Lava can be the pits!
‘Aaaah!’ screamed Ghost as he fell.
‘Ahhhhh you bloody idiot!’ hissed Johnny.
Davina said nothing. She was focusing.
‘Ahhhhhhhh!’ screamed Ghost. ‘We’re all going to die!’ he wailed, closing his eyes.
The bubbling lava loomed closer.
‘Would you shut up I’m concentrating!’ said Davina.
Ghost made a small ahh… and then stopped. ‘We’ve been falling for ages.’
The group made a sudden jolt mid-air.
‘This is weird… We don’t really seem to be falling anywhere,’ said Johnny rotating in the air. ‘We are suspended, but not falling any distance. It’s as if we’re caught on a warm air current.’
Davina chanted with her eyes closed.
‘Davina are you making this happen?’ asked Ghost.
Davina nodded and continued chanting.
Ghost took a deep breath and coughed; the smell of rotten egg was stronger than ever. ‘Was that you too – you know that smell?’
‘Ghost would you please be quiet! Do you want to be burned alive?’
‘Mooo—dy!’ he said and folded his arms.
Johnny shook his head at Ghost. He was growing more aggravating as time went on.
Ghost rotated and faced the wall.
In the silence, Davina mustered enough energy to increase the wind. She used the heat from the lava and mixed it with all the available air she could draw in from the surrounding area. If she combined a cold air current and a warm air current she could create the perfect convection current and lift the group to her father.
A cool gust raced from the iced lands. The cool air would limit the Grote’s motion and slow the hatching of the eggs. Why else would eggs be incubated in the warmth of an underground warren?
Ghost shivered, ‘Davina what are you doing? It’s getting cold in here.’
Davina didn’t respond; she was focused on combining the two types of air. From below, a gust of warm air launched the group upwards. ‘Ghost when you get close to that platform grab it,’ said Davina.
‘Stop asking questions and do what I say!’
Ghost hated being told what to do, so ignored her.
Davina and Johnny reached out for the platform and swung themselves on. Ghost blew past and collided with the main root the platform was dangling from. Ghost grabbed what he could and wrapped his legs around it. Unfortunately, it began to creak. That could only mean one thing.
Davina looked up, her eyes narrowed. Ghost was hanging from the main root and the additional weight on the platform was causing strain. She considered helping him, but if he couldn’t follow simple instructions… and time was running out.
Surrounding the edge of the pit, the newly born Grotes were growing at an accelerated rate. Could it get any worse? Yes. The root carrying the platform was splintering.
Davina, even though weak, scrambled over to her unconscious father.
Johnny already stood over him staring. ‘I can’t believe it. Your father really is half Liongoyle and half human. How’s that possible?’
‘But why aren’t you…’ Johnny trailed off.
Davina shrugged, ‘I don’t know… I’m sure there must have once been many like us, but we have dwindled over time. He must be part of the Liongoyles.’
Davina knelt by her father and stroked his hair. ‘Father?’
He didn’t respond.
Davina trembled, he had been tortured and then tethered. His arms were pinned by glowing metal shackles and his legs were bound with glowing red lights. Davina stood up, tapped the Shamaventus and pointed at the bracelets. ‘We release him.’
With that, an unusual mix of insects were released and chewed through the metallic cuffs. By his feet/paws, white lights engulfed the red lights until they were absorbed.
Crack! Davina looked up.
Ghost clung to the root with a helpless look on his face. Time was not on her side. Davina had to resuscitate her father – fast. She rummaged through her bag, grabbed some readymade algae and pasted it into his mouth. ‘The Chimera’s been starving him,’ she said glancing at Johnny. ‘The Rebis egg has been consuming his remaining life force to grow the Grotes.’
Her father did not respond. Once his hands were free, she arranged them in a more comfortable position. With a sigh, a heavy lump formed in her throat. Her father’s arms were so limp they were practically dead.
‘Davina I think we might have to face the fact he could well be dead,’ said Johnny.
‘No he can’t be dead! He mustn’t be dead!’ she said desperately. ‘We have to save him!’
Davina sobbed and placed her head on his chest. There was a slight murmur of a heartbeat. If that was all there was then she needed to take him back to Gargantuan. She needed to take him home. Davina was just about to tap the Shamaventus when…
‘Ahhhh!’ Thwack! Ghost screamed as he fell.
When Ghost crashed down the impact forced the root to snap. The platform plummeted.
Davina dropped to the floor and clung on. As she did so the Shamaventus skidded to the edge of the platform. Frantically she reached the edge of the platform and peered over. Below her the bubbling lava pit was rushing towards them. Davina focused her mind to summon back the wind into the cavern. Could she do it when she already felt so drained?
Davina was giddy but furiously searched for a way out. Above her, the Grotes were waiting for her possible return. Below her lava bubbled. If they actually hit the lava, the platform would melt and they would all be roasted alive. Davina clutched the Shamaventus and began tapping a rhythm. She had to think bigger than simply up and down; she had to think laterally. That was it! Davina began to chant. Johnny and Ghost clung on but watched her curiously. The platform jerked into a descent.
‘Ahhhh!’ Ghost screamed.
‘We welcome a safe escape…. through the earth, here and now,’ Davina closed her eyes and concentrated all her energy on the Shamaventus. Her manifestation was answered in a way she could never have guessed.
The platform came to a standstill; the remaining warm air levelled the falling. In front of them earth was displaced from the side of the ravine to reveal a tunnel. Although there was still one more unexpected surprise waiting.
A giant mole? Ghost was the first to see it. The largest mole he had ever seen broke through the tunnel wall.
‘Hello. You called didn’t you? Anyway I will be your burrower for the duration of this journey. You will have to excuse me, but I cannot actually see you. Actually, I can’t see at all, but please join me on this journey through the ground,’ it said with a nose twitch.
‘That’s our escape?’ said Ghost staring incredulously at Davina.
‘Don’t mock me Ghost! Sometimes what you ask for can appear in a different form. Anyway, this is precisely what I asked for – a safe escape through the earth.’
‘I smell tension,’ said the giant mole with another nasal twitch.
No one said a thing.
‘So how come we’ve stopped falling?’ asked Johnny.
‘The convection current I created is maintaining us,’ said Davina.
‘So how are we going to get your father into the tunnel? He’s half-lion and made of stone. We’re not going to be able to lift him,’ asked Ghost.
Davina sighed, her body was weary and she was drained from manifesting. She tapped the Shamaventus, ‘We require a solution to carry my father safely and without exertion through the earth. We need him to be transported safely through the tunnel before me – at this time.’
The mole jumped, ‘Erm miss…’ said the mole jumping. ‘Something strange has just popped up behind me,’ he said tracing his tail over it. ‘It looks like a… well I don’t know what it looks like because I can’t see, but it feels as if it hovers.’
Davina sighed gratefully; she pointed the Shamaventus at her father. ‘We will lift my father gently and easily to the transport.’
With that an entire group of small Kobold goblins appeared and lifted his body to the edge of the platform. The cheeky group effortlessly jumped the gap and laid Davina’s father down on the transport. From what Davina could make out, the transport was a hovercraft-like-bed. All the little Kobold’s giggled and held out their hands to help Ghost, Davina and Johnny into the tunnel. ‘I would never have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own hundreds of eyes,’ said Ghost.
Davina glanced back through the tunnel at him. Her face relaxed, a feeling of relief washed over her. They had found an escape route that did not involve burning-hot lava. Davina was in deep thought when the cheeky Kobold Goblins ran the full circumference of the tunnel, at the same time, for their own entertainment. They giggled, chuckled and whooped as they did so. Then for the final finale they ran into the wall of the tunnel, waved, and then disappeared.
The atmosphere had lightened when Davina checked her father. He laid silently on the large hovering bed. The group climbed on while the large mole positioned himself in front of them.
‘It could get a bit mucky,’ he said. ‘I’m going to be flinging mud back as I dig… Sorry about that.’
Davina nodded, ‘I think we can deal with that.’
‘Incidentally where are we going?’ he asked.
‘Gargantuan,’ said Davina.
‘Ah I will be needing a waterfall then…’ replied the giant mole.
‘Erm Mr Mole there’s a harness here, do you mind if we attach it to you so that we can be pulled along?’ asked Ghost.
‘That’s fine, although you’ll have to do all the attaching because you see – I can’t see – you see.’
Davina stepped off the bed and carried the harness over to the mole.
‘What colour is it?’ he asked.
‘It’s blue and gold,’ said Davina peering at it.
‘Good I’m sure I would like those colours if I ever saw them. By the way I have been very rude and not introduced myself. My name is Monte – short for Montgomery. I think that is far nicer than simply Mr Mole.’
‘Hello Monte. I’m Davina, this is Johnny and Ghost. Oh and thank you for helping us,’ said Davina attaching the harness.
‘My pleasure,’ said Monte bashfully.
With a loud gasp, Davina glimpsed a young Grote fall past the mouth of the tunnel. It wasn’t was it? Davina darted to the edge of the tunnel and peered out. The Grotes were scaling the ravine.
‘What?’ asked Johnny.
‘They’re coming!’ Davina sprinted back to the hover-bed. ‘We have to move now! Monte would you mind racing as fast as you can?’ she asked.
‘Where to?’ asked Monte.
‘Past the desert, by the volcanoes and to the nearest waterfall please,’ she replied.
‘Not a problem, but it’s quite a distance. We’ll have to go at a terrific tunnelling pace comrades. All I can say is hold on tight! This is going to get bumpy!’
With that, Monte flexed his large, digging paws and displaced mud at an incredible rate. The first few shovels landed on Ghost, but Davina and Johnny didn’t mind. As long as they were moving it didn’t matter.
In the darkness, lit by the Shamaventus flame, Davina faced back down the tunnel. She watched the Grotes tentatively venture into the tunnel. They appeared to be stalling, trying to suss out what they should do. Davina glanced ahead; there was a wall of mud and the bed shook in all directions. The group raced forwards and mud was flung backwards filling the tunnel behind them. It would create obstacles to slow the Grotes down.
The silence amongst the group disturbed Davina. Each was caught in their own private thoughts. Johnny stared into nowhere; the reality of losing his sister had just hit him. He muttered to himself as he played the scenario over and over in his mind. There was nothing he could have done.
‘Davina, what do you think will happen to Susie? I can’t bear the thought of losing her. Especially not to them…’ said Johnny, his voice cracking.
Davina didn’t know what to say, ‘They’ll probably take her to the Chimera.’
‘And what will the Chimera do?’
‘Well there are a couple of options: she may imprison her, or she may use her as bait,’ she replied thoughtfully.
Johnny clenched his fists. ‘Davina we have to get to that… that creature. We have to do whatever it takes to get her. If she so much as lays a finger on Susie I will…’
‘First we need to get my father back to Gargantuan. We will allow him to recover and find out how we should approach this. He always says impulsive actions without due thought always ends in defeat.’ Davina choked on her words, what had she done? How had she made her decisions? Why did she only remember that now? Davina shook her head, she had been impulsive, that was her weakness.
‘But that is going to take time. We need to act now!’ said Johnny breaking her thoughts.
‘We have time, Gargantuan time is different. Plus when he is home there will be a symbiosis. His presence will feed Gargantuan and Gargantuan will give him life force… I hope,’ she said with a confused expression.
Ghost shuffled forwards, he wasn’t in Davina’s good books. ‘Davina what are you planning?’ he asked. At that precise moment, a large piece of dirt was displaced and landed on his head. ‘You know what? If I didn’t know any better I would say that I’m the only one who constantly gets hit by the flying mud,’ he said.
Davina smirked, Ghost was a good kid really. It was just he always seemed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, or be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
‘Ghost I’ll give you an idea of what I’m planning. I know you’re not going to enjoy the prospect of what’s about to happen, so remember you are free to leave at any time.’
‘Okay…’ he paused, ‘So that sounds really bad.’
‘Well I’m going to out about the Chimera from my father and then we’re going to use the Rebis egg to accelerate the growth of the Goyle armies. Then when we have grown enough I am going to call all the Goyles from around the whole world and assemble them. Once we are ready, not before, we’re all going to face the Chimera. It could get messy, so Ghost… I don’t know whether you want to be involved.’
Davina studied Ghost’s face; he was mentally churning all his options.
‘And the school?’ asked Ghost.
‘If we survive, we’ll go back to that school and make sure it’s fine,’ she said.
Davina glanced at Johnny, who was also in deep contemplation. ‘I’m going with you Davina. No matter what… I have to save my sister. I would never forgive myself if something happened to her because I was a coward.’
‘Is that what you think I am?’ said Ghost frowning.
Johnny said nothing.
‘I am not a coward! I consider self-preservation very important! Do you understand?’ said Ghost shaking with rage.
Johnny nodded, avoiding a fight.
‘I think we have other things to worry about… rather than who is a coward and who isn’t,’ said Davina. She shuffled over to her father, gazed at his pale skin and sighed. ‘Father, come on… hold on in there.’
Ghost and Johnny glanced at each other guiltily. Davina didn’t need to waste time on pointless arguments.