The sky started to grow lighter as morning approached. Suddenly Arnol and Archean heard a commotion from back in the tunnel, and cries echoed around the walls. “The beasts must have somehow gotten inside the tunnel,” Arnol exclaimed. “You must go, now!”
“Make sure everyone survives until I get back,” Archean said. With that he left the cave, and finding a way down a steep slope he disappeared over the edge of the cliff. Arnol watched him go, then turned back around to face the cave. Now wasn’t the time to be worrying about whether Archean would bring back help in time, but to do his part in the meantime to help his people survive.
Suddenly Arnol heard a cry of pain from behind him, and almost without thinking he went and looked over the edge where Archean had gone. He saw him down below, wincing and holding his leg. His cry had also alerted a nearby beast who was charging up the slope from below. Arnol watched helplessly, knowing he would never get to him before the beast did.
Then seemingly out of nowhere several other figures leaped. One killed the beast with a quick spear thrust. The others looked like they were about to kill Archean, then they stopped suddenly as if realizing he wasn’t a beast. Arnol stared down at the creatures in surprise. They reminded him of the elves, but they were clearly very different creatures. Short and stocky, they had long droopy ears and ugly, wrinkled faces. They wore tattered leather garments and carried an assortment of weapons. They seemed to be arguing and quarreling among themselves as they pointed at Archean and prodded him with spear-points. Arnol almost ran down to meet them, overjoyed as he was that they had saved Archean, but something about them seemed unsavory. They picked up the wounded mortal, who was still holding his leg painfully, and disappeared with him behind some rocks. Arnol could tell they weren’t trying at all to be delicate with his injury. One of them grabbed hold firmly to his injured leg, lifting it carelessly over the creature’s shoulder, and Archean cried out with a renewed jolt of pain.
Arnol waited hesitantly outside the cave, unsure at first of what to do. Then suddenly, as if he was inspired by some outside source, he knew what he had to do. Archean had been taken by the strange creatures, and even if they let him go Arnol was sure he wouldn’t be able to run due to his injured leg. But the creatures hadn’t spotted Arnol, and an open path lay before him. He didn’t know what was happening in the cave behind him, or what the others were doing. But he had a chance to get away, and he might be the only one who could escape and bring back help. He realized it was up to him to make the journey to the city of the Immortals. Without a backward glance he scurried down the slope as the sun rose and daylight sprang into the sky.