Season 2: The Sleeper Saga
Episode 34: The Sleeping Dragon – Part 2
Beetlejuce and Merlin lead the group closer to the castle gates. The closer they got, the more nervous they all became. The castle brick still darkened with the taint of evil brought by Naria gave no comfort to any who approached. The air hung thick with foul memories of murder and greed as they cautiously crept through the entryway. "Now if he had set up any traps, they would be magical enchantments that are triggered in a very specific way." Merlin stated, "We won't know exactly what until they are triggered, so be extremely careful and stay together."
A panicking and shivering Lydia cowered in her little nook of garbage. Huddled up to escape the cruel reality that another one of her close friends may have given up her existence for her, the memories of her mother's death flooding her mind coupled with the tragic loss of Aldar during the war against Naria, his sister. Her fear was shattered when a faint glow floated by and embraced her in a warm gentle hug. Lydia felt her stress and fear rapidly drain from her body, finally realizing that she also had been crying, a flood of tears never ceasing even when she had calmed down. "Hey kid. What do ya think you're doing, hiding in a corner?" Lydia heard a familiar male voice say. She then felt a gentle hand wipe away her tears as he spoke again, "Cowerin in a corner never did nobody no good." Lydia finally recognized the voice of someone she had met in Oregon a while back. He was a year older than her but he spoke with a kindness and optimism she wasn't used to.
As she blinked her eyes and wiped away her tears, smearing her dark mascara, the faint image of a police officer stood in front of her with a pale glow emanating from his body. She found herself unable to speak as he continued to lecture her. "I know yer scared. But when bad things happen and life knocks you down, what do you do?" She vaguely remembered those words from the day she was to move to New York. She remembered him meeting outside in the front lawn, her upset about the move and near to tears. It was that question he asked that got her thinking. "You stand back up and keep going." Lydia said aloud, realizing that nothing was there she looked around for the faint glow she thought she saw earlier. After a minute, she remembered Sophie and the terrible wounds she suffered breaking out of the glass sphere. Lydia ran in the direction she remembered Sierra dragging her and even found herself wishing for a miracle. The farther she left the area the more the person faded back into view with yet another angel beside him. "Wow." Elizabeth exclaimed to him. "You are far more subtle and cryptic than I could even hope to be." "This time she didn't need someone telling her what to do or how to live, but a gentle reminder of who she can be." James replied to her with a light, friendly smile.
The First trap set off a flaming image of a dragon that chased them through parts of the castle until Merlin placed a two foot thick wall of water between them and inevitably filled the floor with a thick blanket of steam impeding their vision and then setting off the next trap, a frozen wind threatened to end their lives until Bertha located a staircase to the next floor and used her voice to lead the rest of them to her. Cold and frightened, they all made their way up the stairs anticipating the next set of traps they would have to endure when Merlin decided to ignite a flame to warm up him and his friends when the flame began to grow on its own. He tossed the ball of flames back down the stairs as it detonated with a dull thud. "Looks like we're warming up on our own." He said sarcastically.
Lydia approached the Road House Main Office after checking about five other rooms quickly. Surprisingly, there were still a lot of vacant rooms considering that it was now known to be the original rebellion headquarters. However, Lydia did notice that most of the apartments were now lived in by taking a quick glance through windows as she passed by. She was just about to open the door of the Main Office when Sierra swung the door inward and they then found themselves silently staring at each other in shock for a short time. Lydia panting and out of breath she finally attempted to ask how Sophie was doing when Sophie stepped to Sierra's side, the same look of shock on her face. "Sophie?" Lydia panted, "How… You… I thought?" was all that she could manage to get out of her mouth. "Do y'all remember the water you created from that devil woman's cauldron and a little moonwisp?" Sierra asked as Sophie turned away from Lydia as if she were disappointed on her. Surprised, Lydia blurted out, "You still had some? I thought we used it all after the war." Sierra grinned triumphantly and responded, "Not all of it. I stashed some away in case of emergencies." "Yah, lucky me." Sophie responded dismally with a hint of aggression toward Lydia. Lydia looked as if she were defeated and almost broke down once again. She looked to the floor, yet another tear falling to the dirt at her feet. "I'm sorry, Sophie. You were almost erased form existence because Grimnak attacked me. I keep getting others caught up in my problems because I don't know if I can do it on my own. I understand if you're mad." Sierra responded to Lydia harshly, "Yah, I'm mad. But not for that." Lydia shot her head up in surprise, tears still welling up. "I'm mad because you stood there frozen. It was Sierra that acted to save me. You fought a war with everyone and never gave up because someone near you got hurt. You kept charging in. I'm mad because the girl I met back there never came back to visit. All I got was…" Sophie then gestured to the quivering Lydia, waving both hands as if presenting something. "This scared girl. What happened to that courage?" Lydia then felt an emotional sting in her chest that dropped her to her knees. Sierra knelt down to her friend and placed her webbed right hand on Lydia's left shoulder to comfort her.
The group finally reached the castle library and locked the door to block yet another flaming trap. "WHAT IS WITH THIS GUY AND FIRE?" Beetlejuice shouted in frustration. The rest of them were out of breath with Carlie wheezing out, "I guess this is where we humans go the lore of dragons breathing fire." Merlin had his hands placed on his knees to support the weight of his exhausted body. He then suddenly held up his right fist with only his index finger extended to gesture that he needed a minute to catch his breath, however he still had a retort for Carlie's statement. Inevitably he choked out, "Kind of."
Sierra carried Lydia toward one of the rooms of the Road House over her back. Lydia was so exhausted from emotions that she had fallen asleep and even now began to stir in her sleep. As Sierra laid Lydia down in the bed of apartment fourteen she and Sophie heard her mumble in agony, "No… Please…" She was sweating slightly and sounded frightened. "Please… Don't leave me… mom." Sophie's eyes widened as she slowly placed the nearly incoherent words together. Sierra solemnly looked to the young Atlantian and asked in a near whisper, "Rememberin yer own mother?" Sophie simply nodded in response. "Somethin y'all have in common." She then added under her breath, worried for both her friends now.
Beetlejuice and Merlin sat together in the library flipping through books while Carlie and Bertha sat flipping through others. Claire and Prudence unrolled as many scrolls as they could desperately trying to find information that could lead them to The Sleeper. At one point Prudence removed a rolled up scroll from a shelf and narrowly was crushed as the shelf collapsed on top of her. She unrolled the scroll in her hand to find an extremely old map of the Neitherworld. "The Neitherworld sure was different four thousand years ago." She innocently blurted out. Overhearing her, Bertha followed her tiny friend's voice and asked, "What did you just say?" Bertha jogged on up the Prudence and quickly gazed at the map taking note of the key differences, mainly on the land mass sizes. "The Neitherworld was huge then. What happened?" She gasped. Merlin and Beetlejuice joined them in gazing at the map soon. "That's easy." Beetlejuice began, "Every day the sandworms dig and eat away at the edges of the Neitherworld, making more and more of the land collapse into the sand pits and become a part of them." Carlie gasped in fright, "So in the distant future, the entire Neitherworld will fall into the sand pits?" "Unless we can bring the sand worms back to the Underworld where they belong." Merlin answered. "However with so many destroyed and dead, the process has been significantly reduced. In twenty years they'll chew through this area here." He was pointing the index finger of his right hand at a section of the map labeled in plain English known as the Caverns of Glass when an idea hit Beetlejuice in the back of the head. "What was that new prophecy again?" He asked. Merlin's eyes turned white once again as he recounted the prophecy again, "The dragon sleeps on the water's edge, upon the stone and light of which he beds. When the name is said and he begins to wake, the light of day he shan't forsake. Upon this day of familiar prize, look in at burnt sand in size. In daylight's conflict awake again, to reunite those close to him. Remember not until that day, when all of light will fade away.
A secret kept for ages past, shall awaken and cease the quarrel at last." As soon as he was finished, Beetlejuice pointed at the Caverns of Glass on the map. "Burnt sand." He enunciated. "Super-heated sand makes glass!" Prudence stated in realization. "So we need to go to the Caverns of Glass?" Carlie asked curiously. "It's our only lead right now." Claire said nervously. Suddenly, they heard the disembodied laughter of Grimnak in the air all around them. "Thanks for solving part of the riddle for me… and for giving me the prophecy in its entirety." His voice echoed through the room startling and putting the motley group of friends on edge.
And just as suddenly… "Wait, where did you come from?" The sound of rustling of books was soon heard as they all became now confused. "What are you doing?" More rustling of books and even the sound of someone bumping into a book case. "Don't… Arg!" And then a loud thud with another Grimnak doppelganger falling from behind a book case wrapped up in a spider's silk web. Suddenly a large spider with a crimson exoskeleton and short brown hair emerged from the shadows. "Ginger!" Claire shouted, greeting her friend. The spider noticed the blond girl and waved the front right leg at her as if it were an arm. "Hi everyone!" She called out in her New York accent. "The spider talks!" Carlie gasped slightly frightened of Ginger. Bertha patted her mother on her back to try and calm her down. "You don't have to worry about her, mom. She's a friend." Bertha stated and then turned to Ginger when her mom didn't calm down much. "Sorry, Ginger. My mom suffers from arachnophobia."
With Lydia still asleep, Sierra tended to the other occupants of the Road House. Sophie found what she could to repair the damage done to her dress. "If BJ were here, he could fix those tears jus by zippin 'em back up er somethin." Sierra exclaimed as she passed by looking for a pipe wrench. "Where is her guardian ghost anyway? It isn't like them to be apart in the Neitherworld." Sierra thought about her statement for a time and failed to come up with a proper explanation.
"Ahchoo!" Beetlejuice sneezed as he was flipping through a book. His sneeze echoed through the library once back at him. "You alright?" Claire asked after hearing the sneeze echo. She was only one row away from his location and was able to view him from a hole in the shelves. "Yah, I'm fine. Though, it looks as if Bertha's mom is still having a hard time." He responded. Even Claire could hear that Carlie was still nervous about having a giant spider walk around the library, talking to her daughter. The two caught up with one another discussing how their lives have been in their own opinions while Carlie bit her tongue as to not insult or anger the giant spider that appeared to be her daughter's good friend. She became more and more comfortable as she listened to them talk to each other. And almost found herself wanting to get to know Ginger herself. However, once she reminded herself of the fact that Ginger had eight legs and was in fact an arachnid, she stiffened up and froze again.
"Found it!" Prudence, exclaimed. They all soon gathered around the tiny intellectual as she began to read aloud. "The Caverns of Glass. A natural phenomenon within an unnatural world." Carlie lifted her eyebrow before listening intently, not realizing that Ginger had placed herself to Prudence's left and just in front of Claire's feet. "Created eons ago, when the societies of the Neitherworld fell into existence and all was simply chaos. The only remnant of those times and known to be a source of great wisdom for magic users. Little else is known about this ancient relic except that it known to become the final resting place for magic users that learn from its secrets, as if an ancient instinct drives them to give back what they had taken before." Claire whistled to indicate how impressive she had found that as Prudence turned the page to find an artistic painting of the caverns. It looked as if a swirling vortex of sand came in contact with an inferno and froze in its violent spiral. The opening gave the image of a never ending tunnel that could swallow up any foolish traveler that dare approach, while the tunnels themselves seemed to travel on forever, branching off into many paths in the image of a tree. After a quick count Carlie figured that there were more than three thousand different paths to take, each leading to three thousand different locations within the cavern. "So which path do we take to find this 'Sleeper'? Merlin tilted his head down in despair and simply uttered, "I wish I could remember."
End of Season 2 Episode 14