Alyssa unhesitatingly stepped behind Eliana and was closely followed by Raynold and Diana. Alice hung back, unsure of the wisdom in going into the blackness that seemed to breathe danger. Gliefs could be in there, Alice thought and gulped. I really wish that I had brought a flashlight with me. Of course that was the one thing Alyssa and I forgot to pack.
Suddenly, a head popped out of the darkness. Alice shrieked and jumped backwards, shielding her face with her arms.
“Relax,” she heard her sister say. “It’s just me. Be quiet or the gliefs will hear you and come to investigate.”
Alice cracked her eyes open and met her sister’s. “Don’t do that again,” she said angrily. “You nearly gave me a heart attack!”
Alyssa gave her a lopsided grin. “Sorry, but we were all waiting for you in the tunnel, and I thought you might be hesitant, so I came back to get you and tell you that it’s alright. Eliana promises that no gliefs know about her tunnel.”
“Still,” Alice shuddered, “don’t do that again.”
“I won’t,” Alyssa promised impatiently. “Now come on!”
Gingerly, Alice took her sister’s offered hand and together they stepped into the pitch black tunnel.
“Are we almost there?” Alice whispered, her voice echoing strangely in the darkness.
“Hush,” Eliana replied with precaution. “There are hundreds of thousands of gliefs beyond these walls. Do you want them to hear us?”
Alice shook her head, then remembering that Eliana couldn’t see her said “no.”
“Very well then, be patient. There’s a turn up ahead, from then on, no one can utter so much as a cough. You will all even need to keep your breathing as quiet as possible. Gliefs have extremely good ears. Thankfully, their sight is horrible, and their smelling even worse. If ever you come face to face with a glief, the best thing to do is freeze. If you don’t move, chances are, they won’t find you.”
During these instructions, Eliana had been making her way stealthily forward, and soon everyone began to realize that they could actually see some of their surroundings.
“Where is the light coming from?” Raynold wondered aloud.
Eliana turned to him with a faint smile that they could all see. “We’re nearing our destination.” She paused and leaned against the wall, her ear pressed hard against it. A minute of absolute silence ticked by. She aroused herself suddenly and put a finger to her lips. The others obeyed. Stepping lightly, Eliana made her way to a bend in the tunnel only a few feet in front of the adventurers. Glancing back at the others, she beckoned them closer, but again gave them the unneeded warning to stay silent.
One by one, they all got a chance to peek around the stone. The sight before them almost, almost made them gasp in awe, but they remembered the gliefs good hearing not a moment too soon.
Around the corner was a room, brightly lit by a stone sitting in the center of it. The stone itself was no bigger than a ping-pong ball, but it illumined the cave with all the brightness of ten lanterns. There didn’t appear to be anything in the cave but the stone, however, Eliana seemed to know something that the others didn’t, for she continued to stand behind the safety of the rock wall.
Why can’t we just take it? Alyssa thought, frowning in puzzlement. Isn’t that why she brought us here?
Finally, Eliana seemed to make a decision with herself and stepped carefully around the corner. But the minute she placed a foot down, a giant glief dropped from the ceiling. Eliana froze, as did the others, mostly safe behind the rock. A few breathless minutes passed, though to them it seemed as if hours dragged by, before the glief stopped peering around the cave and crept back up into whatever cubby hole in the ceiling it had jumped from.
Eliana carefully lifted her foot from the ground, stepped backwards, and pulled the others with her to a safer place in the tunnel. “I thought it was safe,” she explained. “Usually the stone is guarded by more gliefs and I can see them. This time the glief surprised me by jumping down like that. It must have heard my footstep.”
Alice looked incredulous. “Your footstep?” She asked in disbelief.
Eliana gave her a wavering smile, still visibly shaken from the close call. “I told you they had good hearing,” she said.
“How can we get the stone then?” Raynold pressed.
Eliana sighed. “The lightest person will have to creep up to the stone.”
“Which of us is the lightest?” Diana asked.
Alice and Alyssa locked eyes and exchanged a knowing look before glancing at Diana. “You are,” Alyssa said.
“I am?!” Diana gasped.
“We knew this was going to happen…” Alice said.
“… so we made you the lightest,” Alyssa finished.
Diana groaned. “Are you two trying to get me killed? First you plan on having me get kidnapped by a glief, and now you two make me the lightest one so that I have to go get the stone!” She sank onto the rough floor and buried her face in her hands. “I hate being your character,” she mumbled.
Alyssa sighed and sat down next to her friend. “Look,” she began earnestly, “we’re not trying to kill you. I can’t tell you about how this ends, because you can’t know as a character. You’ll have to trust us.”
Diana slowly raised her head. “Fine,” she said. “I’ll go and get the stone. But you had better not do anything else weird to me.”
Alyssa smiled. “I’ll try not to,” she answered.
“You’d better do more than try,” Diana muttered darkly.
Eliana nodded. “Now that is settled,” she spoke in relief, “follow me Diana and I’ll help you get the stone.”
Glumly, Diana followed Eliana and soon the two were out of sight beyond the corner of rock.
Alyssa stood up and looked at her sister. “How’s the book?” She asked feverishly.
“We’ve got to get writing!” Alice whispered back. “I managed to change her mind by writing down that stuff, but the only other thing written is how she and Eliana reach the stone.”
Alyssa gave her sister a quick nod, and then the two of them worked on the story, Alice rushing to keep up with her sister’s flow of words. Raynold kept watch over them, but he also kept an ear open to the whispers and marveled at how well they wrote.
Suddenly, Eliana and Diana came running back down the tunnel. Gulping in air to catch their breath, they both stopped in front of the startled authors and Raynold.
“I… got… the… stone…” Diana gasped out between breaths. “But…”
“The gliefs are after us! We must fly!” Eliana finished.
With widened eyes, the sister’s and Raynold saw the huge shadows growing ever closer, screaming in rage, to prove Eliana’s statement right.
“Where do we go?” Alice asked wildly.
“Follow me!” Eliana said.
Without any hesitation this time, they did so.