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Chapter 4

“We need to get out of this hidden lair like right now Mervin,” Fru said.

“Go back to the main cave,” Mervin replied. “C’mon hurry, lift your step up,” he continued.

“Ranting won’t help,” Fru ground.

He turned back and stepped up his pace to get out of the hidden lair as fast and quiet as possible.

“Watch your head,” Mervin said.

“TO-K,” A dull short echoless sound came out as a result of Fru hitting the hanging rock at the lair exit.

“Aargh, god damn. Stupid rock,” Fru ground in pain.

“Watch out, don’t you see there are hanging rocks everywhere?”

“Stop being philosophical, and shut up. You are not being helpful.”

“Hey don’t put it out on me, it’s not my fault you weren’t watching where you were going.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Fru got out of the hidden lair, but now what? It’s not like there was another exit. They were still trapped, only this was a bigger cave.  A cavern to be precise.

“What now genius?” Fru asked.

“Let’s go to the other end of the cavern and lay low. Maybe the creature won’t find us if we hide somewhere. There are a lot of pillars in the cavern, we could hide behind one and kill the monster when the opportunity arises.”

“Brilliant plan, hide and kill yourself in an attempt of slaying the monster.”

“Well, that’s the best plan I could come up with such a short timeframe. I don’t see you got anything better to propose?” Mervin turned back and ranted at Fru.

“How about we hide behind the furthest and darkest pillar and wait for the creature to leave?” Fru said.

“You know that never works, right?” Mervin said.

“Saved my ass seven times like that. Hiding is out best option to live this thru, trust me, I escaped from a deadly Earl like that once. I hid in a closet for five hours until he went to sleep and it was safe to crawl out of his castle. So yeah, hiding is a totally valid way to escape death in my opinion.”

“That sounds interesting. What did you do there? And why the Earl wanted to kill you?”

“Let’s just say I stoleor to be more precise, borrowed his most precious jewel.”

“Aaah I see. Was it big and shiny? What color was it?”

“It…it was yeah, it was pink and perfectly sized. And that’s all I am going to say. A gentleman thief never speaks of his deeds. Let’s focus on hiding now, shall we?”

Fru went back in the cave following the same footsteps from before.

“Aah, Eldoof’s doom,” he murmured while passing the missing footprints on the ground. “I suppose he was the  hero type?” Fru said.

“I wouldn’t know. He died fast.” Mervin replied.

“Exactly.”

The creepy humming sound echoing around was breathing at Fru’s neck. They were back in the main cavern again.

“The humming’s back. Great. Which way now o wise one?” Fru asked.

“Isn’t it obvious? Just go straight to the furthest of the pillars.”

“Right, makes sense,” Fru said and continued forward.

The moss and ground squeaqed and crunched under the pressure of Fru’s booths as he stormed thru the cavern searching for the perfect hiding place from that… that thing or whatever it was that was coming at him.  While running through the cavern in all that hustle,  Fru stumbled upon another mushroom with his foot. The mushroom immediately released that same screaming and equally annoying metallic sound like the devil one that Fru had fought before. Metalic scream spread through the cavern like stardust echoing from all sides.

“Darned echo, just the thing we need,”Fru said.

“Watch your step man, or else there won’t be anything to watch at all soon,” Mervin seethed at Fru. ”There,” he bent over pointing at a nearby pillar. “Let’s hide there. Go behind and dive down.”

The pillar was a stalagmite coming from the ground up. It was big enough to hide a body or two in the shadows. The ground around it luckily had more dust and dirt than rocks and stone.

Fru got back behind the pillar.

“Great Zoshnah, there’s a body here. I’m not going to hide there. You tricked me again.”

“No, I didn’t, I swear, not this time. But if there is a body that is a perfect cover for us.”

“I am not going among those bones. That’s disgusting. And I hate dead things, especially bodies and bones.”

“We don’t have a choice here,” Mervin seethed at Fru again. “Get in there, or die, it’s your choice.”

“… Meeerviiin…” The shivering word that echoed through the whole cavern interrupted Fru’s and Mervin’s arguing, creating a whole new level of fear inside Fru’s bones. He frenetically turned around. His eyes wide open looking into the darkness in front of him searching for who knows what. His heart pounding like ravaging pony across the meadow. His mouth dry like dust. The fear was back and it pierced thru his stomach again.

“It… it knows your name. Why the hell it knows your name?!” Fru ground at Mervin shaking him hysterically with both his hands. “ “Tell me how it knows your name? What is it, huh? What is the thing that knows your name, Mervin? And why you didn’t tell me that it might know your name?!”

“I…I…”

“You… you what? Huh? You what? Cat got your tongue?”

“I… nothing, just get under the body here. I’ll explain later. Right now we need to hide from him.”

“Oh, now it’s him. I will remember you this, mark my words.”

“Get down, and use the cape we looted to cover us and put the body remains over the cape. That should make us safe from Sylvester for the time being before we make a strike…. I think.”

“Oh it has a name, and you know it of course. Tell me how to kill it, like right now!”

“I don’t know, ok. If I knew it would probably be dead already.”

“Unbelievable. You’re unbelievable,” Fru said.

Oh man, I can’t believe I am going to hide under a dead body. The stink will kill me faster than that creature, Fru thought. He grabbed the dead body and turned it around to make enough space to sneak behind it. Eeeh, disgusting, the body is falling apart. 

“Meeerviin, wheeeeree aaaree yoooou?” The creature seethed from the depths of hidden lair again. “Don’t need to hide, I won’t hurt you, I just want to talk….”

The seething sound that was echoing through the cavern interrupted Fru. He glared manically at Mervin.

“He lies, come on Fru hurry up, hide us, cover us with cape and drop the body over us and some dirt. Faster boy, faster, or soon we will hang out with this dead body dude on another world…well, probably only you, but still. Hurry the hell up,” Mervin ranted at Fru.

Fru gave Mervin a quick silent angry look and put the dead body above them. He used the cape to cover himself with the body and the smell as much as possible, and hopefully to hide from the creature.

“Meeerviin….I am not mad at you…” the creature seethed again.”Let the passst ssstaysss in the paaasssttt….” It continued.

The creature now entered the caverns. It began the search for its prey. Soft silent crunches of the ground under its body spread across the cavern, echoing around and getting louder by each passing second. The creature moved rather fast and swiftly through the caverns like it knew where to go with each step.  It sniffed the air and ground with its tongue.

“I know you are ssssomwhere around here Mervin…there isss no point in hiding….when you know I will sssniff you out…. Your disssgusting little sssscent of old metals can’t hide you forever….and I’m ssslowly losssing my patience…” It hissed.

The sound of creatures voice was shredding Fru’s ears filling them with fear. He tried to remember and find the resemblance to any of the animals he knew and had encountered in the past, but nothing came to his mind that could tell him what type of creature this could be. He lied down under the cape and dead body still. He turned looking at Mervin.

“I hate you,” Fru whispered.

“Fru…. don’t move a single muscle…I think he…found us..”Mervin whispered so quietly that it was barely heard.

Something was awkward. Fru had a weird feeling that they might not be alone anymore and that something was watching them. Great Zoshnah, this creature is right in front of us. What should I do? Think Fru. Should I jump out and fight? Try to kill it? Try to run toward the hidden lair in that passage? Throw Mervin at him? No that can’t work, I’ll die if I do that… I don’t want to die… I…must confront the creature. Maybe I could persuade him to let us go…He talks so it could be possible, I managed to do that in the past before…I must try. Brave up Fru. Your life depends on this, Fru thought.

“Mervin,”Fru said, “Be ready. I’m going at it.” He inhaled the air and closed his eyes.

“Wha—” But Mervin couldn’t finish his sentence.

Fru poured all his strength and concentration. It was now or never. He had to jump out as hasty as possible and dash straight at the creature trying to kill it with Mervin. The body and the cape were  perfect distraction for creating misbalance for the creature and an advantage for Fru. I hope I am doing the right thing. There is no return. I must survive. 

“Yaaaarhg!” Fru yelled from under the cover. He tossed the body and the cape with all his leg strength straight in front of him and jumped up slushing with his sword left, right, left right. “Die you filthy beast, die!” He roared in anger and fear with his eyes closed.

The moment of truth came, sooner than expected. Fru had to fase his nemesis. He opened eyes, but to his own surprise, there was nothing in front of him except empty cavern full of cold darkness.

A cold breeze of air cuddled Fru’s neck from behind. The moment he felt it, Fru’s whole body got paralyzed. It was behind him. The creature was right there, standing behind him preparing to give him the counter hit, and maybe, probably, most definitely kill him. All kinds of deaths were forming in his mind. Will it crush him with a deadly blow? Or will it jump at him trying to bite and chew his bones? Will it spit fire? He had to turn around and see it.

Slowly, step by step, Fru turned around. And then he saw it.

Two red glowing eyes pierced right through him. They just stood there looking him. Analysing its prey. Mervin was shining some light but not enough to see the whole creature.

“Hello, little onesss….” The creature hissed and moved closer to Fru revealing itself piece  by piece.

“Great Zoshnah….”Fru murmured. He was in shock.

The creature revealed itself fully in front of Fru. Fru prepared himself for the possibility of any of the creatures he knew and encountered before like demon pigs, frowns, hell pigeons, clods, plantoids but he did not see this coming.

A huge wide gigantic black scaled Necropython fire venom snake.

“Well, this is a ssssite to be sssseen…”

“S-stay away from me!” Fru yelled. He raised his sword pointing at the snake.

“Ahh, Mervin there you are….I sssee that you made a new friend…”

“H-hey Sylvester…” Mervin said. ”H-how are you? Looking good I see…”

“We…we don’t want any trouble, we just want to get out of here alive,” Fru said still holding Mervin pointed at Sylvester.

“I ssssee Mervin hassssn’t told you the truth…”

“Wha-what truth?” Fru asked.

“It doesn’t matter… you won’t be alive enough to ssssee the truth anyway…”

“Sylvester bud, look, I think you are making a mistake here…” Mervin said.

“No Mervin, you made the misssstake, when you killed my ssssister Essstersssylv and my cousin Retsssevlysss. I’ve been waiting for this for more than three yearsss Mervin, there is nowhere to go anymore…”

“Look, look, I am sorry for everything Sylvy, buddy, but Eldoof was an idiot, and there was nothing I could do. I told him not to do anything. If I only knew….”

“Ssssilence. I am not interesssted in your pitty excusssesss. You mussst pay the price…”

Fru was now completely lost in thoughts. He did not want to die, but he was confronting the snake. And not just any kind of snake, but the Necropython. An ancient reptilian deadly warrior species. The ultimate snake predators.  He red various legends about Necropythons before, but he never thought such creatures would exist considering they were extinct. Or at least that’s what encyclopedia Aurelica said.

How does one kill such beast? Necropythons were gigantic creatures. The smaller ones were approximately 200 feet long and Sylvester was not looking like a small one. By the looks, one could say he was easily 300 or more feet long and at least 15 feet wide. And there was no way Fru could kill it. Not even if he stabs the snake in the belly several times. Sylvester would crunch him in a split second. Although traces of past fights and scars were scattered across Sylvester’s body, everything else suggested that he couldn’t be killed. So Fru had to figure out some other way. In the past, he had a few similar situations when death has been knocking at his doorstep and he managed to dodge it with cunning tongue and a touch of luck. And now he needed his wit and tongue again to try and persuade Sylvester to let them go, maybe even to own him a favor. Whatever was necessary to keep his life alive. He would worry about consequences later, but for now, surviving was all that mattered. And maybe if he succeeds he might find some more information about this awful place from the snake. Obviously, this place was something more than just a simple dark cavern. Otherwise, how would such a creature survive in this darkness all alone here?

I need to reverse the situation in my benefit somehow. I should start with asking some questions, Fru thought. I’ll throw the ball at Mervin to diverse Sylvester’s attention. 

“Why should I die, because of his sins? I don’t even know him,” Fru confronted Sylvester pointing at Mervin with his left hand.

“Hey that’s not nice bro,” Mervin replied to Fru.

“Becausssse I haven’t had a decent meal in a long time and you are delicioussss little one,” Sylvester replied.

That response certainly put Fru in a somewhat pat position. There is no arguing with hunger. And primal creatures, like Sylvesterfor that matter. He needed to counter offer him something good. Like really really good.

“I..I’l help you get out of this place if you let me alive. And I’m skinny, so I wouldn’t be much of a meal for such a strong and big fella like you anyway. What do you say we forget and put behind us this little incident like it never happened, and move forward? Yes?” Fru said hoping Sylvester would catch the bait.

Mervin was silent.

“Fool. There is no essscape from thissss place. We are all trapped in here forever, in thisss prisson.”

“Prison? What do you mean? What prison?” Fru asked trying to stale the time as much as possible until he figures out what next. And maybe find out somehing new about this place as well.

“Thisss place is a prissson, for magic criminalss. Everyone in here is guilty of sssomething. And it wasss desssigned that no one can essscape. I am really hungry,” Sylvester said. His eyes glared at Fru, sparkling like two red sapphires in the dark reflecting his face. His mouth opened wide and two gigantic fangs size of Fru’s arms popped out drooling the venom spit. Sylvester’s tail and body circled around Fru creating a shield and preparing to grab the prey.

“If you know something, now’s the time Mervin,” Fru whispered to Mervin. He couldn’t come up with anything else and snake was going for them.

“Sylvester, stop. I know how to bring back your sister and cousin,” Mervin said. “But if you kill Fru I won’t tell you,” he continued.

“Nonsssenssse. You’ can’t bring them back. You’re ssstalling. Goodbye, little one. I promissse it won’t hurt….much,” Sylvester hissed and ferociously coiled around Fru clutching him from all sides. The venom spit that drooled from one fang disintegrated the piece of ground the moment it touched it creating a small cloud of green dust.

“Mervin do something! Aargh!” Fru yelled. Sylvester’s strength began to manifest as he was clutching him. Fru didn’t know what was being worse, to be crushed to the death in the clutch of a necropython, or to die from his burning fire venom spit, or to be eaten alive. He never thought he would end up like this. He pictured his death in old age, with a bottle of a good wine in a fancy cottage, well fed, maybe at a sunset, but that was all fantasy. He was losing his breath and his vision was becoming blurry. Life was abandoning him.

“Kalanghas t-k-k-k- morae! Klat!” Mervin yelled with all his strength, his voice echoing loud as he was summoning a lightning spell.  Huge bluish white light radiated from him, even brighter than the last time. Sparkles flu around him and heat bubble were forming.

“SSSAARGH! My eyesss!” Sylvester hissed in pain. The lightning blinded him temporarily.

“Fru buddy, you there? You hear me? Lean me on snake’s body, I am burning with heat,” Mervin said to Fru, but Fru was almost out of counchesness and he didn’t hear everything Mervin said.

Seeing that he was losing Fru, Mervin tried to bend over and burn the snake himself, but he was not long enough to reach it with his full sword body, only with his tip. The touch of a sword tip burning with light was not enough to do any major damage to Sylvester, but it was enough to create a small burning itch.

Sylvester jerked his body to shuck Mervin off and in the process, he loosened up a bit giving Fru just enough space to move his arm.

“Fru! Lift your hand up, now!” Mervin yelled.

Fru at the verge of consciousness, fading to the other side, like through a fog, only heard blurry shapes what were supposed to be words.

“Fr…LIf….Up….” The fragments of words echoed in Fru’s ears. He had no strength to think. All he knew was he didn’t want to die. He must fight back. He must stab the monster. He must… He poured all his strength in right arm to swing the sword, but all he did was moved just a bit up.

And that was exactly what Mervin needed. If anyone was to save the situation it would be him now. He had to be the hero. He had to save Fru. He had to chase the monster off.

Lifted by Fru just the right amount up, Mervin yelled again “Kalanghas t-k-k-k- morae! Klat! Lagae!” a fury spell, that combined both heat lightning and light in one, creating a heated weapon. He leaned on Sylvester with all his size.

The heat and burning melted Sylvester’s scales, gluing Mervin for him.

“SSSSSAAAARRRRKKHH!” Sylvester hissed out of pain. He unwrapped his body from Fru hysterically. The force threw Fru up in the sky and away from the snake. Mervin, on the other hand, radiated more and more heat and light piercing Sylvester’s skin with each second.

“You will pay for thisss, mark my wordsssss…” Sylvester hissed. He turned around and began to run back to where he came from, jerking his whole body and tail trying to shake Mervin off. But Mervin was glued to him.

Sylvester turned back to see where Mervin was exactly and then pressed himself at the pillar that was right in front of him trying to scrub Mervin off his back. The pressing force of Sylvester’s body against the pillar was so strong that he scrubbed Mervin off with ease and broke the pillar at the same time.

The pillar collapsed creating a medium sized dusk cloud that fill up a good chunk of the cave, covering Mervin completely under the pile of destroyed rocks and stones.

He did it. He beat the snake. A necropython. He saved both of them.

And on the other side of caverns, thru out the fog of war and dust, a snake tail was vanishing into the darkness from where it came out, leaving its prey still alive.

At least for now.