Finding an ExitMature

I can't believe it. I just can't believe it.

Falcon is almost crying with joy as he holds Eternal close to him. It's been so long since he's seen her and every day has felt as though something was missing. Now, in a few split seconds she has appeared again, normal and no longer about to disappear from his life again.

Life scampers over and kneels beside her sister, flinging her arms around her neck.

"You're back!" she squeaks. "You're back, you're back, you're back!"

Drake, Peg and Lopez move up behind Life, Drake grinning at the look of elation on Life's little face. Even Eternal manages a weak grin as Falcon pulls her gently to her feet, standing close as she leans into him for support. It's over, he thinks, finally this whole ordeal is over.

"Home it is then." he says, giving Eternal's shoulders a gentle squeeze. "But how do we get there?"

"We could teleport." Life sugguets. Drake shakes his head.

"No. Eternal's too weak for that, the transition must have taken a lot of strength out of her. Falcon doesn't know how to use his power yet either, we have no idea where we could end up, and it would be incredibly difficult for you to take all of us at once."

"We could fly." suggests Peg. "If you and I shifted, could we fit everyone on?"

"Perhaps, but there's no space to try in here. We'll have to get out of the mountain first, which shouldn't be too hard. There ought to be a way out around here somewhere..."

Falcon looks around, hoping to find the strange black-masked creatures that lead them here. However, they too seem to have vanished with the devil, leaving them alone in the crystal-lit cavern. Lopez begins to prowl around the walls, sniffing for signs of a gap. Finally, beneath a mighty stalagtite, he finds a small opening. Deciding that that will have to do, Life leads the way into the gap, squeaking slightly at the closeness of it. Drake follows Life in, and Falcon pushes Eternal in after him, with himself and Lopez bringing up the rear.

The claustrophobia is almost unbelievable. Falcon scarcely has enough room to move his elbows as they crawl like worms through the tunnel, his knees scraping painfully on the rough floor. Behind him, Lopez utters a curse and Life keeps up a steady stream of squeaks and yelps ahead of them.

"Who the hell did they make this bleeding exit for?" Falcon asks. "They must think everyone who comes in here is a midget!"

Eternal chuckles, but the laughter is soon followed by a coughing fit. She stops momentarily, breathing hard, before continuing. Falcon curses the confines of the tunnel, wishing he could move ahead and help her. Finally the tunnel begins to grow lighter and slants upwards. Falcon breaths a sigh of relief, hoping at last that they can get out of the dark and the cold. It's been far too long since he's seen the surface and after all their misadventures in the mountain he can't wait to be out.

He smiles slightly, thinking of his friends back in the forest around Blaze castle. He can almost see the looks of shock on their faces when he and his friends return. Falcon thinks of his children, doubtless still waiting for them, and Dane, probably looking forward to throttling him. He wonders if events at the castle have changed, whether or not Frost has launched another attack. Falcon's stomach clenches, they'll have to move out fast when they get back. Frost won't be long in delaying an attack, he knows it.

"How far to the top?" he calls up. "Are we almost out of these god-forsaken caves yet? I don't think my elbows can take much more of this!"

The End

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