“Sean!” It was Kyle who broke the silence. He’d gone pale and was staring at the spot where Sean had been standing only moments before. “D-did he… why…” He broke off with a sob and glared at the glowing gate. “Damn, I wish I could destroy you!” He gasped in a few breaths and waved his hand, releasing the others. “We’ll just have to find some other way to rein you in.” He turned towards the exit, clearly intending to leave.
The Core made a shrieking sound and fired another blast at him and Darya. Both of them attempted to jump out of the way but this time, neither was fast enough. The blast ripped through Kyle’s shield with only slightly more difficulty than it had Sean’s.
The double scream clawed at Karen’s nerves as she closed her eyes tightly in an attempt to stop her tears. As the echo of the screaming faded, Karen opened her eyes cautiously and immediately wished she hadn’t.
Kyle and Darya had left bodies, it seemed. They were lying together at the centre of the chamber and there was blood everywhere. She steeled herself and walked over to Kyle, reaching down to feel for a pulse – there was none. She looked at the others who were gathering around her and shook her head.
It’s lucky for you creatures that I still need you, the Core said. But I can’t have you talking about what happened. A roaring noise filled Karen head and the world faded to black.
When Kyle came to, he was lying on something soft and the scent of something delicious was tickling his nose. His stomach rumbled at the smell but he didn’t open his eyes. Instead, he lay there trying to work out where he was and how he’d got there. The last thing he remembered, the Core had killed Sean and had been trying to kill him and Darya… Darya!
“I’m right here,” his heart friend said.
Kyle opened his eyes cautiously and found Darya seated beside the bed he was lying in. The delicious smell was coming from a covered bowl sitting on the table next to him. His stomach rumbled again at the sight but he forced himself to deal with more important questions first.
“Why aren’t we dead?” He paused and looked at his heart friend. “Why are you wearing goblin silk?” He sat up and looked around. The room he was in was decorated with water themed tapestries and had no windows. He had the distinct impression they were underground. “Where is this?”
“Eat your stew and I’ll tell you everything – though I think you’ll be mad at me,” Darya said.
“Why, did you make a deal with a dragon to save me or something?” he said jokingly, then frowned when Darya looked away guiltily. “You mean you did? I don’t feel any dragons nearby.”
“The room is warded.” He seemed surprised that Kyle wasn’t yelling at him. To be honest, Kyle was surprised himself. “Like I said, eat your food and I’ll tell you the whole story. He says there’s no strings and he’ll get us back to Earth if we want.”
“And the unicorn you mentioned confirmed this?” Kyle asked as he took the lid of the bowl to reveal an appetizing looking stew – it even had vegetables in it.
“She did… and that the stew isn’t poisoned.”
“Hmm… I suppose you’d better tell me the whole story then. We can’t make a decision without both of us having all the facts.” He picked up the spoon and began to eat.