She ducked and ran under Moonlight's raised arms, and her eyes desperately searched for somewhere to go. To her right was a set of stairs similar to the ones they came up, and others they'd passed. She ran down them and slowed. She instinctively turned around and saw that Moonlight was only slightly slowed by her maneuver. It lowered its bell, turned to find its victim, and started jogging, almost skipping, toward the stairs. Ruthlyn then saw Regexz and Raum, having now finished off the last skeleton, realizing what was happening. She noticed Regexz gesturing for her to run, and she realized she'd have to assume the role they'd come up with for Raum, leading Moonlight away while the other two got to Kali.
With Moonlight getting close, coming down those stairs now, she turned toward the wall that surrounded the large room they were in, and saw a gap in it. She ran toward it, going around the corner and leaning against the wall on the other side. She took a few steps away from the gap, listening for Moonlight's approach. She knew she had stay reachable, or Moonlight might just give up and go back to where the guys were, which would be disastrous. Luckily, Moonlight made no attempt to keep quiet, so Ruthlyn could easily hear when it was getting close to coming around the corner she was behind. And as soon as she heard it right outside the wall, she started jogging in the opposite direction, down the hallway between the two brick walls. She decided she was not going to attempt to get away until she was close to the entrance to the upper level. From what she knew of this place, that was as far from center as one could be here.
By now, she was only a few yards from the opening in the outer wall that would take her to the outer-most hallway of this place. Glancing over her shoulder, her heart nearly jumped into her throat when she saw how close Moonlight was to her. Almost within that bell's reach. She broke into a full sprint, closing the distance to the opening quickly, and spinning around the corner. Both ends of the hallway were too dark to see, but Ruthlyn was pretty sure that turning left here would be the quicker way to get back to the entrance. She squinted her eyes and hurried into the darkness in that direction, not knowing what she might run into, but realizing it couldn't be anywhere near as evil as what was behind her.
Hearing Moonlight at a safe distance behind her, she slowed down slightly, and noticed a silhouette in the darkness. When she got a few steps closer, she recognized the shape of a skeleton, facing away from her. Groaning, she looked behind her, trying to decide the best way through this. Moonlight didn't seem to be in much of a hurry, but it was still moving quickly enough down the hallway after her. Ruthlyn felt her only option was to kill the skeleton as quickly as possible, and just as she prepared to cast her heal spell on it, she noticed another, much smaller shape float up next to the skeleton.
There's no chance I can take a horong, she thought to herself frantically. That left her only one option. She jogged forward, reaching the monsters in seconds. She had hoped to slip by the skeleton, figuring she could easily outrun a horong at least, but not a skeleton soldier. Unfortunately, the skeleton whirled around to face her right as she came near it. Out of instinct, she shoved the butt of her palm into its face, knocking it backwards. At the same time, she felt a sharp piercing pain in her right side. She knew she hadn't hurt the skeleton much, just thrown it off balance, but it had to be enough. She broke into a run, skirting past the horong, and reached the next corner in the brick wall, ducking behind it.
Taking a moment to catch her breath, Ruthlyn looked down at her now throbbing side to see a gaping gash in her robe, and under that, a wide, bleeding slash in her skin. Hearing Moonlight right on the other side of the corner she was next to, and for all she knew, the skeleton too, she pressed her hand against the wound and started running as fast as the pain would let her. She didn't know how long she could go like this, but she needed to get far enough ahead to be able to heal herself. As she ran, she felt most of her spells wearing off, and unfortunately, Increase Agility was one of them.
She was slowing down, injured, and being chased by at least one evil monster that could kill her easily. She started to panic, looking around for anyone, anything to help her. It was too soon to teleport away, she knew that. If she could just get to that entrance they came in at, she could take care of her wound and finally try to get back to Kali and the two guys. She ran by another horong; it started following her, but luckily wasn't fast enough, and stopped pretty quickly. She ran a few more steps, then stopped to catch her breath. Looking behind her, she knew she had only a few seconds before she needed to get going again. She had to be close, had to be, or she wouldn't make it. She looked in front of her, strained to see through the darkness, and noticed something familiar – that tree!
She started sprinting toward it, knowing that it was right next to the exit. As Ruthlyn reached the tree, she practically fell against it, crying out in pain. She couldn't hear Moonlight for the time being, which meant it had to be a ways down the hallway still. The first thing on her mind was healing that wound, so she closed her eyes, doing her best to concentrate, and cast a weak heal on herself. Looking down at her side, she saw that the wound was not completely healed, and cast another, even smaller heal. Next on her list was to recast some of the more important spells that had ended while she was running, the first being her speed booster. By the time she was done with that, she could hear Moonlight coming again, and she decided as soon as it came into her sight, she would teleport. Standing up, she prepared to cast the teleport spell, and suddenly realized something that made her heart sink. She was out of energy, not even enough to teleport.
Turning around, Ruthlyn started to think about running up to the area in the cave up the stairs. She didn't even know if that creature would follow her up there or not, but it was all she had left to do now. Until the thought struck her – the grape juice! She pulled it out quickly and drank half of the juice in the bottle, feeling her energy returning. Now she could see Moonlight, and it was coming toward her with its bell raised above its head, ready to attack.
Ruthlyn closed her eyes and cast teleport, opening them in a different area of the cave. She was in one of the hallways though, and from the look of it, one of the outer ones. She needed to get closer before trying to find her friends, so she teleported again. This time, Ruthlyn opened her eyes to find herself standing next to a tall, branchless tree. Slightly curious, she looked closely at it, only to find it looking back. She gasped and then noticed the arms that had been at its side, now coming up to surround her. She teleported out of its grasp, just as it clapped its hands together where she would have been.
Ruthlyn had to use her teleport skill two more times before she found herself looking at Regexz, standing about 20 yards in front of her. He saw her immediately.
"Ruthlyn!" he cried, waving her over. She ran over to him and saw Raum a few feet behind him, kneeling over Kali's body. "We weren't sure what we could do for her while we waited, but Raum wanted to at least see if he could get some orange potion into her, while I kept guard." Ruthlyn noticed the bottle in Raum's hand then, mostly full still.
Raum looked up at her and said softly, "Unfortunately, it looks like she's past the aid of potions, and probably your healing abilities either. I don't suppose you know how to—"
Ruthlyn interrupted sadly, shaking her head. "I haven't learned how to resurrect yet, it's pretty advanced."
"Trust me, Ruthlyn," Regexz assured her. "Just get us out of here and we'll find someone who can help her. I promise."
Ruthlyn nodded and rummaged around in her pouch, pulling out one of the blue gemstones Raum had given her. She held it tightly in her hand and uttered a few words that caused the gem to disappear from her hand. A small, bright, swirling light materialized on the ground in front of her and expanded until it was about 4 feet across. And with the light came a constant high-pitched whining sound.
"Get Kali through the portal!" Ruthlyn yelled over the sound. "I have to go in last; it'll close up behind me!"
Raum carefully picked Kali up into his arms, with Regexz's help, and stepped into the light of the portal, disappearing. Regexz followed him close behind, and Ruthlyn closed her eyes and went in last, with the portal closing behind her. Once again Ruthlyn opened her eyes in new surroundings, this time completely outside the cave, in a village. Raum was explaining to Regexz that their guild house was in Payon, the town that this village was next to.
"That was the best place I could think of to take Kali while we found someone to help her," Ruthlyn explained, already casting Increase Agility on each of them to speed up the short trip.
"Let's go then," said Regexz eagerly. "Lead the way."
Three hours later, Ruthlyn was sitting next to a bed in a small, dark room. It had only taken them a few minutes to get to the guild's headquarters in Payon, and now she was sitting with her cousin, waiting to hear word from Regexz, who was trying to dig up a more experienced priest. When the door to the room opened, Ruthlyn jumped up quickly, disappointed to see her friend and guild leader Darian Merco standing there instead.
"Sorry," he said, "it's just me."
"It's ok," she said dismissively. "How'd it go down there?"
"Everything went well," he replied. "We were able to get Raum's cart back with very little trouble."
"That's good," Ruthlyn gave a half-smile. Darian was an assassin, even a bit stronger than her new friend Regexz. When Raum decided to go back into the cave to retrieve the cart he'd left behind, Darian insisted on going with him. "I only wish you could have been with Kali when she went down to study that monster."
"Kali is a good friend of mine, Ruthlyn," Darian reminded her. "You know I'd have never let her go alone if I'd known. I told her I'd go with her in a few days, but I guess she didn't want to wait. You know how impulsive she can be."
Ruthlyn nodded. The tears started welling up in her eyes again, and this time she felt no need to fight them.
Just then, Regexz rushed into the doorway behind Darian, out of breath. "I was able to make contact with my brother, Kreexz, and he knows a priest who can help us. We're going to Geffen."
"Geffen!" Ruthlyn choked. "That's at least a 6 day walk, and I can't warp us there."
Regexz shook his head. "It's covered. Raum is outside now looking for someone who can. There are so many acolytes and priests out there; one of them has to have Geffen as a destination." Regexz walked over to the bed and picked up Kali, then walked back through the doorway he'd just come in through.
Before they followed him, Darian looked at Ruthlyn and chuckled. "You know, he'd be a great addition to our guild."
Ruthlyn grinned. "I couldn't agree with you more."