Hey, everyone! I know you must be wondering what happens after Misveri and Jax settle down for the night in the cold, damp cave. Well, now’s your chance to find out! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you might want to check these out:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Now you know. Here’s the end of the last part! 😀

We finally stopped in the middle of yet another dark, never-ending corridor. I ran my hands along the left wall, and they found a narrow crack, just wide enough for us to fit through. Jax went through first, and then I slipped in.

It was plain, the dark smooth walls glistening with water. It was about the size of an average bedroom, but a pool of cold, clear water in the center of the small space dominated most of the floor and largely eliminated any hope of lighting a fire for warmth in the cold cavern.

As we set up the one big sleeping bag he had brought, I thought back to what he had said. I shivered, not just with the cold. I hoped Jax was telling the truth, that the serpent couldn’t get in, because his description of it was terrifying.

A sudden thought hit me, and I glanced up at Jax. “Where am I sleeping?”

He gestured to the sleeping bag. “I hadn’t anticipated meeting you here, so I only brought one, but it’s big enough for the both of us. We’ll share, if you don’t mind.”

I nodded. “I’m good with that.”

After a small meal combining my snacks and his store of nuts, berries, and a little squirrel meat, we settled down in the sleeping bag. I fell asleep quickly.

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This is the last of Part VI. You are now reading Part VII.

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It was a dream.

I tried to tell myself that I wasn’t really there, but I was terrified for those who were: Simus, Delrany, and Stoob.

They were trekking through a desert landscape under the hot sun. A city made of entirely glass glinted off in the distance, across the stretch of desert they had yet to cross. They were making their way towards it, but their progress was agonizingly slow. Simus was limping badly, and a bloody white handkerchief–presumably Delrany’s–was tied around his ankle.

“We’ll never make it,” Stoob panted. “We’ve been walking for hours and it’s never gotten any closer.”

“Don’t lose heart, Stoob,” Delrany encouraged. “We’ll get there.”

Stoob sighed (if cats could sigh). “Do you really believe that?”

They walked on in silence.

After what might’ve been hours or minutes, I couldn’t tell, but the sun was starting to set. Simus had picked up a long stick on the way, and he then stuck it in the ground. “Since there’s no shelter and the city’s no closer, why don’t we camp here for the night?”

“That’s a good idea,” Delrany agreed. “I’ll keep first watch. We never know what lurks here at night beyond the mountain.”

“Oh, I know,” Simus corrected. “Not that it will be of much use.” With that, he flung out his sleeping bag and laid it down on the hard, dusty ground.

Delrany sat down with her back against the stout stick, while Simus climbed into his sleeping bag and Stoob curled up on top. She watched them as their eyes closed, breathing slowed, and they fell asleep.

“What are we going to do?” she murmured, staring at the sky. “I have so many questions. Who would do this, why they’d do this, how are we to solve this problem, and, likely the most important: Where is Misveri?”

She sighed and stared out at the dark desert expanse that they had already crossed. The mountains loomed in the distance, but the city ahead of them shone with their own light, matching the mountains in height.

Suddenly, Delrany turned and sat up straighter. I followed her gaze. Something was burrowing just underneath the ground’s surface, fast, and towards them. It snaked back and forth, slowing progress by a fraction of a second, but not much.

Delrany jumped up with a cry of alarm, waking up the others. They sprang to their feet, shouting in surprise, then warning as Delrany pointed at the mysterious burrower.

The ground shook and dirt sprayed up as the creature attempted to break the surface. I heard a scream, but from who, I couldn’t tell.

Then I heard the first THUD.

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“Gah!” I woke up suddenly. “What the–?”

“Shh,” Jax warned. “The serpent is trying to break the wall, but so far not succeeding. The cavern will hold, though. It can smell us, and hear us, too, as well as sense us, so we must take utmost care in largely eliminating a trail for it to follow. It’ll give up and pass soon enough.”

I shuddered, but forced myself to relax. It couldn’t get in.

CRACK.

A chunk of rock flew away from the crack on the wall and landed inches away from my head. I looked up, terrified, to see the serpent’s beady, red, cat-like, slitted eyes peering into the widened crack with an eagerness in its eye, like a hunter about to strike. It pounded again at the rock opening.

“Um, Jax?” I fought to keep my voice steady. “Are you absolutely sure that this cave will hold?”

His voice was shaky too. “Not anymore.”

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