Eversio, without addressing me, started walking towards the hollow in the wall. I followed, having to walk quickly to keep up with his longer strides.
As soon as I got to the doorway (if you could call it that) I stepped back in shock. Eversio kept walking, not bothering to look back.
It was like the feeling of being hesitant to step on the escalator, times a thousand. The doorway opened into an empty black void (no walls or anything) and some flat stones were floating in mid-air to create a makeshift staircase.
The light of Eversio's torch was disappearing rapidly around the corner, so I had to swallow down my anxiety and step onto the first step.
The stone sunk a little under my weight and wobbled when I did, but if I walked fast enough the effect was less noticeable.
"Hey, slow down!" I called, trying to follow the meager light while maintaining my footing.
"Death waits for no one." Eversio replied, "And if he doesn't, I don't see why I should. He's a total prick."
"What happens if I fall?" I asked with uncertainty, feeling adrenaline pumping into my system as my foot almost slipped.
Eversio laughed and the sound reverberated in the emptiness.
We'd been walking an eternity when I started to slow down, huffing and puffing with the effort. It was some serious cardio, let me tell you.
"How much farther?" I asked in a whiny voice, wiping imaginary sweat from my forehead.
"These stairs are endless." Eversio replied, yawning.
"What?" I asked incredulously, "Then...then why on earth are we climbing them?"
"You're entering the Underworld for the first time. You have to pass some...tests to be allowed in."
"What kind of a test is this, then?" I asked, "I would rather be doing algebra!"
Eversio muttered something unintelligible about 'a loser' before replying.
"You have to prove that you're unafraid of the trials that lie ahead of you."
I furrowed my brows together.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
I could see Eversio shrugging.
"I don't know, it was in the manual. Hasn't been revised in a while."
He stopped, turning around on the step and throwing his torch down to our right.
It seemed to fall infinitely, until it skittered onto what sounded like stone and I could see a arched doorway on the ground beside it.
"Yes!" Eversio exclaimed quietly, "First throw!"
I stared at him, before talking a moment later.
"Um, if you don't mind me asking, why is there a fancy hole in the ground way down there?"
He pulled a silver pocketwatch out of his breast pocket, clicking it open and sighing.
"You have to jump into it. And if you take longer than thirty seconds, I'm going to push you myself."
"Oh, come on." I muttered, "Is that really necessary?"
"25 seconds. And believe me, it is. I've had to wait years for people to get it together."
I stood, shifting from foot to foot, staring down at the impossibly distant doorway.
"What if I miss it?"
Time seemed to stretch out and then speed up, and I bit my lip nervously. It was a long way down. And...contrary to what I liked to believe, I was not that good with heights.
I shut my eyes and prepared to jump.
Just before launching myself into the void I stopped, opening my eyes.
This was hard.
I sat down on the rock and, crossing my fingers, pushed myself off.