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Raithe scowled. “You're not gonna help?”

Gin smiled and crossed his arms. “Nah,” he said. “I think you can take on whatever that thing is and besides, what can I really do in this condition?” he made a show of gesturing to himself, indicating that he had no tools or weapons.

Raithe would have rolled his eyes at the man, but he didn't have time before a loud wooshing noise met his ears. It whumped... whumped, like giant wing beats hitting the air. He glanced up and saw that it was in fact, a giant, winged creature. The bat screeched again as it came at him. Raithe rolled out of the way as the creature brought out the talons on its forearms and clung with ease, to the stone wall above Gin's head.

Gin glanced up at the thing, but made no move to assist.

With another loud screech, the bat lept off, soared into the wide chamber and over the water, before coming back toward Raithe.

Felix lept at the thing, landing on its back, sinking her claws and teeth into the creature's flesh. She growled and snarled viciously as it tried to shake her off and then she let out a small, pained whimper, before falling off and landing with a thud, to the stone pathway.

“Felix!” Raithe shouted, but she made no attempt to reply. He turned back to the bat and saw that same black substance from the other creatures they've seen. A viscous liquid oozing out of the creature's wounds and that same, awful stench. He knew from the bear that it was not something that should be touched, at least not with the skin. That made killing this thing... or at least fending it off, even more difficult.

“I don't know about you but, I don't think you can kill it,” Gin said from his... resting spot.

“If I don't kill it,” Raithe said gritting his teeth. “Then Felix might not survive.”

“She might be dead already.”

“She's not and you know it!” he said in anger. He wouldn't leave her alone here like he had with the two others, out in the ocean. Even if he had to carry the panther's corpse to whereve-

“Oh fine,” Gin said with a grunt.

Raithe turned to see him hefting Felix who should have weighed a couple hundred pounds, over one shoulder like she weighed not much more than his satchel. “What are you...?”

“You coming or not?” and then he ran through the tunnel.

One look back at the enormous bat thing was all Raithe needed in order to convince him that running was the right thing to do. Behind them came an echo location screech, followed by the whump... whump of its wings.

The tunnel they were following now was long and narrow. It was dark too, but the feeling they had from the darkness in other places wasn't nearly as bad here. The feeling of being watched was gone and so were the encroaching shadows. All they felt now was that primal urge. The need to run away from a powerful predator and survive. Gin and Felix vanished in front of him.

Raithe had literally no time to stop, before he fell through a hole in the ground. Probably the same one Gin hadn't seen. At first, it was a perfectly straight drop and he couldn't help but think that even a cat would not be able to survive a fall from so high. To his relief however, the drop curved into a stone tunnel which was coated in this fish smelling, slime substance. It was different from what those creatures seemed to be made out of though because for one thing, it was green and it didn't try to melt his clothes off.

They all landed very unceremoniously, on another stone floor. Gin was the first one to rise, followed by Felix who was apparently fine now. She shook her whole body again and growled, annoyed with the great travesty that had befallen her and then Raithe groaned and stood up. He was sure his hard head had hit the concrete... basalt... granite. Well... whatever material they had used to build this place.

“What... is this place?” Raithe asked when finally his senses had returned to him.

They were standing in the center of an enormous hall of some kind. There were rows of pillars on either side, which he guessed were what was holding this place up. Engraved on them were images of great battles waged in the name of the world they were in. Or so he interpreted. Hundreds of different races, with four that he recognized. Humans, elves, dwarves and the Purren, all facing a hoard of humanoid creatures. Some were little folk with pot bellies, bald heads and long, pointed ears. Others were four times larger in both height and bulk, wearing metal armor, with weapons raised.

On the side of the opposing army, there was an elongated dragon, preparing to blast them all into cinders. The mural was actually quite incredible and took his breath away for several seconds. “A...amazing,” Raithe said, still awed.

“You're impressed by that?” Gin said.

Raithe shrugged.

Across the room from where they stood, was a massive, round door. Engraved into its center was a large tree with branches that curled up and around. In the center of the tree, as well as on three separate branches, were carved circular indentations with images engraved within them.

Raithe stepped forward to take a look.\

The Tahni Halls
Welcome to your third and final test. You must complete this before arriving at the port city of Galeron.

“Galeron?” Raithe looked at Felix. “Is that where we're going?”

She mweowed and then rubbed up against his waist... because that was just how tall she was on all fours, practically knocking him over in the process.

“It seems that way,” Gin said and then walked passed him. He put a hand over the tree, feeling every indent and groove in its artistry. He paused on one image, of a bat. “What do you think this means?”

Raithe inspected it next. Unable to draw any conclusions, he placed his fingers into the groove where the door met wall and tried to pull. It didn't budge. Not even by an inch. “I don't think we can open it this way,” he said panting with the effort.

“Well I could have told you tha-”

They all stopped abruptly and whirled around to see whatever was making that chattering sound. There was a few tense moments of silence where they stood still, not talking and even Felix made no warning growls. All eyes were focused in one direction.

Three of those little humanoid creatures from the murals, all carrying clubs, stepped out into the open. They chatted in their own native language, words Raithe could not understand. Even so, they sounded angry.

“Think they're... friendly?” Raithe asked.

Gin scoffed at that and shook his head. “No... no I do not.”

“Then... I hope you don't have any ideas.”

“What? To leave?” Gin said. “My goal is to survive and while leaving you here does sound... fun... there could be other things lurking in this place. No, best chance right now for me to live, is to work with you.”

Raithe rolled his eyes. “Thanks for the confidence.”

“You're welcome!” Gin said with a smile.

Encountered → Goblins

Before anymore words could be spoken, one of the goblins raised his spiky club and pounded a small, metal shield, round in shape. He shouted something incoherently and charged at them. The little guy swung his club at Raithe who simply jumped into the air to avoid it.

Felix growled loudly and pounced toward another which came in with abandon, biting his neck and pinning him to the ground. She held him there until his friend interrupted by swinging his club at her. Felix jumped back to avoid it and then with her back paws, sprung forward and clamped her jaws tightly around the thin part of the club, closest to the goblin's hand. As he swung it, trying to get her off, some of those spikes penetrating the skin around her mouth.

Raithe landed with angelic grace, spun his staff in the air a couple times before bringing it down hard on one of the goblin's heads.

Gin on the other hand, had taken up a strange fighting stance. His arms were stretched out to both sides, with his hands pointed down. He was balancing on one foot, waiting for the third goblin to approach.

Though he didn't know exactly what fighting style Gin was choosing to use, something about it seemed familiar to Raithe. It was a style of fighting which only utilized parts of the body as weapons.

The goblin swung at him again.

Raithe shot his gaze back to the creature and was just barely able to block with his staff. Unfortunately the blow sent him flying across the room and his staff broke in the process. He was stopped by one of the nearby pillars.

“And here I was, starting to think you were a half decent fighter,” came Gin's taunt.

He pulled himself away from the pillar, shook the stars from his vision and looked at his poor excuse for a weapon. The stick was now broken into two pieces from the center. Each piece was sharp and he guessed could be used lethally. Raithe smiled. Using the stick which had been more like a quarter staff before, couldn't have been used to kill. Maybe to brutally maim a target, but that was about it. Raithe glanced from the pointy end of one stick, to the goblin.

The little guy must have realized what he had done, because just then he dropped his weapon and started backing away very slowly. Raithe lept forward and slammed the tip into the now trembling creature's neck. The goblin now lie dead on the ground, only two left to go.

Fury rose up in the other two as one of them charged even more ferociously at Gin. He kicked the goblin's chin so that it was flying backwards and then he flipped over it, punching it twice in the chest, slamming it down into stone.

The third and final goblin, although now free from Felix's grip, got a spear through the back as Raithe plunged it in deep. They all fell limp to the floor, dead.

Raithe stood up straight, breathing hard. “We... did it,” he said. “And no black goo!”

“And no black goo,” Gin agreed as he mock dusted his hands. He nodded toward a doorway which Raithe hadn't noticed before, hiding behind a couple pillars. “I think we have to go this way.”

“Right,” Raithe replied as Gin opened it. Both he and Gin followed him in.

When they were on the other side, a grinding sound filled the little room and when they turned to look, the door was gone.

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If any of you are enjoying my story and would like to support me, then please visit my Patreon

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About the author

Maiz

Bio: An amateur writer who hopes to entertain you all, with my wondrous works of fantasy!

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