So what do you know guys? I couldn't sleep LOL. So I thought, why not write up another quick chapter for you? After all, I enjoy doing this as much as I enjoy getting reviews. Although reviews are nice too lol.
Thanks for sticking around all this time guys. :D
Lemme know what you think of the story so far. Suggestions would be great. (:
Disclaimer: I do not own the world of the Underland Chronicles, however certain concepts and characters in this book are mine.
Song of the Day: Inductive Reasoning – Audiomachine
PART III : DARKEST BEFORE DAWN
Chapter 22 – I'm Sad Too
"Howard!" Anya yelled.
Gregor wasn't ready to lose another person to these damn wolf things. Gregor wasn't even sure they were wolves anymore, judging from the way they survived those 2 story jumps with no problem.
But Gregor could do nothing as he saw Howard and Pantharos fall. Ulysses was far too tired. He was gasping for breath at this point. Carrying that Slasher corpse had been too much for him.
Suddenly Pantharos opened his wings and slowed his fall. He quickly ascended back up to the stone platform which they were sitting on.
And he left Howard behind.
"No Pantharos! Go back for Howard!" Gregor closed his eyes and waited for the sickening crunch of bones. He knew Ulysses was too tired, and Perseus was too encumbered with Ripred on his back.
"Gregor look! Aurora!" Gregor opened his eyes quickly, and looked down the cliff to see Howard holding on to Aurora by her claw. He was literally no more than a foot from the bottom of the pit.
"Oh thank god…" Gregor's heart stopped beating fast as Pantharos landed on the stone platform with relatively little problem. Howard and Aurora followed soon after. Perseus, Ripred and Justin landed last.
"Howard are you alright?" Gregor quickly limped over to the medic.
"Howard? Yes?" Gregor asked in a near erratic fasion.
"Gregor? Where's Nike?" Gregor's heart fell to the very pit of his chest.
He couldn't stay there. He had to let someone else deal with this. He couldn't be the pillar of support Howard needed right got up and began to walk away, anywhere, anywhere but here.
"Gregor. Don't go anywhere. You need Howard to check out that arm of yours before you lose it." Ripred interjected.
"Are you crazy Ripred? After that? You want me to ask HIM to help ME? After that?!" Gregor's voice was rising and he realized he had to stop. If his blood pressure rose, his blood would be lost faster.
"Gregor I'm fine. Come here." Howard spoke up.
"Howard?" Gregor asked confusedly.
"Come here Gregor. You need medical attention."
Gregor walked over apprehensively and the medic gingerly touched his arm. He had 3 gashes in his right arm, which god knows how, had not crushed any bones, or severed any nerves or arteries.
Gregor couldn't help but feel like unluckiest person in the world with all his injuries, but he was actually lucky beyond compare.
"Where did this ointment come from?" Howard asked bleakly.
"Anya." He glanced over to the girl who was sitting on top of Ulysses, cradling her head in her arms. If Howard was in a terrible mental state right now, Anya wasn't very far off. Butchering your first, sentient animal, and the way she did…
"Smart girl." Howard's voice sounded dead. The happiness that had been in it only hours before was stripped from his being.
He got to stitching the three cuts without a word. "This injury, it shouldn't be too debilitating to you. You've lost a lot of blood, but miraculously, your arm still moves without much of a problem. If anything its just reacting slowly."
Gregor looked at his arm. It was a near blue tinge from blood loss. It was bruised in multiple places due to the force of the Slasher's jaw.
'But somehow…somehow I can still move it without a problem…' thought Gregor as he clenched his fist.
He looked over to the corpse of the Slasher that was lying on the ground. He saw Ripred inspecting it, and felt comfort in knowing that if anything was strange about the wolf, Ripred would find it without a doubt.
"Try not to move your arm too much until the blood flow stops entirely. The stitching has helped a lot, but a wound that deep won't stop just like that. I'm bandaging it now."
As Howard began to bandage Gregor's arm, he looked at the medic's movements. His movements were undoubtedly that of a first class doctor. They were confident and precise. However his eyes…
His eyes looked like that of a ghost. Gregor couldn't wonder how much it hurt to lose a bond twice in a row. First Pandora…all those years ago. Now Nike.
His heart felt another pang of pain at remembering the happy bat. She had been one of the only forms of life in the group, along with Anya, and occasionally Howard and Ripred.
Truth be told Gregor and Justin were pretty boring.
'I wonder what Luxa could have seen in me.' thought Gregor with a laugh. 'or Justin...'
As Howard finished dressing his wound he got up and went to the opposite end of the stone plateau they had landed on, and sat down. He just looked out into the cavern which they would be headed into within the next few hours.
"We can't taake too much more of this, Gregor." said Ripred as he walked closer to him. "Look at us? We're a mess."
Gregor looked around at the group. Anya and Howard were depressed beyond imagination at the moment. Nike was dead, Aurora was still recovering and Pantharos was weakened from his torn wing. Ulysses would be fine with a bit of rest. For now it seemed Perseus was the only bat with motivation and energy in his eyes.
They wouldn't get anywhere like this.
"And just look at yourself Gregor…Your body is in shambles. Your left leg is limping. Your left arm was just until recently, out of commission. Your hands are still fragile as the new skin still hasn't hardened. And now your right arm as well… For Sandwich's sake, can you even still hold a sword?"
Gregor silently withdrew his sword, and tried to hold it steady with his right hand. He had trouble but he could still do it.
"Is that satisfying enough for you, Ripred?" said Gregor with a glare.
"Oh, and what will you fight with that? A Shiner?" Ripred whipped his tail out and quickly hit the blade with minimal effort. The blade went skidding across the floor as Gregor was forced to let go.
"Fine, maybe I cant fight properly. But when It comes time to do so I will manage. I always manage Ripred!"
Ripred looked at the warrior with pity.
"I don't have any choice here, but to manage, Ripred."
"We will see if you can. We're not entirely done yet. Me and Justin are still at full fighting strength. It's not over."
…was Ripred trying to be supportive? Gregor couldn't help but feel rather shocked.
"And I bring you more news. Did you ever take a close look at the jaws and legs of that Slasher you killed? Shoddy work by the way."
"Anya killed that one."
"…well seems she did better than you again."
"Shove it Ripred."
"Now now don't be rude. I looked at that corpse. It doesn't look like a normal direwolf or any type of canine I've seen."
"…what do you mean?"
"Look at its teeth and its tail. Also its haunches."
Gregor limped over to the Slasher corpse with Ripred and he instantly noticed what Ripred had been talking about.
This Slasher had a tail that wasn't nearly as bushy as the one Kalavan had all that time ago. While it still had a good deal of hair, the tail was also much longer. And then he looked at the teeth. The Slasher had teeth that looked relatively normal for a wolf, but two distinct fangs jutted out from the creature's jaw that Gregor wasn't familiar with.
"It…It looks almost like…"
"Like a Sabretooth, Gregor."
"But…but It doesn't make any sense! I've seen Sabretooth's Ripred! In books! I learned about them a great deal in class. And I've even personally seen Overland wolves at the zoo. This creature is undoubtedly a wolf."
"But maybe it's not a wolf that you are familiar with."
Gregor stopped for a moment. He was right. A few years ago Gregor never would have imagined rat's could speak English and study philosophy.
"What do you think we are dealing with, Ripred?"
"Honestly Gregor? I fear we might just be dealing with something that is far out of our reach of influence. I have not seen these types of Slasher's before. I thought I knew them. I thought the information I was getting about them was complete. But I was wrong." Ripred looked away.
" I was so sure that they were direwolves… or atleast regular overland wolves grown to a massive size!"
" Animals do something I like to call, evolution, Gregor."
"Haha very funny Ripred."
"Maybe these wolves once were Direwolves. Maybe they were something else entirely…But not anymore."
"But Ripred…I fought Kalavan. I learned his moves, I analyzed his body. He was definitely a wolf, I have no doubt about it."
"We simply do not know enough to make judgments Gregor. However I fear…that you may be right. We might just have something bigger going on here than Slasher's vs Humans."
Suddenly Justin came over to us. "Gregor, Ripred. I think it's time that we choose a course of action. The Slasher lands are literally just around the corner from us. And we certainly can't fight adequately this way. We made mistakes. They were not expecting us the first time we went...but this time…they obviously were."
"I think youre right Justin. However I don't think we have much option to change the plan…There's you and Ripred. And I'll contribute my part as well."
"What can you do like this Gregor?" Justin asked inquisitively.
"I have my aces saved Justin. Try not to worry about me. I'm going to make sure I pull through for you guys. No one else is dying on this trip."
Justin and Ripred both looked at me with a confused expression. However it quickly changed to shock when Justin pointed at Pantharos, coming back from a flight.
And he was holding Nike's body in his claws.
As the body dropped in the center of the stone plateau they were on, the thud resounded through Gregor's bones.
"Pantharos…Why…Why did you…" started Gregor as he walked up to the bat.
"I couldn't just leave her there. She was my friend."
Howard's desperate voice resounded throughout the nearly silent cavern.
"Nike? Is that you?" Howard nearly ran over to the white furry bat's body.
"Nike? Why don't you respond?" No one had the heart to say anything to Howard.
Howard's sobs racked the entirety of the cavern. He sat there with his head in Nike's cold fur.
"Nike…Nike…oh god no Nike…" Howards whispers made Gregor's spine run cold.
He couldn't stay here for this. He had to get out now, he couldn't lose the last bit of strength he had. He had to save Luxa…He closed his eyes. He couldn't cry. Not now.
However the second set of footsteps made Gregor open his eyes.
He looked at Anya with shock. She was slowly walking over to Howard and Gregor suddenly noticed how different Anya looked as opposed to less than a month ago, when they came to the Underland.
Her face was grimy from sweat and dirt, much like everyone elses. Her arms had more tone to them than before. Her auburn hair was much longer than it had been before, and the purple streak which had been in her hair before, was beginning to fade. She was still beautiful, but she looked like a different person.
She sat down besides Howard and hugged him from behind.
"It's alright Howard. Shh. Shh. Im here."
Gregor felt a horrible pang of guilt as he realized he should've been trying something similar instead of trying to run away again and again.
Anya's words rung in his ears. "You're Selfish."
Howards sobs got louder as he heard Anya's words and he suddenly turned around.
"It's alright to cry. I'm sad too, Howard." said Anya as she held his face. Anya's eyes started to tear up at this point as well.
Howard curled up and began to sob into Anya's chest, as she stroked his hair. It was then that Gregor noticed Anya's eyes.
He sighed in relief as he realized they were the same eyes they had always been. They were a deep green. They were not dead yet.
And Howard's eyes were still a strong violet as well.
The two sobbed in each other's arms, while remaining curled up in Nike's white, cold body. Howard's sobbing reached a peak, and Gregor wasn't sure if he was sobbing or wailing at this point.
But Gregor didn't worry. He knew they would be fine. They were still the same strong people he had always known.
Well that's that. Sorry, I had to devote a chapter to the despair that the group felt. They lost too much so far.
And you know what they say. It's darkest before dawn ;)
I hope you guys are enjoying the story so far. I really do.
Please remember to review. And have a nice night. (: