Season 2: The Sleeper Saga
Episode 33: The Sleeping Dragon - part 1
Sierra and Sophie both greeted their friend as Lydia desperately tried to collect her thoughts. She was still shaken up about being attacked by Grimnak out of the blue. Sierra noticed that Lydia was acting slightly out of it and gingerly helped her to her feet. They began leading her toward the Road House to hide when Lydia snapped out of her stupor and realized that the Grimnak that attacked her was but another doppelganger. 'Wait,' she thought to herself, 'If Grimnak wasn't here himself? Then where is he for real?' "Gosh darn, girl. That was a close-un." Sierra exclaimed bringing Lydia's mind back to her present scenario. "Hey, are you ok?" Sophie asked, slightly worried for Lydia. Lydia looked to the Atlantian girl. They were approximately the same age and height. Sophie adorned herself with an ornate blue dress with what looked to be coral designs near the bottom. The dress was held to her shoulders by thin quarter inch wide straps of the same light shade of sea-blue. Her face was made up with lavender colored eyeliner and deep blue lipstick with a hint of blush on her cheeks. "Why are you dressed up?" Lydia asked in a mild confusion. Sophie grabbed Lydia by the hand and, without a word, led Lydia just slightly to the right of the Road House and into an established part of a town built specifically close to it. The city dump had been cleared out and in the center of town a bronze statue of Aldar erected in honor of his heroic sacrifice. "Welcome to 'Demon's Tear." Sophie announced. The town was small and quaint with only a few houses and businesses set up however, it was still large enough of a town to be impressive. "I volunteered this year to dance at a ceremony in honor of our saviors." Sophie explained. "Oh, what do you do?" Lydia instinctively asked. "I entertain folks with my water dancing routine." was Sophie's response.
A gentle breeze blew through the air and Lydia picked up the subtle scent of waterfall mist. She looked down at her feet and at last noticed the short blades of bluish-green grass, the scent emanating from them. The grass surrounded both the town and the Road House with paved walkways and roads cutting through. No longer was the land barren and dead but ironically full of life and wonder. White, red and blue wildflowers of various shades dotted the landscape as far as Lydia could see. From inside the town, Lydia could hear people talking and laughing while some worked their shops like bakeries and restaurants, all preparing for the festival. "When did you all do this?" Lydia asked in awe. "Awe, the grass and flowers grew back all on their own." Sierra responded, "But the town... Y'all'd be surprised what a community banded together can do."
They led Lydia past the town gate and further into town. As they passed all manner of lost souls, mythical and modern, gawked and politely waved as Lydia walked with Sierra and Sophie. They neared the bronze statue when the other three of Sophie's friends ran up to greet her. "Sophie, where'd you go?" Natalie asked and then immediately turned to Lydia and addressed her nonchalantly, "Hey there famous celebrity of the war"' and turned back to Sophie. Feeling slightly insulted and ignored, Lydia folded her arms and grunted, "I have a name you know." "Natalie, don't be rude, you were in that war too. You should remember Lydia." Sierra scolded as Lydia heard mumblings and whisperings from behind her. She turned around only to notice a crowd of people gathering together and chatting amongst themselves about Lydia and her role as the person who led the attack against Naria and destroyed the cauldron. In the distance, Lydia picked out the remains of the castle. The smoke had ceased and from what she could tell, it had been converted into some kind of historical land mark.
"We need to find, Lydia and fast. With my brother roaming in the Neitherworld, she could be in alot of trouble." Merlin explained once again to try and drive the point home. "But how do we even know where she ended up?" Claire asked. "I don't know the layout of the Neitherworld that well and I blindly teleported her there without even thinking." They all thought about their predicament until Beetlejuice suggested, "We should try the Road House. Familiar territory first." Merlin nodded and extended his right hand out in front of him so that his index and middle finger were extended and pressed against each other while the other three fingers were curled in as if he was pointing at something with those two fingers. Suddenly the tips of his two fingers began to glow bluish-white just before he began separating his fingers like a pair of scissors. As he did this, a line of light in the same color began to form, stretching both upward and downward from his fingers as they slowly opened. The line of light extended until it was four inches taller than Merlin himself and he then slowly spun his hand to point the middle finger upright as he opened his remaining fingers. As this happened, the line of light opened up in an oval shape the light ringing the edge of the opening like fire. Inside the ring of fire, a part of the Neitherworld they knew so well could be seen. "The Road House lies on the other side." Merlin informed them. "For all you first timers," He then added, "It can be frightening at first, just remember that you actually aren't going to burn." "What does that mean?" Carlie blurted out before Merlin shoved her through the portal. She went sprawling through and landed on her hands and knees in the bluish-green grass, catching the scent of their calming aroma. A chill danced across her spine as a gentle wind blew from the south. She slowly stood to her feet as the others stepped through the dragon's gate. As Claire came through last, the portal narrowed back into the silver line of energy and shrank back into nothing.
Remembering that she was shoved through a magic portal, Carlie turned back to Merlin and began scolding him, "Just what was that about? I could have been hurt!" He calmly and flatly answered her stern tone of voice, "Magic is far more abundant in the Neitherworld so even if you were mortally wounded I could simply heal you." "Liar." She retorted and he looked to her as if he was insulted by the very notion. However, he gave in easily and revealed his secret, "Yah you're right, if that was the case, I would have been there for all of those who were taken in the war last year." All of them except for Carlie and Merlin let their gaze meet the ground at their feet as the sad memories came back to the forefront. There was a small moment of silence from each to pay respect to each of the souls fallen in battle that day. During that time Carlie could hear bustling noises coming from the other side of the building they called "The Road House". She listen carefully as the others gave their moment of silence until Merlin noticed her strange behavior. Instinctively, he tuned out the distractions around him and focused on his sense of hearing. He could hear faint sounds of people from behind the Road House. People that seemed to be busy with their daily lives, a community, perhaps. 'I really should have gotten out of my house more often.' He thought to himself. His memory of the new communities and towns of the Neitherworld failed him as he tried to recall what town was near the Road House. "What do you hear mom?" He heard Bertha ask Carlie. Hesitantly, she answered, "I think I hear people, but… Isn't this the land of the dead?" "The only difference between the living and the dead is the heartbeat… and possibly looks." Merlin answered before motioning for them to follow him.
They followed the sounds until they traveled close to forty yards and entered into what looked like a town. Candle lamps decorated walkways making the scenery resemble something out of a British move based in the eighteenth century. Creatures of all types and shapes walked the streets. Carlie could count vampires, humanoid zombies, minotaurs, and creatures she had never even seen or heard of before. "I think a lot of these lost souls were involved in the war." Bertha blurted out. Carlie's jaw simply hung open as she stood there dumbfounded and awestruck. "These are lost souls?" She finally blurted out still in shock. "Yah, mom. Lost souls are just what you become when you die. You still maintain the shape you had when you died." Suddenly they heard Lydia's voice pipe in, "I need to explain it better to you some time." They turned their gaze over to where they hear her voice coming from and found her sitting on the edge of a fountain with a stone statue of Beetlejuice in the center of it. Upon seeing their friend, they instantly felt both relief and happiness all at once. Instinctively, they ran up and threw their arms around her in a group hug each telling her how worried they were about her all at the same time. Lydia though she heard Bertha say something about fighting Beetlejuice and Claire giving Merlin a piece of her mind for standing there and just watching but what surprised her was when she heard Bertha's mother's voice from outside the group's boundaries. "Are you alright, Lydia?" She heard Carlie say. At first Lydia was stunned to see Bertha's mother here in the Neitherworld, she quickly shook off her confusion with but a single question, "Bertha… What is your mom doing here?" "She told me almost everything that happened to her since she met you in school." Carlie answered and then turned back to look at all of the residents of the town. "So these are 'lost souls'?" She then asked, simply verbally confirming it to herself with both wonder and worry etched in her voice.
After a quick explanation of the four worlds, Lydia began to take the group around town, noticeably wandering closer and closer toward the castle in the distance. "So, I take it you want to go and see that ancient castle while you're here." Carlie blurted out. Lydia slightly blushed as she was found out so easily, "I was kind of hoping to search the library for anything regarding this 'Sleeper' business." She said bashfully. Worried, Beetlejuice asked, "So why were you hiding it from us instead of just telling us like you usually do?" Startled, Lydia began stammering her words trying to think of an excuse. "Excuse me." Bertha suddenly asked and cut in front of the group to quickly slug Lydia in the left cheek with her right fist. Surprisingly, Bertha slugged Lydia hard enough to send her sprawling to the ground around five feet from where she stood. Beetlejuice, braced for the pain but was surprised when it didn't come. "I don't like it when I'm lied to." Bertha said sternly. "And I especially don't like it when the bad-guy tries to imitate my friends… Grimnak!" With a grey mist covering the body for a split second, the fake Lydia shifted back into Grimnak. "Ow. You are stronger than you look." He said in pain as he rubbed his cheek. With the rest of the group still startled and in awe, Bertha demanded, "Where is Lydia?"
Lydia pounded on the glass sphere she and her two friends were encased in. Though her vision was blurred by the wavy glass of the magically made sphere, she recognized the dump behind the Road House. It happened so fast and was purposefully fitted to her invisible shield provided by the spider silk. Mysteriously, sand was kicked up and spiraled around them but could not reach them due to the shield. Suddenly white hot flames surrounded them and turned the sand into glass, trapping them. "How does he do that?" Lydia rhetorically asked in frustration. "Y'all, mean pop outta nowhere and ruin yer day?" Sierra asked with her own frustration lacing her words. "We're encased in a ball of glass around an entire foot and a half thick." Sophie sighed shyly. Thinking of a way out, Lydia sighed in her next thought. "It's too bad the spider silk doesn't protect me against damage I do to myself, or I'd be punching these walls until they shattered." "It wouldn't matter anyway, y'all run outta air before long." Sierra said finally giving into despair. "Then, y'all join us in the Neitherworld… trapped in this damn glass ball." Nervous about her true predicament, Lydia decided to reassure her friend about her theory, "Yah, join you…" She trailed off. Before Sierra could respond to her friend's uncertainty, they both heard the glass snap and crack behind them. They turned around to witness, a tiny drill made of water swirl around at incredible speeds and erode the glass away at a single point, almost nine tenths of the way through going outward. "You little genius!" Sierra praised the shy Atlantian. "I thought you had to dance to perform your water dance routines." Lydia asked confused. Quietly, Sierra informed her, "In order to control mass amounts of water, the dancing helps to direct where it needs to go, however a simple mouthful of water can be controlled with just concentration if the dancer is skilled enough." "Just two more minutes." Sierra smiled with her eyes closed, happy that her friends finally realized what she was doing. Just then, Lydia began to feel light headed and short winded, "Do you think you could make it sooner, I don't know if I have 'two minutes'."
An explosion rang out as Grimnak went back to old habits in using his compressed air bomb spell. Carlie and Prudence found a safe place to hide as Bertha used the Mirror Stone to summon one of her dragons she had memorized, namely her Diamond Aura Dragon. Beetlejuice morphed into various creatures to dodge the assaults while Claire unleashed the power of the Dragon's Ring aiming arrows of light and firing them at the nimble wizard. Merlin assisted by throwing his own lightning spells with the same result. Grimnak nimbly dodged and swayed out of harm's way. "This one's different from the others." Claire called out, noticing his enhanced movements and more powerful spell casting. He nimbly dodged everything they threw at him and even tossed in his own spells every now and then. Subtly he led them closer and closer to the castle and was even dominating the fight until he suddenly fell into dust and mist. Bewildered and baffled, the group of friends stood frozen in place eyes the size of golf balls and filled with confusion. Beetlejuice looked around frantically to find the last remains of a projection gate hidden just out of sight. "A doppelganger?" He asked himself aloud only to be answered by Bertha. "He must have broken his line of sight. But if that was a doppelganger…" "Then where is my brother?" Merlin finished.
Back at the ruins where the war took place the stone floor began to fall away, revealing a dark cavern under the lifeless soil. A dull laugh could be heard as a hand tried to reach up only to be repelled by an invisible force. "Hm, still not strong enough. Perhaps these games are more taxing than I thought. Oh, ho, ho, Arachnis. You thought you helped my brothers seal me in here forever, but everything diminishes with neglect and your prison will only hold for so much longer. I can wait."
Lydia began struggling for breath an the cracks in the thick glass began to spread the closer the water drill got to breaking the surface. "Although I know I should be weary." She began to chant with shallow breaths in between. "But still I venture someplace scary." She took some more deep breaths just as her vision began fading. At that moment, the drill broke through the glass allowing fresh air to rush in through the three quarter inch hole. Finding it now easier to breath slightly, Lydia collapsed in Sierra's arms, sucking in as much air as she could. Sophie then stood up and gently ran her webbed fingers across the cracks she had made in the glass dome. "This is probably going to hurt." She mumbled to herself and then began pushing on a cracked portion of the glass dome as hard as she could. Inevitably the weakened glass began to crack some more and within a few more minutes, broke away in various sized chunks. The higher ones cutting her up pretty badly on her head and arms. Amazingly though the blood that ran from her wounds looked more like a paste. Sophie collapsed to the bottom of the sphere in pain with gashes all over her arms and cuts all over the back of her head
Finally enough air rushed in to bring back Lydia's full consciousness and motor functions. She sat up to see her friend badly cut up from the glass. "Sophie!" she shrieked watching the dull pasty blood slowly run down the Atlantian girl's head, back and arms. Sierra stayed knelt down in pure shock simply witnessing the girl push out the broken glass and take the punishment of the chunks slashing her up and bruising her head and shoulders. Lydia moved as close as she could to the torn up Atlantian and wondered to herself, 'Why? Why didn't the shield protect her? Was it because I was about to suffocate? Why?' Tears began rolling down her cheek as Lydia raced to think of what to do to save her friend. "We need to find a hospital or something." Lydia blurted out as thoughts raced through her head in a panic.
Sierra gingerly picked up Sophie bridal-style and kicked out the remaining glass to step out of the sphere. She then ran toward the Road House with her own idea in mind. It was all Lydia could do to pick herself up and avoid cutting herself as she made her way out of the glass sphere. Memories of her mother's demise flooding her vision, causing her knees to wobble and her balance to wane. She gingerly stepped over large chunks of glass stained with Sophie's pasty dull blood. Fear and sorrow began to wrack her mind and Lydia began to attempt to hold the memories and emotions back placing her hands on her temples and screaming at the top of her lungs. Tears streamed down he face in a flash flood as her body instinctively curled up into a ball. She huddled near a pile of trash, hugging her knees and sobbing, attempting to make herself vanish from the cruelty she believed had befallen her.
It didn't take Sierra long to reach the Road House, gently set the in pain Sophie face down on the floor of the main office and dig through the desk for a flask she had kept in one of the drawers. As Sierra came over to her sliced up friend, she quickly opened up the flask and poured the liquid inside over the worst of her wounds. They began to close almost imediately as the clear liquid soaked into the cuts and gashes. She first took care of the larger, more threatening wounds and then treated the lesser wounds. As Sierra used the liquid to heal her, Sophie found the pain fade more and more until all she could feel was a nagging ache in her head and arms. Sophie soon began to slowly pick herself up to her knees with what little strength that had returned to her, hoping that the wounds had healed enough not to reopen. The lesser wounds, yes, but the largest wound on her back split slightly as if it now was but a tiny cut from a blade, however as that happened, the cut once again healed and in it's place, a large scar beginning from where her neck meets her skull, ending at the tip of her left shoulder blade. The pain stung her as she felt the skin scar over in an instant, causing tears of anguish to escape her eyes and roll down her cheeks.
Meanwhile, Beetlejuice and the others made their way to the castle to check and see why Grimnak wanted to lure them there so badly, Beetlejuice realizing that they could very well be walking into a virtual gauntlet of traps of some kind. They approached the gates of the once bright and beautiful castle, memories of their dealings with Naria's sand soldiers flooding their minds. Claire, Bertha and Prudence smiling at the victory they saw in this castle, Beetlejuice sternly gazing to the throne room with every memory of failure and frustration. They approached the courtyard leading to the interior of the castle, the flora withered and decayed, still despite all of the life returning to the rest of the Neitherworld. A dark shadow hung over the castle as if time itself refused to forget the darkness that ruled from inside it's walls. Before entering the castle at last, Carlie gazed over and noticed the destroyed tower at one end of the stone structure, most of which was still being repaired. "What on Earth happened here?" She gasped in awe. "That's where Naria's cauldron was located." Beetlejuice abruptly and sternly answered. "Maybe you should stay here." Carlie looked back at Beetlejuice as if she was insulted at the mere suggestion. "I am not leaving my daughter alone to simply keep myself out of danger." She answered. Before Beetlejuice could add to his earlier statement, Carlie interrupted, "And yes, we all realize they we could be walking into a trap set up by this 'Grimnak' and if I could talk my daughter out of going in, I would but I know how she is and we may just have to stick together to make it through this.". Beetlejuice looked back at the group of friends, each of them looking back with both determination and pride. Defeated, Beetlejuice hung his head and sighed, "Fine. Let's walk into a trap."
End of Season 2 Episode 13