Thursday, November 10, 2011

Relay: Episode 8

Only four episodes left after this one! Here is Episode 1 if you're new and here you can find all the episodes in one place! Enjoy!

Episode 8

The group sat quietly around the fire, watching the dancing flames.  Smoke from the fire smelled slightly sweet caused by the burning seaweed stalks they used for fuel. Nonhumans of all sorts and shapes passed by as they waited. Some of them stopped to welcome the group to the community. Avery was able to understand a few of them, but the majority of the well wishers spoke unknown languages. Byron suggested everyone employ the smile and nod tactic, which seemed to be working until a large green creature took Byron’s smile as a proposition. After a few awkward moments the creature, which they all assumed was female (no one would swear to it) seemed to comprehend the misunderstanding and left, begrudgingly.

Moments later Wesley strolled into their field of vision and sat on an empty chair beside Julia.

“Can everyone swim?” He asked. Julia and Byron shook their heads yes. Avery nodded and spoke to Lilana. She seemed confused for a moment then, without warning said:

“Err, ’es. Yes!” She seemed excited at the accomplishment. She looked at Byron and said, “Iyron?”

“Close enough,” Byron put his arm around her.

“Lovely,” Avery said dryly. “Can we get on with this?”

“Yeah,” Wesley stood. “One of the waterfalls in the main chamber empties into the lake below. From there we will be able to swim to the ruined city, bypassing the guards and the door. It’s going to be dark, wet and cold. Quincy will go first. He swims faster than us and can see well in low light. He’ll make for the city and light a torch so we know which direction to swim when we get to the lake. I have a rope to get us most of the way down. The rest of the trip will be free fall. Think of it like a large rocky water slide.” Wesley smiled at Julia. “Once in the city we will hold up for an hour or so to dry off and get acquainted with the locals. They may not be happy to see us.” Wesley passed around small, three inch blades.

“I’m not sure how effective these will be for self defense.” Avery pressed the small blade against his thumb. Dull.

“If you’d rather fight them hand to hand be my guest.” Wesley turned and looked down the corridor. “Okay, everyone up, it’s time.” They all stood and followed Wesley through the maze of caves and tunnels. Julia was sure they took a different path than earlier. They ended up in the same place; the large waterfall cavern with the circus tent in the middle. They walked slowly around to the opposite side of the cavern where they saw Quincy standing next to a large boulder. Wesley led them to an even larger adjacent rock where they took cover. Wesley walked over to Quincy and shook his hand. They spoke some of the odd gurgling language and hugged before Quincy began to rappel down the hole. Water also rushed down this fissure and looked to make this descent much more challenging than Wesley described.

Wesley moved back to the cover and watched the rope. For a time it moved slightly, back and forth rubbing along the rock ledge. The cavern remained dead quiet. Then at once the tension on the rope let up. Wesley looked at Avery.

“Who’s first?” He whispered.

“I’ll go.” Avery said. “I’ll tread at the bottom. Send Lilana next, I’ll swim with her.” Avery stepped out from behind the rock and took hold of the rope. In moments he was gone. Another tense wait ensued before the rope slacked and it was time for Lilana. Byron walked her to the rope and held her hand as she got in position. She began to tear up; obviously scared.

“Shhh, it’s okay. Avery’s at the bottom and I’ll be right behind.” Byron hugged her and wiped away a tear. She stayed in his arms until Wesley moved forward and urged her to go. Lilana slid down the rope and disappeared into the void. Byron and Wesley moved back to their rocky cover. This wait seemed like forever. The rope swayed back and forth much longer than it had for Quincy or Avery. When the rope did go limp, Wesley gave Byron the signal and he quickly went forth. Julia couldn’t believe how different Byron had been acting since meeting Lilana. She commented to Wesley about how he normally would be whining like a baby about this task at hand. Wesley smiled.

“The relay has a way of changing people.” Wesley did not smile. He seemed all too introspective. “There, rope is clear, you’re up.” Wesley followed Julia out to the rope. “You good?”

“Yes. Do you want me to wait for you?”

“No, just head for the torch light.” Wesley squeezed her hand and let her go. Julia began to lower herself down the dark hole. Wesley’s face became fainter as she did. Soon she was in total darkness. Cool water from the falls splashed and sprayed her. Her hands began to burn from holding onto the rope even though it felt ice cold. Julia tried to keep a steady pace even though she couldn’t see anything. The sound from the falling water also made it impossible to hear. She bounced off the wall of the cave occasionally; it felt slick. Before she knew it the end of the rope presented itself. She hung there for a while looking down into the black nothing. At this point cold water was fully showering her. Julia looked up and saw the faintest little pin point of light, then she let go of the rope.

Julia did not fall far before hitting the rock wall as it turned slightly horizontally. She slid down this incline very quickly before it vanished beneath her. Julia remained in this free fall for seconds before splashing into the cold, black lake. The sudden fall took her breath away. When Julia realized she was underwater she opened her eyes to try and find the surface. She saw nothing but black. She quickly began to swim in the direction she deemed up. Her muscles and lungs began to burn for lack of oxygen. She continued to frantically swim; desperate for a breath. Finally she found the surface and took in a long gasping breath. For a time all she could do was tread on the water and breath. When air finally began returning to her brain she started looking for the light of the torch. She figured it would be easy to find a light in such darkness, but she failed to find it. Julia cried out for Avery with no answer. She hesitated to swim away from where she landed. A splash erupted behind her. She screamed and swam away until she heard Wesley’s gasping as he surfaced.

“Wesley! Where is the light?” It took him a moment to answer. Julia swam over and grabbed his shirt so not to lose him.

“I can’t see it! Oh shit…” Wesley turned and turned. “I don’t see it, something isn’t right.”

“What do we do?”

“Hold on and let me think.” Wesley, still breathing violently tried to calm himself. Julia suddenly screamed.

“Something just swam past my leg!” She propelled herself into Wesley’s arms.

“You’re going to sink us both!” Then something touched Wesley’s leg. “Oh, holy crap what was that?” Wesley felt another creature swimming around them. “Wait, it’s just the eels!” This idea didn’t make Julia feel any better. The eels continued to swim around them and rub up against them. “They don’t bite, we’ll be okay.” In the distance Wesley spotted a light that just appeared. He made Julia aware and they both began to swim towards it. The eels, unhappy with the movement, left and returned back to their normal patterns. Wesley and Julia had to stop and rest several times to reach the light. The cold water slowing began to nub their bodies. After what seemed like forever Wesley made out the shore line in the distance. That’s when they heard the screams of a woman: Lilana.

Wesley and Julia began to swim as fast as possible. Wesley reached the rocky shore first, with Julia close behind. They pulled themselves out of the water and started climbing the high rock wall to the torch. Wesley saw the torch burning on top of a ruined building. Wesley reached up and found the top of the rock wall. Suddenly a hand offered itself and Wesley took it. Avery helped him and then grabbed Julia and pulled her up. They both caught their breaths for a moment before Avery spoke:

“Quincy is dead.”

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