Something hit him from behind and Raithe went sprawling sideways, onto the stone floor. Rolling over and over until he hit the opposite wall, coming to a stop. It wasn't far away, the space they were in was pretty narrow actually... that didn't mean though that it was painless. He winced as he propped himself up on one elbow and squinted his eyes in that direction, in order to get a grasp at what had happened.
Felix was standing in front of him, defensively and her eyes were focused on whatever was on the other side of that hole. A pair of eyes stared back at them from the darkness, but that was all he could see. To her right, Gin was starting to come through but paused with one foot over the rubble and a hand on part of the wall above him, for balance. His gaze was focused in that direction as well.
“What's... happening?” Raithe asked with a cough. He climbed back to his feet and got into a ready for combat stance.
Gin didn't need to answer, because the growl which came next, revealed to him what it was. The werewolf charged forward through the corridor, fangs bared and snarling viciously. It lept for Felix but before it could do any real harm, a knee came flying toward its face and the creature fell back.
“That's the thing about where we are,” Gin said.
The werewolf climbed to his four paws and stared at Gin with malicious intent.
“Oh come on... you know? You're a creature who is obviously meant for fighting in a more open space,” he glanced around at their current arena. “This place though... is kind of cramped... so to speak.”
It charged at him again. This time when Gin kicked, the creature ducked very narrowly avoiding a painful blow. As it went to bite his leg, Gin grabbed the wall above him and pulled himself up. It then turned its attention back to Raithe and Felix.
They started backing away.
“You're not going to leave me here are you?” Gin called out.
“I think... you can handle being alone for a few minutes,” Raithe said, then he and Felix ran.
Sure he could kick and punch like Gin, but those would have been less powerful and therefore, less effective. Raithe's style of fighting was also unfortunately, for more open areas. He was also afraid that without somewhere to run to, Felix could also become seriously injured which wasn't something they could currently afford. So to avoid that, he chose the best option available. Run away!
Behind them that snarling beast kept pace and even sounded as if it were getting closer. The creature's claws scraped along the stone floor, its bark and growl echoing. Reverberating through the hollow space. Its claws sounded on the walls, the ceiling as it hopped from one position to the next.
Up ahead there was a light. Did that mean he was almost through this narrow tunnel. Yes, Raithe could see the exit clearly. A grayness which was lighter then the walls surrounding him. Water droplets dripped from somewhere near, making a sound which echoed back to his ears and as his footfalls came closer to that opening, he could see a narrow path beyond it.
One of his feet fell on something hard, jagged and round. Raithe fell, landing on his back and right before Felix could turn around and help him, that snarling beast was on top. He tried to raise his spear at it, but before he could the creature opened its jaws and moved to bite his neck, a killing blow. Raith reacted before it could and put his arm up. Sharp fangs sank into it and he could feel the warm, life liquid drip down. Splattering down, some on his face.
With its fangs latched tightly into his forearm, the creature moved a paw toward his neck, making it harder to breath. It pressed down.
“Feli...” Raithe croaked. “Felix!”
The cat barreled into the werewolf, causing it to lose its grip and slide off of him. Its claws scraped along the floor as it slid across the wet, slimy surface.
Raithe clutched his would tightly and rolled onto his knees. “Tha... thank you,” he breathed.
Felix let out a grunt of approval, but did not look away. Turning your back on the enemy or a wild animal, would mean death for sure, so she remained focused. There was a long stand off between the two where neither did much but stare and snarl. Their way of sizing eachother up, but then Felix lept.
A pained yelp came from the were wolf as one of her claws dug deep into his flank. In moments however, the tables had turned completely around when it bit down hard on one of her legs.
“Raithe!” that was Gin's voice.
Raithe glanced up and saw the man jumping around behind the fight, waving his arms around like a crazy person.
When Raithe did nothing, he cupped both hands to his mouth. “Throw me your spear!” he shouted and there was a visible, audible gulp when both Felix and the werewolf looked up at him.
There was no time to argue with the man. As much as he didn't like Gin, the truth was that he was good at fighting. With both hand to hand and as it seemed, melee weapons. Raithe stood up and released his wound while he chucked the half stick over to the man. Right... it was only a half stick but when it had broken apart, one end had become sharp. Good enough to use as a spear point.
Gin caught the thing and without hesitation, lept into the air and slammed it down into the creature's throat. It fell dead, tongue hanging out.
Raithe caught the spear in one hand as Gin threw it back to him.
“There,” Gin said, carefully stepping over the creature. He made a show of dusting his hands off. “One less monster we have to worry about in this world.”
“Heh...” kneeling down, Raithe went into the satchel and pulled out a roll of a very thin, fine cloth as well as some kind of wooden container which held some of that poultice, Grandma Willow had provided for him.
He spread it across his wound and immediately felt a numbing sensation as it dulled the pain, then he wrapped the cloth around it, tightly tying it off. Next he went to work on the wound Felix had received. Once all that was done, Raithe stuffed it all into his satchel again and stood up.
Through the opening, there was a very narrow ledge which ran from on side of the wall to the other. So narrow in fact, that to cross it they would have had to walk sideways with their toes hanging off the edge. That mixed together with the slippery dampness of the place, would have created a very nerveracking experience for both him and Gin. Not to mention that Felix couldn't even cross that. Lucky for them then, that there was another way.
A wide beam went from their side of the wide, round room, to the other side. Just wide enough for them to walk across without them having to constantly watch their feet. The beam was diagonal, leading down to the other side, which probably meant that something had caused it to fall from its previous position and there was a reservoir of water right below it. Even if any of them did fall, they would just end up in there and judging from the whole lot of nothing he could see within the room, it did seem like they would have to swim regardless.
“You first,” Gin said.
“Are you sure?” Raithe asked. He knew that he was good at balancing and even if he fell, there was air hop or his ability to twist in the air to land the right way. Gin had neither of those, so if he slipped and fell while in from it would be easy enough just to grab him. Raithe wasn't sure about behind though.
“Alright,” Raithe replied with sarcastic indifference.
Felix went first, using her claws to create more of a foothold and prevent herself from slipping.
Raithe followed, carefully paying attention to every step he made. Making a mistake here could have consequences. Behind, his ears could pick up the subtle sound of Gin stepping quietly behind him and the ambient noise of water dripping, trickling and little rodents scurrying.
Raithe spun right as Grin slipped off the edge. In one swift movement, he fell to his stomach and slid up to where Gin had been. His hand catching the man before he could fall any farther. Wincing, he pulled Gin back up, a sharp pain moving through the puncture wounds on his arm where that beast's fangs had pierced through.
“You... okay?” Raithe grunted as he pulled Gin the rest of the way up.
“I'm fine,” Gin replied.
They stood up and walked the rest of the way in silence, down the long beam. Raithe hopped off the end of it, his feet hitting the ground with a dull thump. The platform they now stood upon, was square in shape and had a set of stairs on either side, leading into the cold water below. Looking down over it revealed that the distance from the stone platform to the water was still pretty high, by about ten feet or so. Low enough that they could jump into the reservoir without fear of injury.
As much as he didn't like the idea of getting wet... again, it didn't seem like there was much of a choice. The wall behind them, was just a wall.
“Okay,” Raithe said as he descended the steps. “Let's go.”
He scowled at Gin, but remained quiet. As his body entered the water, it began to chill him and it took everything he had just to stay calm and keep moving. Felix ran into the water passed him and a huge splash which pretty much defeated the point of him taking it slow, indicated that Gin had just jumped in. He stared with an angry glare.
Gin rolled onto his back with both arms folded beneath his head. Kicking and casually floating there as if he were reclining on a bed. “What's wrong?” Gin asked. “You're slowing our pace.”
With a roll of his eyes and a shake of his head, Raithe took in the deepest breath of air that he could and fully submerged himself. Like the ocean, this water was completely clear and clean. As clean as it could be anyway. He had no idea how long it had been sitting here for and as far as he could tell, there was no way of circulating it. Water which sits for extended periods of time, often grows stale and dangerous to drink. He would have to be careful.
A quick glance around told him that there was only one way to go. On the end farthest from where they currently were, was a tunnel half submerged in water. Raithe gestured to Gin and Felix, then he led the way through.
It was long and dark and the sides of the tunnel were soaked in a green, luminescent, slippery sludge. They swam through it, making their way to another plat form which was in line with the reservoir. Low enough for even Felix to claw her way up.
Raithe heaved himself out and then placed both his satchel and the bag on the floor. A light growl from Felix brought his attention from those, to the strangest thing yet, that he had seen in this entire dungeon. In the center of the platform, was a very big tree. It was almost as tall as the ceiling and had a thick trunk. No leaves grew on its branches.
“Woah cool!” Gin said, stepping up to it.
“Wait... I don't think we should take this thing lightly.”
“Lightly?” there was a slight hint of laughter in his voice as he spoke. “This is not something people see everyday.”
“That's exactly why,” Raithe replied. “Look... so far its been one danger after another with no time to rest in between.... well... other than that one time... but that's beside the point. Why would there be a massive tree growing... probably hundreds of feet underground and in what appears to be an abandoned city or fortress? Surely there has to be some reason it's here.”
“It's probably just a clue,” Gin said, stepping closer. He was silent for a moment and then.. “Oh look!”
Raithe's eyes went wide as he watched the man reach out for something in the bark. It was an object which reflected light, giving it a metallic look. “H-hey wait!” he shouted. “Don't touch....”
It was too late. As Gin pulled the object from the trunk a really loud screeching sound emanated from that enormous tree, filling the room. Gin dropped the object and keeled over, covering his ears. Felix yowled in pain and dropped to the floor.
Raithe clutched his ears, trying to block it out. He was trying to do the impossible as that ear splitting headache caused his whole body to go numb. Right before he felt himself fall, he thought he could see two clouds of black mist exit through the tiny hole in the tree's trunk and one, entered Gin's body. Blackness took him.