For the first time in his life, Cato was beginning to rethink his feelings on magic. Magic had been the only thing keeping him alive for the past few days, for one thing. He had originally been resentful of that fact, but now considered it to only be fair as magic was also the primary method for nearly all of the attempts on his life in those same few days.

Currently, an entire cave network was trying to come down on top of them. Cato was fairly sure that only magic could do that, especially considering the size of the network of tunnels they were in. But the four of them sprinted down through the collapsing tunnels without the fear of concussion, as Pel was keeping up some sort of magical energy shield above them as they moved.

Anica led the way, backtracking their original path with ease. Cato and his brother took up the rear of the group, each with a sword in hand out of principle rather than for any practical reason. Since the collapse of the caves had begun, just a minute or so prior, there had been no sign of any of the red-robed priests. It would have been more unnerving if not for all the rocks trying to trap them. But the rapidly increasing amount of rocks coming down around them was a much more pressing concern, and Cato was doing his best to keep himself moving with the thought that they were managing to keep ahead of the majority of the collapse.

They rounded a corner, then another within a few seconds, winding through the caves towards what Cato truly hoped would be the exit. The rocks coming down on the magical shield above them were getting larger, and each hit created a strange, ripple of light around them that reminded Cato just how little stood between them and everything above.

Another corner, and now the path ahead was more difficult to follow. They must not be ahead of the collapse anymore, as larger rocks were blocking the path and coming down, threatening to trap them within. One by one, they ducked around a larger boulder blocking one side of the tunnel, trying to keep close so that Pel’s shield stayed over all of them. It wasn’t going to be much longer before they really did get trapped.

Anica turned them again, and this time Cato literally saw light at the end of the tunnel. It was a comforting sight for all of a few seconds before Cato realized what he didn’t see there.

“Is that the exit?!” Kyros had to yell to be heard over the roar of earth coming down around them. It was a stupid question, but Cato knew what his brother had meant.

“It seems to be clear!” Anica called back over her shoulder as she dodged a knee-high rock in the way.

It took only a few more seconds for the four of them to reach the exit and find themselves back out on the beach, still bathed in moonlight. There was no red, magical dome to trap them within, and no sign one had ever been there before. Cato turned around to see the entrance to the caves finally collapse in, but in turning his eyes noticed something else was missing.

Cato turned back again, looking to the rock cliff where they had hidden earlier, “The body is gone.”

There was a moment of silence as the three others took time to breathe. Anica looked to where the body of the first priest they had encountered should have been, seeing nothing at all, “We shouldn’t stay here.”

She was thinking three steps ahead again. Cato had to admit it was the smart thing to do, but he was still getting his breath back and trying to figure out exactly what had happened. Plus, his legs were aching and he didn’t want to move.

Give. Us. The. Book.

The ‘words’ shook through the four of them, and they spun around to see a pair of those terrifyingly unnatural black-skinned monsters. The two stood before a circular opening in the air, through which Cato could see a red-and black world of dust and death…and more than a few red robed figures.

Suddenly, though, Cato realized the aches in his body were completely gone. Everything in him was indicating that it was time to start running again. At least his body seemed to understand what needed to be done when things looked bad.