When you have a homicidal magical janitor walking toward you, you don’t really take the time to think of the best possible course of action. Then again, it’s not like I had that many options. I could have waited to see what he would do, but the answer to that probably involved me being wiped from the face of reality with a giant broom. I could have tried to run around him and take my chances in the giant maze of caverns, but even if I made it out of the city alive, I would have spent the next who knows how many hours being stalked in the dark by someone who seemed to have an uncanny knack for finding me. I could have ran back the way I came, jumped into the portal and hoped for the best, but that…just seemed stupid, for obvious reasons.
Looking back, it wouldn’t have mattered in the end. No one could have stopped what happened next.
What I didn’t know at the time was that Scoria had managed to avoid being annihilated by the broom of doom. He may he lived his whole existence underground, but he knew when a fight was unwinnable. Instead, he had taken a hidden side passageway that led around the main chamber and out into the surrounding tunnel system. It was a path that only he knew, one that he had carved himself over time, slowly and quietly. It led to a small enclosure, far away from any form of civilization. Scoria had made sure of that.
Years ago, Scoria had visited God by himself and came across a bizarre sight. Rather than a normal landscape like God usually showed, the night it was just a large black void, spread out across the whole room. But, although the void looked empty, Scoria could tell that there was something deep inside, invisible and out of reach. He had stared, transfixed, as something began to emerge from the blackness, pushing its way through as if submerged in a thick sludge. Then, with a pop, it fell to the cave floor. The object rolled to Scoria’s feet and left a faint smoldering trail on the ground. It was small and hard, like a pill, but it was jet black with a faint swirl of red.
God had given Scoria a gift.
Back in Scoria’s hideaway, the gift had grown slightly over time. Not by much…but enough for Scoria to know that it wasn’t just a normal object. He had never truly understood what God intended him to do with it though. Was he supposed to eat it? Protect it? Was it an egg? A capsule? A lucky talisman?
So far from God’s protection, Scoria had always been careful to keep his head covering on and his mouth closed. Most people of the city simply followed God’s orders without question, even though no one could trace their origin. Scoria didn’t need to know the reason; he just obeyed.
But now, with his people slaughtered and two strangers loose in the city, he knew that the time had come to bring forth the hidden nature of God’s gift, whatever it was.
Scoria removed his helmet, and the tiny, pitch-black item, kept in secret for so long, began to vibrate.
Which brings us back to me. As I said before, I had no idea that any of that other stuff was going on. I just wanted to get the hell away from the creepy old guy with the magic powers. Unfortunately, he moved faster that I would have ever imagined.
He grabbed my wrist.
I took a step back.
And all hell broke loose.
Multiple things happened simultaneously, so I couldn’t really tell you exactly what happened first, but I’ll try to work it out. First of all, a white blur slammed into the Janitor, shoving him away while knocking me to the ground in the process. I almost didn’t get a good look, but the size and shape of the blur was familiar enough. Harold has returned.
Second, but simultaneously, a nearby wall practically exploded, and a giant hulking beast emerged, growling with rage. It was tall and skinny, with long claws that dragged across the ground, but the red, meaty exterior was just as familiar a sight as Harold. Whatever this thing was, it had some close family ties to the Minotaur. It too went straight for the Janitor.
Meanwhile, I attempted to catch myself before I hit the ground, which was harder than it seemed due to the fact that my left arm was gone.
That can’t be right.
But as I fell face first into the dirt, the numbness on the side of my body confirmed it. From my elbow onwards…there was nothing. No blood, no gore, just…nothing, as if I had never had a lower arm in the first place.
Inches from my head, Harold, the Janitor and Minotaur 2 had entered a three-way battle royal.
Then it got worse.