I went to the wall on my right that held the two wooden doors. Picking one at random, I went through the doorway on the right hand side of the wall. Yet another long hallway stood in front of me, but this one curved slightly to the left, and was angled down in the form of a long ramp.
Moving as silently as I knew how, I followed the curving hallway. No doors ever appeared as I walked, and despite the danger of my situation I began to grow bored. Where were the madmen in loincloths? Where was the sense of excitement and danger? My nerves could only stay wound up for so long, and I was afraid that death would rear its ugly head the moment I let my guard down. But after nearly half an hour of silent, empty, hallways, I could practically feel my guard begin to drop anyway.
After a subjective eternity I began to hear a slight humming noise in the air, reminding me of Professor Rafkin’s electric generators. The sound grew louder as I walked, and before too long I began to hear voices speaking loudly enough to be heard over the sound of the humming. I couldn’t understand the voices, but I was certain I heard Dr. Johann’s distinct accent.
At about the same time, the stone paved hallway became packed dirt, and the walls slowly gave way to bare tunnel. I flinched involuntarily, reminded immediately of the tunnels I had but recently just escaped.
The tunnel finally ended in a large room. The room was built in the form of a large dome, as if someone had placed an upside down bowl in the middle of the mountain. The walls were perfectly smooth, to the point of nearly being reflective. In the middle of the room were three large machines, all of them turned to face a small pedestal in the exact center of the chamber. The machines were set in the points of a triangle around the pedestal, with about ten feet of open space between them and it. On top of the pedestal, rested a small, black stone, in the shape of a perfect sphere. The Moonstone.
Finally, after two days of death and discovery, the object I had been searching for was within my grasp. All that stood in my way now were the two men, who thankfully had their backs to me, that stood at the machines.
I ducked into the room on silent feet, and hid behind a tall stack of crates to the left of the entrance. There was no outcry from the two men. A small crack between the crates allowed me to spy on the men without fear of discovery, and I would remain hidden from view even by someone who came through the room’s one entryway. The hiding spot was perfect.
Through my spy hole I finally put a face to the second voice I’d heard in the tunnel. Unsurprisingly, it was the giant, Deep Voice. The giant turned to Dr. Johann and demanded over the sound of the machines, “What is taking so long? You’ve done this once before, Shaman, so do it again.”
“You do not understand.” Dr. Johann complained bitterly. “It is like driving a small nail into a vall, just enough zat you no longer need to hold it, zen standing ten feet avay and zroving ze hammer at ze nail in order to drive it ze rest of ze way wiz a single toss.”
“You’re point being?” Deep Voice asked, his voice slow and ominous.
“My point being,” Dr. Johann explained, “Zis is delicate vork. You need to be patient.”
Deep Voice shifted, towering over the small scientist. “My patience with you is over, Shaman. You will try again. Now. If you fail, I will rip the flesh from your dead bones, and feed it to the raptors.”
“But, but…” Dr. Johann sputtered. “You need me!”
“This world has many shamans. I will find another.” The giant’s tone was bored, and matter of fact.
I saw the look of horror on Dr. Johann’s face when he turned to stare at the giant. I could tell that he honestly believed the threat. For that matter, so did I. Dr. Johann had to visibly swallow twice before being able to say, “Yes, Chief Darden.”
‘Ah.’ I thought. ‘So that’s the name of the giant.’ Any other thoughts, however, were quickly driven from my mind as Dr. Johann pressed a large red button on the machine in front of him.
The humming sound in the room grew to a buzz, then to a drone, as if thousands of bees were swarming all around us. Every hair on my body began to stand on its end as three large pillars began to rise out of the machines around the Moonstone. A small copper sphere sat atop each one, and circles of copper tubes, each one larger than the one above it, descended from the tops, giving the pillars the rough shape of cones. Flashes of blue-white electricity bounced from circle to circle on the cone pillars. When they became large enough, the lightning even bounced from pillar to pillar, forming a triangle of blue-white electricity around the Moonstone.
I’d say that the Moonstone began to glow, but the term just didn’t seem to apply since the color of the aura around the stone was black, just a shade lighter than the stone itself. Suddenly the three arms of lightning jumped to the stone, and the dark aura increased in size. Without warning, the blue-white lightning suddenly stopped, as if the Moonstone had drained the cone pillars dry. My hair fell back into place, and I found myself holding my breath in anticipation.
The black aura condensed into a long thin wedge, about three feet across at the end, and stopped just a few feet shy of the two men. The wedge went from black in color around the Moonstone, and ended at a light green at the thin tip.
Soundlessly the green tip rose and fell with equal proportions, like a giant green mouth opening up. A sudden vortex of wind began in the large chamber, blowing papers around, and pulling them towards the green wall. Even I felt the pull of the wind vortex, protected as I was by the large crates, and the two men in front of me were forced to hold onto the machine in order to keep from flying forward.
My mouth dropped open in pure shock. The green doorway, for that is what it turned out to be, began spitting out grass and flowers while it sucked in the papers from the cavern. A fact I knew to be impossible by the laws of physics, but then, so was whatever the portal was that was emanating from the Moonstone.
Through the green rimmed doorway I saw a group of three little girls with bright red hair and wide green eyes, obviously sisters. They were staring at the doorway in the same way I must have been. Their innocent faces in rapt surprise and wonder. They were dressed in identical sundresses that only varied in color. One red, one blue, and one yellow. The hill they stood on was covered in bright purple, blue, and even green flowers. I hadn’t even known flowers could be green. But then again, I never knew a place that had two suns in the sky either.
Very slowly, Chief Darden the giant reached past Dr. Johann and pressed the red button. The doorway snapped shut and the room plunged into an abrupt silence that was only broken by the sound of paper fluttering to the ground amid bright green grass and multicolored flower pedals.
In an ominously quiet, and bored, tone, Chief Darden announced, “That was not my world.”
Faster than an eye blink, and well before Dr. Johann could respond, Chief Darden’s hand wrapped itself around the scientist’s neck for the second time in half a day. The giant lifted Dr. Johann off the ground, not even looking at the little man as he kicked and struggled. The giant’s entire attention was focused on the Moonstone in quiet contemplation.
“Vait!” Dr. Johann choked out. “You can’t kill me! I know vhere your daughter is!”
Chief Darden laughed humorlessly, a dark and evil thing. “So do I.” He replied, still staring at the Moonstone. “My wife told me everything. How she ran away from me, stealing my daughter in the process. How she lost the Moonstone, and how without it dear little June is going to die. She even told me about the medicine men of St. Mercy’s. The only thing she didn’t tell me was where to find her accused father.” He finally looked at the doctor in his hands, and though I couldn’t see them, I could feel the insanity in his eyes. “Then I stabbed her in the heart. Soon, June will die. Her mother’s weak blood demands no less.”
Dr. Johann stared at the giant in horror, as hope faded from his eyes. He fumbled at his lab coat with weak hands. “But she is your daughter too.” He protested quietly through his choked airway.
“I will have no weak descendants!” The giant declared angrily. “None!”
Dr. Johann was unable to respond. He had simply run out of air. Just as his face began to turn purple I decided that I had to do something. I set the egg carefully on the ground, and prepared to make a suicidal rush at the giant. Before I could move, however, I felt the presence of someone entering the room. “Chief Darden!” A worried man exclaimed as he rushed over.
The giant turned to face what turned out to be one of the loincloth wearing warriors. Dr. Johann’s movements were becoming lax as he slowly worked his way to unconsciousness. His hands fell from his coat, empty. The warrior dropped to one knee at Chief Darden’s feet, and began to talk, too quietly for me to hear. When the warrior was finished talking, the giant drew a black stone knife from out of his tiger skin toga with his free hand, and casually slashed open the warrior’s throat, spraying arterial blood all over the floor, and his own feet.
The giant released Dr. Johann as the warrior fell to the ground dead. Dr. Johann collapsed, gasping and coughing weakly. “A matter requires my attention.” Chief Darden told the small man, completely unfazed by the fact he had just murdered one of his own warriors. “Use your brief stay of execution wisely, Shaman, and find my home by the time I return.”
“Yes, Chief Darden.” Dr. Johann replied weakly. “I vill do my best.”
The giant walked away from Dr. Johann and the dead warrior with long strides. “Do better than that.” He commanded over his shoulder as he walked away.
Chief Darden left the room, and after half a minute his presence faded from even the awareness in my mind, leaving me alone with a stricken, and wheezing, Dr. Johann.