Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day Five-Sixty-Three: Gritty in Pink

Oh, FUCK ME. I knew something bad would happen, I JUST. FUCKING. KNEW. IT. Now I'm writing by candlelight, pinned up against the quivering body of the only person left to me, and I'm wondering if I'm gonna make it out alive.

(I have that thought way too often these days. WAY TOO FUCKING OFTEN.)

The day got off to a bumpy start. On the rare occasion when he's not drunk off his tailbone, Grylock's a surprisingly early riser. Must have something to do with his age - old farts are always up before the dawn. He's such an early riser, in fact, that the steady rap of his knuckles sounded on my door at 4 a.m. this morning.

Fynn cried. Libby kicked me out of bed on the spot. Guess she only worries over me when she's not half asleep.

After fetching Ed and Jeffrey, both of whom were in equally foul moods (a fact that seemed to delight Grylock), we chowed down on some packaged food, gathered our gear, and set out for the cave. We three humans complained constantly about the chill morning air; Grylock shot us down each time.

"Shut it, ya gits." He waved his poisonheart around. Little flecks of toxic liquid flicked onto nearby rocks. "Anything that's in there'll be goin' te sleep about now. Sun'll be comin' up soon. It's the best time te do this."

"I'm not sure that makes sense," Jeffrey reasoned, stifling a yawn. "If there are... things... living in this cavern of yours... shouldn't we wait until midday? Perhaps lunchtime? Don't know if going while it's still dark is very safe."

Grylock glared at the former king. "Oh, I'm sorry, your majesty. Didna know ye had years of trackin' experience under your belt. Musta squeezed it in between oppressin' your kingdom and shaggin' that big wooden dolly of yours, eh?"

"Ngh... what?" Jeffrey's face blanched. "I... I don't... don't have... a doll..."

Yes you do, I thought, holding back a grin. Or ya did.

Grylock feigned apology. "Oh, no, of course not. My mistake. Musta been that other human king I know. What's-his-name. Has hair, teeth, beard, is a bit fictional. Terrible ailment, bein' fictional, yeah?"

Jeffrey squared his jaw. Everyone snickered at his expense. Couldn't help it, really.

We found the cave after twenty minutes of walking in the dark of the canyon, our four lanterns lighting the way. (Had to tape mine to my arm. Sigh.) It looked a great deal more foreboding this second time around, as there was no light beyond our feeble flames penetrating the gloom of the cave.

"Last chance te turn back," Grylock announced.

"Then I bid you all a fond -" Edmund began, twisting around.

"Just kiddin'," Grylock chortled. He'd already slipped in behind Edmund. "Never had a choice. In ye go, bardy-boy. Mind yer head."

Reluctantly, the three humans took the lead while Grylock followed, watching our tail. Though he was in the back Grylock had no difficulty steering us with his nose, and he quietly murmured instructions to us as we emerged into the first, empty cavern and made for one of the descending tunnels ahead. There were three to choose from; he picked the widest.

"Why that one?" I asked.

"Smell of rust's strongest from down there," he replied. "S'also the closest to the entrance if we have te run for it. Nice and slow, lads, mind the rocks."

We minded. Each step down the rough, natural ledges of the tunnel was carefully calculated, and we took turns shining our lights to allow one another safe passage downward. Between the safety precautions and our teamwork, I soon found my rampant jitters transforming into subtle caution. Grylock's a pretty good leader when he wants to be, I gotta say. (Shame that's not too often.)

After ten minutes of careful scaling we hit stable ground, and the tunnel widened into another cavern. It was much, much larger than the last, expanding into a massive, nigh-bottomless crevice. Dozens of small holes leading into darkness pocked the walls. No sign of rust, let alone of metal.

Grylock stepped away from the group, motioning for Ed to follow. "C'mere, limp-wrist. You're the strongest of the lot. Need your help for a second."

Edmund cringed. "I pray thou should not now confide / In 'pproaching that there chasm wide."

"Yep, sure am." As he walked, Grylock removed a length of rope from around his shoulders. It was fastened to his waist. "Hold on te this. You two, stay alert. If he looks like te drop me, or if somethin' foul shows up, do what ye think smartest."

"Run?" I joked.

"Then if I live I'll put this through yer skull, El Capitan." Standing at the edge of the crevice, Grylock saluted with his poisonheart, nodded to Ed, and jumped. "See yaaaaaa!"

Ed screeched, coiling the length of rope around his arms. Before either one of us could reach him the rope went taught, and though he grunted and his eyes boggled, Ed remained well away from the edge of the cliff. Good thing Grylock's light.

"You're a crazy son of a bitch!" I yelled into the darkness, not quite daring to peer over the lip of the crevice. "Could warn us next time!"

"No fun in it!" Grylock sputtered from somewhere below. It sounded as though he was spitting something. "Egh, might have a point, though. Mighta been wiser te... te..."

His voice trailed off. We waited anxiously for the rest of the sentence.

It floated up as a whisper. "Pull me back, Ed. Slowly."

We looked at one another, panicked. Ed was the worst of us, sweat bulging out of his brow and glittering in the light of our lamps.

"Pull me back," Grylock repeated. "Pull me back slow."

Straining, Ed began to reel Grylock in. I wanted to help him, but I was afraid that helping might bring the goblin up too quickly - as well as whatever had obviously spooked him. My bladder prepped itself for the worst, and judging by Jeffrey's expression, his was doing the same.


Ed slowed down...

"That's... ack... nice 'n..."

Another hand over hand...

"Almost -"

That was the end of the conversation. Grylock's voice exploded into a battle scream, and less than a second latter Ed was pulled off of his feet by the rope. He fought ineptly with the tether as it dragged him towards the abyss - 

- but before he went over the ledge of his own accord, a huge, furry, black-and-pink form swept up and clamped onto Ed's body. The last we saw of the bard was the frantic kick of his legs.

I bellowed for my friends. Jeffrey bellowed for help. And the sudden wave of tarantula poodles that surged out of the darkness at us, well, they probably bellowed for dinner.

Keenly aware of our own self-interest, Jeffrey and I ran. No shame, no bravery, we fucking ran. We might have fully abandoned our friends, too, but another tarantula poodle leaped down in front of us, its furry fangs bared, puffy hairdo wobbling here and there in agitation. 

I swerved right. Jeffrey went left, received a vicious buffet to his arm, and joined my course instead. Indeed, he was suddenly so intent on going right that he plowed into me. He stumbled, I tripped, we fell. And I can only assume that we fell into one of those holes I mentioned before.

Jeffrey and I are currently sitting in a room filled with cobwebs, many of which broke our fall and kept us alive. We're surrounded by small dark portals, out of which a tarantula poodle may, at any moment, erupt. And when it does, we're screwed, because only Jeffrey has a weapon... and it's a plain 'ol dagger.

This ain't the worst predicament I've been in. Hell, I'll be in worse trouble when I don't come home tonight and Libby finds out. 

Still, though. This be some deep shit.

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