The park employees circled around The Pit like mourners at a burial, watching Rigby slowly descend down the rope into his own, shadowy grave. The clouds, almost as if in response, grew grimly dark, and began to weep a gentle rain upon the city. A faint breeze brushed through the park's grassy fields, blowing raindrops against everyone's faces and drafting a faint aroma of wet lumber and soggy leaves. All was quiet; each raindrop pattering against puddles ringing our as clear as bells.
"Why would you make him go down there?" Benson asked sternly, not even bothering to look up from the hole at the still choked up and sniffling Muscle Man.
"I wanted him to get me something from Starla," Mitch answered, brushing stale tears from the corners of his eyes in grief. "One of those blue gem-thingies we found there before you sealed it up."
"With good reason!" the gumball machine barked, "Why would he even listen to you?!" Benson knew his employees far too well to even expect for a second that Mordecai would provide Muscle Man with even the smallest of favors empty-handed.
"He wanted a favor," the green man muttered, "Help with seeing Rigby again." was his explanation, the excuse sounding less and less justifiable every second after the words left his mouth. Had Muscle Man known that the stakes would end up this far, perhaps he would've spared a second thought about taking advantage of the blue jay's state of desperation when it came to Rigby nowadays.
Benson let out a frustrated breath, trying to tame the anger boiling up inside him right now. As much as he didn't want to accept it, the situation was completely out of his control now, and while the gumball machine was powerless, he would never impose threat on the lives of his other employers to try and gain a hand on the situation. Most likely because if a search party was formed and sent down there, he'd have even more blood on his hands as result of Mordecai's ignorant impulsiveness; let alone lawsuits.
So Benson could only be grateful that Rigby had come along and been more than willing to risk his life just to search for the bird. But it wasn't as if Benson wasn't concerned about Rigby's life enough to stop him from going in after Mordecai; it was that he was wise enough to know he couldn't.
"What's down there?" Pops asked the group with a shaky voice.
"It's a system of tunnels and caverns that run underground beneath the park, created long before even a single building in this city was built." Skips answered dryly.
"To what?" Fives was the first to ask, floating beside his worked-up companion. Benson inhaled slowly, holding his breath and almost mouthing the words that next left Skips' mouth as if they were his own. The yeti had shared the story with Benson after the hole was initially made, and the information was more than enough a reason to seal that thing up. Skips had insisted a cover of enchanted Rowan planks would be enough to keep the monsters inside, but clearly even something as much as enchanted lumber wasn't enough to keep his idiotic and disobedient workers from getting in.
"To hell." the yeti grumbled. Everyone was left speechless, with shared looks of confusion and shock in their expressions, almost as if they felt they'd misheard Skips' answer. They could only hope they had. "It obviously wasn't really ever supposed to be found; the underworld completely separate from our own, with understandable circumstances." he added, brushing off the look Hi-Five Ghost shot him, "But when Mordecai and Rigby created that chasm by going overboard on the whole 'death punchies' thing, they accidentally made a direct passage down in the middle of one of those tunnels."
"That's why no one is allowed down there to begin with," Benson growled, shooting a glare to Muscle Man who practically writhed under the gumball machine's leer. "Somewhere at the end of all those tunnels, there's a gate to the underworld where only cursed souls and Death himself are allowed to enter." he explained, "If something else down there doesn't find them first, I'm sure Death will be more than happy to rip the soul straight from that moronic bird's chest."
While members of the park staff had run favors for Death on more than one occasion; Mordecai and Rigby even eventually becoming the go-to babysitters for the reaper's deceptive son, Benson hadn't a doubt in his mind that Death would lunge gladly at the opportunity to harvest a few extra souls, regardless of his history with them.
Mordecai progressed slowly through the dark tunnels, not really sure how long he'd been down here or how much distance he'd managed to walk. Every inch of this tunnel looked exactly the same; barren and dark, but the worst part about it all was the unbearable silence. One of his own feathers could fall to the ground and the impact would startle him like an air-horn. Maybe that was the reason his hands were tightly clenched around the baseball bat he'd gotten out after changing the flashlight's cheap batteries and running out of tolerance for his paranoia. Better safe than sorry.
'3:05:29:16' glowed in bright red, ticking away on Mordecai's wing as he held his flashlight out to lead the way. Unfortunately it probably only made him more susceptible to being attacked than prove useful in the end, didn't it?
Eventually, after what felt like hundreds of thousands of weary steps, Mordecai came to the tunnel's end, leading up to a larger and spacious cave-like dome with an enormous lake dead center. Large, blue gems protruded from the cave's ceiling, glowing dimly, but bright enough for Mordecai to make out his surroundings without the need for his crappy flashlight. The room's sandy floor depressed steeply down towards the idle body of water, leaving hardly any room for walking between the lake itself and the cave's stone walls. The bird would either have to figure out a way to sail across the water, or just be super, extra careful in taking his time walking around the lake. It looked as if even a single wrong step would send him falling into the dark waters where who knows what would attack him.
Mordecai jumped as a voice suddenly hissed at him, "Dude! What are you doing down here?!" Doug whispered harshly.
The bird backed up, eyes dead set on Doug as he backed away slowly. He still wasn't entirely sure on who or what exactly the otter was, so he couldn't think of a single reason to let his guards down. "What's the Prime Parallel?" the bird asked instead, causing Doug's eyes to widen in surprise.
"Where did you get Oz's book?!" the otter yelled back, knowing exactly what the bird was getting at with those few words alone.
"Answer me first!" Mordecai yelled back.
"You still didn't answer the question that I asked first!" the otter retorted stubbornly, but he let out a sigh of defeat, "You don't need to worry- I'm not even the Prime Parallel anymore."
"So you were one before?" Mordecai asked skeptically.
Doug let out a sigh, pressing his back against the stone wall and sliding down until he sat upon his rear, looking almost shamefully down at the ground and away from Mordecai. "There can only be one Prime Parallel at a time." the otter explained, "I'm not sure if you knew that much already. Point being that I surrendered my powers and no longer hold that title."
"Then who does?"
"I don't know." Doug confessed, "Honestly."
Mordecai paused to think, "You still haven't even told me what it is."
"A regular parallel is a duplicate version of someone from an alternate time line, existing in the same time line as the "original"; an example of this is that Allan guy working at the amusement park with Rigby." the otter muttered, earning a shocked look from Mordecai. How did he know about Allan? "I can sense other nearby parallels," Doug explained, "I haven't been spying on you or anything."
"Okay then... I understand that much." Mordecai assured.
"Prime Parallels are just... somehow created with no identity whatsoever; brought into this world with no form or identity and left to take that of another person." Doug muttered, "I'm not originally an otter and my name isn't Doug but-... I don't know what I originally am." the otter looked at his friend with glassy eyes, "Please don't be afraid of me." he croaked.
"How do I know you're not a threat?" Mordecai whispered softly.
"I can't promise you I'm not a threat..." Doug pandered, "But I could've killed you and everyone else at the park without breaking a sweat by now if I wanted." the otter chuckled, soon regretting his words by the unnerved look Mordecai gave him in response. Point being that he had no reason to attack Mordecai if he hadn't one already. The avian seemed to understand his meaning too, turning his back to the otter and letting out a sigh.
"Alright, are you gonna help me look for a gem then?" Mordecai asked.
Doug smiled in response, brushing some tears from his eyes. "I'd be glad to."
Frigid, wet sand stuck between Mordecai's toes and on the pads of Doug's feet as the duo walked along the lake's narrow shore. The cave's ghostly breeze left the lake restless, sending small waves to cascade against the grainy shore and occasionally chill one of the two's feet to the bone. The large body of water itself was opaque in darkness; a sea of absolute anguish and shadows whose inhabitants, if any, remained thankfully concealed and unknown beneath the pitch-black surface. The Pit was completely terrifying to say the least, but somehow in this moment, it was also beautiful in its own androgynous way.
"What do you think is in there?" Doug was the first to ask quietly, trailing cautiously behind Mordecai as they both walked the lake's perimeter.
Mordecai swallowed his fear and all the horrific thoughts that sprung to mind on the topic of what exactly inhabited these caverns, but managed an awkward and terrified grin. "I have no idea," the bird chuckled timidly, "Nor do I want one."
After traversing around the lake, Mordecai shone the flashlight across another burrowed archway in the stone-cavern walls where strands of grayed webbing hung down from the ceiling like nooses, gently drifting in the ominous breeze running through the tunnel and swaying like specters. Wherever the draft was coming from, the two could tell they were creeping closer to it as the push against their bodies grew stronger with every step. Mordecai's stomach churned, and all he could think about now was turning back around and getting the hell out while he still had the option. There was no way anything but a spider could have made this mess, and in addition, there was no way anything less than a huge spider could have created these in particular.
"Maybe we should go back..." Mordecai laughed half-heatedly, "Before we end up like that skeleton from before."
"They're old webs," Doug assured, "And that was an old skeleton. There's no guarantee anything still lives here just from a couple cobwebs-... and corpses." the otter frowned, trying to soften the mood, if at all possible. There was no point in turning around now that they had made it so far. If they were going to die down here, they might as well get a gem or two to show for it.
Doug's words must've worked, even in the slightest, seeing as how the avian took the first step deeper into the tunnel, carefully stepping over clumps of fallen cobwebs and the bones of fallen men. All the bird truly needed to do at the moment was keep his eyes locked forward and reveal their surroundings with the flashlight, holding back yelps from snapping a bone under his foot or from strands of spiderweb floating into his face.
But soon, exactly what the bird had been looking for miraculously came to view, several large and vibrantly blue gems shining brightly at the end of the tunnel. Mordecai reached out towards one of the massive stones, gripping tightly onto its cold surface to try and remove it from the tunnel wall, yet, to no avail. A loud hiss followed, sending hot breath harshly blowing against the bird and nearly giving him a heart attack. That's when he realized the gems were almost... looking at him, following his every move as a large set of jaws slowly scooted closer to wrap around the avian and swallow him whole.
"Back up!" the otter screamed, pulling Mordecai back just in time as the fangs snapped closed and the duo ran hastily out of the tunnel and back towards the lake. A massive spider emerged from the tunnel with its large gem eyes locked on the intruder, planning the best way to strike down the terrified blue jay. Mordecai could only slowly scoot back in horror having left his bat and only weapon behind, soon finding the frigid waves of the lake brushing against his tail feathers, and something strange suddenly came over him. It was a voice, almost, a force overwhelming and calling out to him as he made contact with the water. And whatever it was, it wanted to protect him.
Mordecai quickly reached into the lake, feeling something familiar beneath the opaque surface of the chilling water, only to pull out a frozen blade of black ice from the lake's depths in the nick of time to lunge towards the arachnid's head. But it wasn't about to be taken down that easily, moving out of the way just as quickly to follow up with a counter attack and slamming down one of its enormous and jagged legs down towards Mordecai. Thankfully yet again the force overwhelmed the bird, sending his body rolling quickly out of the way before the spider's lance-like leg came straight down on his head.
"Use the water!" Doug screamed out to his friend, drawing the spider's attention regretfully to himself. The arachnid sent jets of adhesive web at the defenseless otter, and entangled him against the wall where he could only helplessly squirm. Regardless of his helplessness though, the otter had managed to give Mordecai enough time to venture out into the lake by creating large chunks of ice floating the in the black waters. The spider followed the avian without hesitation, its long legs delving into the water with more than enough length to walk along the lake's sandy floor. The ice platforms shifted, wavering back and forth as the waves grew violently restless, but Mordecai's balance was left somehow intact. Ice was now somehow indescribably just an extension of his own body, as if it had become part of his living being all of a sudden.
Mordecai dodged yet another lunge from the spider, diving out towards the water only to have it freeze beneath his tumble like a safety net. But what he hadn't seen coming were several zombie-like, disembodied arms that quickly burst from beneath the surface to reach out and grab at him. While he may have panicked for even the slightest of seconds, his concentration was soon returned, swiftly avoiding each arm and slicing the limbs in two as a follow up attack with his frozen sword. Whether or not this were just another one of his indefinable dreams remained unanswerable for now.
Although, all these arms gave Mordecai an idea as he avoided yet another attack from the spider, perfecting his focus around the spider's legs and freezing the water until the beast was immobilized with legs stuck in ice. The bird took this moment of weakness as an opening for opportunity, rushing forward to slam the blade down against the arachnid's head and curse out as the sword bounced off of the spider's armor-like exoskeleton. It was like smashing his baseball bat against a lamp post; the full force of his blow ringing throughout his body and sending him shakily backwards. The ice beneath them cracked as the spider pulled a leg up from the water, slamming it back down a final time to shatter the frozen water and set its other legs free.
Doug could only remain glued to the wall, webbing restricting to his limbs and preventing him from transforming into anything to assist his friend. Each advance from the spider towards Mordecai caused the otter's heart to skip a beat as he clenched his eyes shut, praying every time that when he opened them back up he wouldn't find his friend hanging off the arachnid's leg. Doug need not worry however, Mordecai moved easily out of the way with his heightened senses that had altered from coming in contact with the blade gripped tightly in his wing. Each attack was clear as day before they were even made, and while he had no difficulty in evading anything, Mordecai wasn't entirely sure how long he could keep this up for, let alone how long these powers would last.
The spider halted momentarily, it's large bejeweled eyes growing to a blinding light before a shot of neurotoxins was sent splattering against one of the ice platforms, slowly but surely melting it until the poisons sat atop the water like oil. Mordecai found himself testing his skills, drawing walls of ice up out of the water to protect himself from jabs the spider made at him, only to have them torn down by more acidic shots from the arachnid's mouth.
"The living shall not interfere with the affairs of the underworld." the spider hissed in a horrendous voice of screeches, almost chuckling as it sent another leg slamming straight through one of the bird's ice walls as Mordecai narrowly rolled to safety, or merely as safe as he could possibly in this situation. The beast became merciless, almost toying with bird and slamming its legs against the ice platform and sending Mordecai falling flat on his face. His blade slipped out of his hands, sliding across the slippery, frosty surface and nearly falling back into the depths. Mordecai quickly reached in after it, letting out a scream of pain as his felt his hand press down into a pool of the arachnid's acid setting on top of the water. The poison burned away at his feathers, practically disintegrating in seconds as it bit deeper into Mordecai's flesh. And even though when the blue jay pulled his hand up out of the water, despite his bloodied arm, he thankfully held his blade in hand.
The monster drew in close and quick, ready to finally finish things off; the sight of Mordecai burning his arm its toxins clearly enough of a show to satisfy its sadistic amusement. Unfortunately for it, Mordecai, too, was ready to finish this fight. And it was by its own poison that the spider would find itself dying. The bird's acid-soaked blade slammed swiftly against the beast's underbelly as it attempted to strike him down, the poison beginning to burn away at the monster's armor and stab further into its body. A loud, shrill, scream of pain was let out from the beast as Mordecai ran under it, tearing the wound even further until guts poured down into the water. The spider fell down into the lake with an enormous splash, sending a tidal wave slamming against the walls of the cave.
Mordecai pulled himself onto the shore, gasping for air after having been taking under by the rampant tides. His feathers were drenched with the repugnant water that only made his burnt wing sting that much more hellishly. The arachnid's legs seized up, clenching around its abdomen and wound as its insides leaked out into the water, only to have countless more of the rotting arms spring up from the water and pull it down under into the dark depths.
The bird waited until the bubbles in the lake ceased before dreaming it was safe enough to let his guard down. Mordecai wearily picked himself up in exhaustion, carrying his blade over to Doug before slicing carefully away at the spider web before uttering a single word, picking up his things, and continuing on his journey. Perhaps it was the shock of it all that left him speechless, or the fact that he hadn't the slightest of clues how he'd managed to pull it off. Perhaps even the feeling that he'd already died and somehow just still not realized.
But with the spider slain and out of the way, Mordecai and Doug were left free to travel even further into the nest, peeling back thick layers of old, decayed webbing and frantically wiping their hands against the stone walls in regret and disgust. It'd take no less than weeks for that stuff, added to all the spider guts, to wash out of feathers; let alone fur. But it'd take at least a thousand showers to wash off the awful filth Mordecai felt around him simply from being down in such a godless place for so long.
The pair stepped in to take a look at the largest chamber of The Pit so far; giant pillars of mossy earth stretching as high as skyscrapers to connect cave floor and ceiling. Bridges of stringy web spread out, connecting the columns with luminous, azure, egg-filled bulbs hanging off of them like fruit on a vine. Webs covered everything, like plastic-wrap on elderly-home furniture; just as abundant with corpses and an aroma of death to match. Beaten and battered skeletons hung down from spider-silk like puppets, and eggs large like monuments lay adamant in the ground. Both Mordecai and Doug paused to take in the view, silent out of awe and fear.
"That back there- was amazing..." Doug croaked in disbelief, still huffing to catch a breath through his busted mouth and absorb what all had just happened. He'd felt so useless in the fight, but luckily for them, Mordecai wound up being a much better swordsman than either of the two could have possibly imagined. Where he learned those moves left a question unanswered as well. Mordecai simply brushed the compliment off with slightly heated cheeks of embarrassment. The bird hadn't really fought that well, had he? The whole thing almost felt as unreal and uncontrollable as a dream. Mordecai briefly lost himself when the sword reached his hands, and from that point on his body seemed to just... move on its own; thankfully.
"It really was." another voice joined in; the only one voice with the capability of stopping Mordecai's heart on a dime. Even the otter found himself frozen in disbelief, turning with Mordecai to face a bruised raccoon whose dirtied fur and scuffed body gave proof that Rigby had been on an adventure throughout the hellish maze of his own. Confused looks were exchanged between the three, and the idea of this whole situation having been nothing more than a dream became less farfetched.
But it wasn't a dream. Everything occurring right now was blissfully real, and Mordecai wasn't entirely sure how to act in this unexpected situation. The bird's face was in a struggle between crying out for joy or breaking down into a fit of intense tears and violent sobs. It had felt like an eternity since he'd last laid eyes on Rigby's face; a single day reaching that of millennia.
"R-Rigby?" the blue jay choked, ending the needless silence. The raccoon couldn't help but give a dorky grin to his friend, almost in tears himself as Mordecai slowly struggled to limp over to the mammal, fall to his knees in exhaustion, and wrap his arms around Rigby without another word. The avian's body felt numb and weak, both from the frigid chill of the cave, and his already anxiously fearful mindset in shock from taking a massive spider head on in a brawl. Shivers ran down Mordecai's spine as his fingers dug deep in the mammal's warm fur and blistering tears budded at the edge of his eyes, threatening to pour off his face like rivers as he lost control of his emotions.
However, now silence somehow spoke everything; something even Doug could recognize as he stood to the side, speechless and feeling a warmth bud in his chest from the display alone. Time passed, tears fell, and hearts beat. A million words came to Mordecai's mind when it came time to finally say something, but what was best? What words could possibly return everything back to normal despite all that had happened.
"Please come back," Mordecai whimpered softly into Rigby's ear, clutching the mammal tighter; never wanting to part from the raccoon again. Rigby swallowed hard in grief, thinking about the promises he'd made to himself earlier that day, before even setting foot in the park alone. But seeing his friend broken down like this, a mess and in tears, could undoubtedly shatter the strongest of wills.
"Mordecai..." Rigby started hesitantly, trying to think of the best and easiest way to explain his situation, "I really want to, but-"
"I'm so sorry." Mordecai grieved with tears streaming down his face as the threat of his friend leaving him once again became more imminent. Not again. Never again. "Please, I'll give anything for you to stay." he assured, and he meant it.
The blue jay waited for an answer, fearing the worst in silence as time slowly crept by. There even came a point where his heart skipped a beat when Rigby let out a questionable, short grunt of discomfort and pressed closer into Mordecai's embrace with a small whimper of pain, clearly wordless himself. But what he heard next was not an answer, or even words at all; rather, the faint drops of hot blood against the cave's stone floor. Mordecai could feel the warm crimson seeping into his feathers, Rigby's grip on him tightening as the bird pulled back to look into the raccoon's wide and terrified eyes.
A sharp and extensive spider leg stuck straight through the raccoon's abdomen, skewering Rigby like a shish-kebab. The mammal struggled to do so much as scream out in pain without gagging on the irony tang of his own blood as it poured out from the corners of his mouth; following his violent fit of coughs. Mordecai could see the sharp tip of the arachnid's impaler barely peeking out from Rigby's naval, the scene horrifying enough to cause the avian to purge on the spot. But all that came up from Mordecai's throat was a loud scream of terror that lasted far past the point of his throat burning or stinging like hornets, only ending when his voice cracked and breath failed him. Mordecai pulled his friend out of the beast's grasp, watching it defensively skitter off to a distance with all eight eyes carefully locked on the trio as it planned another attack. The bird could only clench his friend desperately as slowly, but surely, life faded from the raccoon's eyes.
Almost as if in response, sharp screeches followed Mordecai's own scream, ringing throughout the cave at a deafening decibel. Strands of spiderweb began to violently shake and sway as a wave of more bejeweled spiders ranging in size from cat to cow flowed out of the nest like an avalanche with their fangs bared and neurotoxins at the ready. Mordecai and Doug stood frozen with mouths agape in horror before breaking their trance to run for dear life, leaving the bird's bat and backpack behind. Mordecai carried Rigby tightly to his chest with a hand clenched over the leaking wound in the raccoon's stomach as it stained his feathers. But even at the fastest pace their legs could take them, both Doug and Mordecai could practically feel the horde of spiders' hot breath running down the back of their necks; seconds away from being nothing more than a mutilated pile of flesh and carnage.
"We can't outrun them!" Mordecai huffed loudly over the arachnids' loud battle cry, beginning to already picture in his head how the spiderlings' dagger-like legs would feel tearing through his flesh as easily as warm butter. And that was only if their jagged fangs didn't reach him first; snapping his bones between their jaws like toothpicks before injecting his bloodstream with painfully acidic poison to liquify his insides so they could drink the puree of melted organs straight from his body.
"I might be able to turn into something fast enough to outrun them," Doug yelled back, currently down running on all four of his short legs, trying desperately to keep up, "But I'd need time!"
"We don't have time!" Mordecai screamed back, stumbling over a bone or two with loud curses but luckily catching himself before he fell easy game to the swarm. But what the bird said was true; they both knew that. Meaning the only way they'd make it out of here in one piece was finding a diversion to buy the otter enough time to work his magic.
Step after countless step, gasping and huffing for air to sate their frenzied hearts, Mordecai and Doug stumbled quickly out of the tunnel and into the light-filled dome where the dark lake lie. Not that it helped them at all; probably only making things worse since the bird and otter could only stumble through the unstable sand around the lake while the spiders could simply continue their route on the stone walls. There was also the option of going through the lake, but Mordecai wasn't much of a swimmer, and while Doug was indeed an otter, he wasn't going to test his chances by even setting a foot in those monster-infested waters. But an idea sprung to the bird's mind, giving them a third option that didn't seem so grim; only, Mordecai wasn't one-hundred percent sure he could pull it off. But he focused. Closed his eyes and focused on honing the same powers he mysteriously drew earlier. Rigby's warmth seemed to leave his arms, replaced by a growing chill, and the rampant cries and frantic steps faded until the world grew mute.
Mordecai could still feel himself running despite this all, Doug right along side him. Even as they reached the lakes shore, they kept running. The gentle waves of the water grew still and frigid, freezing a path for Doug and Mordecai to run along across the lake. The bird did not slip or falter even in the slightest, his legs moved on his own and all he had to do was support this foreign feeling of power coursing through his body. The ice was loyal and at his side, spurring up out of the water to spear through any leftover wretch-hands that sprung up at them along their way. Mordecai didn't even have to think about them, let alone give any kind of command. Time itself somehow froze in his mind, but he could also in some way feel that his time was running out; that he couldn't keep up this state forever. The chill of ice was soon replaced with the same chill of damp and sticky sand they had felt coming in, and their shortcut across the water hand thankfully bought them some much-needed time.
"Keep going!" Doug yelled out the bird, steadying himself to a stop for what Mordecai could only assume would be his faster and helpful transformation. It was only then that the bird realized that his silence was gone, and thus too went his powers. Forgotten shrieks of the arachnids rang out loud and clear once more, returning fear to the avian's head in place of his serenity. But there was something else along all the noise; something he hadn't heard before he went into his state of guided silence. A steady rhythm of hollow clops against cold stone grew louder and clearer as Doug caught up in a dark equine form, his black hair almost making him invisible in the shadowy tunnel. For a second Mordecai had to question if this really were the otter, or simply some miserably placed horse that they'd somehow managed to pass without notice. But he could see his friend behind the animal's eyes; Doug was there. "Get on!" Doug yelled out, coming to a stop in front of the blue jay. Welp, that explained that.
Mordecai struggled to heave himself up on Doug's back, as if it weren't difficult enough due to his inexperience with horses, the fact that he was lugging around his friend's unconscious body only made it that more challenging. But with a little help from the otter's- rather, horses' end, Mordecai managed to climb atop Doug and hold on for dear life as they resumed their blazing speed. But would it be enough remained questionable in the avian's head; peering back into the darkness behind them and seeing the faintly glowing, blue eyes of the spiders trailing rapidly behind them. They may be in the lead for now, but when it came time to climb back up the rope, it wasn't as if Doug could transform into and elevator to carry them up and out of here... right?
The beasts chased hungrily after the trio in a frenzy for meat and vengeance over their fallen mother. Legs clicked loudly against the stone surfaces of the tunnel as they skittered along at alarming speed, drawing nearer and nearer to the group and locking their bright, glowing eyes on the wounded raccoon; easy prey. Their blood-lust only grew over time, making them move faster before their targets escaped from grasp. But Doug's hooves soon splashed in the shallow puddles coating the tunnel floor from the outside rainstorm as they grew closer to the chasm entrance where they had entered, and their escape from the monsters became more gladly evident.
"Don't tell them that I'm down here," Doug screamed out to the bird, "Just get out and seal the hole!"
"What the hell are you going to do?!" Mordecai blurted out in exasperation, hanging onto the silence between them for an answer; yet again, he got not a single word in response. Doug couldn't possibly be considering fighting all these things, could he? Unless the otter could transform into some enormous, fire-breathing dragon, he hardly stood the slightest of chances against this giant swarm all by himself.
"Just don't..." Doug muttered almost incoherently with the cries of hungry spiderlings blaring in echoes throughout the hollow tunnel. He slammed his hooves into the ground, coming to a quick and abrupt stop that sent Mordecai rolling across the cold ground with Rigby's lifeless frame clenched tightly in his wings. "Get out!" Doug screamed, turning back towards the darkness behinds them and the faint, blue, glowing specs of spider eyes drawing larger and nearer.
Mordecai picked himself up off the ground, trying his best to brush off the pain from such a rough landing, "I'm not leaving you down here alone with them!" Mordecai spat back. Doug's large horse muzzle pulled back into an otter's, and long equine legs grew short and stumpy as hooves split into digits. The otter looked the bird dead in the eyes, now in his 'original' form, both a worried fear and longing set in his stare.
"I'll be fine," he assured, "Honestly." Doug chuckled questioning Mordecai's lack of belief in him, "I've fought much worse that a couple of bugs; but you need to go find Oz as soon as you get out of here." the otter explained, starting another, different, transformation. The tips of his fur faded to gray, eventually lighting up to a snowy white.
"The guy who wrote that book?!" the bird sputtered in confusion.
"Yeah, I'll show you what he looks like." Doug added, pressure on him growing as the horde drew closer, but knowing a single mistake in transforming could cost them both, "He's just like you. He can help you fix everything."
Mordecai's eyes widened as long rabbit ears sprung up from Doug's scalp and his otter tail drew back, shrinking into a small puff-ball of fluffy fur. Long legs and lanky arms grew in length to give him a tall, stalky frame. The bird knew this rabbit, the image of the same rodent who snapped his arm like a twig from Rigby's dream burned deep, far back in his memories and it was, without a doubt, the same rabbit.
"I let you win in this dream, because you will never stop me outside of here." he heard the words ring in his mind, spoken in both a somehow solemn and threatening demeanor.
"Look for Oz." Doug now spoke in the rabbit's voice, pointing a long, white finger to his own transformed face. Mordecai nodded, finding it hard to protest as the arachnids began swarming out of the tunnel entrance, and ran quickly to the rope and his only chance of escape. The rabbit now let out a low growl, the puddles around his feet beginning to freeze into thin sheets of ice and spreading out across the entire chasm floor until it was like an ice-rink. Meanwhile, Mordecai tried his hardest to speedily pull both Rigby and himself up the rope while simultaneously keeping a stable grip on the raccoon; the last thing that Rigby needed right now was a twenty-foot plummet to his death.
Doug clenched his fists, closing his eyes, and taking a deep breath as his senses adjusted to fit his new form. The air around him grew frigid, and his cold breath fogged out of his mouth in puffs of frosty air. Raindrops now froze upon impact, joining their brethren in the thick sheet of ice glossed over The Pit's floor. Oz and Mordecai shared these same powers, although Oz's were by far much more trained and effective. Only by finding the rabbit and training these new skills alongside a master would the bird become prepared to deal with the situation that was about to unfold. But that was in the future; what needed to be dealt with now was the present.
"Let's see if I've still got the hang of this." the rabbit chuckled to himself, concentrating thoroughly on the entire area surrounding him, feeling Mordecai's inching progress up the rope behind him, each individual spider's movement across the rocky wall; even every raindrop's journey down from the sky. He could feel and see everything, giving him total control and making for an easy fight. Doug grinned, stretching this energy outwards, and flash freezing the falling rain before it ever reached his vicinity; raindrops falling down like small, frozen bullets as rain changed to hail, knocking countless spiders off the wall and putting their endeavor to chase the bird to and end.
Those who didn't die from the fall were pounced on by the rabbit and promptly beaten down and crushed by a barrage of brutal, exoskeleton-shattering punches and kicks until not a single crystalline structure was left unfractured and the blue glow in their eyes faded. They could all only helplessly accept their fate with their legs furiously shaking and wobbling as they desperately struggled to stand on the ice; even the sharp tips of their legs proving incapable of even leaving a scratch in the ice's surface. The ice could only be as strong as its controller, and thankfully for Doug, Oz was the master of masters at this, and through his transformation, so became he.
Throughout all this, Mordecai didn't dare look back down, and only tried his best to focus on the light up above, and out of the darkness and the dangers within. The bird progressed inch by inch up the rope, the muscles in his wings growing weaker and numb with each heave up the length, struggling to carry both Rigby and his own weight. Mordecai was trembling, but desperate in forcing his weary way up to safety before his strength and determination fell flat; just as he would if he let go. The tendons in his wing were practically seizing with a fiery burn, but somehow, he persevered through it all. Hail flew past him, every chunk somehow narrowly avoiding him as if by some sort of controlling, magical force. Mordecai didn't question it too much, seeing as how if anything, it was one of the more normal things to occur here at the park and today alone. The avian trusted in Doug's strength and capability now, but also knew it would only take one mistake; one moment of weakness before the whole mass of spiders pounced and skewered him.
Spider screeches soon faded, and familiar screams rang out through Mordecai's head, the whole park crew standing around The Pit with raincoats and umbrellas with hands reached out towards the bird. The avian lifted a debilitated, bloody wing out to Skips who heaved the duo up onto the wet and muddy ground.
"Go call an ambulance!" Benson screamed frantically to Muscle Man and Hi-Five Ghost upon seeing the gushing mess of vibrant red from Rigby's stomach, "And bring some bandages!" the gumball machine added rushing to Rigby's side and placing cold metallic hands over the hot, bloody wound and applying light pressure; trying to hold everything in until help arrived. "There's not anyone else down there, right?!" Benson turned to Mordecai. Doug briefly crossed the bird's dazed mind, but he shook his head in response.
The gumball machine nodded to Skips, whose abnormal strength began sliding a new cover over the Pit's Entrance; a massive, rectangular slab of stone with sigils and mysterious markings sprawled out across it, all of which lit up briefly in a red glow only after the hole had been fully covered, and unknown incantations were muttered from the yeti's mouth.
Mordecai felt himself begin to doze off in exhaustion, nothing but the sound of heavy rain splashing against the ground and distant wails of ambulance sirens.
Chapter 27 replaced.