Remmal gasped for air for as he crawled out of the river. His trip through it left him with cuts and bruises and had nearly drowned, but he was alive. He winced when he moved his left arm and looked to see there was a large gash near his left shoulder and was bleeding out.
“Damn it,” Remmal cursed. He attempted to apply pressure to his wound
“You may be more durable then most of your kind, but we do have our limits. These wounds shouldn’t take too much time to heal unless -”
“Oh shut it.” Remmal really wasn’t in the mood to be lectured.
Remmal looked and saw he was near an orchard and limped through it. He came to a nearby farm house that, at the moment, no one was around. Though it was against all his morals, the instinct for survival was stronger. He broke a window and climbed through it into the kitchen. He began rummaging through the cabinets and found some dish towels and attempted to bandage the wound on his shoulder. He grabbed a bag from a closet and began rummaging through the cupboards.
“I assume you have a plan, right boy?”
“Yeah I do,” Remmal answered as he stuffed the bag with food.
“I’m not dead so the troopers will probably come down the river and try to track us.” Remmal looked out a window and pointed south. “I can lose them if I can make it to the Cliffs of Ekklesia. Kodam’s friends have said that they lose a lot of criminals through there.”
Remmal got what he needed and climbed back out through the broken window and began walking towards the cliffs.
“So we are trading troopers for bandits?”
“Not much of an improvement, but they could probably follow us anywhere else. On the up side , the bandits aren’t trying to find us.”
* * * *
“So how far has the project been set back, and what of the subject?” the Funder asked through another video conference. It had been almost three days since Remmal escaped and the Funder wanted to know what happened during the incident
“Well, we have been set us back a couple months. The subject went into the cliffs and the troopers lost him.” Dr. Fenthar reported.
“Well that’s disappointing but news. How do we deal with our little fugitive?”
“I’ve taken care of that already sir. I have hired some, extra hands you could say in the area to take him out if he is seen. Don’t worry though; they will keep quiet about this.”
“They better doctor, we need this to stay our secret.” The funder hung up.
* * * *
Remmal had been traveling for two days in the maze of jagged rocks and crevices. So far he had not run into any bandits, which was good. He had set up a small makeshift camp in a shallow cave for the night to sleep. It was early morning. The sun was just beginning to peak over the Starfall Mountains.
“Wake up boy, we have an unwelcome guest,” Split Tail hissed.
He heard something rummaging around rolled over and when he opened his eyes, he was staring straight into the eyes of a bandit. They were going through Remmal’s bag of supplies. The bandit picked up his bag and took off running with it.
“Damn it,” Remmal cursed as he scrambled to his feet and chased after them. “You couldn’t have woken me up sooner? All of the supplies are in that bag!”
“Simple, you are a heavy sleeper and your race in incapable of sleeping with one eye open.”
Remmal just growled in frustration as he pursued the bandit through the twist and turns through the maze of cliffs and canyons, straining to keep up. He didn’t want the wound on his near his shoulder to open up. The bandit then darted into a cave and without hesitation he followed. As the light faded from the mouth of the cave, he took out a glow squid orb that he took from the house he broke into a few days earlier. The bandit did the same but it wasn’t long before Remmal ran into a junction of tunnels and had lost site of the glow from the bandit’s light. He turned to start heading back when a faint rumble and what sounded like a scream came from one of the tunnels. He immediately bolted down it a couple of yards before almost falling into a pit that led to another cave system, his bag lay at the bottom of it.
“Stupid bandit.” Remmal grumbled as he climbed down to pick up his bag of supplies. “Now to get out of this dank place.”
Remmal climbed out of the pit and he got to the rim realized that he got ahead of himself and didn’t pay attention to his surroundings. He was in the middle of yet another junction of tunnels and all of them looked very similar. If he chose the wrong tunnel, he could be lost for a long time.
“You seem a bit lost with that puzzled look on your face.” A female voice came from the bottom of the pit. Remmal looked down and saw the bandit partially covered in rubble. She was a snow leopard that looked about the same age as Remmal wearing grubbing looking clothing. She glared at him with her yellow eyes, almost like she could see right through him.
“I am not,” Remmal lied.
“Don’t lie, I can you are by look on your face you sure seem like it.”
“Well maybe I wouldn’t be in here if you didn’t take my stuff!”
“Ugh. Look, I need your help and you obviously need mine. I am stuck under this rubble and I think my leg is hurt.”
“Is that so?” Remmal huffed. “Why should I help you, especially after you stole my bag?”
“Because you’ll never find your way out of these caves, I on the other hand know how to get out. So I’ll lead you out of the cave and you help me get out. Simple right? So let’s just let bygones be bygones and help each other, okay?” the bandit said, giving Remmal a nervous smile.
“This bandit does have a point. We could be stuck here without a guide.” Split Tail chimed in. “However, watch yourself she will probably back stab us.”
Split Tail was right; he and Split Tail could be stuck wandering in the cave for a long time.
“Alright, but you better not try anything funny,” Remmal grumbled as he climbed back down.
Once Remmal had removed the rubble and pulled the bandit out of the pit they both started walking. The bandit leaned on Remmal for support because of her leg. Other then the bandit giving directions, they walked in complete silence. However the bandit seemed to be mumbling something to herself, something about tunnels. Remmal could soon see the light at a cave exit.
“Boy, stop!” Split Tail shouted. Remmal did as Split tail said and immediately stopped. “Listen.”
“Hey, whats with the hold up?” the bandit demanded.
“Quiet,” Remmal whispered. As he listened, he heard what sounded like a tapping noise echoing though out the cave and it was getting louder.
“Ew…” the bandit squirmed. “What is this stuff?”
“What stuff?” Remmal asked.
“This,” the bandit showed some sort of slime that on her shoulder. “It just fell on me.”
They both looked up and a pair of dimly glowing spheres a few meters above them. Remmal raised up his glow squid orb to see before them a large grotesque creature hanging from the ceiling as saliva dripped from its maw. The creature released its grip from the ceiling; Remmal with the bandit leapt just in time before being crushed.
“Shit,” Remmal cursed as he scrambled to his feet and began to run to the cavern entrance, practically dragging the bandit along as she tried to keep up.
Remmal could hear the creature following close behind as they closed in on the exit. Then the sound of a blow gun firing and something whizzed right over his head. The exit was suddenly blocked by large spikes, trapping them.
“Well if it isn’t my lucky day. I heard you were in the area Split Tail, but I never thought you would stumble into my little home. I’m sure Nabonidus will be most pleased with me if I erase you from this plane of existence,” the beast oozed as it came into the light.
It was pale purple scorpion-like creature with a spiked tail. Armor covered its body, wraping around creating a kind of skirt around its back and flanks. The bandit looked at the creature in disbelief, paralyzed with fear.
“What in spirits is that thing?!” the bandit sputtered.
“Not a clue.”
“That is a nightmare boy,” Split Tail explained. “And a follower of Nabonidus,”
The nightmare charged forward, its pincers opening and closing. With the exit blocked off and no way out, Remmal stood his ground, ready to intercept. The nightmare lashed out with one of its claws. Remmal blocked it with his left hand. He slid back a bit from the impact as the nightmare tried over power him. Remmal strained under the immense pressure, not knowing how long he could last. When the sound of springer fire rang abruptly through the cavern, two needles whizzed past Remmal, striking one of nightmares shell covered eye. The rounds didn’t penetrate it, but caused the nightmare to flinch, relieving enough of the pressure for Remmal. He took this opportunity to push the nightmare’s claw away and upper cutting the nightmare sending it reeling.
Remmal shook his hand from the impact and looked behind to see that the bandit had pulled out a springer revolver, but the nightmare saw this too when it got to its feet. In a fit of rage, it swept Remmal to the side get to the bandit. Remmal got up and before the nightmare could reach the bandit, Remmal grabbed it by the tail, bringing it to a sudden.
“This nightmare has heavy armor, boy. If you plan to take it out, find a weak point,” Split Tail advised.
The nightmare flicked its tail into the side of the cavern smashing Remmal against it before it grabbed him and threw him at the bandit. He cursed as he staggered to his feet and wiped the blood that came from his mouth.
“Ha ha, I didn’t expect you being to put up such a fight,” the nightmare laughed. “Shame that your attempts are futile.”
“Damn,” the bandit swore. “We aren’t getting out of here alive.”
Remmal searched for any weakness or flaw in the nightmares armor. He looked at a puddle of water that reflected the underside of the nightmare and it looked like there was hardly armor there.
“I think we can,” Remmal whispered “I just need to get under it, but I will have to run straight at it.”
“I can get you through it,” the bandit told Remmal as an ice blue halo materialized over her head “Just go at it and when I tell you to dodge you do it.”
“Enough chatter!” the nightmare shouted and began to charge.
Remmal didn’t have time for second thoughts, it was do or die. He made a mad dash at the nightmare.
Remmal did as the bandit said and narrowly avoided a projectile sweep from the tail of the nightmare.
Again Remmal did as the bandit told and one of the nightmares claws passed right over his head. Remmal slid right under the nightmare and jabbed his claws into the nightmares soft underside. He extended his claws and burst out the other side of the nightmare. Its scream quickly turned into a gurgle and the creature’s lifeless body fell on Remmal. He slowly climbed out from underneath the nightmares corpse, covered in its blue blood and gasping for air. He tried to stand up, but couldn’t get his balance. He looked at the ground and saw his wound from earlier had opened up and was now bleeding severely. His vision began to blur as he lied on the cave floor unable to find the strength to pick himself up. As he lied on the cave floor, he heard voices and the sound of many footsteps come toward him. He felt himself being picked up and carried out of the cave.