“Wha’ do you mean I gotta dig?!” I shout incredulously at the Djinn, “You’re telling me to get my hands all filled with mud and dirt?!”
“That is where the passage is located, Count,” the ghostly guy began prying apart the stone tiles with no problem, “Don’t stand there, get to work.”
“Haven’t we already done enough with walking for forever?!” I nearly wail before unwillingly doing as he did, removing the painted stone tiles to uncover the dirt beneath it at all.
“I gave you rest.”
“I just wanna go home...” I sigh, wincing as the Djinn easily phases through the dirt. Ugh, what a show-off...
"Yuck..." I close my eyes, digging my fingertips into the soil, and start digging, "Yuck ... ew ... gross..."
The grimy feeling of the squishy dirt getting into my fingernails was the worst, but I manage to push through because I really do want to see Ery again. No matter how much I hated getting dirty like this or how lonely I felt because of the Djinn ... I wanted to see him again. I'd come this far, I wasn't going to give up now--not in a million years.
At least I could still feel the air of the room pushing through as I kept digging down further into the ground--oh! And it was easy to tell when I hitting whatever weird wall was made for this underground path versus the soil I could dig away at. It became darker the further I went down until I practically fell onto my face at a small, sudden drop.
"OW!" I shout after my rough landing, "You could've warned me?!"
"I did, you weren't paying attention."
"I was too!"
"Is that why you didn't answer when I said to you, 'Count, tread carefully, the path shifts from here?'"
"I ..." I huff a bit in a pout, not liking I couldn't really argue with him.
Damn it, I hate it when a demon is right...
"Sooo, this is a tunnel now?" I ask, appreciating that there are more lights this time around and something that at least looks kinda like a place as opposed to one long neverending hallway, "I mean, I do like it. It's dark, stone-wall, but the red color lamps and torches are a nice touch, and, I gotta say, when you do decorate you sure go all out Djinnie."
"If you mean careful inscription detailing the rise and fall of man and their follies," the Djinn sounds annoyed, "Then, yes, thank you. Of course I put my utmost effort into this as no one is supposed to come down this far."
"Oh ... right..." I look around the place, "Well, that's not gonna work because no one can read any of this--what's gonna stop them?"
I think all Djinnie did was sigh because he didn't say anything after that. As we made a right turn into what looked like some giant room with pillars and various paintings, out of the corner of my eye I see two figures dart behind something. I turn around, looking behind us to see if they would show up again but I see nothing.
"Weird..." I say that, but something just ... feels weird. But, given that I didn't see anyone, I continue walking behind the Djinn. It was when we pass by a weird giant statue of the Djinn himself and some weird symbols everywhere, I see the figure again, but this time ... I hear something.
You know that noise a cat makes at like ... a bird? Or something? It was that noise, that weird chirping noise cats make when they're looking at birds.
"Hey, Djinnie," I stop in my tracks, "Watch--"
I don't finish what I'm saying before a familiar, red-headed blur stretches her arms towards me and as I raise my arm to block her attack, I can feel her claws digging into my sides and tearing at my skin.
I grunt in pain, trying to headbutt her--no, Portie--or, what was Portie; my head starts throbbing after I hit what I thought was her mask, but it doesn't feel like it anymore. What was some kinda hard plastic stuff now felt like ... bone, like it'd become part of her face. As I'm struggling with Portie, I can hear the sound of someone else scurrying and yelp as I feel something stab me in the back--someone is now behind me and my hands are too tied up to even stop them as they dig their bony fingers deeper into my back.
"HEY A LITTLE HELP!?" I roar before I hear the inhuman noise of the other assailant cawing in pain.
Wait, a crow?! I grit my teeth as I manage to kick Portie's stomach hard enough to make her let go and claw the side of her face with my metal arm while she's winded, So he got you too, Jules...
The pain is unbearable but I still fight through it and turn to see the Djinn wrestling with Jules--the man's arms are now covered in feathers, like wings; he really did look like some weird doctor crow sleep paralysis creature from hell.
"Where do we go?" I call out to the demon, keeping my eyes on Portie as I start to see her stepping towards me, getting ready to charge.
"Just..." the Djinn hissed, "You're doing what I think you're doing. When I say, 'now,' bring her, understood Count?"
I nod, "...Think so? Worse come to worse, I've been in more dangerous fights than this by myself."
The grin on Portie's face looks like it breaks her entire jaw as she sprints on all fours towards me, before leaping with her claws outstretched. For a moment, it feels like everything's in slow motion as I sidestep and watch the Djinn, with all his strength, toss Jules off of him and straight into the crow man's sister.
The sounds of them shrieking and roaring in pain and anger are what snap me out of the weird daydream-like feeling as the Djinn whooshes past me, "Lucio, come!"
"Hey," I wince a little, feeling the sting of Portie's claws and, probably, the stabs of Jules' talons into my back, "I'm not some kinda animal you know--even if I was a goat for one time!"
I run after him, following down another set of tunnels and feeling relieved to hear the noises of Jules and Portie slowly dying down. After what seems like an hour, the Djinn reaches a giant room--one wayyy bigger than the ones we had been through--and speaks in some weird language as he seals the entry behind us against some weird, tentacle-looking barrier.
The demon floats over to what looks like to be some dusted over pedestal sitting out in the center, "Lucio, stand here."
"Yeah..." I smile, trying to pretend that my back and hips were not on fire, "Yeah, hang on a second, Djinnie, haha..."
"Fight through it," he replies with a tone, for once, is of genuine concern, "Hurry. They likely know where we are and have recovered."
"Yeah..." I hiss in pain as I speed-limp towards the pedestal, "I know."
Finally, I make it to the pedestal, collapsing my upper torso onto the surface for balance as the pain was kicking up so much to the point my legs felt like jello, "What do we do now...?"
"My plate, Count, you'll see where you need to place it."
I feel my chest, sighing in relief as I feel the glass object still there--wow, I was on fire, and not in a painful way, "Wow, surprised they didn't take it."
"I took precautions, especially with a human like you."
I roll my eyes, "'Love you too,' Djinnie."
Taking a deep breath of courage and calm, I place the plate into the circular indention on the pedestal's surface; the room hums to life and I close my eyes as a lot of bright red energy starts filling up the weird markings all along the walls--kinda like blood.
"Okay... now what?"
"Whatever happens," as the Djinn floated to the center of the red glowy patterns, revealing some huge, giant circle, "Do not move your hands off the plate."
I move my hands over the glowing plate, feeling weird about the warmth hitting it, as I ask, "Okay, but wha' are you--"
The banging on the barrier protecting us cuts me off and I suddenly realize the situation I'm in.
I couldn't let go.