'No!' Tayna exclaimed, 'he got away!' Suddenly, the cavern began to tremble, up above stalactites began to crack, and one landed just inches from her feet. Seconds later, shots of light appeared from nowhere, hitting the walls and breaking pieces away, when they touched with the captured soldiers, they also disappeared. The damage done, stalactites began to fall all around, one fell to the middle of the circle and scattered them all.
'And on that note,' said Paradam seriously, 'we should take our leave. Everybody out, down the tunnel, go!'
'Faculty, are there any others left inside?' Bosrold barked to the passing professors as they hurried up the steps out of the main cavern. Erin stopped to answer.
'We found Lady Almara, we sent her to the surface straight away. The Avaric twins are safe, Laguna too.'
Bosrold turned to Paradam, 'sir, any that you know of?'
Paradam hesitated, looking around, then shook his head, 'no. Now, quickly, this place is going to cave in.' He pushed Will along, Tayna and Anala joining them and Bosrold in the last group out. Last out of the cavern, Will turned back, gazing over the crumbling remains, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw one grille that remained firmly closed, and he could have sworn that a young, bony hand reached out into the open.
'Will! Hurry!' called Tayna, grabbing him and pulling him out before he could verify what he'd seen.
The rest of the professors were far ahead, the five of them hurried down the tunnel, Will clutching his arm to his chest. He heard a loud rumbling over head, felt soil crumble on his head, looking up just as earth dislodged and began to fall onto him. Then, it stopped, hovering just above, he looked and saw that Tayna's sylphs were holding up the soil, their ethereal forms using the air to hold it away from him. It gave Will a few crucial seconds to jump out of the way before they let go and the path back was blocked forever.
He refused to let the rage that Taksony and Sapphire had escaped hinder him, he pushed it to the back of his mind as they reached the intersection of tunnels that Will had been left broken in. He had never seen further than this, and he saw how the tunnel led up to ground, he'd never realised that just above him was a stairwell, made from stone slabs fixed into an ascending swirl in the earth. Only now, the tremors in the earth had caused many to fall, leaving stones so far apart that it was impossible to climb to the surface.
'What do we do?' asked Anala, 'that was our only way out.'
'We're not finished yet,' said Tayna confidently. 'Anala, you transform, I'll get the rest of us up there.' Anala nodded, spinning with her cloak encasing her, changing her into a golden eagle which flew high to the top and through into the light. 'Everybody get close,' Tayna ordered. Paradam did so, holding Will to his side, Bosrold obeyed also, but seemed annoyed that a student was directing him.
Tayna stood in one part of the circle, raising her arm and saying in her magickal voice, 'sylpha.'
Four sylphs materialised around them, their limbs floating eerily like on strings.
'Your orders, princess?' asked one, the tornado around her legs revolving gently.
Tayna smiled, 'take us skyward.' The sylphs nodded, and moved towards the four of them. Will felt the cold touch of their hands under his arms, and suddenly felt very light. He looked down and saw that he was ascending upwards, the ground drifting further away, they gained speed as the walls of the stairwell began to crumble, debris in the form of earth and dislodged slabs began to rain down on them. The sylphs avoided it all expertly, and Will gazed up at the sunlight with a joy as if he thought he would never see it again.