This time I laughed. Long and heartily. Until tears came down my cheeks and my gut hurt. How long had it been?! By God, the ecstasy of true mirth, that was something!
Ha ha ha!
My fervent and loud appreciation of the comedic scene in passing reverberated along the granite walls, twisting through miles of absolute black, rebounding from surface to surface until it burst rippling into a space the sie of a small cathedral. My ears are sharp and attuned to the things of darkness and I heard a storm of wings. The fools, currently engaged in their own moment of high drama, knew nothing of what was to befall them.
"Hector! Hector, damn you!" Nancy screamed, running her hands along his brute bulk, trying to push him over and maybe salvage some spark, some desperate glowing ember, cursing Amy, cursing Hector, cursing Lady Luck. Amy lost her resolve and let loose the wetworks again. Her hands scrambled for the cross and scepter, and if it had been light, would have been white-knuckled when she found them, to be clutched talismanically against her small breasts. "Uh? Snork! NNNNRG!" That was Hector, who regained consciousness and felt the burn, so to say, along his spine, which was so instrumental in extinguishing their lifeline.
There are wings of all sizes, small and large, in this cloistered underworld and most of them are tasting the foetid air, beating against it powerfully, creating a roar like an underground river. I smiled and melted against a natural niche in the wall.
A string of sparks tattooed the darkness as Hector and Nancy frantically attempted to beat back the dark. A hot flame burst into life and a whoop tore itself from Nancy's throat. Hector sat on his rump, dizzy, adjusting to the gloom. His eyes saw something moving towards them and widened into saucers of horror. "Nan-" he started, to be promptly gagged by a small bat. Amy screamed. Nancy made a pitiful, frenzied attempt at attack with her ineffectual rapier. The horde came, with its terrible noise.The light was extinguished once more.
In the early days of childhood, one learned life was a cruel and difficult and cold world, and during times of hardship, a deep survival instinct drew the limbs to the torso to shrink to a point, as if one could wink out of existence. It was this instinct that gripped the trio as they weathered this nightmare of wings. They drowned in its stink. Its sound was worse than the roar of a river. And in unfortunate Hector's case, he could taste it. Digging through palpable moisture, claws and talons razed every exposed surface of flesh. When the final, straggling bat expired into the night sky, the hatch slammed shut. The party heard this very clearly, and in this, the implications were implicit, indeed. Any hope of return was dashed, and their only choice was to forge on.
The torch was lit with less effort this time. The panic had strained out the paranoia and it was difficult for them to conceive of any other horror at the moment. "What is this crap, Nancy?" Hector asked, swiping at his arms. Amy was a babe, oblivious to everything but the warmth generated by her thighs against her belly, the arms wrapped around the shins, and the knees in the eye cavities. Nancy stood up. "Guano," she snarled.
I laughed, that sweet mirth revisiting me once more on this night, and I dearly hoped it woudn't be the last I would see of it. Hearing this, Hector waved his sword at fork number one and spun on his heels and waved his sword at fork number two.