“Good to hear,” Chuki said. “There should be another one in there, if you look…”
As Zeno started looking, Shida noticed Chuki was by the door. When did that happen. He was the closest one to the door, actually, and was already stepping through the doorway.
“Chuk—!” Shida started after him, but he closed the door too quickly. She banged into it with her good shoulder and her face, losing her flame and jostling her bad shoulder. “Aaaaaaauuuuhhhhgghh!!” She let out a satisfying yell of both pain and frustration into the dark.
“… be fine…” Chuki was saying through the door, Shida caught some of it through the pain. “… I don’t let… treasure go! So you’ll be staying here!”
Suddenly a long, leathery limb stretched out from nowhere, in the middle of the air, between Shida, Yvette, and Zeno and the locusts. Chuki’s voice died as the air rippled and more of a… creature emerged. It was tall, not as much as Chuki at full height but at least twelve feet. It had long, long arms ending in sharp claws, and a body that walked on two legs but looked as if it might have trouble keeping it that way. It was covered with what looked like leather before it’d been properly tanned but still attached to bones, looser than it should’ve been, folds everywhere. The head was a simple round shape, half-open mouth showcasing nastily sharp teeth, and eye sockets that held pinpricks that were probably eyes but it was so, so difficult to tell and even a glimpse triggered shivers and an immediate face-turn.
It looked at Yvette, and slowly reached out a clawed hand.
Some time later, Shida woke up. She had no idea how long she’d slept; there weren’t even shafts of light to be able to tell down this far. It felt like enough, at least. It wasn’t pitch dark, though; her eyes could make out some shapes along the corridor. She wondered where the ambient light might be coming from…
Shida turned to the sound. A small, huddled form: Zeno. Yvette was curled up with some more clothes over her like a blanket. Zeno used his backpack as a pillow.
Zeno was mumbling in his sleep. Shida could only hear him because the rest of the place was deathly silent. It hadn’t been this quiet before, but then again, they hadn’t been sleeping or staying still before….
“He’s coming…” Zeno repeated, more of a rasp, “and they’ll get what’s coming…”
What did that—
Zeno started shivering then, violently, and Shida immediately went over to him. “Zeno?” She touched his arm. He didn’t respond. She shook him.
He immediately jolted upright, gasping. “Kaajh’!”
“Zeno!” Shida said, voice commanding though she felt unnerved at the same time. She couldn’t tell if what he’d said was jibberish, or an attempt at a word. It felt like the translation bracelet was trying to do something, which didn’t really help.Zeno sat there, panting, and Shida brought up a small flame again. His skin shimmered with sweat, and his eyes were wide, staring into the darkness.
Shida must have blinked, or zoned out, or something, because the next thing she knew they were practically beside the massive structure. A pure black obelisk, rising into the sky, floating on a triangular point. Beneath the point lay a black pedestal with another triangulated point nearly meeting the other save for a small space between them. The pedestal’s points were covered in metal, and looked sharp enough to split bone.
The clouds drifted away from the moon, though, and it shone on the obsidian obelisk without hindrance. Shida couldn’t help but look up briefly, and managed to glimpse some round almost window-like orbs on the top; it was difficult with how close she was to the bottom. They were… absorbing the moonlight.
“And you got captured,” Shida retorted. Last time she’d seen Chuki was several days ago, and really she’d thought he’d disappeared and she’d never see him again. This was an interesting change.
“Back off, girl,” the woman said, suddenly stepping between Shida and Chuki. “This handsome devil’s mine.”
Shida grimaced as she backed up. “You know he’d sell your soul for a potato skin, right?”