angels began to circle them as the group formed a line to pass through a gorge-like formation that held jagged rocks lining both sides that left less room for error and even lesser room to dodge out of the way.
But as they passed through, the walls around them suddenly started to move and squirm like a pile of worms with hands grabbing at their hair and clothes.
The closer they got to the end, the more hands there were and soon it was nearly too cramped to move, which was when Evan got caught.
A hand shot out of the wall and grasped his throat lifting him off of the floor as more sprung out and took a hold of his limbs rendering him helpless.
Evan’s body now in the way, cut off the exit for Mayfel and Kaydence but with Fraya, Xenia, Erabos and Ide being in front they were left with the choice to run or help.
In all honesty, Kaydence didn’t hold out much hope as he began to bash the rock arm that had latched onto Evan with the butt of Acuere’s hilt.
The mountain demons, as Kaydence favoured over their true names, were all standing being them like a well-organised army, their hands by their sides and heads cocked to the side, eerily calm and still in the slight walkway.
Seeing it as their chance, Kaydence used it and look to Fraya and Mayfel who were following his example, using whatever they had at hand to save their companion, Mayfel having found a fist-sized at his feet.
Evan was barely handing on, his eyes had rolled back as he tiptoed on the edge of consciousness, his face had brightened with the build up of pressure resulting in bulging veins beneath his skin.
It took only another forced punch of Acuere’s hilt to break through the stone arm which dropped to the floor where it shattered into several chunks, it's inside sparing diamond.
His throat freed, Evan’s head slumped forward and with more arms crumbled and cracked away, Mayfel and Fraya both also succeeded in their conquest, but just as Kaydence was about to bring the hilt down again into the crater he had chipped away, Acuere was seized.
“Hurry up,” Kaydence said to Mayfel and Fraya as he turned around to face Erabos.
The man was torn, Kaydence could tell, but one side always had to win, it was like a fight or flight response.
Erabos, however, seemed to lack all sense of response simply standing in place and so giving up, Kaydence turned his eyes back to the hand on his sword that had sunk to the ground and was slowly being absorbed into the wall.
He raised his foot and repeatedly stomped down onto the arm watching it crumble underfoot, his own blood smearing the surface of the clear diamond.
Spinning around, he brought the blade down onto the last remaining rock arm.
Mayfel and Fraya caught Evan as he dropped down and as they pushed into the open where Kaydence urged them to follow the way Ida and Xenia went and apparently Erabos with his sudden disappearance.
“Why did they all stop? It was like they were watching something?” Fraya asked, her feet stumbling with the added weight.
“I don’t know, but we should be thankful we’re not being chased” Kaydence replied seeing Erabos at the top of the slope next to a cave entrance.
There was something in the green-haired man’s eyes that screamed terror and dread which was only made more apparent as Mayfel called to him from behind.
“Kaydence run faster”
“Why?” he asked peeing over his shoulder to see the conjoining forms of the Mountain beings, they clicked together like a jigsaw puzzle, limbs becoming one as the pile grew into a massive spider-like formation.
More than eight legs and more than the common number of blinking eyes, it charged at them with the thudding of countless feet rumbling like drums behind them.
The stones on the dry, earth bed shuddered and moved with the deafening sound of grinding and colliding rock, It was enough to make Kaydence desperate.
He tried running further, but the aching in his legs protested and it was becoming clearer by the minute that Fraya was feeling the same as she and Mayfel began to slow.
Erabos, who finally came to his senses, picked up speed quickly as he threw his blurry feet down the hill towards them, coming to a stop at Evan’s side and taking Mayfel’s place.
It encouraged Fraya to pick up her pace again, it left Kaydence to run alongside Mayfel who was taking up a sideways- backwards mixture of running, always keeping one eye on the mass of rocks approaching and the cave da now stood in the entrance of.
“We’re not going to make it” Kaydence noted honestly, but the unfazed, firm determination on the man’s face was one Kaydence recognised.
Fiercely searching for some sort of leverage, it dawned on Kaydence that he knew the place they were in, from his position on the slope he could see the stone spears pointing diagonally to the skies, the ashy dust coating the floor.
He’d been here before in his dreams, but it couldn’t be.
Fear restricting his chest and undoubtedly spilling from every pore with Mayfel in his view, he slips Acuere’s hilt into Erabos’ hand.
“Go” he called ahead to the sorcerer before his feet fell still “Keep running,” he said to Mayfel as he passed.
“What are you doing? You can’t fight that, especially with no weapon, you can barely run properly with your injured feet. You’re exhausted, you don’t stand a chance” Mayfel tried to reason.
“I’m not going to fight it, I just plan to give you all enough time to get to the others. Now run”
“Now isn’t the time to prove things Kaydence” he snapped
Kaydence, with his pointed ears, listened out for the three sets of footsteps continuing on before he turned and faced the grey creature, its several legs, laced with sharp diamond spines.
So much for the possibility they wouldn’t be attacked, he thought as he ran towards it back down the slope and with a sudden change of direction, he leapt for a boulder perched oddly amongst, what seemed to be a rockslide.
Kicking off of it as much as his muscles could handle, the force propelled his body upwards and away from the rock, leading him in an arch over the beast, his wings snapping open that just bout allowed him to glide over its back.
Kaydence folded his wings to his back, his body rapidly dropping to the moving, stone surface where he landed intact.
But on looking down to his feet, he was met with over a dozen eyes peering back at him that made his skin crawl, he was never a fan of insects.
He stomped down on the inky eyes, certainly attaining the demon's attention as it reared up, flailing its legs although not one of them even remotely reached his being.
Seeing as he was momentarily safe, he cast his eyes to the cave where Erabos, Evan and Fraya disappeared inside, Mayfel however remained atop the slope surveying Kaydence and his situation.
Overwhelmed with the thought of getting home and back into the arms awaiting him, he brought his foot down onto another cluster of eyes and took off up one of the waving legs and leapt once more into the air, bringing his wings out to glide ahead until he reached somewhat halfway up the slope.
A small smile of victory playing on his lips, Kaydence began to sprint.
He beat his birthright, he proved Vasilios wrong and rewrote his fate was what was running through his mind, but then there was something still bugging him.
Mayfel encroached in his vision over the crest of the hill and made his push on just that little bit more and with the thundering in his chest, a mix of excitement and adrenaline Mayfel’s name crawled up his throat and neared his lips.
Just as he was about to call to him, a shard of diamond pierced through his wing, Kaydence in his stunned state stared at it in a daze of discombobulation as he was torn backwards off of his feet.
Attached to the shard was a string of yet more diamonds, the spider-like thing sat reeling him in like a fish on a line.
The world was spinning, he had no weapon or the clear mentality to do anything and he wasn’t even sure what was going as he watched Mayfel charge past him, bringing Acuere down onto the line.
It severed in slow motion and the unheard words he watched fall from Mayfel’s mouth, too fell in slow drabs, none of which he could comprehend.
Nevertheless, he was helped to his feet and all but dragged to the top of the slope and into the cave where Xenia had already made a start by waving her hands elegantly despite the pressing situation.
Sparks crackled and popped and all stood with their fingers crossed as they heard the crunching rock outside and above them, the creatures gradually scaling the sides of the cave outside.
Legs began fumbling their way through the cave entrance, shards of diamond firing and embedding themselves into the wall around them and to top it all off, a deep yell erupted from outside.
It was nothing more than an echo, but they knew it was Vasilios.
They’d been found.
Xenia closed her eyes and took a hold of Ida and Erabos’ hands, it was as though they were unaware of the chaos pursuing them.
As her eyes snapped open and her hands dropped the others, her palms struck the wall, sparks floating in the air and caught ablaze, a portal spontaneously blinking into existence.
“I am unsure of how long it will be open for I suggest you make haste” Xenia suggested strongly.
Ida went first to no surprise, Fraya, Erabos with Evan went next which left Kaydence and Mayfel with Xenia who was growing paler by the second.
Mayfel stumbled through with Kaydence recognising Salatia’s front gates in the glossy surface in the wall, Xenia close behind as the portal collapsed.
It was definitely a close call.