Don't let go.
Can't see the light.
Pulling, pulling down.
Iolaus tumbled out of the chute into a lighted cavern and rolled to a stand. He took a deep breath. He was alone, not quite alone. He knelt beside the unconscious villager. He heard something coming, something large. There was no time to move the villager. He wouldn't be able to help him, if they were both captured. Iolaus leaped into a niche in the rocks. He barely dared to breathe as a dark, hairy shape stopped just within his view. The creature turned around as if looking for something.
"Me," Iolaus thought and tried desperately to become part of the rock wall.
The creature spoke, his voice deep and menacing, "You can't hide for long. There's no way out of the maze. I'll be back for you."
He picked up the villager, tossed him over his shoulder as if he weighed nothing and headed back the way he'd come.
Iolaus closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He couldn't take on that thing by himself. He had to get back to Hercules. The back of his head still throbbed from the fight earlier in the evening, he willed the pain away. He pushed it to the back of a long line to troubles.
"I'm getting too old and settled for this. You wanted adventure, Iolaus, well, you got one, a big, black, hairy one. You've gotten yourself in over your head this time, shoulda stayed on the farm. Cabbages don't try to kill ya."
He opened his eyes and looked around cautiously before heading down the tunnel opposite of the direction the monster had taken.
The maze of tunnels did seem endless. Iolaus looked for something to fight with, a rock, a stick, anything. There was nothing. Twice he heard the creature's lumbering steps and went in the opposite direction at the next intersection.
Iolaus had the vague impression he was being herded somewhere. He continued slipping from niche to niche and intersection to intersection. Constantly listening for the slightest sound that would give the creature away.
Iolaus stood a moment at an intersection of tunnels, listening. There was no sound from any direction. He sniffed the air trying to determine which direction the freshest air came from. He made his decision and risked a peek around the corner, only to be roughly grabbed and lifted bodily around the corner. His back slammed against the rock wall. He had no leverage, his feet didn't reach the floor. He struggled fiercely but the creature held firm. Iolaus reached up and tried to find a hand hold on the wall for leverage. He felt furiously. The rock above his head was loose.
"You've given me a lot of trouble, friend of Hercules. If I didn't need you alive for the moment, you'd regret it."
"I don't think so. Besides, I think there's some trouble in me yet."
Iolaus braced himself against the wall and kicked. The monster released him. Iolaus hung on the rock and his weight pulled it free. As he dropped to the floor, Iolaus hurled the rock as hard as he could. It glanced off the creature's head and Iolaus ran hearing the screams of pain and outrage behind him.
"Run, feet, run!"
Iolaus tried to remember his path, a left, then right, another right, then left again. Soon, it all jumbled up in his mind. He stopped a moment to catch his breath fully expecting the monster to materialize right in front of him. He leaned against the wall breathing deeply and sincerely hoping he wasn't going in circles. He noticed a mark on the cave floor. It was fresh, like someone was leaving a trail to mark the way out.
"Hercules," his hope soared. But which direction was the way out? "Doesn't matter, Iolaus, one way takes you out, the other takes you to Hercules."
Iolaus followed the trail in the direction he'd been heading. He came to the next intersection and there were two trails, one going each direction.
"Well, this is just great. Now which way?"
He stood pondering and heard a sound down one tunnel. Slowly, stealthily, he moved into the tunnel. Voices.
Hercules' voice shouting, "Where are you? Show yourself, coward!"
And the creature replying, "You'll see me soon enough."
The creature was between himself and Hercules. Iolaus slid back down the tunnel intending to find a way around to Herc. As he rapidly back-tracked down the tunnels, he kept taking lefts thinking this should bring him around behind Hercules, but he never seemed to get there.
Instead, Iolaus emerged in a large cavern with stalactites and stalagmites hanging from the ceiling and thrusting up from the floor. Along the far wall were a row of cocoon-like things. Iolaus wrinkled his nose in distaste. They looked like something a giant wasp might build. He moved closer to inspect them. They were man-sized. A sick feeling churned in his stomach, he realized what they must contain. He started backing out of the room. A sharp pain lit the back of his head and sparkles danced in front of his eyes.
His knees buckled, but he didn't fall. The creature was supporting him. He fought the blackness that threatened to engulf him. He was vaguely aware of a slimy substance being smeared over his face. His vision blurred. He couldn't move. He tried to will his legs to kick and his arms to fight, but his body wouldn't respond. He felt himself picked up like a rag doll and stuffed into a cocoon.
"No! Not this!" His mind screamed as the hole was walled in. The terror of being helplessly buried alive returned full force. He was completely paralyzed, his screams unvoiced and unheard until the darkness descended.
Suddenly, he was aware of cool air and light. He could breath again, but his eyes refused to focus. Shapes, he could see shapes. Moving shapes. What was happening?
Then, Hercules was standing before him holding him up. Where was the monster? Iolaus jerked looking frantically around.
"It's OK. Iolaus, it's alright. He's dead. Come on, let's get the rest out."
"Where's your father?" Iolaus asked.
"Oh, he's probably headed home. Same thing you and I should be doing."
"Yeah, let's get out of here."
"And get you a bath."
"What you don't like me all covered in muck and gook?"
"I don't mind you covered in it. It's the smell."
"Just think of the smell as being part of the adventure."
"I'm going to adventure you right into a lake."
"You just try it, friend."
"Still think you can take me, huh?"
Continue with the next story in this challenge.
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