Neither of them moved and even Felix seemed to be a bit hesitant. Of course... why wouldn't she be? Cats were used to seeing in the dark, but even then, there would still be some light to go by. Here, there was none. It was like that void he kept seeing in his dreams. An endless plain where there was nothing but dark. Dark spreading out for an eternity.
Feeling his way along, Raithe very carefully placed a foot on the step below. He repeated that action several times, hoping there would be nothing hiding, lurking somewhere in the veil of black and that seemed to almost be true. But his foot landed on something slimy and squishy. It squealed in pain and he fell back, off balance and in surprise. Raithe landed with a thump and he was sure that if Felix hadn't been there to catch him, he would have hit his head.
“R-relax,” Mika said. The boy was obviously trying to keep his wits about him, but his words were stunted with chattering teeth. “I-it's just a giant s-slug.”
In the boy's hands, Raithe could see his flame returned. It lit the area in a gentle, orange glow and he could see the thing he had stepped on. The slug was enormous for what it was, but still small compared to even Mika. Even so, what could possibly allow a plant or an animal to grow to ten times its usual size?
The light went out.
“Mika!” Raithe whispered harshly. “The light?”
“Sorry! I... can't keep it up for very long.”
That was troublesome. Not only did Mika have a way to make a light – which was a good thing – but that light could only stay lit for a very short amount of time and that was a very bad thing. Raithe didn't honestly know how they would make it through in the dark. He made sure to make a mental note though, that if there were torches available, to not go into a strange, dark room without one. Well, there was nothing he could do about that now. Raithe pushed himself to his feet.
“I suppose you have nothing on you to... light either?”
“No,” Mika said in the darkness.
He sighed out of annoyance and then reached over, feeling around for Mika's hand. Raithe found the boy's arm first, but from there it was easy. He tightened his grip knowing that losing each other would be a very likely thing, if they didn't stay close. “Come on,” he said. “And watch your step.”
Felix rubbed up against his leg as they descended. She was smart. She knew that the only way they wouldn't lose each other down here, was by touch or sound.
Raithe always listened. If there was a short time when Felix wasn't rubbing up against his leg, she would growl low and quiet. He would then tap his food three times, loud enough for her to hear and then she would return. But the way they were trying to make it through, was severely inefficient. It was like trying to open a can with one's teeth. Just not possible. That was when he thought of bats and how they could find their way around in the dark. Maybe it was possible for them to do the same.
“How often can you use that light? And is it possible for you to make it brighter?”
Mika responded with, “a lot. Yes I can make it brighter, but not by much.”
“Good,” Raithe said. “Because I want you to light up as much of this room as you can.”
“Wait... you want to...?”
“Just do it.”
There was a sigh and then the orange glow appeared again, in Mika's hands. It was brighter than the previous flame, but he still had to hold it up so that its illumination could reach as much of the room as was possible. “Good?” he asked.
Instead of responding, Raithe glanced around. He was making a mental image in his head about what the room looked like and the path they would take to get out of it. Three doors on three different walls. Each door had two statues standing guard. They seemed so real though. Life like. Living, breathing creatures, other than the fact that they were all eerily still. The statues were black.
They looked a lot like dogs, but were longer, thinner than most. Narrow muzzles, long, slender ears and though a quadruped, they had long arms and legs. All the statues stood on small platforms made from the same material as they and the same color.
The light went out.
There was a long moment when neither of them said anything, then Mika tugged a little on his hand. “So... um... which way?” he asked.
Raithe didn't honestly know. He supposed that any of the doors would bring them to where they needed to be, so he just decided to choose one. “Left,” he said. And led the way through the darkness. His ears twitched when he heard breathing that came from neither of his friends. Raithe whirled around.
“What is it?” Mika asked frightened.
“The light, the light!” Raithe said frantically.
Mika lit up the room once again, with the orange glow.
Nothing appeared unusual or out of place. Raithe couldn't see any strange creatures in the room, stalking them. Just those statues. He could count how many there were this time and see them in more detail. There were seven. Two by each of the three doors and one in the center of the room. Each were posed a different way. One statue with its head pointed up, sniffing the air and its ears flopping down over the back of its neck.
There was another statue which had its head lower to the ground, eyes forward, looking, watching and all four paws placed firmly beneath its body. Another of the statues was in an even stranger pose than the other two. One of its front paws was out in front of it, off the platform it stood upon. The creature's gaze was pointed right at them, almost like it was about to attack.
“C-creepy,” Mika said.
The light went out.
This time, all the hackles on his neck, tail and ears rose. Something did not feel right about the room they were in and Raithe felt the urge to exit it quickly. He reached down, taking Mika's hand in his and going from memory, started walking with a steady, swift pace, to a door on the other end. It wasn't the one to their left, but he didn't care. Would it really matter which way they went? Mika tripped to the ground, causing Raithe to bend over, still holding his hand.
“Mika?” he asked.
“I'm fine,” the kid said. “Just tripped over something.”
Breathing on the back of his neck. Raithe froze.
Mika must have felt it too, because it was then that the kid formed the light again. He pushed himself to his feet and moved it around, landing on one of what were supposedly statues.
They were all perfectly still, but Raithe was absolutely sure that they had all moved. Most, not by much. The one which had its head up earlier, was now looking directly at them and there were others that had partially or completely left their platforms. And there was one that Raithe knew without a shadow of a doubt, had moved. Its platform was completely empty and the stature was looming over them menacingly. Looking at it closely, revealed drool which was dripping down the sides of its mouth. Strangely, even the drool seemed to be statue like.
Taking Mika's hand, Raithe stepped backwards, keeping both eyes on the creature. “I think... as soon as that goes out, run,” he said. Raithe tried to keep his voice low and calm, but it was hard. There was a slight quivering in it.
Felix didn't bother waiting. In three long strides, she was by the door, watching them and waiting.
The light went out.
“Go,” Raithe said in a whisper. Then more loudly, “Go go go!”
Mika left him and the boys footfalls resounded throughout the room.
Felix roared loudly, adding to the noise.
Raithe tried to run. After his second stride though, he could feel a row of sharp teeth sink into his arm, like a knife through butter. It stung and warm blood oozed out of the wounds, around those teeth, drenching his shirt in a red color that he currently, could not see. Then his arm started to go numb and Raithe took that as a very bad sign. He drew the dagger.
It transformed with its luminescent blue. A soft and calming light, into the sword. He took it and stabbed the creature through the throat. It released its grip. He wasted no time in running away. Raithe couldn't hear those things in the dark, but he could feel them as they approached closer. How something that big and heavy could move without making any sound at all, was beyond him. And he knew that it was absolutely terrifying.
Mika lit up the room once again, just as Raithe reached the door where he and Felix were waiting, nervously.
He turned around and noticed that every single one of those things were still. Like statues again, but that some had moved. “What... do you think those things are?” Raithe asked, breathing hard. They were strange, but he felt like if he stayed in this world, he was bound to eventually run into even stranger creatures than those.
“I'm not sure what they're called,” Mika said. “But I have heard stories.”
“Creatures that are statue like when they are either alone, or when they are being looked at by someone. As soon as you look away or... blink, they will probably move.”
The stories Mika had heard, seemed to very accurately describe these creatures. They were still at first, but as soon as the room became dark, all the statues moved. “If... we can get out of their line of sight, will they still follow us?” Raithe asked. He chose the question carefully, so that Mika would understand what he was asking.
Mika shook his head. “I don't think s-”
Again, his light went out.
Raithe let go of his hand. “Go,” he said in a whisper. Then more loudly, “Go go go!”
All three of them ran. He couldn't see the creatures or hear them, but for some reason, Raithe could feel them get closer and closer. After a few long strides, the light returned and Mika held it up. There were two in the narrow hallway. One on the floor looking at them and one on the ceiling, latching on with sharp claws.
He wasted no time. If what the kid said was true, then all they would have to do, was to run far enough ahead so those things couldn't see them. Reaching down, Raithe scooped Mika up into his arms, so that the kid's upper body was over his shoulder and Mika's arms would be free. Then... he ran like hell!
Raithe counted every second the light was active and in ten, it went out. He kept running through the dark, keeping a hand on the wall to steady himself. “Mika...” he said, breathing hard.
“Yeah?” he answered.
“In ten seconds, I want you to try that again.”
“Okay,” Mika said.
It stood to reason, that if the light could only be active for a certain period of time, then in a certain period after it deactivated, Mika would be able to use it again. Raithe was right. Ten, long stride and the corridor was lit in an orange glow again. Raithe glanced over his shoulder, but didn't stop. The two dogs that had been following him, were now three. However, they were far away. They would most likely be able to cross the distance in just a few seconds, but Raithe had hope that they could escape before then.
Before the light poofed out again, he caught sight of the corridor's end. A dead end, with a door. Everything went black. Raithe kept running until he ran right into it. He set Mika down and with all his strength, slid it open. They entered and together, slid the door closed again. Raithe could hear the creatures as they slammed their bodies against it and then everything went quiet once again.