Hector Gets Hurt

The party determined Nancy's pathfinding skills to be supreme and allowed her to chose the passage that veered to the right. They progressed for hundreds of yards, Amy crowding Hector while he held aloft the torch. Nancy strode forward, her rapier at the ready.

Knowing these caves like I do the back of my hand in absolute darkness, I awaited with bated breath the next slapstick scene the trio was sure to enact with complete virtuosity, for the next obstacle would be interesting. The troglobionts were the descendents of the original island dwellers who fled into the cave systems when my brother and I visited our scourge upon their farms and villages. Inbred and subsisting on a smorgasboard of blind creatures and mildly phosphorescent fungi, they were a cantankerous lot and subject to territorial wars. My brother and I sometimes find a youth, their blood is sweeter, and snack upon it. As I sank into a reverie of the olden days when we would drive the terrified folken like cattle, Hector emitted a blood-curdling scream.

Nancy swung around so fast she almost impaled her giant friend. Hector's mildly Asian features contorted under a sheen of sweat as he hopped about on one foot. The torch guttered on the ground and Amy bent to pick it up, feeling a bit safer near its warmth. "What the hell!" demanded Nancy. "My foot! Something bit me!" Hector sobbed. A moist green glow crept into the vicinity of sensation. Upon closer inspection, his foot was indeed injured, specifically missing the big toe. Hector collapsed. A smell of mildew flooded the nostrils. Amy leaped to his side, clumsily singeing the hairs upon his right side and his ear. He made noises resembling mating hogs. A wet moan massaged the ear drums. Nancy looked up first. They were rubbery, sallow green things slowly ambling against each other like undulant water plants. They were blind, the orifice that couldn't be properly called a mouth filled with sharp teeth and a constant emission of noise. They employed a rudimentary echolocation, and it was in this way they located Nancy. The troglobionts launched themselves at Nancy, faster than they seemed.

I watched the battle, contemplating how much mirth has visited me at this day, and how much I could expect before my reservoir was filled. Nancy was berating Hector for not assisting with battling these murderous glowing things, and Hector was retorting that the violent removal of a toe was much more painful and decapitating than it would seem. Amy, as a consequence of Nancy's earlier admonishments, allied herself with Hector and doted upon him like a mother. All this in the flickering, unreliable light of frantic one-sided battle. I sighed, contented.

"She doesn't understand my feelings," Hector was complaining."She thinks I am too sensitive. At the Siege of Skulljamb, Nancy was at the brink of death and I fought for hours, driving the reanimated dead from where she lay so she would not become one of them." Hector sobbed into his hands. "Nancy doesn't appreciate me!" Amy circled her small arms around his bulk the best she could, laying her cheek on his massive biceps. She murmured at him. Nancy sidestepped the troglobiont who was abruptly without a head. She lurched forward and severed with surgical precision the main arteries of the next one in line. "Bloody useless bunch!" Nancy spun into the air, a lethal whirligig rendering slaughter artistic as greenish bile and blood sprayed the walls with Bollockian conceit. "As always women have to work and watch over the man and the child." She savagely vented her anger on the thirteenth troglobiont, her rapier weaving a web of glints in the firelight and left it in pieces of which a culinary chef would be proud. The monsters, perhaps perceiving the unlucky denomination numbering their dead, retreated in the darkness, their mutant glow seeming to linger for a long moment.

I applauded in a languid manner, the collision of my palms sending sharp cracks outward, into the tiny fissures and cracks veining the entire cave system. Dust and pebbles clattered to the ground. Oh, I didn't tell you? It's a miner's nightmare here.

The End

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